Cebu broadcaster (a lawyer!) lets child rape victim recount abuse in lurid details on air

Controversial broadcaster Juril Patiño on Wednesday let a 4-year-old rape victim recount her experience in lurid details and on air over Brigada News FM.

“Mao to gi open na nimo imong ba-ba unya iyang gipasud ang iyang kinatawo or otin,” Patiño said early in the segment as he and Dennes Tabar were talking to the victim. (So that was why you opened your mouth and he inserted his organ, his penis.)

(A disclosure: Dennes is an old friend. We were contemporaries starting out in Cebu media in the mid 90s.)

Dennes, I was told, was shocked at the line of questioning and did not participate as much, although he did make some side comments. It was also the first week that Dennes served as co-anchor to Patiño. I just wished Dennes walked out of that segment.

Several people reached out to me and expressed their disgust at the interview. Patiño is a lawyer who was once accused of rape. At least three said they would alert the Supreme Court about the segment. Lawyers are bound by a code of ethics and they said Patiño may have breached it.

I was also told that the Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (CAIB) is reviewing the broadcast, although I’m not sure of its jurisdiction.

Among local media organizations, it is the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ) that has taken the lead. It released a strong statement that included this very important line: It is unacceptable for journalists to prioritize sensationalism over basic human decency.

It is profound that the CFBJ released such a statement because its president is Arnold Bustamante, a reporter who prioritizes sensationalism over human decency. An example of this is how he included lurid sexual details in posting updates about the case of murdered voice coach Jay Unchuan. Because of those details, Unchuan was ridiculed and made fun of even after his death.

“The sexual details have no place in a news report. What led to the killing can be told without the specifics on sexual demands,” retired editor Pacheco A. Seares said about Bustamante’s post.

There is widespread revulsion online at the Brigada News FM interview. I hope that will spark reforms and discourage sensationalized reporting or, as what one journalist and lawyer puts it, gutter journalism.

But I won’t hold my breath, though. The lure of social media engagement will continue to fuel this gutter journalism by Patiño, Bustamante, and their like.

I hope mass comm and journalism instructors can take advantage of this teachable moment and show their students what not to do.

I also hope members of the industry can call out more forcefully – such as what the CFBJ did – misdeeds by their colleagues.

The action of one misguided journalist stains the entire industry, especially if not called out and especially if he’s a media group’s top official.

For more about the issue, check out these posts:

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