(Note: Here is a report from Newsbreak online regarding the contrast between reporting on Ninoy Aquino's death and the death of his wife Pres. Cory Aquino.)Not quite like Ninoy’s
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|Monday, 03 August 2009|
Exaggerated and clueless reports on Cory’s procession are a disservice to the public.
As former President Corazon Aquino’s cortege moved from La Salle Greenhills, through EDSA, then Ayala, to the Manila Cathedral today, we monitored the extensive broadcast and online coverage of the event.
And we cringed at the inaccuracies, exaggerations, or plain cluelessness that slipped through some of the reports. Mostly it was about the size of the crowd.
One reporter said EDSA was packed and people could barely move. But the TV camera showed it wasn’t like sidewalk-to-sidewalk, and people could actually walk, thank you. Photos taken by our colleague show that there was enough breathing space in there.
Another reporter said there were 50 vehicles of mourners from Ms. Aquino’s home province of Tarlac. But when interviewed, one of these mourners said their convoy consisted of 5 vehicles.
At the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City, footages taken were mostly tight shots, making it appear that it was a packed procession. The few times the cameras took wide shots, they revealed that the there was not much crowd beyond the intersection. The same was true along Buendia.
Some reports estimated the crowd at 25,000 persons. Our photographer thinks the actual size was only half of that. The crowds in “ordinary” rallies are even bigger, he said. A veteran of rallies who walked with the crowd was more generous with his estimate. The rule of thumb with rallies, he said, is to subtract one-third from the figures that the police gives.
Not lost on us either—but was overlooked in many reports—was the presence of so many grade school students along Ayala. “This is so Marcos-time,” a photographer said, referring to the practice of the authoritarian regime (that Cory helped topple, remember?) of hauling school children to pro-government rallies to give the impression of a big crowd.
Not a few reported—either as their own observation or quoting some politicians—that the outpouring of people on the streets at Cory’s procession was similar to what happened during the funeral of her husband in 1983.
To give perspective to readers and viewers, especially those too young to know what it was like during Ninoy’s death, we compiled photos from that era—when Ninoy’s coffin was transferred from their house at Times Street to Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City; when it was brought to Tarlac, and during his funeral. (We lifted the images from the book “Ninoy Aquino: The Willing Martyr” by Alfonso Policarpio Jr.) See how packed the crowds really were and realize that today wasn’t quite like 26 years ago.
President Cory will be buried on Wednesday morning. We have more than a day to give her and her public some respect by being objective and responsible with our reports.