Yesterday, our favorite national newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, featured three agrarian reform issues under one publication issue: a) Ka Eric's symbolic funeral march (banner photo) with well-meaning caption, b) danger of excluding from CARP scope 800,000 ha of agricultural land claimed to be cattle-grazing (page A2), and c) feud among Hacienda Luisita farmers over land ownership plan (page A21).
Heck, we never expected this to happen. All we wanted was for Ka Eric, representing agrarian violence, to be highlighted in any way by the PDI on May 8 and for the other two issues to be covered in the next PDI issues.
Why did the PDI do it–featuring 3 issues on the same date? There are no easy answers to this except that PEACE has done a real liaison work with the media. Ever wonder why Ka Eric was featured on first page? It's because since we knew of his fate, we, together with UNORKA, PARRDS, and MFDC, immediately came out in the open denouncing his murder and explaining why he suffered that. And we always made sure that statements and press releases were produced and disseminated to the media in no time.
Ever wonder why the cattle issue was published right on top of the Second Front Page? Perhaps the writer was impressed during a press briefing with our elaboration of the complex situation of 'cattle-grazing' agricultural areas. PEACE will feature this issue on Agrarian Notes May 2006 issue.
Ever wonder why the feud among the Luisita farmers was covered? It's merely because of the conflict, as if telling the public that all is not well among the workers and causing more headache for Gloria Arroyo for what she has wished she has done something good for the agrarian public.
I still maintain that media are still there as effective venues to ventilate issues of agrarian reform, which has been touted to be no longer sexy and palatable to the public. It's just up to advocates in how to be creative and doggone willed in making it so.