ZAMBOANGA CITY, March 26 (PIA) - Since Day 0, journalists have been covering developments of the dreaded COVID-19, risking their own safety. In the city, as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has reached day 7, journalists have continuously witnessed people's persistence and hard-headedness - taking for granted government and health officials' call to simply just stay home, as reporters themselves risk life and limb on a daily basis to provide accurate information to residents.
Julie Alipala, a correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer writes:
"I am a single parent with a son. I am the lone bread earner and I am also helping my mother financially, I have also a number of scholars that I help in their education. As a journalist, I have to stay at the frontlines together with health care workers, soldiers, cops and colleagues, leaving my teenage son alone to fend for himself. We don't get protective materials like mask, PPES, gloves, and others. If we have money (to buy), there are no stocks. In short, I go out to battle this arena unprotected and coming home, careful not to (possibly) infect my son. I have to cook meals, clean the house, laundry and others, and stories to beat deadlines. It's good that our children are at home, my son is at home, but with my exposure, I cannot guarantee that I am coming home sanitized."
ABS-CBN reporter and anchor for TV Patrol Chavacano Jewel Reyes shares her thoughts on this issue:
"It's difficult to leave home to report to work. Next to being journalist, we are mothers too, so on top of everything, like making sure you get the news and stay safe at the same time, there is a responsibility rolled into one. Lucky for those who are tasked to just stay at home and be with the family, than us, at work only thinking about our family, worrying how the entire community should be obedient enough for all of these to be over.
"This COVID19 surpasses all hardship in my 2 decades in journalism. Siege was OK, we survived it. But this one, we will not survive if all home dwellers ask for exemptions. If they think our media passes are privileges, please don't think of it that way. This is a disease no one knows how to control. And whatever our profession is, we always think what kind of world our children will have if we continue to be hard headed," Ms. Reyes said.
Elsie Molina, manager of Radyo Pilipinas says:
"Members of the media in this time of crisis sometimes forget that they have families to attend to since there is always this call of duty like the tactful information-dissemination you have to do. We sometimes forget our lunch and sometimes stay awake at night to gather have fresh stories and monitor (developments)."
Here is a thought from RMN-Zamboanga reporter Melanie Guanzon:
"As a reporter that has been covering COVID-19, we can't avoid risking our very lives. Every time we leave our homes, at the bottom of our minds we ask, 'are we still safe when we go back home?'
"As we leave our families home, we often encounter insults even from those manning checkpoints like recently, a soldier told me off because I was not wearing a face mask. But in spite of that, we have our duty and responsibility to report information to the public so they will remain safe. With all front liners, we risk our health and our lives so that you will be safe."
Myra Espinosa, a millennial reporter and information officer for the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) says:
"I am afraid for my health. Every time we interview people we cannot assure that we are 100% protected from the virus since we are exposed. But we still do this because we want to inform and educate the people. I salute all of our partners in media, especially women journalists who are also mothers who sacrifice leaving their homes every day for the sake of timely, accurate and relevant information."
On a final note, Ms. Reyes reminds the public to finally stop the habit of sharing fake and unverified news. "Fake news is a very tremendous challenge especially for us journalists. We double our efforts unnecessarily to counter these fake news, when could have used the time to share other more important information to the public."
Department of Health (DOH) officials and government authorities are continuously calling on the public to heed the quarantine and stay at home until the virus is eradicated. DOH Assistant Regional Director Dr. Joshua Brillantes repeatedly says that quarantine is the best way to kill the virus.
As we are about to end Women's Month this March, women journalists are one with the entire world in praying for this crisis to end soon. (NBE/DIS/PIA9-ZAMSULTA)