Amid the pandemic: News that remembers the forgotten

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FOR ALMOST a month now, Filipinos in Luzon have been living the new norm of lockdown, restricted mobility, limited access to goods and services, and all social interaction pursued only on remote and digital platforms. Still cases of contamination have not let up along with the number of deaths.

On Tuesday, April 7, President Rodrigo Duterte extended the Luzon-wide lockdown to April 30, adding 14 days of restriction.  According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases made the recommendation.  

The media has focused on paramount concerns, with most of news time and space given to government actions to address the pandemic and case counts here and abroad. CMFR notes efforts of different media organizations to check on other stories, including how different sectors are affected, requiring special attention and assistance.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) posted a piece on April 5 which reported on the effects of the crisis on Maranaoans still living in evacuation sites., MindaNews and Rappler also carried the story. “Life doubly harder in Marawi shelters as coronavirus” checked on the long suffering community as the pandemic has grounded most aid and development groups working with the survivors of war.

Some organizations turned to conditions in jail cells. reported on the catastrophic health threat rising in the “horribly crowded” jails in the country. ABS-CBN reported on the call of the group Prisoners’ Enhancement and Support Organization (PRESO) for a “prison emergency” — asking the president to free sick, elderly and other low-risk inmates. The report recalled PCIJ’s 2018 story on prison congestion in the Philippines which is considered among the worst in the world.

Still on the situation in prisons, other organizations like GMA News Online and One News ran stories on “e-dalaw” or the electronic dalaw (visit) so that inmates could stay in touch with their families after prison authorities suspended  physical visits.

Persons with disabilities caught the attention of  “Social distancing’s victims: In a Luzon quarantine, the disabled are mostly forgotten” and “Women with Disabilities Day passes with women, PWDs still facing hurdles in access and mobility,” published March 20 and 29  respectively, noted that the measures pushing for heightened social distancing have not considered this vulnerable community, as advocacy groups stressed the need for special ways to assist them.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 20 revisited  evacuees dislocated by Taal’s volcanic eruption. “No social distancing for Taal evacuees” reported on the added challenge facing hundreds of families living in modular tents, sharing mess halls and common bathrooms. The report said residents and local government officials are concerned that with the lockdown, the flow of relief goods may not reach them. (See also:’s “No social distancing for Taal evacuees”) These stories, usually relegated to the margins of news as color pieces or human interest stories, now expand the news frame in a significant manner.  These reports call government, private groups and civil society organizations (CSO) to also attend to the plight of communities, who as the pandemic rages, may be missed and forgotten. Cheers and well done!