Letter of ARMM OIC RG Mujiv Hataman to PDI

Mr. Jorge Aruta
Opinion Editor
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Makati City

Dear Jorge,

As a Muslim and leader of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), please allow me to add my voice to that of the country’s Muslim community, concerning the caption of your banner photo (PDI 5/9/2012).

The photo shows the President shaking hands with Norjannah Estrellita Tan Yap-Mitmug (garbed in black with head and translucent facial cover). This was fairly captioned in the first edition, thus: “PALACE GUEST President Aquino greets a Muslim woman garbed in burka during the oath-taking of officers in charge of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly held in Malacanang Tuesday. The unidentified woman is a relative of one of the officers.” However, on your newspaper’s Second Edition, the initial clause “PALACE GUEST” had been ignobly changed to “SECURITY RISK” (also in all caps, though in question mark) and on the same upper-fold space of the front page. To say the least, this comes to your readers as a form of cultural insensitivity, most objectionable not only to Muslims but also in the practice of fair journalism.

At the rate that reactions on it are being passed on by individuals and even by media organizations on FB accounts, the caption simply takes the newspaper’s good name off its tract of known objectivity in presentation of stories about religions, including Islam and Muslim culture and tradition (which has been laudable, on the other hand).

The caption writer should have done a fair research on the subject, who is a mother to a human rights lawyer and a good wife to one of the country’s most honest officials, as they are also known to such great nationalists and statespersons as former Senators Jovito Salonga and Teofisto Guingona.

Prior to his appointment as Assemblyman of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly for the First Legislative District of Lanao del Sur, Mrs. Mitmug’s son, Atty. Rasul Mitmug Jr., served as a senior legal staff of incumbent Senator Guingona.

Mrs. Mitmug’s family and the country’s Muslim community deserve an apology, no less.

Very truly yours,

OIC Regional Governor, ARMM


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