[OPINION] We deserve better than this

I am a multimedia producer, and work mostly in the newsroom. I don’t get to go out to the field as often as you think all journalists do. Most of the time I’m at my computer, doing backend work, processing broadcasts and livestreams. So when we were all forced to work from home, it did not take much for me to adjust.

But I didn't expect to be so overwhelmed by the volume and intensity of the news we had to cover.

I and my fellow media workers face the news head-on. One of the things I do is crowdsource videos for our channels, then watch and review the videos I've acquired before they get posted on our social media accounts. I see all kinds of footage, and filter them if we think some things might be too sensitive for viewers, such as deaths.

And it’s the deaths that get to me.

It started with the death of Randy Echanis.

He was attacked in the house he was staying in, and was stabbed to death. Worse, his dead body was not released to the family right away. His family was not given the proper time to mourn and grieve. His body was held back by the police. For what? (READ: Police 'forcibly takes' Randy Echanis' body from funeral home)

On the same day the family buried Ka Randy, Zara Alvarez was killed.

She was shot in the back. Zara had been asking the court for protection because she was scared for her life, but before protection could be given to her, she was shot. Killed. Was she wrong for thinking the courts could help protect her?

Then, on October 9, baby River died.

She was 3 months old, separated from her mother Reina Nasino since birth. She was born with weak lungs, and her mother’s breast milk might have saved her by helping her develop a stronger immune system. But death separated mother and child permanently. The court then allowed Reina to say goodbye to baby River, but for only 6 hours, and with more than a dozen police escorts.

I am writing this on a Friday, and two days ago Reina went to River’s wake wearing handcuffs. The police even tried to keep her from answering questions from the media, causing quite a stir at the funeral home. All of this happened at a wake, for a dead baby, a dead person. (READ: [OPINION] Cry me a River)

Reina has since buried her baby. Her handcuffs were never removed as she stood over her child's coffin. Dozens of uniformed, armed personnel surrounded her as she bid her last goodbye. What for? What did they think she would do?

We have been crying “Stop the killings” since 2017, when the drug war began, since 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was killed, but it has just gotten worse.

All these terrible images, these are what we journalists face every day. And to be honest, I usually don’t have enough time to properly process all the footage I see. All I have are a few seconds when I can sit back, let my feelings out, and take deep breaths. It can stretch on for minute or two if it isn't breaking news. But eventually, I have to calm myself down, because I have to get back on that computer to publish the video and let other people see what has been going on.

But sometimes, I need to cry. Sometimes it takes more than a few deep breaths. Sometimes writing a blog like this works. Other times there is a need to talk to my colleagues and know there are other people who understand how I feel, who also feel the same.

And sometimes it’s a sleepless night, or two, or 3, where I lie awake and think: we could have done better; we could have done more.

So as we mourn for River, and Ka Randy, and Zara, and Kian, let’s continue to educate ourselves, and to give others the chance to educate themselves. Let us get involved, register to vote, and choose better leaders. Because we deserve better than this. – Rappler.com

Jaira Roxas

As a multimedia producer, Jaira produces Rappler newscasts, shows, podcasts, and videos. She likes working on video stories from the communities and individuals who believe that little acts of courage can spark change.