BBL: A Hot Commodity

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is one of the hottest commodities in the Philippine media landscape, if not already the hottest as it is said to be an instrument of peace in the country’s largest Muslim region. After the fateful Mamasapano encounter early this year (a province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the constitutional legality of the provisions in said law were thrown in the spotlight and questioned by a number legislators and thought leaders. The clash that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members 5 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and several civilians dead, put on hold the passing of the proposed BBL, and consequently the long-sought peace that has evaded the region for years. What was once a favorable means to end the conflict in the country’s second largest island became a nationwide issue open to public scrutiny.

The Buzz Tree above is reflective of topics that came out in relation to the BBL in February, the month after the Mamasapano incident, where the dominance of negative and highly negative sentiments can be clearly spotted.

This incident, which some consider the largest ever loss of  Philippine elite forces, caused a significant rise in media traffic as (mis)information became readily available on both mainstream and social channels. While straightforward news was expected from the mainstream media, there were still those very critical – towards the government, the BBL, the peace process, the PRO-BBL – the list goes on. And then there was social media, which was just as active as mainstream, in airing sentiments on this national issue. The BBL evolved very well into its own body of an issue following the Mamasapano clash and was openly targeted in the media.

While the topics on the discussion on the BBL were still predominantly negative in March, a silver lining can be seen as there were more positive topics that came out compared to the previous month.

Being in the industry that we are in gives us an edge in determining the voice of netizens and journalists as we not only listen but, dissect, analyse and bring insights to what is being said across both traditional and social media platforms. As a result, we are able to see how one major issue can seed several topics and how it is being talked about in the social and mainstream media. The result is an enhanced ability of our clients to discern information, better assessing the overall voice from the media, and then share that info with influencers in the media that wield great power in shaping public perception.

Go back to the roots. Read. Listen. Understand. Equip yourself with knowledge. Be involved. This way, we can open our eyes and see what the BBL is all about. It doesn’t matter if you get your information from traditional or the new media. What’s important is that you have the right information. As the saying goes, “Information is King”, yet misinformation is the court jester – appointed only to entertain. Utilize the best knowledge and the right tools available today, share this with others and become a citizen that brings value to others.

ACES MONTEALEGRE

Media Analyst, Philippines

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