Satirist and creator of Pugad Baboy Pol Medina, Jr. was wondering how the hell his “old comic strip” that cost him his job– or at least pushed him to resign– was eventually published on June 4 after it was “rejected for its insensitivity” two months ago.
Prior to his resignation, Medina posted a status on Facebook wherein he expressed his suspicion that the controversial comic strip triggered the indefinite suspension of Pugad Baboy in the Inquirer. The comic strip in question depicted two overweight characters talking about how hypocritical it is for some religious people to castigate homosexuality when gays and lesbians are allowed in Catholic schools.
“If you zoom in on that particular strip that got me fired, you’ll see that the strip first appeared in MARCH. No reaction then,” he said.
“It was reissued after I made a series of anti-Marcos strips, then BOOM! Nag-trending sa Twitter. Interesting. I smell a consPIGracy….” added Medina, whose long-running daily cartoon features overweight and pig characters.
In a statement issued by PDI published Raul C. Pangalanan, it was confirmed that the controversial cartoon strip “had been rejected for its insensitivity when it was submitted in April 2013.”
The full statement read:
‘‘The Philippine Daily Inquirer apologizes for the offensive Pugad Baboy cartoon by P.M. Junior on June 4, 2013. In the words of the president of St. Scholastica’s College, “our school was singled out and our Sister-Administrators accused of allowing homosexual relationships between its female students.
‘‘Our Reader’s Advocate, Elena E. Pernia, has begun an inquiry into this matter. Her preliminary findings show that this cartoon strip had been rejected for its insensitivity when it was submitted in April 2013 but, due to a mix-up in the comics section, was picked up for publication. The Inquirer confirms its commitment to the highest standards of accuracy, fairness and good taste.‘‘Contrary to erroneous news reports, P.M. Junior was not fired and remains a contributor. Pugad Baboy will not appear in the Inquirer, however, pending further investigation.’’
People who are familiar with how media companies operate understand that they have the right and authority to require their staff to follow and abide by certain rules and editorial policy. It is the job of high-ranking newspaper editors not only to vet and edit news and opinion stories, but also to decide what and what not to publish.
Evidently the Inquirer statement shows that it exercised its agenda setting and vetting role, but due to unfortunate circumstances (some ‘negligent’ people in the arts department might have mixed things up in the comics section), Pol Medina’s controversial March comic strip “was picked up for publication”.
So, it was clearly Inquirer’s fault. This means that Medina has nothing to apologize for.
In this ABS-CBN story, Medina said he knew the rules, as he was given guidelines by the Inquirer.
“Ito yung mga guidelines na hindi mo io-overstep. Viniolate ko lahat yon. Kasi sinusubukan ko kung hanggang saan ako pwede lagi eh. Tapos pumapayag yung editorial staff ng Inquirer na ilabas. Kaya naging bold ako eh… aba okey ah, nailabas yung strip ko tungkol sa black comedy. Lumabas yung strip ko tungkol sa race. Tungkol sa religion. Eh open-minded naman pala. Sa kaka-push ko nang ganun, na-overstep ko yung threshold ng good taste. ‘Yun yung nangyari dito talaga. Totoo to eh, inaamin ko.”
I understand that most talented artists are not comfortable being restricted by certain rules. For over two decades, Medina curiously tested the limits of propriety in order to find its breaking point. Yet when he finally found it, he was reprimanded and punished with suspension not because of his ‘insensitive’ artwork, but because it was published by his employer by mistake.
It’s no longer Mr. Medina’s fault that his controversial, rejected comic strip was published. It’s clearly his employers’ fault!
Inquirer talked about “further investigation”? The question is, can it investigate itself for its lack of foresight and negligence?
Clearly, the joke’s on the Inquirer and the politically correct.