Previously I made a commentary on a GMA7 news report involving the killing of a barangay kagawad and an unlucky bystander. In that post I talked about things that can be learned from the incident but also mentioned that I originally intended to write an article about the ‘pundit’ who was shown being interviewed in the video. This is that article.
What tickled my fancy about him were the words of wisdom he shared to the audience, which is what pundits are interviewed for. I thought it’s a good illustration of how poor the level of thought in the Philippines is, since even the supposed ‘pundits’ make a lot of nonsense. I used to watch the news on TV regularly so I’m familiar with the level of logic and accuracy of thought that the so-called experts (especially the sociologists) have. In other words, this is not an isolated case.
As a refresher, what happened in this video was the murderer shot the barangay kagawad who was then manning a store situated on a street corner. He got away but not before shooting dead another man who tried to apprehend him. He was later caught by the local police, though it’s not clear whether he was caught minutes, hours or days later. A good portion of the report revolves around the alleged shortfall of the barangay tanods in preventing the crime or apprehending the criminal. The reporter interviewed the barangay hall caretaker, who seemed to speak defensively about the fact that the barangay authorities were not able to do anything about the crime before and after the fact because they were allegedly too busy preparing for some festivities and nobody was monitoring the CCTV cameras at the time of the incident.
Now here’s what the pundit said, at 2:34 in the video: “A CCTV camera captures the scenes it is focused on. But then it is also important that there’s someone looking at the monitor, because if no one’s looking at the monitor, that’s nothing. It has no value.”
These, my friends, are the words of a so-called expert hired to share some words of wisdom regarding the incident. As shown in the video, this man is an engineer who serves as the secretary general of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership Inc., a NGO.
His expert opinion can be broken down into two parts. First:
“A CCTV camera captures the scenes it is focused on.” (delivered with “noh”, as if he was explaining an important insight that the audience need to understand.)
This is like saying, “a plate holds the food you place on it” or “the murderer killed the person his gun was pointed to.” I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but to try to explain to an alien how a camera works should be out of the question in this situation. Statements like that do not have the merit to be part of an expert’s opinion, especially when all the time your opinion gets featured in is a mere 15 seconds. I’m sure the reporter sat down with him longer than the 15 seconds he appeared in the video and determined that these were the best bits of knowledge they got from the man, otherwise why let such a senseless statement consume a good part of the 15 seconds allotted to him?
“But then it is also important that there’s someone looking at the monitor, because if no one’s looking at the monitor, that’s nothing. It has no value.”
Here the man’s point was, when talking about crime prevention or law enforcement, having someone monitoring the CCTVs 24/7 is important to the point that the CCTVs have no value without such monitoring. I don’t know whether he was talking about the CCTV’s value in crime prevention or law enforcement, but either way he’s not making any sense.
If he was talking about the importance of CCTV monitoring in law enforcement, I bet he was confusing its importance to, say, monitoring the patrons in a casino where security can catch cheating through live CCTV feeds and arrest the cheaters in real time. Is that how arresting wrongdoers work in street corners, alleys, roads and other public places? Is the Philippines so advanced as to be able to apply this kind of real-time crime monitoring and law enforcement seen in the futuristic movie Minority Report, not to mention being able to do it at the barangay level?
It’s ridiculous but that’s what this news report is trying to make it appear, as it mentioned at 2:39, “Mali raw na walang nagbabantay sa CCTV” (translation: “the expert said it was wrong that nobody was monitoring the CCTV”) — the context being that there was a shortfall on the part of the barangay hall for not monitoring the CCTVs 24/7. Their logic was, because nobody was monitoring the CCTV, the crime took place and/or the criminal was not arrested quickly. If there was monitoring at that exact time, the crime would not have taken place and/or the criminal would not have slipped away.
To illustrate how shamefully brainless this kind of logic is, pause at 2:54 of the video and imagine the pitiful barangay employee intently looking for crimes on 20 different CCTVs. Do they really think that this tedious job of real-time crime spotting from the barangay headquarters (assuming the crime spotter can sustain the same focus in an 8-hour shift) could have prevented the kagawad-killer from committing his crime or enabled the authorities to arrest the killer before he slipped away? Do crimes like that happen every hour that it makes a 24/7 crime monitoring worthy and cost-efficient??
Obviously from the viewpoint of crime prevention, no amount of monitoring could have prevented the killer from committing this kind of crime, which means the pundit must be intending to apply the statement “it was wrong that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” not to what happens before the fact (crime prevention) but to what happens after a crime is committed (law enforcement). He’s trying to say that “it was wrong that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” because if there was monitoring at the exact time of the incident (which, btw, requires paying at least 3 pitiful barangay employees in 3 shifts using barangay funds to do the boring and tedious task of capturing crimes in real time by watching 20 different CCTVs all at once 24/7) the killer would have been apprehended in real time.
I don’t even know why they were talking about “how wrong it was that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” when the killer was captured anyway, or “how wrong it was that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” when the killer passed right in front of the barangay hall anyway, making CCTV monitoring a slower informant in that case, or “how wrong it was that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” when the baton-armed barangay tanods’ lives were likely spared by not having tried to apprehend the killer when he was running away.
Or was the pundit trying to say that the people in the barangay hall could have called the police quickly if only they were intently monitoring every street corner on CCTV? Well, the witnesses could easily call the police themselves. It’s not as if the phone has only recently been invented and only government offices have them.
What’s the rationale then of saying that “it was wrong that nobody was monitoring the CCTV” in this particular incident? Nothing. It’s nonsense talk. It’s like the pundit was there for an expert opinion but could only provide common sense, and when attempting to provide common sense, it turns out he could only provide nonsense.
Of course, if no one is monitoring the CCTVs, it’s foolish to say that it has no value. Otherwise every business establishment, home or government institution that installs one would need to employ someone to monitor their CCTVs 24/7, which is not always the case. When you do a cost-benefit analysis you’ll understand why. The main value does not lie in the monitoring (unless you’re a casino owner or the MMDA) but in the recording, as well as in the discouragement it brings to potential lawbreakers who know they are being recorded and risking being identified. This should be pretty much common sense, but since the level of thought in the Philippines is not particularly high, even the supposed experts can’t get past common sense, being stuck in nonsense. Put the same kind of individuals in authority, especially in education, and what you get is the Philippine situation.
If GMA7 themselves care about making sense, this particular pundit’s words of wisdom would not have made the cut. Come to think of it, TV networks are educators too. They are people in authority when it comes to educating the masses. And there goes the incessant dumbing down of society.