Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Editorial Cartoon: TV Show

April 19, 2009

show

Media milage o pampasira ng screen ng tv? 😀

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Media takes on right to reply

March 5, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — The distance to Manila is not a barrier for journalists here to join their national counterpart on the snowballing opposition to the Right of Reply Bill

Believed by media practitioners as a measure that would abridge the freedoms of the press and of expression, the Right of Reply Bill is the subject of a media forum next week.

As their concrete contribution to discuss the substance of the bill and its effect on the profession, media practitioners, including publishers and editors, will participate in a round table discussion on the issue on Saturday, March 7, at 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. at the People’s Multi-Purpose Hall at the Baguio City Hall.

The speakers include Sonny Fernandez, national secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), a prime mover of the move to oppose the said bill. Panel of reactors from the editors, publishers and practitioners will also share their ideas on the Right of Reply Bill.

Senate Bill No. 2150 and House Bill No. 3306 are entitled, “An act granting the right of reply and providing penalties for violation thereof.”The Senate version was already passed in third reading while the House version is allegedly being fast tracked by members of the said body.

Right of Reply is defined by both bills as “All persons natural or juridical who are accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or to criticisms aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic device.”

A statement of unity signed by various media practitioners from the national and local levels still gains signatures via the internet as more claims that the bill was adopted without prior consultations from the stakeholders.

Desiree Caluza, secretary-general of the NUJP Baguio-Benguet, said the bill should be opposed because it clearly violates the objectives of journalism and press freedom in general.

It disrespects the freedom, intelligence and enterprise of news people to deliver quality news stories,” added Caluza, who is also a member of the NUJP national directorate, the highest policy making body in between the general assembly done every two years. She added “Only trapos” (or traditional politicians) who do not know the spirit of press freedom, fought for by the people in EDSA 1, will benefit from this bill.”

Another NUJP Baguio – Benguet officer Rimaliza Opina added the bill should be opposed because the proposed law would delegate editorial job to the government . The journalism code of ethics should be strictly implemented by media outfits instead,” Opina ended.

The authors of the Senate Bill are Senators Aquilino Q. Nene Pimentel, Ramon Revilla, Jr., and Francis Escudero while the authors of the House version are Representatives Angara, Puentevella, Fua, Abante, Lapus, Tieng and Zialcita. # Northern Dispatch

My views on development journalism

January 17, 2009

N.B. – A student from the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila emailed a few questions about development journalism. Please find below my answers. Thank you.

Ano ang development journalism at saan ito nagmula?

Ayon sa maraming sanggunian, ang development journalism ay nagmula sa “development communication” na kung saan ang komunikasyon ay ginagamit para sa panlipunang kaunlaran. Ang development journalism ay nangangahulugang paggamit ng peryodismo para makamit ang mga layuning pangkaunlaran. Pero dahil sa Martial Law, ang mga layuning ito ay iniayon sa mga programa’t polisiya ng gobyerno. Ang naging resulta nito’y ang sitwasyong ang development journalism ay naging teoretikal na argumento para suportahan ang gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng isang tinaguriang maka-kaunlarang oryentasyon.

Ano sa tingin n’yo ang pros and cons ng development journalism?

Maaari sanang gamitin ang konsepto ng “development journalism” para muling idiin ang responsibilidad ng mga peryodista sa paghuhubog ng pampublikong opinyon tungo sa pagbabago, kung ang ating konsepto ng pagbabago ay nangangahulugan ng kaunlaran mula sa kasalukuyang kinasasadlakan ng ating mamamayan. Pero gaya ng nabanggit, ito ay ginamit para suportahan ang pamahalaan noong panahon ni Marcos. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kahit sa kasalukuyan ay may negatibong pagtingin sa konseptong ito. Alam ng mga iskolar at propesor ng komunikasyon kung paano ito ginamit noong panahon ni Marcos. Magandang banggiting may pagsisikap ang ilang iskolar at propesor para baguhin ang oryentasyong ito — sa halip na ginagamit ang mga polisiya’t programa ng gobyerno bilang batayan ng kaunlaran, ang ginagamit sa ngayon ay ang kalagayan, halimbawa, ng mga partikular na komunidad. Sa ganitong konteksto’y nabibigyan ng maka-mamamayang oryentasyon (sa halip na maka-gobyerno) ang terminong “development” sa “development journalism.”

Anu-ano ang halimbawa ng mga balita sa panahon ng development journalism ni Marcos?

Magandang balikan ang mga dating isyu ng Philippine Daily Express at Manila Bulletin para malaman ang klase ng mga balitang tampok noong panahon ni Marcos, lalo na sa ilang araw pagkatapos ng pagpaslang kay dating Senador Ninoy Aquino. Malinaw ang mga pagtatangkang paliitin ang isyung ito, at nakatutuwang ang anggulong ginamit para ibalita ang kanyang libing ng ilang tinaguriang “crony press” ay ang pagkamatay ng isang taong nakipaglibing noon dahil tinamaan siya ng kidlat.

Ano ang mga itinampok ng mga journalist sa panahon ni Marcos?

Ang mga dapat na itinampok noong panahong iyon ay ang tunay na mukha ng Batas Militar – i.e., pagkakaroon ng isang diktador, malawakang korupsyon, paglabag sa karapatang pantao at marami pang iba.

Ano ang mga naging epekto nito sa pang-ekonomiya at pampulitikal na estado ng Pilipinas noong Martial Law?

Masasabing nagkaroon ng teoretikal na batayan ang pagsuporta sa pamahalaan ng mga peryodista, dahil kinakailangan diumano sila para umunlad ang bayan. Sa konteksto ng laman ng mga balita, masasabing hindi naging instrumento ng pagmumulat ang “crony press” sa panahong iyon at naging kasabwat pa ng rehimeng Marcos para panatilihin ang mapang-aping kaayusan.

Anu-ano po ang mga naging epekto nito sa masang Pilipino?

Ang masang Pilipino ay naghanap ng alternatibong pagmumulan ng mga balita, at dito pumasok ang alternatibong midya na nagtaguyod ng responsable’t makabuluhang peryodismo sa halip na “development journalism.”

Ano ang naging epekto nito sa kulturang nangingibabaw noong 1970s?

Masasabing naging “uso” ang kultura ng pananahimik at takot noong simula ng Martial Law pero ang tapang ay unti-unting nakita sa pamamagitan ng paglaki ng kasapian ng mga mapagpalayang kilusan sa kalunsuran at lalo na sa kabundukan.

Sa inyong palagay, ano dapat ang naging porma ng journalism noong Martial Law? (yung tunay na naglilingkod sa interes ng mamamayan)

Sa aking palagay, ang anumang makabuluhang pamamahayag ay ang pangkalahatang alternatibong midya, hindi lang noong panahon ni Marcos kundi maging noong panahon ng mga Kastila.

Danny Arao

PDI Commentary: Our indifference to Gaza

January 14, 2009

By H. Harry L. Roque Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:29:00 01/14/2009

It is unfortunate that the crisis at the Gaza Strip has taken a back seat to two ongoing domestic issues: those of the Alabang boys and the Pangandaman Valley Golf incidents. While perhaps the distant location of Gaza and its lack of “soap opera” appeal may largely be to blame for the lack of serious discussion on the Gaza issue, it is imperative that equal importance be accorded to Gaza since it involves important rule of law issues that are equally relevant to the Philippines, what with our armed conflicts against the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as well as our unresolved territorial controversies that may also lead to further armed conflicts.

Thus far, the bulk of the reportage by Philippine media on the Gaza crisis has been on the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who continue to be stranded in the place of conflict. This is a sorry reflection of how Philippine foreign policy has been crafted of late: parochially reduced only to how events overseas may directly affect our overseas workers constituting the Diaspora. Not much has been said as to why there are mammoth rallies around the globe against this latest instance of Israeli adventurism. That is, that by unilaterally resorting to the use of force, Israel has again showed its defiance of International Law, which prohibits the use of force and restrictively allowing the same only to circumstances constituting self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations. Imperfect as the UN may presently be, it has nonetheless been largely instrumental in preventing what the UN Charter describes as “scourges of war.” This prohibition on the use of force is in fact the most important rule stated in the UN Charter and one that has proven largely effective in preventing armed conflicts of the scale that ravaged humanity in the past two world wars.

Why Israel has not opted to have the Hamas issue debated in the Security Council is open to speculation. The fact though is that if the missile attacks are indeed threats to international peace, the international community has already granted the Security Council primary jurisdiction to deal with these types of threats. For Israel and its ally, the United States, to now insist on unilateral use of force is a blatant disregard of a cardinal rule recognized by all civilized states.

Israel of course will claim that its recent offensive is but an exercise of self-defense. In fact, it has stated that it will only stop when and if Hamas stops launching missiles into Israeli territory. But the question is: self-defense against whom?

Hamas is a non-state party that Israel accuses of operating in the territory of its neighboring states. Without accusing either Palestine or Lebanon of aggression, it has waged wars against both these states solely on the ground that Hamas operatives are found in the territories of these two states.

Meanwhile, the death toll as a result of the crisis continues to rise. Among the victims are protected individuals under humanitarian law, such as civilians, including women and children. What is the sense, for instance, of targeting even the 11 children and four wives of an alleged Hamas leader? Has there since developed a principle attributing criminal guilt to a person solely by virtue of family relations?

The fact that Israel has been targeting civilian homes is a breach of humanitarian law itself since the Geneva conventions prohibit combatants from targeting civilian infrastructures. And yes, the fact that Israel has been violating the non-derogable norms of humanitarian law apparently with impunity is equally deplorable since these grave breaches weaken the rule-enforcing value of the law. Why should our own soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, desist from targeting civilians when the Israelis have seemingly gotten away with it?

Ultimately the Gaza issue should be accorded equal importance as the case of the Alabang boys and the Valley Golf incident because it undermines the rule of law on the prohibition against the unilateral use of force and the non-derogable rule according protection to civilians and other non-combatants in times of armed conflicts. The Gaza issue could spell disaster to countries like the Philippines. For while Israel may have the confidence to engage in military adventurism and commit grave breaches of humanitarian law owing to its superior military strength, countries like the Philippines can only rely on other countries’ compliance with the rule of law against threats of these nature. Think of the Spratlys. Think of China. Think of Malaysia. Think of terrorists operating in Mindanao. This is why Filipinos should take the Gaza incident more seriously. Because unless the rule of law is observed, our “tora-tora” planes will simply be no match to the military might of our potential state adversaries.

Prof. H. Harry L. Roque Jr. teaches Public International Law at the UP College of Law and at the Philippine Judicial Academy. He is also chair of the Center for International Law (CENTERLAW).

A challenge to Bambee dela Paz and other bloggers

January 13, 2009

Written by Carlos Conde
Thursday, 08 January 2009
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There is injustice in the world. The family of Bambee dela Paz, the golfer whose father and brother were manhandled by the sons of Agrarian Reform Secretary and peace negotiator Nasser Pangandaman Sr., knows this very well.

Bambee’s post about the mauling has since exploded on the Internet and single-handedly turned the table against a powerful family with a direct line to the president. This underscored once again the potential of the Internet to be used by victims to seek justice. Bambee and her family are lucky to have such a medium in their arsenal. I don’t think I can say the same thing about other poorer Filipinos who have been victimized by those in power.

Blogging is, by its very nature, a personal medium. This is why bloggers tend to write much more forcefully about an injustice if it hits them on a personal level, as it did the dela Pazes.

But as we’ve seen in this case – and in other cases as well, most notably the Brian Gorrell imbroglio – once you blog about a wrong done to you, the whole blogosphere runs to your side, offering help and encouragement, even vengeance on your behalf. Once this happens, the mission to correct an injustice becomes a lot less personal — it becomes a movement.

If there’s one thing the Pangandamans probably regretted by now, it is that they did not check first if the people they violated had a blog, which, as we’ve seen, can be mightier than the goons of a trapo. The Pangandamans, powerful and arrogant, have been shamed and are now pleading to bloggers to please stop the vitriol. For this alone, the dela Pazes have scored a victory.

Now, for Bambee and her supporters, the inevitable question arises: Is this it? We have demonstrated that we have so much power as bloggers, and is this it? What next?

The thing about blogging is that it is so personal that whatever you post on your blog naturally flows from your experiences. So one moment you raise hell about the arrogance of those in power and, the next, you wonder aloud why the lip gloss you just bought doesn’t seem to have enough sheen. Truth be told, movements like Bambee’s are few and far between. Much of the blogosphere is inundated with stuff that are irrelevant, inconsequential and, well, personal. Then again, as I pointed out above, that is the original nature of blogging.

The key word is “original” because, as we’ve seen, blogging is evolving. Blogging today is much different from blogging four or five years ago. Five years ago, blogs are like Twitter today: the medium is there and you’re still figuring out how to use it, so you publish just about anything, such as the crappy movie you and your girlfriend are watching or the hot chick you are ogling at the supermarket counter. These tell a thing or two about you or what you are doing but, in the larger scheme of things, they are meaningless and irrelevant. But is this all that we can do with a medium so evidently powerful?

Today, blogging, apart from being both a narcissistic and cathartic exercise of self-expression among millions, is a potent information tool. News organizations use it to complement their journalism (take note: complement, not supplant). Activists use it to promote their cause. Victims use it to right a wrong.

I guess what I’m saying is that bloggers like Bambee can – and should – use their newfound power and influence to right the wrongs done on other people. And, by God, there is so much injustice being committed out there! Yet, except in the circles of activists and human-rights advocates, I have not seen the same level of outrage in the blogosphere over the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, of the atrocity done to Remegio Saladero Jr. and the hundreds of human-rights victims in the Philippines as we have witnessed in the Pangandaman incident.

A post thanking your multitude of supporters is nice but not quite enough. Bloggers who benefited from the power of blogging to correct the injustice done to them have a duty, I believe, to pay society back. And the only way I can think of is for them to raise hell, too, about the injustice done to other people, particularly the oppressed ones – those who are too poor and marginalized to even own a computer, let alone know that there is such a thing as a blog.

Aklan broadcaster escapes slay attempts

January 4, 2009

BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – A broadcaster journalist survived an assassination attempt while on his way home Friday evening. He escaped unhurt.

Cherie “Katribung Che” Indelible, 35, has been receiving numerous death threats over the years, mainly on issues he tackles in his evening program “Bira-Birada” with Community Broadcast Information System (CBIS) 98.5 Hot FM, a government-owned community radio station.

The broadcaster was going home after watching the 4-cocks derby at the Aklan Sports Stadium around 11:30 p.m. Friday on his motorcycle when he was attacked by assailants near St. Jude Hospital at the corner of C. Laserna and F. Quimpo Streets, about 20 meters from his boarding house.

Indelible reported the incident to the Kalibo police station about 100 meters from his boarding house.

The police immediately went to the scene of the foiled assassination, but failed to apprehend the suspects. Police recovered two slugs and four fired cartridges of caliber 38 and .45 caliber pistols.

During the investigation, it was learned that the suspects fled towards the Ureta Bowling Place in C. Laserna Street. Three individuals were able to witness the incident and identified the suspects.

SPO4 Alfonso Manoba Jr. told reporters that the police are searching the two suspects – Miguel Salcedo and Jojo Garmino, both of Purok 6, C. Laserna Street, and a minor.
The suspects have criminal records and are involved in petty crimes, Manoba said. The police did not give any motive as to why the suspects shot at Indelible.

Aklan Police Director Senior Supt. Clarence Guinto called for an immediate and thorough investigation of the case and to arrest the suspects.

Four media organizations – Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc., Aklan Press Club, Inc., Aklan United Media Association and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Aklan – strongly condemned the attack.

The condemnation was joined by the Aklan Police and Defense Press Corps, Aklan Media Forum, Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan Press Corps and the Press Photographers of the Philippines Aklan-Boracay Chapter.

The shooting incident is the third attack in Aklan on a media personality after two other journalists were killed – Agong Rolando Ureta of RMN DyKR in 2001 and Bombo Radyo Heherson Hinolan in 2004.

Ironically, the attempts on Indelible’s life happened a day before Ureta’s death anniversary.

Ureta was murdered on January 3, 2001 by two motorcycle riding gunmen in Brgy. Bagto, Lezo, Aklan, after his top-rated night program “Agong Nightwatch.”/PN

TV reporter roughed up in police station

December 24, 2008

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 02:43:00 12/23/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Media, Regional authorities

ILOILO CITY – A television reporter suffered minor injuries when she was manhandled inside a police station after covering a traffic accident early Monday morning.

GMA reporter Charlene Belvis, 24, suffered scratches and bruises after she was hit several times by Andrea Gorriceta at about 3:55 a.m. at the Jaro District police station compound.

A video footage showed Gorriceta, 27, slapping the side of the reporter’s head, pulling her hair, and dragging her briefly inside the police station. The reporter was in tears.

Gorriceta was apparently irked after the television crew earlier took footage of her and her car. She told dyOK Aksyon Radyo that she repeatedly asked Belvis and her crew not to take any footage, but the crew persisted.

Gorriceta earlier bumped a woman, identified as Ria Aquino, while she was parking her car in front of MO2 Bar and Restaurant in Mandurriao District. She also hit a concrete post.

In a radio interview, Gorriceta said on Monday that she drove away after three men stoned her car after hitting Aquino.

The television crew found Gorriceta’s car along Jalandoni Street in Jaro and immediately alerted the police. But the car sped off to the Jaro station.

Belvis said they followed the car and the policemen to the police station and continued taking footage, including the damage to the car.

Gorriceta’s male companion tried to stop Belvis’ cameraman from taking the video but Belvis said the crew was just doing their job.

Gorriceta slapped Belvis while they were about to enter the police station. Minutes later, she again approached Belvis inside the station and pulled her hair and dragged her.

The network will file criminal charges against Gorriceta, according to Gerthtrode Tan-Baterina, the station’s supervising producer for news.

Baguio media train on extra-judicial killings

December 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — At least twenty-five journalists based in this city participated in a training to help them understand extra-judicial killings and hone their skills on reporting this kind of incidence.


Photo courtesy of Noel Godinez

Co-sponsored by the Benguet Press Corp (BPC) and the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the training was held at the Hotel Supreme here on Monday.

Dubbed as Reporting on Extra-judicial Killings, it is part of a training series on human rights reporting, said resource person Rowena Paraan, NUJP national treasurer and research head of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

Extra-judicial killing is the deliberate and unjustified execution of a person perpetrated by persons whose actions are supported by the state or some other official authority but who are acting outside the legal system, shared Paraan to the practicing journalists.

“These killings frequently have political motivation,” she said adding it is sometimes referred to as political killings.

EJK is incurred where the government or its agents are directly responsible for committing EJK or where the government has not done everything within its power to prevent the killings carried out by others, Paraan pointed by citing Ibarra M. Guitierez III, the director of the Human Rights of the University of the Philippines Law Center.

EJK involves violation of the right to life as well as procedural safeguards and substantial rights related to criminal prosecutions, like presumptions of innocence, speedy and impartial trial, again pointed out Paraan citing Guitierez III.

In the afternoon workshops, participants identified various factors that help or hinder the coverage of extra-judicial killings and the various sources for extra-judicial reports.

Among the hindrance in reporting extra-judicial killings identified by participants were non-cooperation of victims’ families and witnesses, editorial policies that make EJK as less interesting, subjudice or when an EJK case is under judicial deliberation, among others.

The participants were able to systematize tactics in addressing the identified barriers in the workshop reports.

The taking and identifying data on ante-mortem, post mortem, and the patterns and trends of EJK cases were also learned in the training which equipped media practitioners of knowledge and skills on the particularity and nature of the case.

A possible future endeavor identified by the participants with Paraan would be a training on indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-determination to help hone the skills and understanding of media practitioners in reporting indigenous peoples’ issues.

Three representatives of the CEGP Cordillera and Ilocos regions also joined the participating journalists.

The activity was sponsored by the International War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), NUJP, Minda News, and the Center Community Journalism and Development (CCJD). # Arthur L. Allad-iw(NorDis)

Kuwento ng madla, pamamahayag ng madla

December 15, 2008

Kenneth Roland A. Guda

DI PA man alas-10 ng umaga na tinakdang oras ng pagsisimula ng programa noong Nobyembre 29, “standing room only” na ang Seminar Room ng National Institute of Geological Sciences (Nigs) sa UP Diliman.

Katunayan, lampas alas-otso pa lamang, may mga naghihintay na sa labas ng benyu. 50 hanggang 70 lang ang inaasahan naming dadalo sa kauna-unahang Pinoy Citizen Journalism Seminar. Ipinamalita lang kasi namin sa internet at ipinakalat sa mga kuwentu-kuwento ang Seminar, na mukhang kauna-unahan ngang seminar ng citizen journalists sa Pilipinas. May pang-engganyo pa kami sa mga dadalo, para masiguro lamang na di lalangawin: libreng pananghalian sa unang 50 pre-registrants.

Pero sa araw mismong iyon, humigit-kumulang sa 100 ang dumagsa sa Nigs — para dumalo sa lektyur nina Prop. Danny Arao at Tonyo Cruz, at para matuto sa iba’t ibang skills training sa pagsusulat ng balita at lathalain, photojournalism, pagkuha ng bidyo, at science blogging. Halatang uhaw sa kaalaman ang mga nagsipagdalo. Hindi na mahalagang hindi sila umabot sa unang 50 nabigyan ng pananghalian. Ang mahalaga, nakadalo sila sa breakout sessions, at natuto (sana) sa panimulang mga talakayan hinggil sa limang nabanggit na larangan.

Hindi namin sinasabi ito dahil kami ang nag-isponsor (kasama ang College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Computer Professionals Union, Agham-Youth at UP GEMS), pero masasabi talaga naming “breakthrough” ang naturang Seminar. Bilang mga mamamahayag kasi, palagi kaming naiimbitahan sa mga workshop, seminar, at lecture para magbahagi ng aming kaalaman sa pagsusulat, pagkuha ng larawan at iba pang gawain sa pagdidiyaryo. Pero kalimita’y kabataang mga mamamahayag ang odyens. Sa Seminar na ito, nangahas kaming ibukas sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan ang pagsasanay sa pamamahayag. Kaya nga pinili naming gamitin ang konsepto ng “citizen journalism.”

Nakakatuwa ang saklaw ng odyens na dumalo. Siyempre, maraming bilang pa rin ang mula sa kabataan — iyong batikang mga blogger, manunulat sa kampus, mag-aaral ng pamamahayag. May mga representante ang iba’t ibang publikasyon sa kampus, mula FEU hanggang PUP hanggang UP Los Baños. Pero nakakatuwa ang paglahok ng iba’t ibang organisasyong kumakatawan sa batayang mga sektor. May mula sa mga kawani ng gobyerno, manggagawa, migrante, kababaihan. Marami ang mula sa sektor ng kalusugan. May mga mula sa organisasyong pangkarapatang pantao. At marami pang iba.

Indikasyon ito ng pagnanais nilang masandatahan ng karampatang kaalaman — para sila na mismo ang mag-ulat ng kani-kanilang mga istorya. Napakarami ang limitasyon sa masmidya, laluna sa mainstream na masmidya. Bakit hindi sila na mismo ang maging mamamahayag ng kanilang mg isyu — silang mismong nasa front lines ng balita, silang mismong araw-araw na nakakasaksi sa mahahalagang panlipunang kaganapan? Madalas silang walang boses sa masmidya. Sa tulong ng Seminar, sana’y nabigyan sila ng kaunting kaalaman at, mas mahalaga, ng kumpiyansa sa sarili, para maging “citizen journalists.”

Panimula pa lamang ang inilunsad noong Nobyembre 29. Salamat sa lahat ng tumulong para masakatuparan ito: sa mga kapwa isponsor sa CEGP, CPU, Agham-Youth, UP GEMS at PhilippineReader.com; sa UP Nigs; sa mga naglektyur: kina Prop. Arao at G. Cruz, at sa mga nagbahagi ng kanilang kaalaman: sina Iris Estrera (newswriting), Rowena Paraan (features writing), Jimmy Domingo (photojournalism), EJ Mijares (videography) at Dr. Giovanni Tapang (science blogging); at, siyempre, sa mga dumalo — sa mga estudyante’t kabataan na dinayo ang sulok na ito ng UP Diliman, at sa mga miyembro’t kinatawan ng iba’t ibang sektoral na organisasyon.

Para sa inyo lahat ang isinagawang Seminar. Para sa inyong lahat ang aming mga larawan at panulat.

* * *


Registration: Alas-nuwebe ng umaga, dagsa na ang mga nagsipagdalo.


Isa sa mga nagbigay ng paunang salita si Rick Bahague ng Computer Professionals Union.


Masusing tinalakay ni Prop. Danny Arao ang konsepto ng citizen journalism at ang mga tungkulin at responsabilidad ng isang citizen journalist.


Samantala, abala rin si Soliman Santos, manunulat ng Pinoy Weekly, sa pagbenta ng librong Pluma at Papel, koleksiyon ng mga sanaysay ng tagapangulo ng editorial board ng Pinoy Weekly na si Rogelio Ordoñez.


Masigla at kuwelang tinalakay ni Tonyo Cruz ang mayamang potensiyal ng new media.


Isa sa mga nagbahagi sa open forum si Engr. Mon Ramirez, hinggil sa mga karanasan ng Arkibong Bayan — isa sa pinakamaningning at matagumpay na kuwento ng citizen journalism.


Pila-pila sa pagkain.


Paghahanda para sa breakout sessions.


Si EJ Mijares ng Sine Patriyotiko (Sipat) ang tagapagsalita para sa sesyon sa videography.


Masaya at makulay naman ang talakayan hinggil sa newswriting sa pangunguna ni Iris Pagsanjan-Estrera, associate producer ng Saksi sa GMA-7 News.


Masinsin at mabunga ang talakayan hinggil sa features writing sa pamumuno ni Rowena Paraan ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) at Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).


Interesante at hindi lang pang-“geek” ang diskusyon hinggil sa science blogging ni Dr. Giovanni Tapang ng UP National Institute of Physics at AGHAM.


Sa kabila ng “nakabubura ng mukha” na lamig ng aircon, patok sa takilya ang diskusyon sa photojournalism ni Jimmy Domingo ng Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism sa Ateneo de Manila University.


Nagsagawa pa ng hands-on training sa mga nagsipagdalo sa kanyang sesyon si EJ Mijares ng Sipat.


Ang istap ng Pinoy Weekly na ilan sa mga responsable sa paghahanda para sa Seminar: (Mula kaliwa) Soliman Santos, Jeffrey Ocampo, Darius Galang, Kenneth Guda, at Ilang-Ilang Quijano.

Mga larawan nina Jeffrey Ocampo, Darius Galang, Ilang-Ilang Quijano at Makis Magaling

PinoyWeekly

A Killing Puzzle: The Life and Death of a Radio Commentator

December 13, 2008

By Alan Davis and Ma. Cecilia L. Rodriguez
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

GINGOOG CITY, Misamis Oriental — Three days after burying him, the family of Aresio Padrigao were packing up their simple belongings and waiting for the people from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) witness protection program to take them to the relative safety of Cagayan de Oro, a two-hour drive away.

There they hope to be resettled: there, his three children, Ariston, Arceli and Aries hope to find new schools; and only there is his clearly nervous and distressed widow Teresita prepared to speak in detail to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which has been ordered in to lead in the hunt for the killers of the local radio block-timer. Padrigao was a heavy critic of the city administration and illegal loggers via his weekly one hour show “Inform the Public.”

“Local police chief Superintendent Leonyroy Ga is working with both the NBI and the DOJ on two possible leads and hopes the case can be solved within the month. Even so, he complains he is heavily reliant on the public coming forward. Ga has only just moved from Iligan City where last year he headed the investigation into another journalist shooting, that of Joe Pantoja, a radioman who survived despite being shot eight times.

Considered by many to be a fair and reliable pair of hands, the police chief was just one week in the job at the time of Padrigao’s killing on November 17. He says there is “a lot of pressure from above” to solve this case.

A 9mm. bullet casing had been retrieved from the scene and so too, somewhat remarkably, the alleged license plate of the motorbike used in the attack.

“We first thought that yes, the plate could simply have been thrown there by the assailants and this could be a false lead to send us on the wrong trail. The bike too may have been stolen, but we have followed it up and it is registered to an owner in Davao,” the police chief told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project.

“The plate number will probably have been taken off and held or put in a bag before the shooting. We had witnesses that told us the plate fell out from the killer’s backpack as he was rushing to hide his gun and make a getaway,” he said.

Papers with the name, photograph and address of the bike’s owner were shown to the Project by Ga, who confirmed that while the owner had no known criminal record he remained one of two current suspects. The other, whose name was first given to the Project by another source, is a reported gun-for-hire with two outstanding arrest warrants to his name for murder and attempted murder.

“The problem is we don’t know where he is, but we have the bullet casing and if we can tie that to his gun, then we have a match,” Ga said.

But even if so, while it may prove the case of who pulled the trigger on Padrigao, it will shed no light on the person or people behind his execution.

Recordings of Padrigao’s final four shows have been given to the Project to see if they can help shed any light on his killing – the sixth this year, surpassing last year’s five media killings. He was also the 61st journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 2001 when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took over.

In his broadcasts, Padrigao attacked city hall, the local government and too, the local police and the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources office for what he saw was a failure to catch illegal loggers.

“He had sources inside the city hall,” said Gualberto Pahunang, station manager of dxRS Radyo Natin (Our Radio) where the journalist had been broadcasting his show every Friday between 10 and 11 a.m. for the past two years. As a block-timer, Padrigao paid the station PhP 1,000 (USD) 20) a week.

Work-related?

Pahunang believes the killing could well be related to his work at the station.

Padrigao was one of six block-timers at Radyo Natin, a local community affiliate of the Manila Broadcasting Company. A framed certificate from the Philippine Red Cross thanking the station for its humanitarian reporting hangs on the wall.

“We are a public service radio for the people,” says Pahunang. “Some officials criticize us saying why are you doing this? You want to be heroes? You’re just monkeys.”

The station is little more than a simple box measuring six square feet with a computer, transmitter, basic mixing desk, two microphones and a stack of plastic chairs which can also be used in the yard outside.

“He was always reading directly from papers and documents he brought with him. He was very careful about that,” said Pahunang. With little experience in journalism, Padrigao was still considered “a trainee” and had to be coached by his manager on legal issues like libel and slander.

“I gave him a discount because he was poor. He was always trying to help the poor. But he was very poor himself. You can see that from where he lives. If people needed medicine, he would try and help and he would get sponsorship for the show from local people like sari-sari (variety) store owners,” said Pahunang.

He added: “His wife said somebody had been following them for a month and he told me he had threats, but he wouldn’t tell me where they came from.”

“It is very sad what happened,” says Attorney Benjamin Guimong, a respected lawyer in the city, from his office in Rizal Street. “Things are getting bad here in this city. You can hire a gunman here for PhP 1,500 (USD 30). That means nobody is safe.”

There has reportedly been a sudden recent spike in cases of extra judicial killings with the shooting of the administrator of the city market – an employee of city hall – under similar circumstances in August.

Some observers who wished not to be named suggested drugs, illegal gambling and extortion are becoming serious problems in this rural and somewhat isolated city of 120,000 people in North Eastern Mindanao. In the local print media, Gingoog is trying to advertise itself as a potential tourist attraction, but is much better known nationally only as a center for illegal logging.

According to Guimong, Padrigao was intending to publicly accuse those he believed responsible for a raid last month on the city treasury which reportedly netted robbers PhP 1 million (USD 20,408).

“I pleaded with him to be careful and not to talk about that on the radio until he had all the evidence,” Guimong said.

Guimong also spoke of the journalist telling him about threats he had allegedly received in the days before his death. Padrigao again supposedly refused to divulge the exact source of the threats.

When the lawyer said he urged him to vary his routine and take extra care, Padrigao replied that he would be okay. A few days later, on Monday, November 17, Padrigao was shot dead outside the gates of Bukidnon State University.

The campus also serves as the local elementary school. Padrigao was dropping off his youngest daughter at around 7 a.m. when he was ambushed by a gunman and his accomplice riding in tandem on a motorcycle.

A simple wooden cross and stone shrine built by local pupils stands at the spot where he bled to death in front of his daughter.

Witness to a killing

Exactly four weeks earlier on Monday, October 14, Padrigao witnessed a similar extrajudicial style killing on the national highway when Randy Naduma, the son of a barangay (village) captain was shot dead in front of him by two men on a passing bike.

“He witnessed the killing. He knew the killer,” said station manager Pahunang.

Many observers in Gingoog believe the two killings are very much connected and some reports claim Padrigao was overheard talking into his phone following the shooting agreeing not to testify.

“He wanted to keep out of that business. He told them that it was their business, not his,” a source told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project.

And according to his family, Padrigao refused to report the incident to the police. One month on, witnesses to his own killing are now similarly wary of speaking out.

Padrigao bled to death directly in front of at least five stall-holders and pedicab drivers. All told these writers that they were too scared to help and did not want to get involved.

Only Fely Brianeza says she is prepared to testify in court if called. Even then, she says she did not see anything that could help catch the killers. “I only looked up when I heard his little girl crying. I didn’t even hear the shot.”

Nobody could describe the gunman, the driver-lookout or the motorbike as it sped off heading south and away from the city. Both wore helmets — a serious traffic violation here which has ironically banned them for public safety reasons. Too many armed robberies have been committed by people in helmets.

Asked if he could remember anything or was prepared to testify, a man who prepared and sold small bags of sliced mangoes said no. “I don’t trust or believe in the system,” he said.

Another stall-holder who sells sweets to the children directly in front of the gates said she didn’t offer to help Padrigao “because it was obvious he was dead. There was a lot of blood.”

A neighbor who was bringing his own children to school saw the body and the crying girl and brought her back home to alert Mrs. Padrigao who says she had to take her husband to the hospital herself.

“Death is not the end. It is just the beginning,” says a simple paper streamer hanging over an unlit candle in the Padrigao family’s two-roomed house in the city’s shanty area. Their home in Barangay 19 is dark and hard to find and the lane down from the national highway and toward the sea is almost impassable.

A black and white banner calling for justice and decorated with a bloodied dagger hangs over a makeshift porch outside and above the heads of two special force police officers who have recently been assigned to keep watch over the family. But there is very little sense that justice for Padrigao and his family will be easily found here on the streets of Gingoog City.

In the days immediately following the killing, Padrigao’s wife publicly complained she was not being offered any support or protection from the authorities. It led to reports that protection instead had been offered by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) which is said to be very active in the surrounding hills.

NPA, agent

Like the city Padrigao lived and died in, his life read like a puzzle book up until the very end.

The lawyer Guimong first came across him 20 years ago when he was called to defend Padrigao from a charge of being a member of the NPA. At the same time, Guimong says, the army stepped in and identified him as being a military intelligence asset – an agent – for them.

Whatever the truth, veteran print and radio journalist Bingo Alcordo and columnist for the Mindanao Gold Star Daily remembers Padrigao as a friend and activist who was constantly working in support of the poor.

“He was former NPA but he was well-known for bringing 20 NPA members down from the hills to reintegrate them into society,” said Alcordo, who is based in Cagayan de Oro City.

And while Radyo Natin’s station manger suggests that Padrigao also nurtured political ambitions and was looking forward to campaigning in “some way” for the 2010 elections, his family confirmed that he had worked for many years as a bodyguard to Gingoog mayor Ruthie Guingona before quitting to manage a lumberyard on behalf of his cousin Roger Edma.

Request to interview the mayor was politely declined.

Broadcast targets

Some targets of Padrigao’s radio broadcasts claim Padrigao was himself involved in illegal logging and that illegal loggers may have killed him.

One of Padrigao’s targets on his weekly show was city administrator Tita Garrido. Says station manager Pahunang: “He was against favoritism and attacked her.”

Garrido confirmed she was the subject of some of his attacks, saying that Padrigao had suspicions her decision to come back out of retirement during a City Hall restructuring was ‘irregular.’ However she insisted she had nothing to hide and had even “offered to speak to Padrigao and open the books on her appointment.”

Garrido added that she never personally listened to his broadcasts and was not angry with him. “There was nothing to get angry about. I never get angry,” she said.

Asked if she thought anybody in City Hall had a serious enough grudge against Padrigao to kill him, she replied no.

“I can’t imagine anybody being involved.”

Instead Garrido suggested Padrigao could have been killed because of his involvement in illegal logging. She said: “There were no big problems with drugs or gambling in Gingoog City, just illegal logging.”

The city administrator went on to say that mayor Guingona has been “aggressively targeting the illegal loggers and went out at nights to catch them,” but in doing so she was attacked by Padrigao in his radio broadcasts.

“I believe that Mr. Padrigao should not have been critical of the mayor since she is the one against illegal logging.”

For their part, family and friends insist that Padrigao’s involvement in the logging business was wholly legitimate: contracts were arranged and won fairly and that their only other interest was in working so called “dry logs” or dead and fallen trees which are deemed unprotected and public property.

Clearly agitated and impatient to leave the city that was once her home, Mrs. Padrigao refused to say who she thought was responsible for her husband’s shooting. She also denied having publicly accused Gingoog vice mayor Marlon Kho for being behind her husband’s killing when he spoke to her by cell phone to offer his condolences at the hospital as Padrigao was being certified dead by doctors.

“I have witnesses that she did,” the vice mayor, a local businessman, told these writers outside his villa. He politely refused to answer any questions except to confirm he had filed a case against Mrs. Padrigao and to deny categorically that he had anything to do with the killing. “I will make a statement in due course,” he said. “But not right now.”

Kho also said he condemned the killing of Padrigao but had “no idea” who might have been responsible. “Right now we have convened the peace and order council of the city and the province, and we are discussing a proposal to give additional funds to the police this coming Wednesday.”

Back at the police station, an entry in the police blotter seen by the Project reports an alleged death threat made to a colleague of Padrigao who has a show Monday mornings in Radyo Natin.

The threat via phone was reportedly made to Manuel Ansiangan, 28, just a few hours after the death of Padrigao was publicly announced. Ansiangan, like other block-timers working there, gives his number out live on air to solicit feedback and stories.

“The caller said he will wipe us all out. He said I was the devil,” said Ansiangan.

The journalist also claims a friend in the intelligence section of Gingoog police force subsequently called him late last week and warned him not to go home after a helmeted man on a black motorbike was spotted waiting outside his boarding house.

Ansiangan says he destroyed the SIM card that would have shown the number of the caller.

Asked whether he is concerned about the future security of his station, manager Pahunang says yes. At the same time, he doesn’t want his block-timers to tone down either their language or their vitriolic campaigns against Gingoog City Hall and the illegal loggers. “I tell them to keep it hot,” he laughs.

For his part, the city’s police chief thinks the threats to Ansiangan are not serious and are unconnected to the killing of Padrigao.

Perhaps only time will tell. As city administrator Garrido said, while the mayor intends investing more funds and energy into “intelligence matters” to help combat a sense of increasing impunity here, “even she cannot promise there will be no more killings”. Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

(Alan Davis is Project Director of the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and Ma. Cecilia L. Rodriguez is a journalist based in Cagayan de Oro City).

Government urged to act vs media killings

December 10, 2008

By Cecille Suerte Felipe Updated December 10, 2008 12:00 AM

The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalist (FFFJ) called on the government anew to address the unsolved killings of journalists, including the cases of 39 newsmen murdered during the administration of President Arroyo.

The FFFJ made the call in connection with today’s celebration of International Human Rights Day, with the United Nation’s 2008 theme “Dignity and justice for all of us,” which reinforces the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a commitment to universal dignity and justice.

Since the declaration was adopted in 1948, it has been the inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The FFFJ said the recent killing of broadcaster Leo Luna Mila of Radyo Natin in San Roque, Northern Samar brought to seven the number of journalists killed this year.

“They spoke too soon,” the FFFJ said in a statement. “This year there is an escalation in the number of killings of journalists.”

The FFFJ has been a leading voice speaking out against the continuing peril to press freedom and democracy. It has provided assistance to the survivors of slain journalists as well as witnesses for the prosecution of the killers, engaged the police and justice system to prod them into action, and hired private prosecutors to assist the government prosecutorial service.

FFFJ is a coalition formed to address the killings of journalists with member organizations that include the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), the Kapisanan ng Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), and Philippine News.

The FFFJ pointed out that prosecution of journalists’ killers and masterminds is faced with several problems including a conflict-ridden society, weak rule of law, weak judicial system, poor police investigation, lack of witness, inadequate funds and the culture of impunity.

The CMFR recorded a total of 77 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1986.(Pstar)

(PDI Editorial) Bandit nation

December 7, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:09:00 12/06/2008

When Leo Luna Mila was gunned down, he became the first media practitioner in Northern Samar and the second in the Eastern Visayas region to be murdered (the first, Ramon Noblejas, was shot and killed in Tacloban City on Oct. 4, 1987 in a case that remains unsolved); and the eighth journalist to be killed in the country this year. (Prior to Mila’s murder, Radio dxRS commentator Arecio Padrigao was the latest fatality, shot dead on Nov. 17.)

The police seem pretty certain Mila was killed due to his work as a journalist: he had recently discussed allegations of anomalies involving money collected from the parents of students in a local school. The police said they were bringing in two teachers from that school for questioning. But everything is police speculation at this point, since they have no immediate suspects and no witnesses have come forward.

In our nation of damaged institutions—where officialdom is often blind, mute and deaf when it comes to the concerns of the public—media have essentially served as a court of last resort, bringing allegations of official wrongdoing to the bar of public opinion. In the major metropolitan areas of the country, where the public, media and officials generally subscribe to the notion that the give-and-take and push-and-pull of debating public issues in public fora are normal, the chances that media exposés will result in fatalities are slight.

But what is actually more relevant is whether media, officials and the public operate in areas where the free exchange of ideas is a tradition or they operate in areas where a culture of impunity reigns. The reason more media people are murdered outside the major metropolitan areas, particularly outside the National Capital Region, is that out there, the feeling of impunity of those responsible for the murders is well nigh absolute.

We are aware that certain sectors, particularly those protective of embattled officials, insist that there may be more to these crimes than attempts to kill free speech. There is much talk of freedom requiring responsibility, of some murdered journalists being highly accomplished extortionists, and so forth.

However, the remedy for such abuses is to go to the courts, though it is only fair to point out that so long as libel is considered a criminal act, going to court as a remedy invites other abuses of our institutions by those in power. That is why we have called for a review of our obsolete laws on libel, and why we have also questioned the proposed legislation to give those who hold political offices an unreasonable right of reply in the media.

The antidote to lies and slander is the truth. The best protection against media people who abuse their profession is to provide a level of public service that is conspicuous in its integrity and accountability. The public listens and laps up the exposés of journalists because, in the first place, their revelations strike a familiar chord—such as, accusations known to be based on facts, or borne out by widespread experience with official abuses.

There is simply no justifiable reason to resort to killing a journalist—whatever his/her reputation. The murder may silence him/her, but it also makes iron-clad his/her accusations, whether resolved or not: that the journalist had to die means there was no other way to disprove his/her allegation. It suggests that the journalist must have been on to something, and that there was no other defense for the culprits behind the anomaly but to murder him/her.

Media murders underscore the thinking of a significant minority in our society that they live beyond the pale of the law, even if they themselves belong to local or national institutions that supposedly exist for the maintenance of public order and the common good.

At a time when all sorts of proposals are being made by officials themselves—greater autonomy for regions and provinces, increased fiscal control of local funds and projects, and even a shift in the system of our government, among others—the public must ask itself whether the record of these officials merits greater freedoms.

For if they perpetually complain about the abuse of freedom by people armed only with their pens or voices, how about the abuse of authority and utter disregard for the principle of accountability by officials who turn a blind eye to media murders or who have a hand in media murders themselves?

Lawyers,media hit arrest of labor lawyer

November 18, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Lawyers and media groups condemned the arrest of labor lawyer and columnist Remigio Saladero Jr. and tagged it the worst attack against a human rights defender and an advocate of press freedom.

They added Saladero’s arrest and continuing detention is the manifestation of the gravity of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s human rights violation records.

“That is (Saladero’s case) the worst form of attack against human rights defenders, filing trump up cases to silence him on his human rights work and advocacy,” said Atty. Jose Mencio Molintas, appointed member of the indigenous rights experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN-HRC).

Saladero is a labor lawyer who also writes “Husgahan Natin,” a column discussing labor issues and human rights on the Pinoy Weekly, a web-based news outfit. He is currently detained at Calapan City Provincial Jail in Mindoro Oriental where he was brought after his arrest last October 23 in his home in Antipolo, Batangas on multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges arising from the Philippine National Police (PNP) claim that he is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Molintas, who is also the vice-president for Luzon of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), added he knew Saladero as dedicated to his human rights work by rendering free legal services to the workers and the poor and oppressed.

Another lawyer, Cheryll Daytec-Yangot condemned the arrest as an assault on basic human rights and a manifestation of the gravity of GMA’ s disregard on basic rights.

“If they can concoct a case against a lawyer and violate his human rights, they can do that to anyone just to stifle dissent on a regime whose record is unprecedented,” added Daytec-Yangot, a human rights lawyer here.

She added Marcos’ human rights record pales in comparison with that of Arroyo.

Press freedom advocate

Media groups on the other hand viewed the arrest and continuing detention of Saldero as a concern on press freedom.

Desiree Caluza, Secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Baguio-Benguet and a member of the NUJP National Directorate, pointed the press is enraged by how the state continues to perpetrate abuses against writers and journalists who exercise their right to freedom of expression.

“Saladero was arrested not because he was being suspected as an NPA but because he wrote criticisms on government’s inability to address the issues of the labor sector,” Caluza pointed out adding, “The government should stop thinking that the arrest of Saladero will stop those who would write and express the issues of the marginalized sectors. The will to express and write about the marginalized sector cannot be curtailed as long as the exploitation and oppression continues.”

Meanwhile, NUJP in a statement said Saladero is known as a defender of press freedom, having argued before courts against the Arroyo government’s implementation of the Presidential Proclamation No. 1017, which resulted in the raid of a national broadsheet, threats of closure of broadcast stations and arrest of journalists.

“We urge the court in Calapan City to speedily act on the case. We likewise ask the members of the PNP in Calapan City to exert restraint and to refrain from further violating his rights,” appealed NUJP.

Pinoy Weekly staff refuted the PNP claim that Saladero is an NPA member. “He could not have been writing his weekly column “Husgahan Natin” and working as a high-profile labor lawyer in Manila if he was in the hinterlands as a rebel,” a staff-writer said.

NUJP appreciates Saladero’s contributions to the cause of press freedom and advancement of rights of media practitioners and workers. “We are concerned that his prosecution may be linked to his high-profile work as a human rights lawyer, government critic and columnist,” the statement said. # Arthur L. Allad-iw(NorDis)

Baguio media tackles barriers to poverty reporting

November 18, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Local media practitioners tackled issues and concerns on reporting about poverty in a media training, here, Wednesday, and identified possible solutions on why the issues related on poverty are less covered, written, published or aired.


Human Rights and Poverty Reporting Seminar resource persons (L-R) Rori Fajardo of IWPR; Cye Reyes of Nordis, Rod Batario of CCJD and Rowena Paraan of the NUJP and PCIJ. Photo by Kathleen T. Okubo/NORDIS

According to Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), journalists should take more initiative in covering poverty stories to give voice to the powerless.

“There is a need to reflect the actual situation of the people by writing stories on poverty,” added trainer Paraan, who also heads the Research Department of the Philippine Center for Investigative Reporting (PCIJ)

She said however that journalists are usually hindered in tackling poverty stories due to various editorial barriers.

The participants identified editorial barriers like the lack of interest of the journalists themselves, un-saleability of poverty stories, non-priority of the editor, cosmopolitan orientation of news outfits, lack of resources to cover poverty situations like in the provinces, untimely and in-availability of necessary data from concerned government agencies, lack of ability to interpret data, and its (poverty issue) being non-controversial.

Participants also raised that journalists who can write interesting stories related on poverty are tagged as anti-government or pro-leftist. They agreed that the solution on this “tagging” is the journalists presentation of the issue with fairness, accuracy and with objectivity.

The basic concepts on human rights were also tackled in the training including the various international instruments that defines civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and, environemntal and development rights.

The training objectives are the understanding of human rights, understanding the issues on poverty, and enhancing knowledge and skills in writing poverty.

The training was organized by NUJP Baguio-Benguet chapter and sponsored by Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Minda News and NUJP.

It was participated by local journalists from radio and print outfits. # Cye Reyes and Art Allad-iw(NorDis)

60TH SINCE 2001 Radioman shot dead in front of daughter

November 18, 2008

By Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:57:00 11/18/2008

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— They trailed him from home to school. As he got off his motorcycle to drop his 7-year-old daughter at the school gate, one of the men shot him in the jaw in front of the girl, police said.

An avowed opponent of illegal loggers, radio commentator Aristeo Padrigao Monday became the 60th journalist to be killed in the Philippines since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001.

He was also the sixth member of the local media to die violently this year.

The assassins, two men riding tandem also on a motorcycle, escaped.

Padrigao, a block-time commentator and radio show host of dxRS Radyo Natin, as well as a columnist in the Mindanao Monitor Today, was shot and killed at 7:15 a.m. in Gingoog City.

Uriel Quilingging, a friend of Padrigao, said the killing might have been due to the radio commentator’s exposés about illegal logging activities.

“He was quite vocal about illegal logging operations in Gingoog. Most of the people he was criticizing were big politicians,” Quilingging said.

Remain vigilant

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urged the media to remain vigilant against efforts to suppress them and said: “If anything, Padrigao’s murder highlights the government’s inability to stop the media killings and put those responsible behind bars.”

Initial police investigation showed that Padrigao, 55, was killed by a 9mm bullet fired into his right jaw.

Based on eyewitness accounts, two motorcycle-riding men wearing black jackets and helmets tailed Padrigao from his home to the school.

Just as Padrigao stopped at the school’s front gate to drop off his daughter, one of the men pointed a gun at Padrigao’s head and fired.

Supt. Leonroy Ga, Gingoog police chief, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone his men were investigating reports that Padrigao had received death threats days before he was killed.

“We will talk to his wife and verify the information that they received death threats prior to the incident,” Ga said.

He said investigators had no other leads so far except that the killing was related to Padrigao’s work.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno condemned the killing and ordered the police to “leave no stone unturned.”

“I condemn the senseless killing in the strongest terms. I call on the police, the National Bureau of Investigation and other related agencies to immediately apprehend the perpetrators and bring them and their cohorts to the bar of justice,” Moreno said.

The NUJP said: “We call on our colleagues not to waver, to continue banding together and remain vigilant against all attempts to suppress us and the independent Philippine media.”

Painful struggle

It added: “The struggle for genuine press freedom in our country has been a long and painful one and will continue to be a long and painful one. But we cannot waver. We must see this struggle through to the end and the inevitable victory that awaits us and our people.”

According to the Media Safety Office of the International Federation of Journalists-NUJP, Padrigao was the 61st journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 2001. A separate Inquirer tally put the number at 60.

In Iloilo City, a local journalist has filed a complaint of grave threats against a scion of the Lopez clan before the prosecutor’s office.

Francis Allan Angelo, executive editor of The Daily Guardian community paper, alleged that Alberto Lopez III threatened him with bodily harm on Oct. 31 while they were at the Flow Bar and Restaurant in Smallville Business and Leisure Complex.

Angelo alleged in his complaint that Lopez, son of former Congressman Albertito Lopez and former Gov. Emily Relucio-Lopez, approached him while he and his companions were having drinks and told him in Tagalog: “Don’t stare at me. I don’t know you. I will kill you.”

Angelo said he was horrified, especially when he saw Lopez’s bodyguards approaching.

Lawyer Joseph Anthony Lutero, one of Angelo’s companions, alleged in his affidavit that he heard Lopez make the threats against Angelo, and that Lopez threatened him, too.

Lopez’s counsel, Rene Sarabia, said he had to consult with his client before he could issue any statement.

Sarabia said he had tried to discuss the matter with Angelo. With the filing of the complaint, Sarabia said he might as well “defend (Lopez in court) and let the truth come out.” With a report from David Israel Sinay, Inquirer Visayas

Journalists hit media ‘profiling’ by AFP

November 15, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:45:00 11/15/2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Several media groups have slammed the military’s attempt at media profiling here.

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) has earlier asked journalists to fill up bio-data forms so they could be accredited.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on local and national journalists to reject the imposition and for the military to withdraw such requirement.

“We, the NUJP, are incensed at the sudden requirement imposed by Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, for journalists to fill up (a) bio-data form before they can be accredited for coverage,” said the statement.

NUJP secretary general Sonny Fernandez said the NUJP considers it not only an invasion of privacy but also “a subtle repression of press freedom.”

“It would give the Westmincom information office blanket authority to decide on who it will or will not consider a journalist, an authority it does not have the competence or legal right to possess,” Fernandez said.

Marlon Simbajon, regional coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (Pecojon) in Western Mindanao, said the Westmincom’s move was uncalled for.

“It must be properly evaluated before it is imposed. A dialogue with the media is helpful to resolve this matter,” he said.

However, Simbajon said he believed that Westmincom’s purpose was only to have “basis/reference in identifying the journalists covering the military beat and issue them an identification card from the command.”

But Fernandez said the information that journalists were required to write down in the form include facts that have nothing to do with their profession.

Among these are hair color, color of eyes, moles or markings and social security and income tax numbers.

Darwin Wee, chairperson of the NUJP in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi areas, said there was no need for them to fill up an information sheet anymore.

“Our press cards are enough. We don’t need press cards from the military to cover their activities,” he said.

Al Jacinto, editor in chief of the Mindanao Examiner, said five years ago, the former Southern Command also required journalists to fill up data sheets, that asked for details such as their bank account numbers.

Batara said the new requirement was meant to update the Westmincom’s defense corps.

“We saw the need to update the DPC records by calling on all active members to fill up an updated bio-data. It was also noted that some have changed outfits and others were no longer active or assigned to different beats or areas,” he said.

In Davao City, an official of the Philippine Information Agency called the WestMincom’s move as “stupid.”

“It’s a stupid idea of accrediting private media because there is no need (for it),” Efren Elbanbuena, PIA director for Southern Mindanao, said.

He said if Westmincom was interested in knowing who the legitimate journalists were in its area of jurisdiction, it could have simply coordinated with the PIA office in Western Mindanao. Julie Alipala with a report from Joselle R. Badilla, Inquirer Mindanao

SAYS PALACE ‘Press freedom alive in RP’

October 26, 2008

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:56:00 10/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Secretary Cerge Remonde on Saturday played down the drop of the Philippines in the worldwide press freedom index of an international media watchdog, saying it was a matter of perception.

Nonetheless, Remonde, chief of the Presidential Management Staff, said he was “saddened” by the drop in ranking, and added that the government would take steps to “improve our ranking.”

“But if you think hard about it, this is more perception than reality,” he said over the government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

If the watchdog were closely monitoring the TV and radio networks and newspapers, it would discover that the Philippine press was “very lively, aggressive and free,” Remonde said.

“Not a day goes by without the media bashing the government. It’s being criticized rightfully or wrongfully here in the Philippines,” he said.

The Philippines dropped several notches in the Reporters Without Borders’ Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2008. From 128th last year, the country plummeted to 142nd this year in the index of press freedom in 173 countries.

The index measures the state of press freedom in the world. It shows the degree of freedom that journalists and news organizations enjoy in a country, and the actions taken by the authorities to respect this freedom, the group said.

The watchdog blamed corruption as among the main reasons for the poor ranking of countries, saying this “eats away at democracies.”

Iceland, Luxembourg, and Norway topped the list, all tying for first place. Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd), and Eritrea (173rd), on the other hand, were at the bottom.

============

My Take:

A classic example of a liar who believes his own lies and sees it as the absolute truth.  He even failed to mention the number of killings of journalists in the country.  Tsk.

Censored news stories highlighted by academic research group

October 23, 2008

Written by Peter Phillips
Friday, 10 October 2008
var sburl5849 = window.location.href; var sbtitle5849 = document.title;var sbtitle5849=encodeURIComponent(“Censored news stories highlighted by academic research group”); var sburl5849=decodeURI(“http://zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=542”); sburl5849=sburl5849.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl5849=encodeURIComponent(sburl5849);Media Accountability Day, Oct. 1, is the annual release of the news stories that were not covered by the corporate-mainstream media in the US. The list, just announced by Project Censored at Sonoma State University in California, includes the twenty-five most important uncovered news stories of the year selected by over 200 academics.

Stories about the Iraq occupation lead the list. Unreported in the US corporate media is how over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths resulting from the 2003 US led invasion. According to a study conducted by the British polling group Opinion Research Business the human toll exceeded 900,000 as of August 2007. In addition, a United Nations Refugee Agency study found that five million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their country.

Also ignored by mainstream media was the report of how three hundred Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans came forward in March of 2008 to recount the brutal impact of the ongoing occupations. The Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Spring, Maryland, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, presented multiple testimonies by veterans who witnessed or participated in atrocities against Iraqis or Afghans.

Independent media reported that the United States Federal Reserve shipped $12 billion in US currency to Iraq at the beginning of the war of which at least $9 billion went missing, but this story never saw the light of day in the US mainstream.

Additionally, many anti-war activists will be surprised to learn that President Bush has signed two executive orders that would allow the US Treasury Department to seize the property of any person perceived to, directly or indirectly, pose a threat to US operations in the Middle East.

Also not reported in the US news is how the leaders of Canada, the US, and Mexico have been secretly meeting to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) to form a militarized tri-national Homeland Security force and how more than 23,000 representatives of US private industry are working with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect information on fellow Americans.

Coverage of how massive new US-backed military funding threatens peace and democracy in Latin America and that Nato officials are considering a first strike nuclear option was also missing from the corporate press.

Unreported news also includes the stories that the Justice Department believes it is legal for the president to secretly ignore previous executive orders anytime he wants, and the FDA is complicit in allowing drug companies to make false, unsubstantiated, and misleading advertising claims.

Censored news stories also included why the No Child Left Behind program is a huge success for corporate profits, but have had little positive impact on public education. Children in juvenile detention centers in the US face conditions that involve sexual and physical abuse, and even death. And radioactive materials from nuclear weapons production sites are being dumped into public landfills, and being used as recycled metals.

Untold news includes Care announcing last year that it was turning down $45 million in food aid from the United States government because the procedures the US demands for handling the food actually increases starvation instead of relieving it.

Rounding out the Project Censored list is the news that the guest worker program in the United States victimizes immigrant workers and creates a new form of indentured servitude and that twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today.

Censorship is a harsh term, but the shocking fact is that the corporate-mainstream media in the US was so busy entertaining us that these and many other important news stories became lost in a news system run amuck.

[Censored 2009 was released Oct. 1, 2008 by Seven Stories Press. Daily independent news and a full on-line review of the most censored stories are available at: www.projectcensored.org.]

DOJ CHIEF ON BRAVO INTERVIEW ‘ABS-CBN violated broadcast code’ Network: ‘It was a legitimate story’

October 22, 2008

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:11:00 10/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez is considering a complaint against broadcast network ABS-CBN for airing on television an interview with wanted Moro rebel commander Abdullah Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo.

Gonzalez accused the network of violating provisions of the Broadcast of the Philippines, particularly Sections 2 and 4, which state that “criminals shall not be glorified” and that “crime should always be condemned.”

However, reacting to the justice chief’s charges, the network, in a statement from news and current affairs head Maria Ressa, said the interview with Macapaar was “a legitimate story, and our interview with him aired October 20 and 21 adhere to ethical standards of journalism.”

Gonzalez said he might file the complaint against ABS-CBN before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP, Association of Broadcaster of the Philippines).

He also accused ABS-CBN reporter Jorge Cariño of asking “loaded” questions and claimed that it was not enough for the network to get the side of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The interview created an impact that he [Macapaar] is greater than life with his followers cheering at his back,” Gonzalez said.

He also claimed the interview terrorized people by the impression that MILF might launch attacks.

Gonzalez said ABS-CBN should have coordinated with authorities to help catch Macapaar instead of allegedly allowing itself to be used for the Moro rebel leaders’ propaganda.

However, Ressa said it was ABS-CBN’s “responsibility as journalists to report on people and events that affect public interest.”

She also stressed that “the public has the right to know” about Macapaar, who “is one of the country’s most wanted men, a key figure in the collapse of the peace process in Mindanao.”

Ressa pointed out that ABS-CBN has been covering Macapaar “for many years now — even during peacetime. We will continue to report on what he says and does with the same zeal and professionalism that we would use when covering his arrest — if and when that happens.”

==========

My Take:

Now, now.

Is the DOJ chief aware that Commander Bravo is not yet being tried and found guilty by a legitimate court?  If so, then he can never call Bravo  criminal at this point of time.

But if he would insist, then we might as well call the DOJ chief an anti-press freedom advocate.

Just thinking…

2 mamamahayag sa Davao binabantaan

October 21, 2008

BINABANTAAN ang dalawang mamamahayag sa Davao na nagsiwalat ng katiwalian sa lokal na gobyerno, ulat ng NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines).

Isang linggo matapos isiwalat ni Erin Lumosbog, anchor ng “Radyo Ronda”, isang programa ng RPN-9-dxKT ang umano’y tangkang pangingikil ng P1.2 Milyon ng anim na konsehal sa isang negosyante para bigyan ng permit sa quarrying, nakatanggap siya ng death threats sa text.

Nang ibatikos din ni James Pala ng “Radyo Rapido” ang nasabing mga konsehal, nakatanggap din siya ng tatlong death threats, ayon sa NUJP.

Umano’y inimbitahan ng mga mamamahayag ang mga konsehal na ibigay ang kanilang panig sa istorya pero tumanggi ang mga ito.

“Ipinapakita ng panghaharas sa dalawang mamamahayag ng Davao ang kultura ng karahasan at korupsiyon, at ang kawalang respeto sa balanse at matapat na mamamahayag, na mamamayagpag sa corridors of power ng bansa,” ayon sa NUJP.

Pinapurihan ng grupo sina Lumosbog at Pala para sa kanilang paninindigan sa kabila ng mga pagbabanta.(PinoyWeekly)

Mediaman files counter charges vs police officer

October 7, 2008

by Harley Palangchao & Liza Agoot

A mediaman filed a case for violation of his rights as an accused person before the People’s Law Enforcement Board  against the head of the police station who detained him unjustly last week after a minor vehicular accident.

Peoples Journal
photojournalist Cesar Reyes filed a criminal case against P/Insp. Joseph Fokno Del Castillo, chief of Baguio City Police Office Compac 4, for violation of Republic Act 7438 or incriminating an innocent person as well as delay in the delivery of detained persons. An administrative case for grave abuse of power and authority was also filed against the police officer.

This stemmed after the police proceeded to detain Reyes from midnight of Sept. 18 up to noon of Sept. 22 for charges of grave threat and
illegal possession of fire arms without his knowledge.

To recall, Reyes was involved in a vehicular incident night of Sept. 18 along Session Road, when he bumped into a KIA pride taxi driven by Jaime Caccam. Caccam then called for back up from fellow drivers and his operator Carlos Abrigo. Reyes said that he was forced to bring out his gun when one person pushed him to the ground after being verbally abused by several other men.

To settle the matter, Reyes paid P2,000 for the supposed damage to the taxi while Abrigo said he forgave the journalist. The amicable settlement was logged in the police blotter of Compac 4.

But what surprised Reyes was that Abrigo went back to file a case for grave threat against him after the amicable settlement. More surprising to Reyes was why he was charged for illegal possession by Del Castillo when he voluntarily surrendered his gun and necessary documents to the authorities. Del Castillo even attested that the firearm seized by two of his men from Reyes was turned over to him together with the firearm license card and permit to carry outside of residence.

“When I was detained at Compac 4, I was never informed that I was being investigated. I was only made to believe that I will just raise the amount of P2,000 to pay Abrigo. There is therefore no basis for Del Castillo to state in his affidavit that he informed me of the nature and cause of my arrest and my constitutional rights as an accused because he never did,” Reyes said.

“The case for grave threat was unnecessary because Carlos Abrigo and I have already settled our differences as borne in the police blotter we both voluntarily signed,” he added.

Del Castillo also failed to deliver Reyes to the proper judicial authority during the entire period of his detention. From Compac 4, Reyes was brought to the City Jail 5 p.m. of Sept. 19. This was when he learned that he was being charged with grave threats by Abrigo and illegal possession of firearm by Del Castillo.

The mediaman was ordered released on Monday by the City Prosecutor’s Office after inquest prosecutor Ruth Bernabe dismissed for lack of probable cause the illegal possession of firearm case filed against him. “There is no probable cause to indict the respondent of violation of illegal possession of firearm. It appears from the records of the case that the respondent was able to present a license for the said firearm as a permit to carry,” reads Bernabe’s resolution.

Lawyers Richard Cariño and partner Christian Ulpindo, who acted as Reyes’ legal counsels, said they do not want to pre-empt their next move.

As of Sept. 26, however, Del Castillo continues to unjustly withhold Reyes’ firearm license and permit to carry.(BaguioMidlandCourier)

Cuesta family tries hard to cope with journalist-father’s murder

October 6, 2008

Written by Karen Papellero
Monday, 29 September 2008
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This was how Gloria Cuesta described her husband, Dennis Cuesta, the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) broadcaster who was shot last Aug. 4 in General Santos City by motorcycle-riding assassins near a commercial complex. He died after five days in coma.

Mrs. Cuesta shared that as early as June of this year, Dennis has already received threats and even admitted that he is “going against a big fish” in the issues that he tackled in his program. She said he did not elaborate who the “big fish” is.

Up until his death, he was program director of DXMD-RMN General Santos and hosted the station’s morning news and commentary program, Straight to the Point. The post in the General Santos station was a promotion given to him this year. He was formerly a reporter and field correspondent at the RMN station in Davao City.

“I told him to resign from the job or at least to transfer to another area because I was really concerned for his safety. But he said that he could not do any other job except that of a journalist,” Mrs. Cuesta said.

She also revealed that when Dennis realized that the threats were getting serious – unidentified men “tailing” him from work to his house and threatening messages being sent to his cellphone – he had to change boarding houses at least twice.

The Cuestas’ home is in Digos, Davao del Sur. Dennis rented a room in General Santos and had to go home to his family every weekend.

But he never asked any help from his colleagues regarding the threats to his security. Mrs. Cuesta said that Dennis did not want to bother anyone with his troubles. She does not know of any documentation or record of the threats her husband received.

She never realized the importance of keeping track of the said threats up until that fateful afternoon when she received a phone call from a friend informing her that Dennis was shot and already in coma due to a gunshot wound in the head.

He died Aug. 9, two days after another RMN broadcaster was also shot by motorcycle-riding assassins.

Martin Roxas, 32, based in Roxas, Capiz and a broadcaster for DyVR-RMN was shot just a few kilometers from the radio station in broad daylight last Aug. 7. He died on the spot.

According to the records of the Media Safety Office of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Cuesta’s death brought to 60 the number of journalists killed since 2001, under the Arroyo administration and 96 since 1986.

Cuesta is the fifth journalist killed this year, according to NUJP.

After-shocks

Dennis Cuesta left behind seven children. The youngest, a two-year old girl, still asks Mrs. Cuesta whether Papa is coming home this weekend.

Yet, the family had to contend not only with the loss of a father but also with events brought about by the brutal killing.

Mrs. Cuesta shared that neighbors and friends told her that during the burial of her husband and even a few days after, unknown men were seen near the Cuestas’ home, asking about the family. They were allegedly from General Santos City but did not say why they were there. She immediately requested for protection from the local police due to the incident.

She also had to take time off from her work as a government employee to attend to the legal actions for the case. She had to leave the kids to her parents to attend the preliminary hearings at the Department of Justice (DoJ) office in Manila.

The preliminary hearings at the Justice Department was concluded last Sept. 26. However, the respondents to the case, including Police Inspector Redempto “Boy” Acharon, whom witnesses have pointed to as the alleged gunman in the killing together with one identified by his alias “Jerry”, have neither appeared in the hearings nor submitted counter-affidavits.

General Santos City Mayor Pedro Acharon, Jr. was also summoned to appear in the hearings by the DoJ but did not also respond, according to the office of State Prosecutor Misael Ladaga.

Inspector Redempto Acharon is a close relative of Mayor Acharon. The former has reportedly resigned from the police force after he was identified by the witnesses as a suspect. Presently, his whereabouts are still unknown, though unconfirmed reports said that he is still in General Santos City.

State Prosecutor Misael Ladaga however said that the purpose of the preliminary hearings- to establish probable cause, is not dependent on the counter affidavits of the respondents. His office is now submitting the case for resolution.

Still, the Cuesta family remains hopeful.

“Lisod tinuod ang ikaw mahabilin. Kinahanglan jud namo ang suporta sa uban. Maayo nalang nga gitabangan mi sa iyang mga kauban sa RMN ug uban pang taga-media” (It’s really difficult to be left behind. We really need all the support we can get. It’s a good thing that his colleagues in RMN and also other members of the media have helped us), Mrs Cuesta said.

Currently, Mrs. Cuesta said that she is busy completing the requirements needed to apply for the scholarship program offered by the NUJP for the children of slain journalists.

“Padayon lang gud gihapon. Mao man ang hagit sa kinabuhi” (We must still go on. This is the challenge of life), she said. Bulatlat

Gloria Arroyo does a Sarah Palin

October 6, 2008

Is President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo doing a Sarah Palin?

I ask this in light of the insistence by Press Secretary Jesus Dureza that the press conference that was to have taken place last Oct. 2 had to be limited to economic issues and that the members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) had to provide in advance the questions to be asked the president.

The Focap, through its president Jason Gutierrez of Agence France-Presse, balked at the preconditions set by Malacañang. Rightly so, I should say.

“The president is the nation’s chief political leader and as such the public would be interested in knowing where she is taking the country as well as her initiatives in response to outstanding political issues,” Gutierrez wrote Dureza after Malacañang canceled the event. “As members of the media, we in Focap see our role as the conveyor of the president’s message to the nation, be they political or not.”

Gutierrez added: “As a matter of principle upon which Focap was founded more than 30 years ago under martial law, and as responsible members of the press, we strongly object to being party to any form of media management, prior restraint or censorship. Fencing off certain subjects for discussion with the president does not bode well for press freedom.”

Dureza wrote Gutierrez back to say that Focap had misunderstood Malacañang’s action and that requiring advance questions was not a way to manage or censor the press briefing, as Focap alleged, but so that the president can better prepare her answers.

Then Dureza let on in his letter – almost gleefully, as if to say “Suck on this, Focap!” — that the president was going to meet with members of the Manila Overseas Press Club on Oct. 3 in a meeting he described as on a “no attribution basis.” (What!? I can talk to the president but I can’t tell people I did? Drat.) Presumably, MOPC agreed to the Palace’s conditions. (I won’t debate how any self-respecting media group would agree to something like this. Then again, the MOPC, in the “about us” section of its website, can’t even get the name right of Carl Mydans, the legendary photojournalist from Life magazine, so there you go.)

Before we go any further, let me point out a couple of things:

1. Malacañang always screens not just the questions to be asked during press conferences with Arroyo but also who can ask the questions. It does this with the MOPC, as well as with the Malacañang press corps and other media groups.

2. Arroyo and the Focap has always had a rocky relationship. Arroyo has always resisted meeting with Focap. She apparently doesn’t enjoy being asked relevant, intelligent questions. In July 2005, Malacañang actually barred Focap members from joining an Arroyo press briefing at the Palace. Earlier, Malacañang had been furious that Focap had invited as guests in its forums mutineers and former Arroyo officials who had become critical of her.

Now back to Sarah Palin.

In case you’ve been livin’ under dem rocks the past two months, she’s the moose-huntin’, straight-talkin’ hockey mom from Wasilla, Alaska, who was handpicked by dat doggone ol’ mav’rick John McCain to be his runnin’ mate in the US elections. (Dat sent everyone ape shit, din’t it?) Dat Sarah girl din’t have nothin’ by way of profound intellect and real political experience (aside from a little mayorin’ here and some governorin’ there) and so the McCain camp thought it was wise to protect her from the likes of Katie Couric, who can ambush her with tough questions, such as what sort of mag’zines and noospapers Sarah reads. (Our gal Sarah, bless her heart, replied, “All of dem!” which floored poor Katie nat’rally because even she can’t get past the advertisements in People mag’zine, no sir.) Dem ‘publicans only want her to talk to jern’lists who can ask only harmless, stoopid questions. And fer good measure, those doggone ‘publicans had insisted she memorized sev’ral talkin’ points. You betcha she drilled-baby-drilled those talkin’ points into her head in time for the debate last Fridey, which many out there in the vast and cold state of Alaska — where she is an executive of, where Sarah can actually see dem Reds runnin’ ’round like headless chickens since dey discovered cap’talism – folks ‘cludin’ her huntin’ pal Joe (Sixpack, not Biden) thought she wonned fair and square.

I can understand why the McCain camp did what it did with Sarah Palin. As her interviews with Couric showed, she’s an airhead. A doggone airhead.

But Arroyo? She’s an economist. She taught economics at UP. Her whole political credential revolves around her being adept with economics. She went to the same school as Bill Clinton, for crying out loud! She should be able to parry the toughest questions.

Ah, but the key issue in this mini-flap are not the advance questions. The more important issue is the requirement that the Focap people cannot ask her political questions. To paraphrase a Focap member who posted his thoughts on the group’s message board, “Excuse me? She’s the president of a country and she doesn’t want political questions?”

(It’s like interviewing Moses and all you are allowed to talk about is his beard. What’s with the stick? “Sorry, can’t go there.” You actually parted the sea with that? “What part of confidential-due-to-biblical-security you don’t understand?” Did you actually talk to God? Why would he disguise himself as a burning bush? “Is your head hard enough to withstand this tablet?”)

We all know, of course, why this is so. As far as Malacañang is concerned, journalists can be pests. They can provoke people — especially hot-tempered and arrogant people like Arroyo — into doing something silly during a press briefing, like raising their voice, respond condescendingly to reporters or, heaven forbid, throw a cellphone at one of them.

Or worse, Arroyo can be painted into a corner on questions about her legitimacy and all the scandals facing her and her people.

I actually pity Jess Dureza, who is himself a former journalist. I’m sure he doesn’t want to censor the press (nudge-nudge wink-wink). But with a boss like Arroyo, the tendency is, apart from simply following her wishes, to try to minimize the damage she could do to herself. pinoypress.net

Editorial Cartoon: (Right To Reply) Another Stab

October 5, 2008

Clearly Anti-Constitutional

P100M libel suit mulled vs Davao daily

October 3, 2008

By Ben O. Tesiorna

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THE chief executive officer of Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation (DMC) is contemplating on filing a P100-million libel suit against a local newspaper for alleged malicious publication of a story against him.

In an interview, DMC chief executive officer Said Sayre said the Mindanao Daily Mirror story on October 1, 2008 entitled “DMC officers seek TRO vs chairperson” is nothing but “concocted and malicious rumor.”

What’s your take on the Mindanao crisis? Discuss views with other readers

He said the writer, Judy Quiros, also failed to get his side of the issue before coming out with the story.

Sayre said the wife of one of his accusers, Rex Gabrido, is also an employee of the local daily, thus fueling his suspicion that the story was out to discredit him and his firm.

Mindanao Daily Mirror editor-in-chief Marietta Siongco said Thursday that their story was based on the facts stated in the complaint of three former DMC officials filed before Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10.

She admitted that Gabrido’s wife, Marites, is the assistant advertising manager of their company but added that no employee could influence her to come out with the story.

Siongco said they are ready to publish the side of Sayre anytime he wishes to be interviewed by them.

In the Daily Mirror story, Sayre was accused of forgery and fraud by former company officials identified as Habib Mahalail Hassan, DMC vice president for operations; Rex Angelo Gabrido, corporate secretary; and Hadji Nouh Daiman, DMC director for operations.

The three accused Sayre of forgery and falsification of public documents “to collect substantial amount from the entities he entered into contract without authority and resolution from the DMC Board.”

For this, the three complainants are now asking the RTC for a temporary restraining order against Sayre to stop him from entering into any contract or agreement with any investors.

Gabrido claimed that Sayre is planning to liquidate him for refusing to accept the P500,000 offer as payment for Gabrido’s 129,287.50 shares from the company.

Sayre said the three are all lying as he presented documents to prove that he had already paid the three complainants more than what they should get from the company.

In the deeds of sale he presented, Sayre said he paid P500,000 for the 129,287.50 shares of Gabrido. He said this is more than the amount of shares valued at P1 per share.

Another deed of sale showed Sayre paying P1 million for the 21,245 shares of Hassan. Sayre also paid P250,000 for the 21,425 shares of Daiman. The deeds of sale were all executed in July this year.

“So how could they say I have not paid them and that they are still part of my company? I have paid them more than what they deserve and yet ganito ang gagawin nila sa akin? The case they filed in court is ongoing and now nag-una una na sila ug palabas ug story. Kaya karon I will face them because I have all the documentary evidence whereas yung kanila is all rumor,” Sayre said.

Sayre said before the court complaint, the three also filed same complaints before the offices of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)-Southern Mindanao and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

He showed documents showing that MGB and NCIP Southern Mindanao have dismissed the complaints of the three for lack of merit last September 23.

Sayre said no less than Gabrido himself, as corporate secretary back then, authorized him (Sayre) to negotiate with any private investors for their mining concession in the boundaries of Mati City and Lupon in Davao Oriental.

The secretary certificate presented by Sayre was dated March 5, 2005 and signed by Gabrido and Sayre.

Sayre said documentary evidences in his hand would dispel all allegations hurled against him by his three former employees. He said the three had long been trying his patience. He said the allegation that he plans to assassinate Gabrido is, however, below the belt and that he would not allow it to pass.

Sayre said a grave accusation as planning to kill another person dictates for the accused to be asked of his side first before publishing such a story.

He claimed the Mindanao Daily Mirror failed to exercise its duty, thus he will seek redress in court against the local daily and his three accusers. (SunStar)

UN, OIC’s help sought in Mindanao conflict

October 3, 2008

By Richel V. Umel and Malu Cadelina Manar


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MARAWI CITY — Some 5,000 Maranaos took to the streets Thursday their call for the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to help end the armed conflict in Mindanao.

It was the biggest anti-war rally in Mindanao since full-scale fighting began in August after the junking of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) initialed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

What’s your take on the Mindanao crisis? Discuss views with other readers

Waving banners and streamers with calls for a halt in the indiscriminate bombing of Moro communities, the rallyists marched from Bangolo to the Army headquarters in Kampo Ranao in Marawi City.

“We are angry. We want an end to this war,” said Haj Abdullah Lacs Dalidig, leader of the Islamic Movement for Electoral Reform for Good Government.

Dalidig said Moro communities in Central Mindanao and two Lanao provinces have bear the brunt of the military offensive to catch the two MILF commanders — Umbra Kato and Abdul Rahman alias Commander Bravo — accused of carrying attacks in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte.

“Our communities have been subjected to aerial and artillery bombardment that did not happen anywhere else in the country. Communities in Luzon and Visayas did not suffer like we do,” he said.

Dalidig said the UN and OIC should step in to end the war and bring the failed peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF back on its track.

The peace rally came as new clashes erupted in Maguindanao province killing four soldiers and five guerrillas Thursday.

In a manifesto, the Consortium for the Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), composed of several non-government organizations, peoples’ organizations, academe, and religious groups, said that with the mediation of the two strong and very influential global organizations, there would be cessation of hostilities in Mindanao.

The group has also called on the UN to investigate and determine the true cause and extent of the war in Mindanao.

The group felt the Moro people are still bereft of their inherent rights as a distinct sovereign nation.

“When, after many decades of so-called peace negotiations, the Bangsamoro people wake up to the harsh truth of the abominable situation of sustained betrayal, manipulation, lying, cheating, and killing by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” it stressed.

Meanwhile, International humanitarian agencies have raised concerns over their safety when delivering aid to thousands of people displaced in the southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the issue was aired during a meeting between a special government taskforce on refugee and various UN agencies.

“One of the issues raised was the security of international aid workers and other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who are helping in the relief operations,” he said.

But providing troops to escort food convoys could also strain soldiers on the frontlines against the MILF, which has been locked in heavy fighting with troops since August.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that it is providing emergency aid for thousands of people displaced by fighting with Moro rebels in the southern Philippines.

The P15-million package will provide medicines and medical supplies and ensure safe water for some 38,000 families in evacuation centers in the south, the WHO said in a statement in Manila.

“Evacuees are vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory tract infection that may be acquired because of crowding and less than ideal environmental conditions in temporary shelters,” WHO representative Soe Nyunt-U was quoted as saying.

Journalists covering the war also raised concern of their safety after unidentified gunmen strafed a van carrying reporters and photographers of the Agence France Press in Datu Piang town last Tuesday.

Red Batario, Asia-Pacific regional coordinator for International News Safety Institute (INSI), said no one of the journalists was hurt but the incident was “sobering reminder that the situation in hostile environments can rapidly change, putting lives at risk.”

Batario said new guidelines were emailed to news organizations to ensure the safety of their reporters, TV cameramen and photographers.

“It is important for members of the media to make themselves easily identifiable as such especially when using unmarked, private vehicles,” Batario said. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Editorial Cartoon: On the Right to Reply

October 3, 2008

Puentevella’s Revenge

Decriminalizing Libel Should Go Hand in Hand With Right to Reply — Pimentel

October 2, 2008

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today urged Congress to stop dilly-dallying on the bill decriminalizing libel which has been proposed a long time ago to make the law less harsh for journalists who are punished for reports that are unfair and defamatory to certain individuals.

Pimentel said while the Supreme Court has spared journalists from jail terms in its recent decisions involving libel cases, the fate of the measure to decriminalize libel remains uncertain in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

However, he said he is glad that the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws has started public hearings on the proposal.

The minority leader said the justification for the decriminalization of libel has been strengthened when Chief Justice Reynato Puno early this year issued a circular advising judges all over the country to refrain from imposing jail sentences on journalists and other persons convicted of libel.

The Chief Justice in his circular noted that in most libel cases, journalists made mistakes with honest intentions. Therefore, he said journalists who commit such offense need not be penalized with imprisonment and the payment of a fine “would already satisfy the intent of the law to punish the culprit.”

Pimentel said Puno stated that the circular was meant to be an “interim measure” to aid members of the judiciary in handling libel suits pending the passage by Congress of the law decriminalizing libel.

“The Puno circular should help legislators in resolving doubts over the propriety of modifying the country’s outmoded libel law,” Pimentel said.

Libel is defined under the Revised Penal Code as “a public and malicious imputation of a crime, vice or defect, whether real or not, tending to cause the dishonor of a person or to blacken the memory of the dead.”

Pimentel stressed that the decriminalization of libel should go hand in hand with a related measure: the right of reply that can be availed of by people who are unduly criticized or maligned by the media.

The measure is embodied in Senate Bill 2l50 which has already been approved on third and final reading by the Senate but is still awaiting passage by the House.

The bill provides that “all persons who are accused directly or indirectly of any crime or offense or are criticized by innuendo or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published in newspapers and other publications or to criticisms over radio, television, website or through any electrical device.”

Some members of the media are wary of the right to reply proposal for fear that it may infringe on their discretion to decide on what items to publish or air in the newspapers or broadcast networks.

“The bill will in fact widen the freedom of expression by obliging the media to provide space to the response and explanation of persons to media reports or commentaries that are inaccurate, unfair or biased against them and injurious to their reputation,” Pimentel pointed out.

He said the publication or airing of the side of the aggrieved parties will enhance the credibility of the media outfits concerned and at the same time eliminate a source of friction or conflict that will cause troubles to the journalists concerned.

Such conflict, according to Pimentel, usually prompts the aggrieved parties to file a libel case against the defaulting journalists. But in extreme cases, he said the offended persons, especially if they are moneyed and powerful, go to the extent of hiring mercenaries to harass or even kill the journalists.

Ultimately, he said it is the media practitioners themselves who will benefit from the enactment of the right of reply. (PinoyPress)

Media guilty as ‘fog of war’ clears

September 27, 2008

Written by Catherine Makino

As the “fog of war” clears over the Caucasus and the United Nations prepares to set up peace missions in Abhkazia and South Ossetia, what stands out is the apparently partisan role played by Western media in last month’s five-day armed conflict.

“I am surprised at how powerful the propaganda machine of the so-called West is. This is awesome! Amazing!” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was quoted by the Interfax agency as saying on Thursday, while addressing Russia experts gathered at Sochi town for a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Earlier Russia’s ambassador in Tokyo, Mikhail Bely, told IPS he was ‘’flabbergasted’’ by what he saw on the CNN and BBC TV channels on Aug. 9. ‘’The screen reports were transmitting pictures of cluster bombs being used and indiscriminate shelling. The anchors described it as Russia’s shelling of Georgia. It was a pile of lies, distortions and propaganda of the event that happened in Georgia. The foreign press believed what the Georgian officials told them and it looked like the world tended to believe it.”

While it is now clear that it was Georgian President Saakashvilli’s regime that started the conflict, the press ‘’made it out like a conflict between an authoritarian country versus a democratic one,’’ the ambassador said.

Gregory Clark, head of research and honorary president of Tama University, agrees that Georgia started the conflict. “Certainly it was Georgia that started things, and it could have escalated into genocide if Russia had not answered the original attack with a purging of Ossetians from the area by a victorious Georgia.’’

“Overall Bely’s assessment was correct. U.S. and British media have been very anti-Russia biased in reporting. The Europeans have been more balanced, realising the significance of the Aug. 7-8 attack,’’ Clark said.

The conflict between Russia and Georgia is grounded in territorial disputes over the regions of Abkhazia and Ossetia. Russia invaded South Ossetia on Aug.8 and claimed it was designed to protect the region from the Georgian army. Georgia claimed it was responding to an unlawful attack by Russia.

After five days of fighting which saw Russian tanks rolling into Georgia proper, the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement on Aug.17.

Robert Dujarric of Temple University in Japan explained to IPS that U.S. and British open support of Georgia contrasted with the evenhandedness of the European Union. “The continental Europeans feel more vulnerable to Russian pressure over gas supplies, which I think is an overrated threat since Russia needs the money and the Europeans also have ways to put economic pressure on Russia, as well as on its oligarchs.’’

Dujarric noted that U.S. support for Georgia in the present crisis is based in part on the belief that Russia is to blame for instigating this war.

There has been killing by both sides for years and this is endemic in much of the Caucasus, but evidence of genocide is lacking, and surely one cannot give any credibility to statements from the Kremlin, said Dujarric.

In an e-mail interview with IPS, Gordon M. Hahn, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies and at the Centre for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, described Western news reporting as ‘’truly horrendous’’.

Hahn, the author of two well-received books, ‘Russia’s Islamic Threat,’ and ‘Russia’s Revolution From Above’, said he was appalled by the Sky News reporting in the first few hours that Russian troops were killing thousands. ‘’The total Georgian civilian death toll remains at less than a hundred and less than the Ossetian toll. Wars are famous for the fog of war that creates confusion for both participants and observers. There was no way Sky News or other news organisations could have had such information or could have been under the impression that the information could be reliable.’’

What was worse, according to Hahn, was that ‘’in order to simplify and sex up the picture, Western news organisations developed the simple but dramatic news line of the big nasty Russian bear needlessly attacking a poor, helpless Georgia. They ignored the fact that it was Georgia that attacked first and had killed Russian peacekeeping soldiers.

As for the cluster bombs, the only report of Russians using cluster bombs is now in doubt’’. Hahn referred to the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) backing off from some of its statements and reporting later that it was Georgian forces that used cluster bombs.

On the other hand, said Hahn, it is unlikely that Saakashvili would start a policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing. ‘’However, once a war begins and interethnic hatred is sparked anything can happen.’’

Russian claims of Georgian genoicide and ethnic cleansing had several causes, according to Hahn. ‘’To begin with the first reports of large numbers of casualties seem to have come from the South Ossetians. Secondly, if the Georgians could lie about Russian atrocities and grossly exaggerate in a propaganda war, then why could not the Russians do the same?’’

“In these interethnic wars the difference in the scale of atrocities and ethnic cleansing committed by one side versus another is usually determined by who is winning and who is losing on the ground. Those who are losing on the ground simply have less opportunity to engage in this activity,” said Hahn.

“Finally, the Russians have been consciously imitating what it calls the hypocritical aspects of Western behavior based on the principle that ‘if they can do it, why can’t we?'” IPS

Community radio – balm in troubled areas

September 27, 2008

Written by Kalinga Seneviratne

Amidst the raging conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels on the island of Mindanao, the religiously mixed population in the North Cotabato region looks to a community radio station as a beacon of peace.

Set up four years ago under the “GenPeace” (gender and peace) project, DXUP-FM serves over 42,000 people in the mountainous Shariff Kabunsuan province of southwestern ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao).

A multicultural community, Upi comprises some 17 ethnic groups. Of these the indigenous Tedurays are the most prominent, making up 44 percent of the people. The Muslims, known as Bangsa Moros make up 23 percent. Christians, mainly settlers from Luzon brought to the area during the United States’ occupation, form another 33 percent.

The ethnic composition of the community has created the term “Tri-People Community” and it is this concept that drives DXUP’s programming philosophy and helps it to promote harmony among the people.

“Everyone here works towards appreciating the goodness of life,” says station manager Mario Debolgado, a local businessman and an Anglican Christian.

“We have programmes for Muslims focusing on their culture and tradition. So people understand how Moro people live. Programmes on indigenous people focus on their traditions so that others understand their way of life. Our main objective is to build peace… development will come later,” he added.

Interestingly, Upi was subjected, in 1970, to an attack led by the notorious cult leader “Commander Toothpick” that left six people dead. Armed conflict then spread right across the region leading to the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1972 and the launch of a secessionist war for a Bangsa Moro state which dragged on for well over two decades.

While conflict between Muslims – led by a breakaway rebel group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – and the government has resurfaced in recent months, in Upi, people of the three communities live together peacefully.

“Almost 50 percent of our programs are on religion and culture. If you understand each other it is very easy to communicate. That’s how we promote peace here,” noted Alih Anso, the station’s program director.

“Peace is about absence of violence and we discuss the culture of every group so that other people will understand them,” Mayor Ramon Piang, a Teduray, told IPS. He is one of the strongest backers of the radio station.

Tedurays, once the most marginalised community here, have now transformed into a confident group and DXUP is credited with playing a major role in this. “Tedurays are traditionally a very shy tribe but now it has changed a lot because they come and participate in the radio programmes,” explained community elder Dominador Mandi in an interview with IPS. “By doing so DXUP has empowered the community. Our people do not believe any more that we cannot do anything good.’’

“Because of the radio station people now know what is their religion,” one of the Imams of a mosque in Upi told IPS. “We hear programmes about Islam and Christianity done by our own people. So we learn about each other’s way of life and we learn to live in peace.”

The imam argued that those who do not go to mosque or church get wrong ideas about their religion as well as that of others. But when they listen to the radio stations they get the right perspectives. “They hear discussions on religious ideas and the way you live and they begin to respect the other,” he added.

“Sometimes people ask me, in your Koran, I heard in the radio that this is like this, very similar to our Bible,” explained Abdullah Rashid Pulido Salik, the vice-mayor of Upi and chairman of the Community Media Education Council (CMEC).

“That shows how community radio creates peace. We do not discriminate on grounds of race or ethnicity, as long as you come and broadcast for the people’s good,” said the local politician who is also a Moro Muslim.

The CMEC, which is a multi-sectoral governing and policy-making body, is the lynchpin of the GenPeace community radio model. It embodies the essence of the community-run concept and includes a cross-section of the community.

The station was established by the local government unit (LGU) of Upi with the assistance of the Norte Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities (NDFCA) and financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (Cida) and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) multi-donor scheme.

Today the station is dependent for almost 90 percent of its funding on the Upi LGU and is driven by volunteer support. Training for the volunteer broadcasters is given by the Philippines national radio network under a MOU signed to support the GenPeace stations.

Most of the cultural programmes and the news are broadcast in the Tagalog language, which is the national language of the Philippines, so that all communities can listen to and understand the programs.

“The most important aspect of this radio station is that listeners are tuning in to each other’s cultural programmes,” observes Mayet Rivera, a mass communication lecturer from Mindanao who is doing doctorate-level research on the DXUP model.

“It is very exciting and kind of enlightening that people are now able to listen to things that matter, understanding each other’s culture and pave the way for respect and trust,” she added. IPS

Local media group condemns Malaya publisher’s arrest

September 26, 2008

BAGUIO CITY ― The local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest for libel charges of the publisher of a daily newspaper Amado Macasaet in Manila on September 4.

Kathleen Okubo, NUJP Baguio-Benguet chairperson, said this case clearly exemplifies the use of a libel case by those in power to curtail the freedom of expression.

“This act is condemnable not only because it is against press freedom but even more so because it is used against an ‘institution’ of the free press, the 72-year old Macasaet who consistently stood for the freedom of expression especially in the dark days of martial law,” Okubo said. “He has been arrested even before he really knew why,” she added.

Macasaet, publisher of the daily newspaper Malaya and the tabloid Abante, was arrested for a nine-year old libel case by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police at his office in Port Area, Manila.

Macasaet is also the president of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) as well as director of Samahang Plaridel (Plaridel group), an organization of veteran journalists and communicators.

Former Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares and Narciso Santiago Jr. filed the case in 1999 for articles Macasaet wrote that year in Malaya and Abante about a conflict between two cockfighting groups, one of which was reportedly headed by Ynares.

Santiago is the husband of administration Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago while Ynares is the brother of Supreme Court Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago.

Also included in the charge sheet are Malaya editors Enrique P. Romualdez and Joy P. De Los Reyes. According to Minnie Advincula, Malaya news editor, the CIDG agents did not look for Romualdez nor De Los Reyes when they came to their office to arrest Macasaet.

Macasaet said he was surprised by the arrest as he was not informed of the libel case filed against him.

Macasaet was released later in the afternoon after posting a P10,000 bail.

Macasaet was earlier cited for indirect contempt in an August 8 2007 Supreme Court decision and ordered to pay a fine of P20,000 for his columns in September 2007 alleging a P10-million bribery incident involving Ynares-Santiago. # Cye Reyes and PPI Release (NorDis)

Doctors, journalists asked to meet halfway over prov’l hospital coverage

September 21, 2008

By Leilanie G. Adriano

Staff Reporters

MEDICAL practitioners and media persons covering the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRBASMH), or more popularly known locally as the provincial hospital, have agreed to “meet halfway” in the coverage of hospital-related issues after an official of the said hospital earlier put up a new media policy in the acquisition and dissemination of any information about patients as well as other hospital transactions.

In a dialogue facilitated by Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael M. Keon held September 5 at the hospital’s conference room and attended by members of the local tri-media and chief of hospital Dr. Llewelyn Santos, at least seven media protocols were presented. Beat reporters must abide by the said protocols when obtaining reports.

Journalists however believe that the new media policy came out as a result of the media reporting of an alleged “misconduct and neglect of duty” of a physician in treating a patient. The said physician, identified as Dr. Emma Peña, was suspended barely two months ago by Keon after a complaint was filed against her in 2004 and the subsequent investigation of the said controversy.

In the said new media protocols, media persons are now banned from entering inside the emergency room. They are also prohibited from interviewing patients or their relatives inside wards and treatment areas. A social service room, however, would be made available for possible interviews with patients but this would only be during visiting hours.

Reacting to these new protocols, local media practitioners suggested that the hospital officials amend this for the sake of public interest and the public’s right to information.

They added that while it is true that a patient’s “right to privacy” should be maintained by his physician, local journalists pointed out that should not be prohibited from interviewing, taking pictures and video footages of patients and their relatives if the patient or his relatives give consent.

The new media protocols also effectively advise media practitioners to ask permission from first from the provincial health officer or the chief of hospital before they can obtain news reports from the hospital.

With the stalemate, Keon said both parties should put forth their respective suggestions and then try to meet halfway.

A second dialogue between the parties is being sought but no schedule has been given as of press time.

Keon, for his part, said the media should not be totally banned from gathering information at the hospital except on special cases concerning public health.(Ilocos Times)

Media and Human Rights Education: Now More than Ever

September 19, 2008

BY ALAN DAVIS
Director, Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
COMMENTARY
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 31, September 7-13, 2008

As we all know, the international tradition of journalist education is to train practitioners to be objective, accurate and impartial reporters of news. Anything that is seen as promoting anything else is traditionally seen to be a wrong and misguided.
And yet at the same time –journalism must reflect the society it is in. Some Western practitioners forget that their societies are pretty well established and stable. They have very strong civil societies, good checks and balances and a sound tradition when it comes to the rule of law.

Not all countries and regions though do – and it is for the media in those countries to help fight for, establish and protect human rights and the rule of law.

Now I don’t come before you today to say that the Western model or reporting is the best –far from it. I think very much that Western media is losing its way. But I do propose that there is an international model of journalism that transcends borders – and that model is very strong on human rights.

Ten years ago nobody talked of global warming or developmental journalism or the global food crisis –now everybody does. Things change –and so does journalism.

So let us go back and address the concerns of the traditionalists who believe human rights have no place in journalism.
I went to school for a while in the US as I am sure some of you here also did. And the US tradition of news reporting is even more stringent as you know than the European or Anglo-Saxon UK model.

Journalists are strongly discouraged to use the first person ‘I’ –even when they are first-hand witnesses to events.
Many journalists believe their job is simply to report in the most balanced and factually-driven way.

I will come back to the issue of facts later –but I wanted to alert those people who have not yet heard about it –to a very interesting case of two Western journalists who had both reported the war in the former Yugoslavia.

They had both witnessed some terrible things – and they were both called to be prosecution witnesses at the trial of a general charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia.

One of the journalists – a European – was more than happy to appear. The other – an American — was not. He was a very senior and respected journalist – and made substantial arguments about why he should not go. All surrounded the issue that it was his job to stay impartial and not to be seen to be taking sides.

He also argued that if he were to testify, it would put all journalists in danger.

On the one hand that is true –but on the other it is not. If somebody does not want you a journalist to be there with your notebook and your cameras they will tell you in no uncertain terms to go away.

The court in The Hague refused to accept his argument and I think they tried to subpoena him –and he sought help to fight the subpoena.
Now I forgot what exactly happened –but I do recall what the European journalist said. And he said in effect he was both honored and duty-bound to testify.

At the end of the day, he said, his job was to bear witness –and his duty as a human being surpassed his duty as a journalist. Ultimately it was his responsibility to help see that justice be done. He said part of him thinks he achieved more in that single court appearance than he did through all his work as a journalist –but of course it was his work as a journalist that saw him bear witness.
As we all know –without justice there is no hope for real peace, development and security.

The International Tribunal for Yugoslavia showed that journalists can play a part in delivering justice after all. But sometimes they have to come off down from this artificial fence to stand and be counted.

I reported the very beginnings of the war in the former Yugoslavia and I pretty much came straight from previously reporting on town hall politics and criminal case reporting.

For those who don’t already know, there is a world of difference between that kind of reporting and the reporting you do in the midst of anarchy with killings and bombings and ethnic cleansing going on.

As I wrote somewhere before, you cannot report a war in the same way as you would report a football match or a political speech. Likewise you cannot always report in a crisis or transitional state in the same way you do in a mature democracy. As a journalist working in the former, you need to be very self aware of your position and always go that extra mile. Often in the absence of a good and engaged media there is nothing save possibly religious organizations for society to fall back on.

I came back from Yugoslavia angry –and angry at the international media in particular for failing to wake up to what was going on. It did, but many months later.

We all use and overuse the phrase ‘the need to be objective’ when in fact there is really no such thing as real objectivity. Reporting is not a science and reporters are not scientists. Journalists are human beings with emotions and subjective views on everything.

As a journalist every decision you make is a subjective one – you choose to go to this place and not that one; you choose to talk to this person and not that one. You use this quote and not that one –your interviewee is actually responding to your questions, and so everything is subjective.

Back in the TV station, your editors use this story and not that one –they use this image and not that one. It goes on.
So the best thing the journalist can be is to be self-aware. To realize that the audience will read, see or hear what you the journalist decide to put in front of them. The journalist then frames every story.

To balance –what does balance mean? Does it mean to always include the opinions of the most powerful people –warlords, presidents and generals — some of who might disagree with each other?

Because you get the commanders of opposing sides in your story, does that make a story balanced?

Maybe balance can mean something more. Maybe balance means showing the real impact and effect of something – the effect of a policy.

In fact I often think our media is far too concerned with statements on policy and not the actual impact –or non-impact of that policy.
In this way, maybe our media is unbalanced in its choices and treatment of stories.

And sometimes if you are too balanced – the audience is left feeling confused. Take the recent Philippine annual report to the new Human Rights Council in Geneva. A lot of media reports had the government saying that Geneva and the international community were very, very, satisfied with the government’s report on human rights in the Philippines this year. At the same time, these media reports also said that the NGO groups here called the report a whitewash.

So the stories were balanced. But what was the truth? Is the government right or are the NGOs right? The public is left feeling confused. So sometimes the media has to call it. We the audience sometimes need more – a lot more.

I wish I could really talk about the media and human rights monitoring as there is much to do be done on that score –but time is short. Suffice to say, people interested should come talk to me and engage with our website and project. One thing, for example I would love to see is a commonly agreed list of names of people who have been summarily killed or disappeared. NGO figures on the one hand are distrusted by many – and the PNP’s own figures are likewise rejected by many.

The media I think has a role here in dispassionately and objectively coming together to determine a list – and then to seek justice for them.

And I think it is important too that media doesn’t always turn to the powerful and in so doing make them even more powerful to the extent that ordinary people are always shut out and ignored or only ever presented when they are victims. People don’t want pity – they want justice – they want the rule of law and they want a fair platform.

A good journalist should know how to choose, frame and balance a story that actually means and says something new and doesn’t simply give the platform to the same old politician and leaders saying the same old things.

The fact is we validate fools by always going back to them –and in that way new people and new ideas and new thinking is shut out. We need to be more creative.

When I first came to the Philippines to work last year, I was surprised and a little disappointed to learn that pretty much all coverage was determined by the beat system of reporting.

A lot of people told me how they would love to do more human rights reporting –only it didn’t fit in anywhere.
There is the political or city hall beat, the police or crime beat and maybe the business beat. But there is no time or space for a human rights beat.

But nor does there need to be –so long as journalists understand better human rights. In part it is about training –but in part it is about good old fashioned common sense.

As an example, a few days ago I wrote a blog on our website saying that all journalists covering the Mindanao crisis should take some time to visit a particular website so they know when to recognize and report a crime of war. Correctly calling something a crime of war is the first step in helping to prevent a repetition.

Somebody here once suggested that better observance and reporting of human rights is a luxury that the Philippines cannot yet afford. There were too many other pressing problems that take precedence he said.

Now to be honest but blunt I think that view is silly. Human rights pervade through virtually everything. They are not just about crisis or conflict. Moreover, awareness and protection of human rights is what makes a society a society.

It is only human rights and the adherence to laws and the delivery of justice that separates us from anarchy and the jungle. The day we say human rights are not for us –or at least not right now – is the day we all give up and succumb.

The family of human rights and human rights laws equally relate to socio-economic, cultural and developmental rights. This is why we focus a lot in our project on issues like poverty, the right to education; employment laws, domestic violence and land rights.

These are every day issues here in the Philippines that the media have a moral obligation to understand and cover.

This is why the person who told me that human rights are a luxury that the Philippines cannot afford is, I believe, quite simply wrong.
In travelling around the country I meet local journalists –some of whom have complained that everything is appalling and that it is no use and there are lots of covenants, declarations and laws about human rights –but that in reality here there are none.

To that I said and I say human rights are not delivered from the back of a truck or from on high.

They are fought for every day. The entire history of mainstreaming human rights has been a battle. For those who don’t already know it you should read up on how one solitary Polish lawyer battled for decades to get the term genocide introduced, understood and accepted by the international community.

One thing we all need to agree on is that the issue of human rights is not a Leftist one any more than it is a Christian concept. Observance and protection of human rights is the bedrock of any civilized society and relate to the child the mother, the marginalised and dispossessed – but equally to the worker, to the civil servant, the policeman and soldier. We all have rights. And we are all responsible for defending and improving them individually and collectively.

And so back to the role of the media — and to the jobs of many here as media educators:

In many countries and customs – I forget which, couples when they get married – they symbolically jump over something, fire, a line or something. I’ve seen it on TV so it must be true….

I would like to see us symbolically agree to do something similar here today. I would like us to agree that if there ever was a line that divided media and human rights, we decide to jump over it today.

We agree that it is not a crime in journalism for reporters to be human rights advocates –rather we see it as giving clarity to our mission – and it provides us a badge of courage and commitment.

After all –lest we forget – modern journalism evolved out of the pamphleteers –people who wrote leaflets and papers which came out against what they saw as unjust laws in the 18th and 19th centuries.

So human rights advocates and journalists in fact share the same heritage. Likewise the best remembered journalists are those who wrote with their heart on their sleeve –from James Cameron to Ed Munro. Similarly, some of the best Philippine journalists are those who have moved in and out of the NGO community.

Sadly today, if you read the papers, listen to the radio and watch TV you sometimes get a sense of despair –not least with the political leadership.

I have written about the botched MOA and how it was apparently so badly handled by Manila on our project website –but that is only one instance of many that serves to lower people’s trust and confidence in the current political system.
At times like these, society looks around to try and find moral compass points to help them make sense of things in a crazy world – religious authority is one obviously –so too is the media.

And I would conclude that just as the media has to be committed and engaged when reporting crisis and conflict –so it has to be engaged and self-aware when reporting on more mundane things.

Speaking to journalists, editors and trainers over recent months I have heard it said that few young people want to go into journalism any more. Those who study communications, do so simply to get a better paid job in marketing, PR, or even in a call center.

These jobs are both better paid and there is far less of a chance of ending up dead.

But I would end now by saying that it is our job and your job in particular to try and inspire the new generation of journalists. And the way to do it is by showing how now, more than ever, the media and in particular human rights journalism is one of the best ways to serve, protect and strengthen society.

There is a saying that societies get the political systems they deserve – yet as the key facilitators for communication, dialogue and debate, the media has a critical role to play in challenging the status quo.

In saying that I don’t mean it should be working to bring down a government or to support a new leader. I mean instead the media has instead to consider a possible paradigm shift: It has to think up new ways of working that might include campaigns, alliances, linkages, ongoing narratives and different ways of framing stories and issues. It needs to platform new voices, new ideas and new thinking. We have to platform and empower people and groups we have not yet heard from.

One key linkage and continuing we need to make is the link between corruption, political nepotism, pork barrel politics and human rights.
And so – as journalism educators -rightly or wrongly- I believe a great deal of responsibility is now down to many of you here today:
It is for you to inspire and train the next generation of media professionals –those who understand and appreciate that human rights awareness and reporting lies at the very heart of their being as Filipino journalists and citizens.

In these very trying and testing days, we need them – and you — now more than ever. Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project/Posted by Bulatlat

*The author gave this keynote speech at the Asian Congress for Media and Communication International Conference on August 21-23, 2008 at the Ateneo de Davao in Davao City. The conference held the theme “Media in Asia: A Tool for Human Rights Education and Monitoring” to focus on the role of the media and the academe in reporting human rights.

Bulatlat is posting this speech minus the introduction and salutations. The full text of the speech can be read at http://www.rightsreporting.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id…

Reporting the ASEAN: Repression of ASEAN Media Continues

September 17, 2008

This is a slightly revised version of the author’s presentation in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 29 and August 26 during the training of journalists from member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) organized by the International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) of InWEnt-Germany.

BY DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 32, September 14-20, 2008

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) uses the term “nations” instead of “countries,” and for good reason. A country is defined as “the land in which one was born or to which one owes allegiance” (“The New Lexicon”, 1990, p. 223). Nation, on the other hand, refers to “a body of people recognized as an entity by virtue of their historical, linguistic or ethnic links” (“The New Lexicon”, 1990, p. 666)

It is therefore possible for a country to be composed of different nations. At the same time, it is plausible for a nation to have different countries. This explains, for example, the use of the term “Arab nation” to refer to different countries in the Middle East and beyond. The use of the word “nation” in its singular form, however, may not apply to the countries of Southeast Asia.

While its official website (http://www.aseansec.org) does not readily admit this fact, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) apparently uses the word “nations” to refer to the diversity of cultures among its member-countries. The latter may be “one” in terms of location and the consequent affiliation with ASEAN and other regional and global institutions, but the cultures are diverse, even within each other’s countries.

From an editorial point of view, the word “nations” is crucial to understanding the context in which there is a big difference not only in the different levels of development of their media organizations but also in the overall political and economic situation of each of the member-countries.

While the wide cultural diversity of ASEAN member-countries exists, journalists who write about the ASEAN should realize that the economic diversity is quite narrow – i.e., it confined only to the different levels of development (or “maldevelopment,” depending on one’s framework of analysis) in each of the member-countries.

Membership in the ASEAN requires the opening up of economies and the implementation of policies along globalist lines. Depending on how one analyzes globalization, the latter can have positive and negative effects on the people, particularly the poor.

The ASEAN currently has 10 member-countries. These are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos (referred to by ASEAN as Lao PDR), Malaysia, Burma (referred to by ASEAN as Myanmar), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (referred to by ASEAN as Viet Nam).

One does not need to look far in assessing the situation of the ASEAN media. Several references can provide basic data on each of the 10 countries’ media situation. A high degree of cultural sensitivity (and perhaps some background in political science), however, should be observed in reading and understanding them.

According to The ASEAN Media Directory (1998) published by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), the ASEAN media scene ranges “from the very free in the Philippines and the almost totally free in Thailand (where government still controls broadcast media), to the pliant in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, to those strictly following party line as in communist Vietnam, Laos and military-ruled Myanmar.” (p. xii)

This publication may be very informative, but the use of the word “communist” to refer to some ASEAN member-countries is very inappropriate, if not totally irresponsible. Throughout the history of the world, there is no such thing as a “communist country” even if they may be “communist-led” by virtue of the power and influence of their respective communist parties.

The most that so-called communist countries like China have achieved is the economic stage of socialism. A review of concepts of political science would show that communism can only be achieved once the state has “withered away” and rendered itself obsolete. This is clearly not the case in Vietnam, Laos and Burma.

One may argue that the use of the words “communist” and “communist-led” is just a matter of semantics, but the use of appropriate terms can make a big difference in making the people understand the situation in countries called as such.

“Media freedom” is also not clearly defined in the study, and one can extrapolate that it is related to the existence of pertinent laws and the extent of private ownership of media. It is assumed that the provision of free speech and freedom of expression already makes the media free. In addition, the vibrancy of the press is based on the number of privately-owned media organizations operating in the country.

As early as now, it is necessary to stress that media freedom is more than the existence of laws or private ownership of media.

In this context, one needs to be critical of The ASEAN Media Directory’s description of the media situations in the 10 ASEAN member-countries.

· Brunei: “[L]iterally the Adobe of Peace, [it] has one privately-owned English newspaper, the 45-year old Borneo Bulletin; one Malay-language weekly newspaper, the three-year old Media Permata (Prime Media); a television channel, one satellite television and five radio stations operated by the government-run Radio Television Brunei; one lifestyle magazine in English, Regal, published every two months. One other English-language lifestyle quarterly Mutiara temporarily ceased publication in March 1998. While foreign advertising is allowed in Bruneian media, materials that run counter to Islamic culture and values are discouraged.” (p. 15)
· Burma: “Since 1963 when the military placed Burma under socialist military rule, all media – newspapers, television and radio – are nationalized and strictly controlled by the government under the Ministry of Information. The narrow range of media today in Burma, also known as Myanmar, reflects the political realities: analysis and discussion on current affairs are non-existent.” (p. 69)
· Cambodia: “Cambodian politics and the local tri-media cannot, with rare and sporadic exceptions, be separated. Almost all Khmer newspapers – there are 78 titles – have political affiliations. Even though ownership may be private, it is private in concept rather than [in] reality. The biggest newspapers in terms of circulation, income and influence are beholden to the ruling political party, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).” (p. 23)
· Indonesia: “The last several years have been a robust span of time for the Indonesian media scene, until the regional currency crisis that began in September 1997.” (p. 33) “[T]he fact that there are still new titles coming out amid the crisis indicates that the media industry is poised for rebound once the economy recovers.” (p. 35)
· Laos: “The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) that governs Laos exhibits a built-in media contradiction since joining ASEAN. In an (sic) utopian, idealistic manner, it tries its level best to control media, pushing the cause and glory of the Revolution that imposed communism in 1975. On the other hand, membership in ASEAN means opening up national markets. Media is a market. `Bland’ is the word that usually comes to non-Lao minds when describing Lao media. `No life’ are words Laotians use themselves when describing Lao television (two stations), radio (one station) and print media (hardly a dozen newspapers and magazines). Almost all are government-controlled.” (p. 47)
· Malaysia: “Media in Malaysia operates essentially under government guidance. Despite the yearly launches of new radio stations and television channels in the past four years, the content remains placid and cautious. Media has grown in volume but its development has not been in quality, restrained as it is by a lot of pressure coming from political as well as religious bodies. This constraint did not prevent it from proliferating due to a booming economy…” (p. 53)
· Philippines: “The Philippine media enjoys a distinction of being the freest, most rambunctious and irreverent in Asia. With it goes the downside of being branded irresponsible. The Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy rated the Philippine press lowest in Asia for quality and reliability. Yet the Philippines is one of the few Asian countries where the media operates within a democratic framework which is unique in ASEAN. Media is a business and is a tool to maintain political and economic power of the owners.” (p. 79)
· Singapore: “Singapore has an extensive media industry disproportionate to its small three-million population and geographical size. Its location at a crosswords (sic) places the city-state at a vantage point to be the information hub of Southeast Asia. The ratio of newspaper circulation and reach to population is the level of a developed country. Media ownership of print and broadcast is largely in the hands of the Straits Times Group and the Singapore government. Media control through legislation and policing is among the toughest in the region. Even the dominant Straits Times newspaper is continuously surprised by the limits of information flow.” (p. 99)
· Thailand: “Thailand has more media choices than most of its Asian neighbors. There are over 40 TV channels (including cable and satellite options), about 500 radio stations, over 80 newspapers and 690 magazines in the country. Deregulation of Thailand’s media industry started in 1992 has enabled it to develop into one of the most exciting in Asia. However, since this growth has not been disciplined by any industry regulations, the market has developed in a highly fragmented and uncontrolled way, with no auditing of circulation figures and no lid on abuses.” (p. 117)
· Vietnam: “For a country where political control is central to the government’s philosophy, Vietnam has a surprisingly vibrant media. Newsstands in the commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City in the south and the capital of Hanoi display a bewildering selection of morning newspapers, competing for attention with glossy weeklies and monthlies covering a range of issues from the latest fashion trends for hip young urbanites to science and the legal system for intellectuals and business for the country’s aspiring entrepreneurs. The past decade of tentative economic reforms – known as `doi moi’ (renovation) – has seen dramatic growth in the number of publications. There are currently around 500, supporting a vast army of editors, reporters, photographers and production personnel. The impetus behind growth came from the reduction – and in some cases complete removal – of state subsidies, which forced newspapers to seek advertising dollars in order to survive.” (pp. 133-134)

While the description of the political and legal environments is appreciated, one needs to know the actual experiences of journalists in each of the 10 member-countries. With regard to the law, it must be kept in mind that what is stated is not necessarily what is implemented. Governments also tend to interpret laws based on how they can suit their interests, making such laws infringe on press freedom even if, in theory, they should not. The laws on libel and national security are examples of how a government can apply laws to suppress freedom, even to the extent of harassing, intimidating or even killing journalists.

The title of a study of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) in May 2008 on the state of the press in Southeast Asia may give one an idea of what is happening to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) media today: Slipping and Sliding.

On a positive note, the SEAPA reported that there have been “positive developments” in the past two years. (2008, p. 2), noting the following developments:

Indonesia most recently moved forward on its access to information legislation. Thailand made a peaceful transition from the policies of a coup-installed military regime to the realities of an elected government, and Malaysia has undergone a stunning electoral exercise that may allow for more checks and balances and meaningful opposition participation in government, and thereby more chances for political and media reform towards a more open society. Still, the most reliable conclusion for the region and the different countries that comprise Southeast Asia is that the fight to protect and promote press freedom in this part of the world is far from won. (“Slipping and Sliding”, 2008, p. 2)

The recent passage of “national security” laws was said to be a “familiar theme” in 2007 to all countries in Southeast Asia, from “Vietnam to the Philippines and Malaysia to Laos.” The SEAPA acknowledged that the Southeast Asian press will be uncertain in the years ahead, mainly because such laws have dire implications on free expression and press freedom. (2008, p. 2)

In the case of the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enacted into law the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 (Republic Act No. 9372) on March 6, 2007. It took effect on July 15, 2007, about two months after the 2007 national and local elections. In a paper I wrote titled “The Human Security Act and Philippine Journalism” (February 2008) published by Bulatlat.com and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), I explained:

A person is said to commit a crime of terrorism if he or she engages in piracy in general and mutiny in the high seas or in the Philippine waters; rebellion or insurrection; coup d’etat, including acts committed by private persons; murder; kidnapping and serious illegal detention; and crimes involving destruction. With regard to crimes involving destruction, these refer to violations of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1613 (The Law on Arson); RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990); RA 5207 (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968); RA 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law); PD 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974); and PD 1866 (Degree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives).The law’s Sec. 3 qualifies that, to be considered acts of terrorism, these crimes should sow and create “a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”

xxx


The opposition to the HSA mainly rests on the law’s broad definition of who is a terrorist. The so-called “condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic” among the people that may result from the identified crimes is so broad that anything and everything can be interpreted as such.

Comparing the findings of the KAF in 1998 and the SEAPA in 2008, there is clearly no qualitative change in the media situation. The SEAPA notes the following situations in ASEAN member-countries:

  • · Burma: “With the people of Burma repressed and suppressed more than ever, Burmese journalists say international pressure on the junta must not let up.” (p. 8)
  • · Cambodia: “Cambodia appears to have in place all the laws ensuring media freedom, but the reality is a different matter altogether. The constitutional provision for press freedom is ironically often invoked to restrict this very right, for it says, rather too broadly, that the exercise of this right must not infringe upon the rights of others, `affect good traditions of society’, and violate public law and order and national security. xxx Another restrictive constitutional provision that has been repeatedly invoked is Article 7, which states: `The King shall be inviolable’.” (p. 10)
  • · Indonesia: “The press in Indonesia…is backed by Constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression and press freedom, a progressive Press Law and Human Rights Law, and by the 2005 Ratification of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Law. (p. 18) xxx While the courts may need a compelling mechanism to apply the Press Law, Indonesia’s media community faces the continued challenge of defending the ground it is gaining against government offensives and extremist pressure out to undermine its independence and plurality.” (p. 22)
  • · Laos: “Although Article 44 [of the constitution] accords citizens the right to freedom of speech and the press, the role of the press is also outlined constitutionally as a link between the [Lao People Revolutionary Party (LPRP)], the state and the masses. Hence, all publications in Laos must be approved by the Ministry of Information, which issues them with publishing licenses, and newspaper editors and broadcast producers are appointed mostly from the party.” (p. 23)
  • · Malaysia: “Contributing to the lack of media freedom is the general political and civil rights environment in Malaysia, which has the mechanisms of a democracy but not the substance. Article 10 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech but also allows Parliament to impose restrictions for security reasons.” (p. 29)
  • · Philippines: “[T]he Philippine media remain vulnerable to laws and policies set by a hostile government, criminal defamation suits from powerful politicians, and contract-style attacks affecting provincial radio journalists in particular. The impunity that continues in attacks against Filipino journalists in 2007 was further complicated by the active promulgation of repressive laws and the restrictive interpretation of existing ones by the [administration] of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Laws on criminal libel, meanwhile, were abused by political figures, most prominently by the husband of President Arroyo.” (p. 32)
  • · Singapore: “Singapore continues to be unblinking and unapologetic in its restrictive rules and policies [with regard to press freedom and free expression]. xxx In the past two years Singapore has put in place stricter guidelines for the foreign media and served notice that it is keeping close watch on the Internet. xxx Intolerant of dissent or alternative views, the government has long monopolized and subjugated a once lively local press and continues to strategize, through new laws and regulations, to thwart any novel attempts to break its stranglehold on freedom of expression.” (p. 37)
  • · Thailand: “In a full year under military rule in 2007, free expression in Thailand was unstable as it hinged on the benevolence and patience of the military. xxx The new Constitution gives the same protections for free expression, and is in areas better at explicitly stating protection for editorial independence, banning prior censorship and barring direct and indirect political ownership of businesses related to media and telecommunication. It also suggests a self-regulatory or an independent body to protect media rights, which includes guarding against political and commercial interference in editorial matters. (pp. 41-42) [T]hreats to Thailand’s free press come not only from government, but also from powerful private interests that can abuse even civil defamation statutes.” (p. 45)
  • · Vietnam: “The country’s 1992 constitution recognizes the right to freedom of opinion, expression and association for all citizens. However, the Press Law puts all administrative aspects of the press, including editorial appointments, under government hands, and spells out the function of the press as protecting `party lines and policies’, as well as detecting and promoting `positive factors’. Hence, the government runs some 600 media outlets from the digital, broadcast and print sectors.” (p. 46)

The SEAPA study unfortunately did not include an assessment of the press in Brunei Darussalam, an ASEAN member-country. It did include, however, an assessment of East Timor’s.

In an article, Sonny Inbaraj, an editor of The Nation (Bangkok), wrote that the media are “not always independent, vigilant and defiant of authority as it should be – more so in Southeast Asia when state and business elites control the press and there exists legislation to jail journalists and editors if they `step out of line’. Conversely, in the West, media campaigns will not be mobilized where victimization, even though massive, sustained and dramatic, fails to meet the test of utility to elite interests – in other words, if the news runs against the interests of the state or economic elites.” (1996)

In any case, the media situation of the 10 ASEAN member-countries shows the uneven levels of development which, at first glance, makes it hard to make comparisons among them. The Philippines and Singapore, for example, are diametrically opposed when it comes to the media’s role in national development and the concepts of freedom of expression. There are governments that look at media as simply tools of the state and that they should only report on the “positive” and the “favorable,” an attitude that is not entirely different from the occasional demand of media consumers for the “good” news.

Regardless of the media diversity among ASEAN member-countries, a clinical study of the recent and past data shows that they actually have the following major points in common:

  1. There are threats to freedom of the press in all ASEAN member-countries, whether direct or indirect;
  2. New policies are being introduced by governments which may appear harmless to the practice of the journalism profession but, upon close scrutiny, can have negative repercussions on media;
  3. Existing laws are being interpreted and implemented to suit the interests of those in power, even at the expense of freedom of the press;
  4. Private ownership of media organizations should not be an indicator of a vibrant press because monopoly ownership of the media and business interests of owners must be taken into account, along with the extent of government’s control over them;
  5. An increased number of media organizations in a country is not necessarily good for the people because the quality of their content must be duly considered;
  6. The media are suppressed in the guise of protecting the State, but the officials do so mainly to perpetuate themselves in power and consequently protect their interests;
  7. Gains in upholding and protecting press freedom are products of the journalists’ and the entire people’s assertion of their rights.

The unequal development of the media among the 10 ASEAN member-countries may be rooted in their diverse historical contexts. It is understandable, for example, for the Philippines to have what SEAPA described as a “robust” media because it has a rich tradition of advocacy (even revolutionary) journalism dating back to the 19th century under Spanish occupation. Cambodia, on the other hand, finds it unacceptable for the media to report on anything negative about the King because doing so is perceived to compromise, among others, the culture in that particular country.

It is in this light that the journalists in ASEAN member-countries should do the following courses of action to promote professionalism in the practice of journalism and to protect freedom of the press:

  1. Learn, relearn and unlearn the basic concepts related to journalism and its role in social development and change, regardless of the respective country’s political and economic situation;
  2. Uphold and protect the highest professional and ethical standards of journalism, on the assumption that there are universal standards that can apply to any cultures of the world;
  3. Engage in information sharing and networking with other ASEAN journalists regarding the media and overall situation of each other’s countries;
  4. Encourage other ASEAN journalists and ASEAN-based media advocacy groups to help in demanding a government’s lifting of laws and other statutes that infringe on freedom of the press, as well as a stop to the harassment, intimidation and killing of ASEAN journalists by those who wield power and influence;
  5. Participate in the people’s assertion of basic rights on the grounds that freedom of the press is part of what they are fighting for in the first place;
  6. Continue to report about the situation in ASEAN member-countries and the ASEAN as an organization in particular, focusing on the latter’s actions and their implications on the people, particularly the poor.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can be newsworthy.

The reportage, however, must not only be limited to the ministerial meetings held annually. A simple comparison of its fundamental principles and the resulting policies and strategies show glaring contradictions.

The 10 member-countries have global importance because of their sheer size: As of 2007, they have a combined population of 575 million, a land area of 4.5 million square kilometers and total trade of $1.4 billion (i.e., 2006 data, computed as the sum of exports and imports).

The official website of the ASEAN also stressed:

The ASEAN region is a leading recipient of FDI [foreign direct investment] flows in the developing world, with five ASEAN countries in the top 20 developing-countries recipients of such long-term global capital flows from 1997 to 1998. Between 1993 and 1998, ASEAN received about 17.4% of the US$760 billion in cumulative global net FDI flows to developing countries. Over the same period, ASEAN received an annual average of US$22 billion in net FDI flows, compared with an annual average of US$7.8 billion in the period between 1986 and 1991. FDI flow in ASEAN increased on average by about 14% annually from 1996 to 1998, while FDI stock in ASEAN grew tenfold from US$23.8 billion in 1980 to US$233.8 billion in 1998. (“Asean Investment Area”, n.d.)

The ASEAN, established on August 8, 1967, is said to be a “child of the Cold War” and was born “amidst turmoil and conflict in the region.” It was reportedly founded on the countries’ “desire to promote economic growth and welfare of the people in the region. The original five countries [Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand] were then facing a common threat from communist insurgencies.” (Tan & Stehling, 1998, p. x)

Its six fundamental principles include the following: “[M]utual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity for all nations; xxx [and] non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.” (“Overview”, n.d., italics mine)

These two principles, just like the four others, may sound harmless and even noble, but these are subverted by some agreements recently forged by the ASEAN member-countries.

For example, the ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted during the ASEAN’s 30th anniversary, has a “shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.” (“Overview”, n.d., italics mine)

The principles of “mutual respect” and “non-interference” are clearly compromised by imposing, albeit indirectly, an economic direction that seeks globalist ends. Being “outward-looking” means that a country should constantly assess what is in demand in the global market and should consequently make the necessary adjustments in terms of its policies and programs. Even if the ASEAN does not explicitly state its bias for globalization instead of protecting domestic industries, an outward-looking economic orientation naturally results in a country’s being export-oriented and foreign investment-led.

ASEAN journalists could very well study the positive and negative implications of this implied bias for globalization, especially in the context of the social cost it brings to the poor people.

The ASEAN Investment Area (AIA), the framework agreement of which was signed on October 7, 1998 in Manila, seeks the “immediate opening up of all industries for investment, with some exceptions…to ASEAN investors by 2010 and to all investors by 2020.” The AIA also wants to promote “freer flows of capital, skilled labor, professional expertise and technology amongst the member-countries.” (“Asean Investment Area”, n.d., italics mine)

These objectives further quality what is meant by an outward-looking orientation among ASEAN member-countries. To encourage investors, the ASEAN enumerates the benefits they stand to get:

  1. “greater investment access to industries and economic sectors as a result of the opening up of industries under the AIA arrangements, if investors quality as ASEAN investors;
  2. “national treatment, if investors qualify as ASEAN investors;
  3. “greater transparency, information and awareness of investment opportunities in the region;
  4. “more liberal and competitive investment regimes; and
  5. “lower transaction costs for business operations across the region.” (“Asean Investment Area”, n.d., italics mine)

For those who want to write about the AIA, they should note that an ASEAN investor is “defined as being equal to a national investor in terms of the equity requirements of the member-country in which the investment is made. Thus, a foreign firm with a majority interest can avail itself of national treatment and investment market access privileges…” (“Asean Investment Area”, n.d.) This simply means that the rights and privileges of a local investor will also be given to a foreign counterpart, making competition more “even.”

The ASEAN reported that “ASEAN investors can now invest in manufacturing sector in any member-country subject to certain exclusions.” The same is now true for non-ASEAN investors if they came in between 1999 and the end of the year 2000. They also stand to enjoy special privileges like “income tax exemption, full foreign equity ownership, duty-free imports of capital goods, domestic market access, and at least 30-year long-term lease for industrial land.” (“Recent Developments”, 1999) As regards the latter, the Philippines enacted an Investors Lease Act in 1993 that provides for a 50-year lease of land for foreign investors, renewable for another 25 years.

One of the strategies of the AIA is to eliminate “investment barriers, liberalizing investment rules and policies and granting national treatment.” (“Asean Investment Area”, n.d.) As early as 1999, ASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino said, “It is clear that ASEAN leaders have made regional economic integration a primary component of the region’s response to the economic troubles that have hit it.” (“Recent Developments”, 1999)

It is imperative for an ASEAN journalist to know that the diversity in the ASEAN is not just cultural but also economic in nature. In terms of export receipts, the 2006 data show that Singapore has the highest at $272 billion while Cambodia has the lowest at $3 billion. With regard to foreign direct investments inflow in 2006, Singapore has the highest at $24 billion while Burma has the lowest at $143 million.

The basic question that must be asked in analyzing the AIA is how national treatment can benefit developed ASEAN countries like Singapore and affect developing ASEAN countries like Cambodia and Burma.

An enterprising journalist can indeed explore several angles on the ASEAN, although it is hoped that the implications on the lives and livelihood of the people, particularly the poor, be given due attention.

A journalist’s role, regardless of nationality, is to provide relevant information in the shaping of public opinion. Media can help create an informed citizenry with regard to the ASEAN by constantly monitoring the latter’s actions and analyzing the implications of their policies and programs. Bulatlat

Works Cited for the Three-Part Series

Arao, D. A. (2008). The Human Security Act and Philippine journalism. Retrieved on July 9, 2008 from http://risingsun.dannyarao.com.
Asean Investment Area: An update. (n.d.). Retrieved on July 9, 2008 from http://www.aseansec.org/11461.htm.
Inbaraj, S. (1996). Free media in ASEAN: A reality or myth? Retrieved on July 9, 2008 from http://bar.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/HRD/1996/2.html.
Overview: Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved on July 9, 2008 from http://www.aseansec.org/147.htm.
Recent developments in Asean economic integration. (1999, September). Retrieved on July 9, 2008 from http://www.aseansec.org/11487.htm.
Slipping and sliding: The state of the press in Southeast Asia. (2008, May). Bangkok: Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Tan, A. & Stehling, T. B. (1998). The ASEAN media directory. Makati: Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The new lexicon Webster’s dictionary of the English language. (1990). New York: Lexicon Publications, Inc.

Practicing ‘alternative’ journalism

September 8, 2008

Kenneth Roland A. Guda

WRITING – as well as editing and taking photographs – for Pinoy Weekly is often a hectic and exciting, lonely and daunting task. But it is never boring.

After all, we are a small organization. Some of our editors are in the academe, but most are also writers, photographers, even layout artists. If in the seven years of the paper’s existence I learned anything from working for Pinoy Weekly, it is the art of multitasking.

Which, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, after all, precisely this kind of training that honed a whole generation of journalists during martial law – the so-called “mosquito journalists” who worked under tight budgets, in small groups and with limited circulation. These journalists produced some of the bravest reporting this country has seen. They worked outside the ambit of Marcos’ “official media” that toed the Palace line and kept silent about the repression and violence that the state inflicted upon the people.

In many aspects, Pinoy Weekly continues that tradition. Though some say today’s media is freer than that during martial law, social conditions essentially stayed the same. One difference, though, is that Philippine media have become more profit-driven. This has led to some dearth in reporting social issues and perspectives deemed unprofitable or unfashionable. Pinoy Weekly seeks to subvert that practice. We have clear-cut advocacies, and service not just the general public but sectors of society that are maginalized and underreported.

We subscribe to the basic journalistic tenets of fairness and accuracy. But we are driven by a great desire to influence ordinary people to participate in social change.

Thrust into unfamiliar territory

As with most of our editorial staff, my single press credential was writing for a student paper, the Philippine Collegian of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, before making a leap into this small journalistic project called Pinoy Weekly. I was a Creative Writing (Filipino) major in UP, but was not a native Tagalog speaker. I thought of myself mainly as an English writer.

When a ragtag band of patriotic entrepreneurs formed Pinoy Weekly, they envisioned a publication catering to sectors of society deemed unlettered. They were the tabloid-reading crowd, who had no access to investigative journalism but possess the potential to influence society for the good. It was 2002, just a year after EDSA Dos. Eugenia “Eggie” Apostol’s Pinoy Times, which targeted the politicized middle class, had stopped publishing. The ragtag band thought it was time for a political paper catering to the working class.

I came in as a reporter. With my background as a features writer in English, I had difficulty shifting to writing news stories in Filipino. But the language and the news format was the least of my worries. Beat coverage was worlds apart from creative writing. For lack of more seasoned reporters, I was assigned to cover Malacañang – considered by many to be the important political beat, and an intimidating place for the inexperienced journalist.

It was fine, even thrilling at first, to be close to the seat of power. I was in the Palace when Oakwood happened. I was there when the US government declared war on Iraq and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called a press conference to profess her undying support for that tragic invasion. I remember being at the Palace when US President George W. Bush visited there.

It sure had its highs, but generally I was uncomfortable. But this was partly because of my initial inability to reconcile my progressive politics with the demands of what was supposedly “mainstream” reporting. I guess it was not so much timidity as revulsion for everything the institution stood for.

I later learned to compromise. I found useful something that Norman Mailer wrote when he covered the 1964 Republican primaries – an awful place and time to be in if you are a liberal like Mailer: “Unless one knows him well, or has done a sizable work of preparation, it is next to useless to interview a politician…Interviewing a candidate is about as intimate as catching him on television. Therefore it is sometimes easier to pick up the truth of his campaign by studying the outriggers of his activity.”

Shifting to new approaches

I find nothing wrong with mainstream beat reporting – they provide invaluable public service. It is just that I did not find myself, and by extension, the weekly paper, effective by aping reporters from the dailies, trying to get that elusive scoop of the day. Investigative journalists point out that the beat system tends to discourage independent investigative work.

Thankfully, Pinoy Weekly eventually shifted to a feature-based, magazine format. We shifted our attention to honing our investigative and narrative reporting skills. We shifted from a traditional beat coverage to a sectoral coverage. This entailed refocusing our attention from “official” sources of information, like government agencies, to the members of the sectors themselves as well as non-state groups representing those sectors. It is a bottom-to-top approach. It was alternative journalism.

I covered and wrote in-depth stories on women and human rights. It was 2006, when the Subic rape case caught national attention, when extrajudicial killings of activists intensified, when enforced disappearances reached alarming levels. Meanwhile, our renewed push for in-depth reporting compelled me to study photojournalism. I began to write about and take photographs of the cases and issues that I covered. At the same time, I was gradually asked to shoulder more editing tasks.

In November 2007, the paper’s editor in chief, Rogelio Ordoñez, resigned. I was obliged – forced was more like it – to take the helm. As a young editor with a pool of writers and photographers with an average age of 26, Pinoy Weekly’s print edition sought to reflect its staff’s youthful energy and passion. We jazzed up the covers, all the while taking to heart the paper’s advocacies.

Just last June, burdened with financial difficulties (we rarely had advertisements, which meant we got by through support from readers in the impoverished sectors), Pinoy Weekly opted to temporarily halt its print edition. We continue publishing online (www.pinoyweekly.org) as we study better ways of sustaining the print for the long haul.

Yes, I even had to learn some marketing skills. Seven years into this small project called Pinoy Weekly, I have become a compulsive multi-tasker. No regrets, though, as I always keep in mind the readers – those unlettered, tabloid-reading public who have come to appreciate our work and our passion.

Published in the August 2008 issue of PJR (Philippine Journalism Review) Reports of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility(PinoyWeekly)

Newspaper publisher arrested, held at CIDG

September 4, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:41:00 09/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A newspaper publisher was arrested Thursday and was brought to the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Jake Macasaet of Malaya was arrested as he was having lunch at the Century Park Sheraton in Pasay City, according to authorities.

A warrant of arrest was issued against Macasaet for contempt over a libel case that had been filed against him.

As of posting time, Macasaet is inside the office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to post bail.

CHR Resolution on Manila Pen Standoff Wanting – NUJP

September 2, 2008

BY BULATLAT
September 1, 2008 – 3:16 p.m.

While the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) welcomed the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) resolution on the Manila Peninsula standoff, the group also found the said resolution wanting.

In its resolution, the CHR found violations in the “arrest, detention and processing” of journalists who covered the Nov. 29, 2007 Makati standoff.

In a statement, the NUJP said that instead of recommending the filing of charges against those who violated the journalists’ rights, the CHR merely ‘referred’ the case to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for internal inquiry. The NUJP said that the departments’ personnel were the ones accused of the violations.

The CHR also urged the Justice department to look into the matter.

The NUJP asked, “But how can we expect a fair investigation by the Justice Department when no less than Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez prejudged the case when he issued an advisory urging media practitioners to ‘obey’ authorities when it comes to incidents like the Manila Pen standoff?” Bulatlat

Editorial Cartoon: Tiya Dely

September 2, 2008

Thank you.

Access to Information Pushed

September 2, 2008

Filipino journalists consider access to information as vital in their profession. The right to information is not only a right of journalists but of ordinary citizens, too. In the words of Nepo Malaluan, co-convenor of Access to Information Network (ATIN), “Non-access to public information can lead to, or be used to hide corruption.”

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 30, August 31- September 6, 2008

Participants to the Sixth National Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) identified non-access to information as one of the barriers in the exercise of their profession.

Speaking at the NUJP Congress, Nepo Malaluan, member of the board of directors of the Action for Economic Reforms (AER) and co-convenor of the Access to Information Network (ATIN) said that the right to information is a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Malaluan cited Article III, Bill of Rights, Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states, “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

He added that Article II Section 28 states, “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

Denials

Malaluan said, “Even if we have a very clear constitutional guarantee, many have denied our right to information.”

He cited the high profile case of the National Broadband Network-ZTE deal. The Supreme Court ruling that Romulo Neri, former NEDA chairman, could invoke executive privilege and that he could not be compelled to answer three questions during the Senate inquiry on the controversial project is an example of a denial of the right to access to information, Malaluan said.

Malaluan also said that the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has been repeatedly denied access to documents pertaining to official development assistance (ODA) projects. “The DOF [Department of Finance] continues to deny these even if these clearly involve tax money.”

Malaluan said, “Non- access can lead to, or be used to hide, corruption.”

He said that there is no speedy, uniform procedure to access information. “Agencies will reply to you in different ways.”

The coverage of guarantee, Malaluan said, is not well defined. The task of defining the limits to the right to information has been given to Congress, said Malaluan.

Leadership issue

Malaluan maintained that access to information is a leadership issue.

“If you have a government that is open, you won’t be needing legislation, or a constitutional guarantee,” said Malaluan.

He added that the government must adopt a policy of openness and transparency. “The problem is when we have a government that tends toward secrecy,” he said.

Bills

Malaluan said that pertaining to the 14th Congress, “We stand a very good chance of passing a law [to access information.]”

The Lower House passed House Bill 3732, known as the Freedom of Information Act of 2008, on its third reading, May 12.

Maluluan said that Congressmen Erin Tañada, Satur Ocampo and Joel Villanueva, among others strongly supported the bill.

The bill includes provisions that will penalize failure to disclose information within a given period. Penalties range from damages, suspension and imprisonment.

However, the bill also enumerates exceptions.

Malaluan said that even only on the matter of procedures and penalties, the bill is progressive.

“What is left now is to secure a counterpart bill in the Senate,” said Malaluan. He added that Sen. Ramon ‘ Bong Revilla Jr., chair of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media vowed to take up the bills on access to information.

Assertion

Malaluan cautioned that a law would not answer all our problems on access to information.

“The practice will require vigilance.” What is most important, he said, is the people’s assertion of the right to access information. Bulatlat

Self-censorship biggest enemy, journalists told

September 1, 2008

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 05:31:00 09/01/2008

TAGAYTAY CITY—Having shared the struggle of a noted Filipino press freedom fighter during the Marcos dictatorship, Edita Burgos has called on the country’s journalists to continuously fight what she says is the most dangerous enemy of the Fourth Estate—self-censorship.

“Self-censorship … is the more difficult obstacle to overcome. Barriers that are self-imposed are always more difficult to dissect and break down because usually they are born out of a natural instinct which is sometimes called ‘self-preservation’ and this is complicated by one’s ignorance,” said the widow of Joe Burgos, publisher of the alternative press We Forum and Malaya newspapers during the martial law years.

Burgos was keynote speaker during the 6th national congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Aug. 23-24.

Expounding on the congress’ theme, “Breaking Barriers, Building Strength,” Burgos acknowledged that the forces of the traditional “gatekeepers” of the press could break the resolve of any journalist to stay on the course of press freedom.

“As it was before, the gatekeepers—they who decide what is to be printed or announced—could be a barrier in the practice of one of the oldest professions,” she told more than 60 NUJP members at the CBCP Retreat Center.

Seek truth, share a vision

“We, of course, know that the gatekeepers, the editors and publishers, the owners of the companies we now call multimedia corporations, have their own motivations, their own reasons,” she said.

“Does the story not ‘offend’ any of the major advertisers? Does the story ‘help’ sister corporations or companies? Does the story ‘encourage’ support from policy makers, from decision makers, from those who can likewise grant ‘favors’ needed by these so-called gatekeepers?” she asked.

She advised journalists “to seek and live the truth and share a vision” and not to allow the “barriers” to pose a serious obstacle in writing the truth.

“It would be from the recognition of what keeps us from reporting the truth that we can start building our strengths,” said Burgos, mother of missing activist, Jonas.

For her, self-knowledge comes with an acceptance of one’s strengths and weaknesses.

“To accept that we are weak is the first step in solving that problem. In recognizing that we are being deterred from doing our jobs because of this weakness, we become open to turning that weakness to a strength. In simply accepting this weakness, it becomes a strength,” she explained.

“So even if external barriers have silenced you, it is no reason your beliefs should be compromised. And just as barriers come from both within and without, building strengths should likewise emanate from both dimensions,” Burgos said.

Challenges as motivations

She added: “To turn barriers into strengths they should be considered as challenges and these become motivations that are purified. These become truths that are freed.”

A devout Catholic and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, Burgos saw all her present challenges and tribulations as “God’s grace.”

“I believe in what St. Therese of the Child Jesus says, all is grace,” she told the NUJP members, most of them young to be her own children.

The 63-member council voted the NUJP’s officers for the next two years, including gmanews.tv editor Jose Torres Jr., reelected chair; Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Nestor Burgos Jr., vice chair; ABS-CBN editor Federico Fernandez Jr., secretary general; Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos, deputy secretary general; IFJ Safety Office director Rowena Paraan, treasurer and GMA7 editor Alwyn Alburo, auditor.

Among those elected to the directorate are Inquirer correspondents Julie Alipala, Zamboanga and Desiree Caluza, Baguio-Benguet; John Heredia, Capiz; Cheryl Fiel, Davao City; Ilang Ilang Quijano, Pinoy Weekly; and INQUIRER.net editor Jose Jaime Espina.

Cop in radioman’s murder vows to defy arrest

August 20, 2008

By Aquiles Zonio, Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:42:00 08/19/2008

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The policeman charged with the killing of a broadcaster here said he would defy arrest and was resigning “so police will have no control over me.”

“I won’t allow myself to be brought to Camp Crame. I am innocent and I’m ready to defend myself,” said Senior Insp. Redempto “Boy” Acharon Sr., chief security officer and cousin of Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr.

The National Bureau of Investigation has filed murder charges against Acharon Sr. and two other bodyguards of Mayor Acharon Jr. Tuesday for the fatal shooting on Aug. 4 of Radio Mindanao Network broadcaster Dennis Cuesta.

Acharon Sr. was charged at the Department of Justice (DOJ) with two unidentified security aides of the mayor, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Positive ID

The NUJP said Acharon Sr., assigned to this city’s police station, was identified by a witness as the gunman while the two other suspects acted as lookout and driver of the motorcycle used in the ambush.

Justice Undersecretary Ric Blancaflor said another eyewitness has surfaced to corroborate the statement of a first witness.

He declined to give details of the case and the possible motive of the ambush pending the start of the preliminary investigation.

Asked if the mayor could have had a hand in Cuesta’s killing, Blancaflor said it was still premature to link Acharon Jr.

“We are just relying on what the witnesses tell us. I’m sure the mastermind and the motive will be known eventually,” he told the Inquirer.

Blancaflor, chair of DOJ’s Task Force 211, a special team of prosecutors investigating extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists, said the suspects would be hard put to refute the witnesses’ testimonies.

“The positive identification of the witnesses is a very strong evidence in court. It will be hard for the suspects to look for any alibi to contest that,” he said in an earlier interview.

PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. immediately ordered the administrative relief of Acharon Sr.

During a meeting with NUJP directors in his office in Camp Crame on Monday, Razon said Acharon Sr. would be brought to the Custodial Detention Center in Camp Crame pending the formal filing of an administrative case against him.

He also instructed Director Jefferson Soriano, chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, to look into allegations that the local police tried to whitewash the investigation of the case.

Cuesta died five days after the shooting.

============

My Take:

Innocent?

Give us a break. surrender and let the court decide on your innocence.

Not guilty! — Afable

August 19, 2008


RP’S OLDEST LIBEL “VICTIM”! Perhaps the oldest journalist in the Philippines facing libel, 91 year-old journalist Cecille Afable (middle) walks with with her cane and is assisted by lawyer Joris Dacawi (right) and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Chairman Pablito Sanidad (back of Afable) out from the Regional Trial Court Branch 5 on August 14 morning after pleading not guilty of libel charges lodged by Atty. Leticia Clemente. Photo courtesy of Ace Alegre(NorthernDispatch)

Gunman in Bicol broadcaster’s killing surrenders to police

August 18, 2008

NAGA CITY: The suspect in the murder of Camarines Sur broadcaster Ronaldo Julia surrendered early morning on Sunday but his companion who was identified as the nephew of a former mayor remains at large.

Polide identified the suspect as Efren Barosa alias Pitay and a former barangay kagawad, a brother-in-law of the former Magarao town mayor.

Julia, 42, also a consultant of the Magarao municipal office on environmental matters was gunned down at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday near his residence at Barangay San Isidro in Magarao. He was riding his motorcycle when the suspects reportedly flagged him and fired at him four times using a .38 caliber revolver.

A former station manager of radio station dzRC in Legazpi City during the early 90’s, he then transferred to radio station dzLW in Naga City as station manager.

Until his death, he was a radio reporter of dwLV and at the same time a staff of The Weekly Informer published by his elder brother Mike Julia.

Supt. Rodolfo Llorca, Camarines Sur Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Diretor, said the suspect surrendered to him Sunday morning, refusing to elaborate beyond saying he was under investigation.

He said a certain Aven Villa­raza who was allegedly with the gunman during Julia’s murder remains at large. Villaraza is a nephew of former Mayor Lourdes Senar of Magarao.

The former mayor was defeated by her vice mayor, Nelson Julia, brother of the victim, during her third reelection attempt in the 2007 elections. She would have succeeded her husband who ran for vice mayor; both were defeated. Salvador Senar is a first cousin of budget secretary Noynoy Andaya.

Mike Julia, brother of the victim, said he received information that the gunman was a helper of the Senar family, using a gun allegedly provided by a member of the Senar family.

Julia said the suspect decided to surrender because the gunman who is himself a neighbor of the victim, thought there was no one who witnessed the murder, as he allegedly shot the victim four times a few minutes before midnight.

Amy villafuerte, president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Plipinas-Camarines Sur chapter and Bert Luquinario, president of the Association of Radio-TV announcers of Camarines Sur issued statement condemning Julia’s murder.
— Manny T. Ugalde(Manila Times)

=================

My Take:

A sad news to media world.

Worst is, Amy Villafuerte of ABS-CBN Naga (she’s the station manager then when we pioneered the bikol sarimanok team), is now the province’s KBP head.

Worst news i ever heard.

August 15, 2008

HB 3535: Satur bill pushes decriminalization of libel

(The House militant bloc of legislators led by Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo renewed the push for the passage of House Bill 3535 that decriminalizes libel.

The said bill was included in the initial consideration of the Committee on Revision of Laws on the bills seeking to amend/repeal the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on libel today.)

When we drafted HB 3535, we were not unmindful of the fact that our libel law was originally enacted to protect citizens from unwarranted damage to reputation. We knew for a fact that the libel law was designed to protect the good name of an individual from being destroyed by the misuse of the freedom of speech.

Libel is increasingly used as the convenient and predominant tool for those in power to muzzle an independent media and silence critical voices.

A major case in point is First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo who filed libel suits against at least 42 journalists from different media outlets in 2006. Although, as a supposed “gesture of peace,” Mr. Arroyo ordered his lawyers to withdraw all these libel cases in 2007.

This reality has spawned widespread calls among media practitioners to decriminalize libel. Some approached us to file a bill seeking to take out libel from our criminal laws, arguing that its decriminalization will strengthen the safeguards on free speech and expression and promote free flow of information which is necessary in a democracy which we claim to enjoy.

We were thus confronted with the difficult question as to whether or not the decriminalization of libel is the appropriate path to pursue. Or better still, we were concerned whether decriminalizing libel will keep the delicate balance between an individual’s right against unwarranted damage to his reputation vis-a-vis the guarantees of freedom of speech.

Our libel law has been abused by the powerful few to curtail the right of the press to delve into the truth behind matters of public interest and the people’s right to know.

We believe that the delicate balance between private reputation and the freedom to speak will not vanish into thin air if and when libel is decriminalized.

If libel is decriminalized, those whose private reputation are attacked will still have adequate means of legal relief, foremost of which are Articles 19 and 26 of the Civil Code.

Article 19 of the Civil Code holds a person liable for damages if she/he fails to act with justice and observe honesty and good faith when exercising her/his rights and while performing her/his duties.  On the other hand, Article 26 of the Civil Code holds an individual liable for damages if she/her fails to exercise the duty to respect the dignity, personality, privacy, and peace of mind of others.

If libel is decriminalized, the press can enjoy the free exercise of its duties and functions, and as a result, the people will have unimpeded access to information involving matters of public concern. Decriminalizing libel will remove its potency as an instrument to intimidate and harass. It will allow the media to do their work without fear.

HB 3535 has Ocampo as principal author and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, and Gabriela Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza as co-authors.

Ocampo is a former assistant business editor of the Manila Times. #

LIST OF JOURNALISTS CHARGED WITH LIBEL BY MR. ARROYO IN 2006

NEWSBREAK (“MORE PROPERTIES,” DEC. 8, 2005 ISSUE)

1. Marites Vitug (editor-in-chief)
2. Glenda Gloria (associate editor)
3. Ricky Carandang (business editor)
4. R. E. Otico (editorial consultant)
5. Jose Dalisay Jr. (editorial consultant)
6. Booma Cruz (contributing editor)

NEWSBREAK (“WILL SHE NOW CHANGE?” JUNE 7, 2004 ISSUE)

7. Concepcion Paez (contributing writer)

MALAYA (“POE’S CAMP SAYS MIKE IS CHIEF CHEATING OPERATOR,” MAY 19, 2004)
8.
JP Lopez (reporter)
9. Regina Bengco (reporter)
10. Amado Macasaet (publisher)
11. Enrique Romualdez (executive editor)
12.
Joy de los Reyes (editor in chief)
13. Ma. Teresa Molina (managing editor)
14. Minnie Advincula (news editor)
15. Ellen Tordesillas (chief of reporters)

MALAYA (“FIRST COUPLE’S IDEA OF CHARITY,” JULY 9, 2004, “BUSINESS INSIGHT” COLUMN

(Macasaet)

16. Rosario Galang (business editor)

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER (14 COUNTS, TULFO’S COLUMN “ON TARGET” THAT APPEARED ON JAN. 14, 17, AND 26; MARCH 9 AND 23; MAY 23, JUNE 17, AND AUG. 3, 2006)

17. Ramon Tulfo (columnist)
18. Isagani Yambot (publisher)

19. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc (editor in chief)
20.
Jose Ma. Nolasco (managing editor)
21. Abelardo Ulanday (associate editor)
22. Rosario Garcellano (associate editor for readership)
23. Artemio Engracia Jr.
(news editor)
24. Jorge Aruta (opinion editor)
25. Pergentino Bandayrel Jr. (national editor)
26. Juan Sarmiento (senior desk editor)

BANDERA (SIX COUNTS, TULFO’S COLUMN “ON TARGET” THAT APPEARED ON JAN. 26; MAY 23 AND 27; JUNE 6, 8, AND 17, 2006)

27. Eileen Mangubat (publisher)
28. Beting Laygo Dolor (editor in chief)
29. Jimmy Alcantara (associate editor)
30. Raymond Rivera (circulation manager)

DAILY TRIBUNE (STORIES WHERE TATAD WAS QUOTED AS SAYING ARROYO WAS HIS WIFE’S “CHIEF CHEATER,” MAY 14, 16, 17, AND 18, 2004)

31. Ninez Cacho-Olivares (editor in chief)
32. Romulo Mariñas (news editor)
33. Gina Capili-Inciong (city editor)

34. Jake Martin (construction editor)
35. Marvin Estigoy (advertising manager)
36. Gerry Baldo (reporter)
37. Sherwin Olaes (reporter)
38. Lito Tugadi (circulation manager)
39. Jing Santos (subscription manager)

(FOR ACCUSING MIKE ARROYO OF INFLUENCING RPN-9 NETWORK TO AXE ” ISUMBONG MO , TULFO BROTHERS DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE IN QUEZON CITY ON AUG. 2, 2006 )

(Tulfo)

40. Erwin Tulfo
41. Raffy Tulfo

INQ7.NET (“HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MIKE ARROYO,” JULY 5, 2004, HIGH GROUND COLUMN)

42. William Esposo

Journalist apologizes for Alfonso Lista slur

August 10, 2008

By Roderick Osis

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A JOURNALIST has apologized to the municipal officials of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao months after he exposed to the media the alleged threat of the town vice mayor to his and lady colleague’s life.

In his letter of apology, Redjie Melvic Cawis, an employee of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) based in the Cordillera and a photo correspondent of the national daily Malaya, clarified that the news broke out in the media of the alleged harassment of Vice Mayor Clarence Polig against him and another Malaya correspondent Malen Catajan did not directly come from him.

Cawis insisted that he did not issue any statement to the media.

“It was wrong on my part to have clammed-up on the issue. It could have prevented the undue defamation of Vice Mayor Polig and the good people of Alfonso Lista should have done this earlier,” he said in the letter.

“To set the record straight then, let me be candid – while socializing in the course of our interview, we were drinking liquor at the same time and unknowingly, I may have been insensitive to the culture and practices of our hosts. I could have behaved like a true gentleman and public servant,” he added.

During the town fiesta celebration on May 10, Cawis and Catajan, together with their driver, were invited by Polig to his residence after the two asked for an interview.

Allegedly, when the vice mayor was intoxicated, he apparently started a heated argument with the journalists saying their coverage was deemed illegal and accused them of trespassing.

The local official also told the duo that they had no “work order” with him and all dealings with the municipality had to have his approval.(Sunstar)

======================

My Take:

Media organizations should investigate this sudden “apology” of this PIA employee.

I sense threat, money, and more threat in this turn-around of events.

Shame on him.  He’s not worthy to be called and treated as a media person.

Editorial Cartoon: Media Attack

August 8, 2008

RMN got 1-2 punch from the terrorists.

Another RMN broadcaster shot and killed

August 8, 2008

A broadcast journalist of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in Roxas City, Capiz, who is also an officer of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in the province, was shot and killed yesterday in a broad daylight attack.

The NUJP said the murder of Martin Roxas, 32, anchorman of RMN station dyVR and host of the station’s noontime program, “Targetanay sa Udto,” by two motorcycle-riding gunmen, came three days after RMN broadcaster Dennis Cuesta was seriously hurt in a shooting attack in General Santos City. Cuesta still lies in a comatose state.

Reports from Capiz said Roxas, who is auditor of the NUJP Capiz chapter, had just finished his program and left the radio station in Barangay Punta Tabuc at 1 p.m. riding his motorcycle when the gunmen pursued him.

“The gunmen shot him at a place some one kilometer from the city proper and fled,” said John Heredia, NUJP Capiz chairman.

Roxas died at past 2 p.m. at the Capiz Emmanuel Hospital, where he was taken. He died of a bullet that hit his spinal column, Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Western Visayas police director, said.

Policemen questioned two persons who were intercepted at a checkpoint.

Cuevas said a task force headed by Senior Supt. Josephus Angan, Capiz police director, has been formed to investigate the murder. He also said the investigation will look into the possibility that the killing was work-related, noting that Roxas tackled various sensitive issues.(MB)

Attack on broadcaster hit by media groups

August 8, 2008

By BONG REBLANDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Chief Supt. Felizardo M. Serapio Jr., Central Mindanao police chief, formed Task Force “Cuesta” to solve the shooting and wounding of radio commentator Dennis Cuesta, now in critical condition at a hospital.

“I have created Task Force Cuesta to ensure a coordinated effort in the investigation and prioritized the immediate resolution of the attempt on the life broadcast journalist Dennis Cuesta,” Serapio said.

This developed as media groups condemned the shooting of Cuesta, program director of RMN and called for speedy investigation of this latest violence to suppress press freedom in General Santos City.

The call was aired by the PNP 12th Regional Press Corps led by Jeffrey Jubelag and Broadcasters and Group of Writers Integrated Service headed by Rolly Fabregar.

“We are calling on authorities to conduct full probe in the slay attempt of Cuesta and find out the motive for the assault and bring to justice the suspects. We are also asking witnesses who saw the violent incident to help solve the crime against press freedom,” Jubelag said in a statement.

Cuesta, a hard hitting radio journalist was shot at close range by one of three gunmen while he and a buddy, Bobby Flores, were walking on a highway towards Gaisano Mall at 4:30pm Monday.

Al Josol, RMN DXMD Radyo Agong station manager, said Cuesta and Flores alighted from the multicab vehicle they used in promoting that day the “Radyo Milyonaryo” nationwide promo in nearby Glan and Malapatan towns in Sarangani.(MB)

SOMAtion: State of the Media Add[REP]RESS[ION]

August 5, 2008

As the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) celebrated its 22nd anniversary, media practitioners presented today’s state of the Philippine media.

BY HANNAH FAITH DORMIDO
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 26, August 3-9, 2008

If Mrs. Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address was full of applauses from her cohorts in Congress, the State of the Media Address showed the depressing status of the media and journalists in the country.

“The media is a reflection of the SONA,” said Joe Pavia, executive director of the Philippine Press Institute, adding that the state of the nation is the reflection of the state of the media and vice versa.

Killings, threats

The Philippines is classified as one of the countries that have a partly free press, said Isagani Yambot, publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Since 1986, the PDI and the NUJP have tallied 116 journalists killed. Citing data from the Philippine National Police’s Task Force Usig, he said that only four suspects in only two cases of killings have been arrested.

In most cases, only the gunmen, not the masterminds, were arrested, creating a culture of impunity, said Yambot.

Sonny Fernandez, NUJP vice chair, said, “The number of killings minus the few token cases solved equals culture of impunity.”

Many journalists also face threats and harassments from politicians and drug lords. Yambot said.

Libel

Yambot further said that libel cases are being used to repress crusading journalists. He recalled the libel cases filed by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo against several members of the media.
He also criticized efforts to limit the media’s access to information.

Low pay

Print journalists also suffer low wages as compared to television news anchors. Five years ago, Yambot said a news anchor earned P380, 000 ($8,592 at the current exchange rate of $1=P44.225) a month while newspaper section editors earned a meager P35,000 to P40,000 ($701 to $904) a month.

“You’re going to get your reward in heaven,” was all Yambot could tell journalists every time they ask for a wage increase.

Mike Ubac, president of the PDI Employees Union, said that many reporters do not have job security and benefits. Others would not receive their salary for five months.

Ubac also said that while the management wants media practitioners to become super reporters or multimedia reporters, they do not get additional compensation.

Fernandez said, “Ang mga journalists, araw-araw nakikibaka para sa disenteng pamumuhay.” (Journalists struggle every day for a decent living.)

Professional issues

Another problem cited by Yambot is the deteriorating proficiency in English. He said that some would literally translate Filipino into English.

Yambot also complained that some journalists don’t have a sense of historical background. As Joe Torres of GMANews.tv said, stories must be given faces and the proper context.

Ed Lingao, news director of ABC 5 pointed out two major challenges faced by broadcast journalists. He said some media students start on the wrong foot; they want to be into broadcast journalism because they just want to be seen on television or to become famous.

Lingao said another problem lies on the practitioners themselves. He said that many reporters and journalists are lazy and some are arrogant. He said lazy reporters fail to give background or context to their reports and arrogant reporters and camera persons would even punch or hit suspects in crime scenes.

There is also confusion between the roles of newsmen and entertainers, said Lingao. “Writing skills always take the back seat,” he said, “while appearances are deemed more important.”
He said that managers and producers as the most important gatekeepers should always be responsible.

Press freedom

Fernandez said the façade or perception of power and fame of the media remains only in the façade given all the threats and struggles faced by journalists.

He concluded that there can be no press freedom if journalists live in fear, corruption and poverty. Bulatlat

Media group to mark 60th year of UDHR with int’l confab

July 29, 2008

MindaNews
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 07:59
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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/28 July) — The Asian Congress for Media and Communication will mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an international conference on August 21-23, 2008 at the Ateneo de Davao University, ACMC-ADDU student coordinator Mick Basa said in a statement.

“It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality, that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists, and that it exists for them,” Basa quoted United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon as
saying during the launch of the declaration’s 60th anniversary.

Carrying the theme “Media on Asia: A Tool for Human Rights Education and Monitoring,” the conference has invited Alan Davis as the keynote speaker.

Davis is director of special projects of the London-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).

Experts in various disciplines from the University of the Philippines, Southern Illinois University, University of the East, University of Asia and the Pacific and Mowelfund Inc. will also speak in the gathering.

Basa said the ACMC is calling on mass communication educators from the Philippines and other Asian countries, students, media practitioners, government public information officers, people’s organizations and other interested individuals to attend the event.

“The conference aims to expose educators and practitioners to the complex interconnections between media, communication, languages and human rights at a time when both have become central tenets of political, cultural, and policy debate,” he stressed.

Participants will hold a parade on August 24, the day after the conference ends.

The UN General Assembly adopted the UDHR on December 10, 1948. It is meant to be “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” in the area of human rights.

The declaration is not an agreement per se, but it inspired two important UN human rights treaties – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (MindaNews)