Archive for the ‘press freedom’ Category

EDITORIAL CARTOONING IN JOURNALISM(Lektyur na Ihinanda para sa mga Mag-aaral ng PUP-College of Communication)

July 24, 2009

GEARING TOWARDS A NEW BEGINNING: CARTOONING IN JOURNALISM

Lektyur na idineliber ng Brgy RP (Ding Loguibis) sa mga mag-aaral ng PUP-College of Communication noong Hulyo, 2009

Sa tulong ng JournGuild at pamunuan ng PUP-CoC

 

 

Magandang araw!

 

Kung pagbabatayan ang tema: otomatikong sasagi ang usapin ng ‘beginning’ sa konteksto ng ‘bago’.  Bagong labas, bagong mukha, bagong landas.

 

Sa pakikipagpalitan ko ng ideya at kuro sa ilan ninyong ka-mag-aaral, pati na kay Prof Angie, napulot ko ang konteksto ng new beginning, ayon sa punto de bista ng mga nasa akademya.  New beginning dahil magbubukas ng bagong pintuan ang inyong pamantasan para sa editorial cartooning.  New beginning dahil bago ang organisasyunal na istruktura ng inyong kolehiyo.  New beginning dahil bagong larangan para sa mga journ students ang editorial cartooning.

 

Syempre, kakabit na nito ang mga katanungan.  What’s in store? Ano’ng naghihintay sa likod ng bagong pintuan?  Anong mga bagong hamon ang kakaharapin?

 

Kapag naghahanda para sa isang bagong simula, kailangan natin ng armas: karampatang kaalaman, aral ng nakaraan, at determinasyong kumpletuhin ang paglalakbay, abutin ang mga linalayon, anuman ang mga balakid  o harang na makaharap natin sa daan.

 

Tulad ng pagkabigo natin sa pag-ibig, o pagkatapos mag-asawa, o pagkatapos manganak, walang ibang hakbang tayong magagawa kundi pasulong.  Dahil ang lahat ng bagay ay apektado ng unibersal na batas ng pagbabago, ng pag-unlad.

 

Kailangang ang mga aral lamang ang bitbitin sa paglalakbay at iwanan ang sandamakmak na excess baggage para sa mas magaan at mabilis na byahe.

 

Sapagkat kung ang unang hakbang ang hudyat ng simula, ang pag-atras ang katapusan ng paglalakbay.

 

Ngayong araw, susubukan nating ibaling ang ating atensyon sa buhay ng isa sa dalawang pinakamahalagang bahagi ng pamamahayag: ang kartung editoryal o editorial cartoon.

 

Ang kartung editoryal ang pinakamakapangyarihan, pinaka-epektibo, at pinaka-maaasahang kagyat na tagapukaw ng atensyon ng pinakamalawak na bilang ng mambabasa ng pahayagan.

 

MAIKLING KASAYSAYAN NG EDITORIAL CARTOON

 

Ang editorial cartoon ay isang klase ng political cartoon.  Ang political cartoon naman ay nanggaling sa karikatura.

 

Sinasabing nagmula ang karikatura sa Mediterranean .  Pero bilang isang disiplinang Kanluranin, nakilala ang karikatura sa pamamagitan ni da Vinci.

 

Ito ang naging midyum ni da Vinci sa kanyang masining na paghahanap sa ideyal na tipo ng deformity.

 

Pero dahil sa karaniwan nang ang mga likha lang sa canvass ang naididisplay noong panahong iyon, itinakda ang karikatura (karaniwang nasa sketch pad lang) bilang isang “fanciful exercise” at kung gayo’s walang artistic value sa merkado.

 

Ang resulta, para maipakita sa publiko, nakahon sa ‘portraiture’ ang mga karikatura. 

 

Dahil dito, ang mga artist noon katulad nina Agostino at Annibale Carraci ay nagrebelde sa ‘portraiture’ at linikha nila ang karikaturang ‘counter-art’, isang mabilis at impresyunistikong drowing na nag-i-exaggerate ng mga prominenteng pisikal na katangian ng tao na may resultang nakakatawa.

 

Sa paglipas ng panahon, lumabas ang mga kartung may katangiang editoryal sa panahon ng ligalig sa Europa, sa panahon ng Protestant Reformation sa Alemanya.

 

Gumamit ang naturang reform movement ng maramihang propagandang biswal para abutin ang pinakamaraming bilang ng mamamayang Aleman.

 

Ilan sa mga naging rekado ng tagumpay ng pagsulpot at pagtanggap sa mga political cartoon ay ang pagkakaroon noon ng matatag na oposisyon, mayamang bukal ng mga artist galing sa mga woodcutters at metal engravers, at ang taas ng antas ng iliterasiya.

 

Sa pagdaan ng panahon, nagsanib ang sining ng Alemanya sa karikaturang Italyano.  Mula dito’y nabuo ang standard na makikita natin sa mga 18th century cartoons.  Dito na unti-unting isinilang ang political cartoons.

 

Ang mga kartun na ito ay naging mahalagang midyum ng mga komentaryong tumatalakay sa mga seryosong usaping panlipunan, na ihinahayag sa paraang nakakatawa (at kung gayo’y katanggap-tanggap sa mga naghaharing uri noon) at nakadisenyo para maapektuhan ang opinyong publiko.

 

Ang political cartoon kung gayon ay kinakatangian ng karikatura, kung saan ginagawang katawa-tawa ang isang personalidad, at allusion, ang lumilikha ng sitwasyon o konteksto kung saan ilinalagay ang indibidwal.

 

Sa pagsulpot naman at pag-unlad ng peryodismo, nabitbit nito ang mga political cartoon at nalikha ang editorial cartoon.

 

Samantala, sa panahon ng kapitalistang pananakop, nakarating ang political at editorial cartoon sa Pilipinas.  Ang mga nakatalang pinakamatatandang political/editorial cartoon sa Pilipinas ay nalikha at nailimbag sa panahon ng kolonyalismong Amerikano at Hapon.   (May isang coffee table book nyan sa UP-D at may isang Japanese period na aklat naman sa AdeMU)

 

Gumanap din ng mahalagang papel ang political cartoons sa panahon ng batas militar pero limitado lang ang nakatalang partisipasyon ng editorial cartoon sa parehong panahon, dahil na rin sa tindi ng pagkontrol ng diktaturya sa halos lahat ng babasahin sa bansa.

 

Kaya nang “lumaya” ang peryodismo ng mga korporasyon, naibalik sa limelight ang mga kartun.  Pero dahil sa kawalan ng suporta ng mga akademyang pang-pamamahayag, muling naiusod ang kartun sa pinakalikod ng istruktura ng peryodiko.  Kung papansinin, sa kasalukuyan, karaniwang ang Art Director pa ang nasa Editorial Box at hindi ang Editorial Cartoonist.

 

Overall, nabansot ang natural na pag-unlad ng editorial cartoon sa bansa nang tuluyang mamatay ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag dito.

 

Narito ang ilan pang punto na nagpapakitang nakahon na lang ang “editorial cartoon” bilang palamuting editorial:

 

  • Pagkawala ng editorial cartooning sa regular na kurikulum ng mga journalism courses sa bansa;
  • Kapansin-pansing 1 to 2 pages na espasyong ilinalaan sa editorial cartooning sa halos lahat ng mga textbooks hinggil sa journalism sa bansa;
  • Ang persepsyon ng nakararaming intelektwal na ang kartunista’y alagad ng sining at hindi mamamahayag;
  • Kawalan ng sapat na tala ng kartunismo sa kasaysayan ng pamamahayag; at
  • Ang kalakarang naglalagay sa mga kartunista sa pinakamababang bahagi ng organisasyunal na istruktura ng editorial board.

 

(pansinin na tumigil ito sa arena ng sining at hindi na ipinasok sa larangan ng pamamahayag)

 

Mula sa ganitong tala ng buhay ng editorial cartooning sa buong mundo ibinatay ang tinatanggap na depinisyon ng editorial cartoon – isang tipo ng ilustrasyon o comic strip na naglalaman ng mga mensaheng panlipunan o politikal, na karaniwang tumatalakay sa mga kasalukuyang kaganapan o personalidad na bahagi ng mga kasalukuyang kaganapan.

 

Tinukoy rin ng mga nakalimbag na mapagsisipian na ang isang editorial cartoonist ay isang artist.

 

Wasto naman ito.  Kung ang editorial cartoon ay mananatiling bahagi ng sining-biswal.

 

 

ANG SIMULA: EDITORIAL CARTOONING IS JOURNALISM

 

Narito ang wastong depinisyon ng editorial cartoon.

 

Ito ay isang ilustrasyon(Nasti style) o comic strip(Alti style) na naglalaman ng opisyal na posisyon ng buong editorial board.  Maaaring maging imahe ito ng nakasulat na editorial, o kaya’y maaari itong maging isang hiwalay na editorial na tumatalakay sa iba pang usaping panlipunan.  Isa itong kartun na likha ng editorial board.

 

Mula sa ganitong depinisyon, lalabas na ang editorial cartoonist ay isang journalist at hindi artist.

 

Sa depinisyong ito, ihinahanda natin ang rightful place ng editorial cartooning ngayong ganap na ang ebolusyon nito: sa pahayagan.  Sa journalism at hindi sa sining biswal.

 

Dahil kung ang editorial ang sinasabing utak ng isang pahayagan (dahil literate lang ang nakakabasa at nakakaintindi), ang editorial cartoon naman ang puso ng pahayagan (dahil ito ang may kakayahang pumukaw sa masa ng sambayanan na karaniwang walang access sa komersyalisadong edukasyon, dahilan para hindi makabasa o maka-unawa ng mga nababasa ang mga ito).

 

PAGDUROG SA PANINIWALANG ARTIST ANG EDITORIAL CARTOONIST 

 

Kung susuriing mabuti, ang dahilan ng pagkilala sa kartunista bilang artist ay ang naging kalakaran ng mga editorial board sa paggawa ng kanilang editorial cartoon.  Naging kaugalian noon ang magpatawag na lang ng magaling na kartunista para gawan ng imahe ang natapos na editoryal, o pumili ng dati nang gawang kartun na ipapaskil sa editorial cartoon box.

 

At dahil hindi nga nabigyan ng tsansa ang mga kartunista na maging journalist, sila’y naging mga alagad lang ng sining-biswal na may ispesyal na kakayahang gumawa ng kartung editoryal o kaya’y mga tagalikha ng kartung politikal.  Kaya sa pagdaan ng panahon, ang nahubog nila ay ang kakayahang gumawa ng magagandang satirikong biswal na ang naging pangunahing layunin pa ay magpatawa at hindi na magmulat pa.

 

Pero maari namang maging isang kartunista ang isang artist. In fact, maaaring maging kartunista ang kahit na sino.  Pero kailangan lang pakatatandaan na sa panahong gumagawa sila ng kartun, sila ay journalist at hindi kung anupaman.

 

Bilang journalist, ang kartunista’y dapat na naaarmasan ng mga pundasyon ng pamamahayag.  Kung wala nito, lahat ng likha nila ay magiging produkto lang ng sining.

 

Ang kaalaman sa mga pundasyon ng journalism ang nagbibigay sa kartunista ng kakayahang mag-isip ng kritikal at maging isang mahusay na mensahero ng opinyong publiko.  Ito ang malinaw na makapagbibigay ng kaibahan sa pagitan ng editorial cartoonist at artist.

 

PAANO GUMAWA NG POLITICAL/EDITORIAL CARTOON?

 

Limang hakbang lang naman ang kailangang gawin para makabuo ng isang malaman na editorial cartoon.

  1. Magbasa.  Kailangang updated sa current events ang kartunista.  Kailangang malawak ang kaalaman niya, batay na rin sa requirement ng mga pundasyon ng journalism.
  2. Gumawa ng posisyon sa isyu.  Kung editorial cartoonist naman, unawain ang posisyon ng editorial board sa isyu.
  3. Mag-isip ng imahe o representasyon at konteksto.
  4. Magdrowing.
  5. Edit. Tingnan ang spelling ng mga label, tanungin ang sarili kung ano ang posibleng reaksyon ng pinatutungkulan, ayusin ang mga bahagi na maaaring libelous.
  6. Finalize.  Submit.

 

Mahalagang isa-isip na para sa mga bago pa lang gumawa ng kartun, hindi masyadong mahalaga ang ganda ng stroke.  Ito’y sa kadahilanang hindi nga artwork ang inyong ginagawa.  Mas mabigat ang pansing ibinibigay natin dapat sa laman at mensahe ng likhang editorial cartoon.

 

Sa isang banda, kapag araw-araw nyo nang pinapraktis ang inyong kartun, madedevelop na lang ang inyong kakayahang magdrowing.

 

ANG EDITORIAL CARTOON AT ANG PRESS FREEDOM

 

Patay na ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag sa Pilipinas.  Ang pagiging industriya ng pamamahayag ang kumitil sa sarili nitong kalayaan.   Nagdudumilat din ang dalawang klase ng sensorsyip na umiiral ngayon sa larangan ng pamamahayag: state censorship and corporate censorship.

 

Ang mga pamamaslang sa mga mamamahayag ay may katangiang sensorsyip din kung saan pinapatahimik ng tuluyan ang mamamahayag, kung hindi kayang pigilan ng mga teknikalidad ng batas at perang busal.

 

Kaugnay nito, mahalaga ring malaman na ang pundasyon ng journalism at press freedom ay ang RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KNOW.  Kung wala ito, ano pa ang silbi ng press freedom at pamamahayag?

 

Ang nakakalungkot lang, hindi na ito ang kairalan sa larangan ng korporasyong pahayagan.  Try checking this out.  Sa library, kunin nyo ang main section ng tatlong pinakamalalaking dyaryo.  Bilangin nyo ang mga news item at ang mga ads.  Mula dito, bilangin ang item na sa tingin nyo’y gobyerno ang source.  Bilangin din ang item na sa tingin nyo’y isang PR item lang.  sa ads naman, bilangin ang political ads at gov’t ads.  Kung pamilyar kayo sa kasalukuyang ad rates, mapapansin ninyo na mas malaking pera ang nakukuha ng main section kumpara sa impormasyong ibinabahagi nito sa mambabasa.

 

Ano ang kinalaman nito sa editorial cartooning? Simple lang, kung patay na ang press freedom, at di na iginagalang at kinikilala ang karapatan ng mamamayang maka-alam, patay na rin ang editorial cartooning.

 

At isang simpleng patunay ang nagaganap sa kasalukuyan.

 

Sa kasalukuyan ay wala nang editorial cartoon sa mga malalaking pahayagan sa bansa.  Kung babalikan kasi ang depinosyon natin sa editorial cartoon, otomatikong sasagi sa atin na ang pagdrowing ay isa lang bahagi ng paggawa ng editorial cartoon.  Malaking bahagi ng paggawa nito ay ang malayang diskusyon ng editorial board, pag-alam at pagsusuri sa mga datos na pinagbabatayan, at pagsusuri sa cartoon para masigurong ito’y responsableng kartun at hindi basta-bastang naninira ng puri o nagbabato ng mga malisyosong punto ng walang batayan.

 

(Sa aktwal na lektyur ay sinuri ang ilang halimbawang kartun na likha nina Rene Aranda at Jess Abrera, sa pagsusuri ay lumabas ang inisyal na pananaw na parehong hindi editorial cartoon ang kanilang likha sa araw na iyon.  Ang likha ni Aranda ay hindi tugma sa punto ng editorial ng Philippine Star, at ang likha ni Abrera ng Inquirer naman ay isang news representation lang, isang karikaturang walang allusion.)

 

Idagdag pa ang punto na hindi rin naman transparent ang trabaho ng editorial board.  Ibig sabihin, hindi alam ng karamihan ng mambabasa kung ano ang nagaganap sa loob ng editorial board meet.  Mahalagang malaman ang partisipasyon sa talakayan ng kartunista, dahil kung nagaganap ito, tunay na editorial cartoon ang kanilang nalilikha.

 

Sa karanasan ko, karaniwan nang ipinapadala lang sa kartunista ang gawa nang editorial at umaasa na lang ang board na makakalikha ng tamang kartun ang kartunista mula dito, o kaya’y kung anuman ang kartun na maisabmit ng kartunista’y siya na lang ipapaskil sa editorial cartoon box at kung gayo’y matatawag nang editorial cartoon.

 

Ang mga kartun sa editorial pages ng main papers sa bansa ay safe na masasabing political cartoons, pero hanggat hindi nasisigurong wasto nga ang pinagdadaanan nitong proseso, hindi natin maki-claim na isa itong editorial cartoon.

 

KINABUKASAN NG EDITORIAL CARTOON

 

Sabi nila, sa akademya nagsisimula ang ideya.  Dito rin nagsisimula ang mga pangarap, ang direksyon.

 

Kaya sinasamantala ko ang pagkakataong ito upang ipanawagan ang pagkuha ng journalism sa editorial cartooning.  Dahil kung patay na ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag sa labas ng apat na sulok ng akademya, at least ay mapanatili nating buhay ang ideyang ito sa loob ng akademya.

 

Magandang balita ang balaking ilagay ng inyong kolehiyo ang editorial cartooning bilang elective ng kursong journalism.  Kung susundin ng ibang akademya ang ganitong hakbang, hindi malaon ay mailalagay na sa regular na kurikulom ng inyong kurso ang editorial cartooning.

 

Samantala, napakarami ring posibilidad na maganap, sa aspeto ng popularisasyon ng editorial cartoon.  Maaring maglunsad ng cartoon festival (tinanggap ng pamunuan ng PUP Journ Dept ang ideyang ito), o kaya’y mga serye ng talakayang may kinalaman sa cartooning sa loob at labas ng inyong kampus.

 

Samantala, sa mga gagawa pa lang ng thesis, makakatulong kayo sa pagpapayaman ng literature ng editorial cartooning sa bansa.

 

Maaari ninyong tuklasin ang relasyon ng editorial cartooning sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag, sa iliterasiya sa bansa, sa ekonomikal na aspeto ng pahayagan.

 

Maaari ring alamin nyo kung ano ang nagaganap sa loob ng bawat editorial board meet ng mga pahayagan.  Malay nyo, kayo ang unang makapag-claim, officially, na meron pa o wala na ngang editorial cartooning sa bansa.

 

Kung malawak naman ang network ninyo, maari niyong i-research ang kalagayan ng mga kartunista sa bansa.  O kaya’y i-dissect ang mga grupong kartunista, kung sila nga ba’y gumagawa ng editorial cartoon o simpleng political cartoons lamang.

 

Sa mismong cartooning naman, marami pang pag-unlad ang pwedeng maganap.

 

Naumpisahan ko na ang ideya at praktika ng pag-grupo ng ilang mga kartun na lumilikha ng isang kolum.  Nailalabas ko na ito sa aking CARTOON.  Samantala, nariyan din ang ‘continuous editorial cartoon’, lalo na’t mabilis magbago ang kaganapang panlipunan sa kasalukuyan.

 

Nariyan din ang posibilidad ng animated editorial cartoon.  Sa bansa ay mangilan ngilan pa lang ang marunong gumawa nito.

 

Marami pang posibilidad, marami pang maaaring maganap.  Kung mapagtutuunan lang ng sapat na pansin at atensyon ang editorial cartooning sa bansa, tiyak na marami pa an gating malilikhang baryasyon, at kontribusyon sa pagpapa-unlad ng editorial cartoon.

 

Sa pagtatapos, umaasa akong nakatulong ang lektyur na ito upang ihanda kayo sa new beginning.  Para sa journalism.  Para sa cartooning.

 

Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayo!

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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

Tagumpay ng student-bloggers at malayang pamamahayag

February 6, 2009

Anthony Ian Cruz

MATAPOS magreklamo ang ilang magulang, pinigilan na ng panrehiyong tanggapan ng Department of Education-National Capital Region ang parusang sampung araw na suspensyon na ipinataw kamakailan sa apat na estudyante ng Quezon City Science High School (QCSHS).

Nakatakda sanang ipatupad ang suspensyon sa mga estudyante simula ngayong Lunes, Enero 19, bilang parusa sa mga sinulat na artikulo sa kanilang mga blog na tumutuligsa kay Dr. Zenaida Panti Sadsad, punong-guro ng paaralan.

Ipinaliwanag ni DepEd NCR director Teresita Dimalanta sa GMA News
noong Biyernes na pinigilan ng ahensya ang suspensyon para
bigyang-daan ang kanilang sariling imbestigasyon.

May pag-apruba ng DepEd?

Sa isang panayam, sinabi ng isa sa apat na estudyante sa sila ay
sinuspinde sa utos mismo ni Dr. Sadsad, at may pag-apruba ito ng pamunuan ng DepEd sa dibisyon ng Quezon City.

Ayon sa estudyante, pinarusahan siya dahil sa pagtuligsa niya sa
kanyang blog sa pamamaraan ng pagtuturo ng ilang guro, at sa pagpahayag ng panawagan ng maraming mag-aaral na tanggalin na sa puwesto si Dr. Sadsad.

Ang blog ng nasabing estudyante ay “for private reading” sa Multiply.com at mababasa lamang ng kanyang mga kaibigan.

Nagsimula ang mga protesta at pagtuligsa ng mga estudyante noong
Setyembre 2008 matapos diumano’y pigilan ni Sadsad ang tradisyunal na isang linggong pagdiriwang ng anibersaryo ng QCSHS.

Biglaan din diumanong tinanggal ni Sadsad ang buong staff ng mga
pahayagang Electron at Banyuhay noong Hunyo 2008 at pinalitan ang
gurong tagapayong si G. Rex San Diego.

Kinondena din ng estudyante ang balitang panunuhol kay Sadsad mula sa pamilya ng isang estudyanteng di pumasa sa entrance examinations ng QCSHS.

‘Wala sa student handbook’

Ayon sa ama ng biktima, ang sinasabing mga paglabag na ibinibintang sa kanyang anak ay wala saanman sa student handbook ng paaralan. Kinondena din niya ang di pagrespeto ng administrasyon sa karapatan ng kanyang anak sa due process.

Para naman sa kanyang ina, itutuloy ng kanilang pamilya ang paglaban sa administrasyon.

Ayon sa kanila, haharap ang apat na estudyante, mga kapwa magulang at alumni sa isang press conference sa Martes sa Quezon City.

Ayon sa ina ng biktima, nagmura si Sadsad sa unang pulong na pinatawag ng punong-guro noong isang taon. Ginamit din umano ni Sadsad ang mga printout ng blogs sa paghampas sa mesa sa harap ng mga magulang na kanyang inimbitahan sa QCSHS.

Dinagdag pa ng ina na matapos pumutok ang balita sa midya, nagpadala na ng “feelers” si Sadsad na iuurong na ang suspensyon kung hihingi ng tawad ang kanyang anak at mangangakong hindi na muli susulat ng panunuligsa sa kanyang administrasyon.

Sinubukan ng Pinoy Weekly na kunin ang panig ni Sadsad ngunit hindi ito makontak.

Suporta sa mga estudyante

Mula sa London, Gran Britanya, nanawagan si QCSHS alumnus Rafael
Joseph Maramag sa isang bukas na liham sa lokal na pamahalaan ng
Quezon City at sa DepEd na imbestigahan si Sadsad, sa halip na ang mga estudyante.

Ayon kay Maramag, “sa kanyang lantarang pag-abuso sa kapangyarihan, si Sadsad pa nga ang dapat suspindihin o kaya ay ipatapon mula sa paaralan.”

Nagpahayag naman ang College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) ng pagsuporta sa apat na estudyante at hinamon ang QCSHS at DepEd na respetuhin ang konstitusyunal na karapatan ng mga estudyante sa
malayang pamamahayag.

Ayon kay Vijae Alquisola, pangulo ng CEGP,  dapat ikonsidera ng DepEd ang mga epektong emosyonal, sosyal at sikolohikal ng naunsyaming suspensyon sa mga estudyante.

(Si Anthony Ian Cruz ay isang freelance journalist at blogger. Bumisita sa
kanyang blog sa http://tonyocruz.com)

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)

Editorial Cartoon: (Right To Reply) Another Stab

October 5, 2008

Clearly Anti-Constitutional

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)

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)

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…

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.

Manila’s Censorship Law Rears Its Ugly Head

August 24, 2008

By Pete Lacaba

This is going to be a long one, but I can’t help myself, I’m really pissed off.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MANILA ORDINANCE NO. 7780?

Has anyone ever heard of the City of Manila’s Ordinance No. 7780–or of its obvious clone, House Bill No. 3305?

Manila Ordinance 7780 is entitled “AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING AND PENALIZING THE PRINTING, PUBLICATION, SALE, DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION OF OBSCENE AND PORNOGRAPHIC ACTS AND MATERIALS AND THE PRODUCTION, RENTAL, PUBLIC SHOWING AND VIEWING OF INDECENT AND IMMORAL MOVIES, TELEVISION SHOWS, MUSIC RECORDS, VIDEO AND VHS TAPES, LASER DISCS, THEATRICAL OR STAGE AND OTHER LIVE PERFORMANCES, EXCEPT THOSE REVIEWED BY THE MOVIE, TELEVISION REVIEW AND CLASSIFICATION BOARD (MTRCB).”

House Bill 3305 is entitled “AN ACT PROHIBITING AND PENALIZING THE PRODUCTION, PRINTING, PUBLICATION, IMPORTATION, SALE, DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION OF OBSCENE AND PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIALS, AND THE EXHIBITION OF LIVE SEXUAL ACTS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE ARTICLE 201OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE, AS AMENDED.”

HB 3305 was, without much fanfare, approved by the House of Representatives only last February 5, 2008. But it remains a bill and does not have the force of law as of today, unless and until it (or a similar bill) is approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President. So, for now, it’s not a major problem.

Ordinance 7780, however, was enacted by the City Council of Manila at its regular session on January 28, 1993, and was subsequently approved by Mayor Alfredo S. Lim on February 19, 1993–more than 15 years ago! So the ordinance is in effect, and is therefore a pesky problem, at least in the Noble and Ever Loyal City of Manila.

I will have to confess that I had never heard of this jurassic (make that pre-jurassic) city ordinance, or its more recent congressional clone, until recently. That was sometime after July 7, 2008, the day a group of complainants identifying themselves as “Pastors of and Preachers in different Churches in Metro Manila”–all Baptists, by the way, and only one of whom seems to be a Manila resident–filed a “joint complaint affidavit” against four magazines (Playhouse, Playboy, FHM, and Maxim) and three tabloids (Sagad, Hataw, and Baliktaran Toro) for violating the Revised Penal Code and Ordinance 7780.

Full disclosure: I work for YES! magazine, which is published by Summit Media Publishing, which also publishes FHM. So, yes, I am an interested party in this case–but I am also an interested party because for years and years now I have been railing against comstockery (look it up in the dictionary, or check out Anthony Comstock in the encyclopedia) and taking part in efforts opposing censorship and upholding freedom of expression.

Both Manila Ordinance 7780 and House Bill 3305 purport to be anti-obscenity and anti-pornography measures. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that both of these measures are really censorship laws and clearly go against the provision in the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines that states:

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press…” (Section 4, Article III, “Bill of Rights”).

The censorious Manila Ordinance 7780, for instance, gives this definition of the term “obscene” in Section 2:

“Obscene shall refer to any material or act that is indecent, erotic, lewd or offensive, or contrary to morals, good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or to any material or act that tends to corrupt or deprive the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure imagination or arouse prurient interest, or is unfit to be seen or heard, or which violates the proprieties of language or behavior, regardless of the motive of the printer, publisher, seller, distributor, performer or author of such act or material, such as but not limited to:

“1. Printing, showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
“2. Printing, showing, depicting or describing children in sexual acts;
“3. Printing, showing, depicting or describing completely nude human bodies; and
“4. Printing, showing, depicting or describing the human sexual organs or the female breasts.”

Let’s take a closer look at that definition or description or whatchamacallit.

Any “act that is … offensive” is obscene? Offensive to whom? Offensive in what way? Spitting in public, or picking or blowing your nose in public, may be considered offensive by a lot of people I know. Does that make it obscene? Well, maybe–but certainly not in the way that Ordinance 7780 understands the word, and it certainly would not merit, for the offensive offender, “imprisonment of one year or fine of five thousand pesos, or both.”

Any “material or act that is … contrary to … religious beliefs, principles or doctrines” is obscene? Wait a minute. How did religion get into a secular ordinance? Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? If a modern-day Martin Luther publishes a modern-day 95 Theses contrary to specific religious beliefs, principles, or doctrines, would he be guilty of an obscene act, or would his work be proscribed as obscene material?

Something that “tends to corrupt or deprive the human mind” is obscene? That’s right–DEPRIVE! That’s the word used in my scanned jpeg copy of Ordinance No. 7780. The lack of a liberal-arts education is likely to “deprive the human mind” of a vast area of knowledge. Does such a lack constitute an obscenity? Well, again, in a way, maybe, as can be gleaned from the workings of the comstockian mind–but again, not in the way intended by 7780. Of course, the word “deprive” may well be a typographical error, and the honorable councilors who enacted the ordinance may have meant “deprave.” But that means they allowed this ordinance to get through without doing some careful proofreading. I am assuming, of course, that those honorable councilors are aware of the distinction between “deprive” and “deprave.” But I may be assuming too much.

Something that is “unfit to be seen or heard” is obscene? What exactly is unfit to be seen or heard? Who decides what is fit and what is unfit to be seen or heard? In the eyes and ears of pastors and preachers, are the Sexbomb Girls fit to be seen or heard? And in the eyes and ears of Sexbomb fans, are televangelizing pastors and preachers fit to be seen or heard?

Something that “violates the proprieties of language” is obscene? Oh, wow. That means a good deal of 20th- and 21st-century literature, film, and music can no longer be sold, screened, or played in Manila. There is, for instance, an award-winning children’s book with the title “Og Uhog,” by Christine Bellen, and there’s a new CD by the Radioactive Sago Project with the title “Tanginamo Andaming Nagugutom sa Mundo Fashionista Ka Pa Rin.” Do those titles violate “the proprieties of language” by using words that would be frowned upon in polite society–not to mention in all of Manila?

I will also have to say, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” I must strongly advise my publishers to immediately pull out my own poetry collections from Manila bookstores, before the comstockians discover the poems where I recklessly tried to democratize the language of poetry by using kanto-boy vulgarisms. I plead guilty to writing and publishing poems such as “Santong Paspasan,” about the son of a congressman and his four gangmates who rape a young woman named Maritess,” a poem marked by improprieties of language, including the lines “at sinunog ang bulbol / ni Maritess” and “at nagsalsal ang mga pulis.”

Note, too, that “the motive of the printer, publisher, seller, distributor, performer or author” of any act or material that Ordinance 7780 deems obscene does not matter. That means we can no longer use “for art’s sake” as an excuse. That goes not only for TF, the so-called titillating films, but also for modern classics such as “Schindler’s List,” which the Vatican cited as one of the ten best films of all time, but which, if you will recall, Philippine film censors tried to cut and nearly banned, because it had a short “pumping scene.”

What may well be one of the most alarming features of Ordinance 7780 is that its definition of “obscene” includes “printing, showing, depicting or describing”–yes, including describing–a variety of images, including “completely nude human bodies” and “the human sexual organs or the female breasts.”

Such a provision makes it illegal in Manila to sell books or postcards with reproductions of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Michelangelo’s “David,” not to mention details from the fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, including that famous one showing God touching the finger of a very muscular Adam with a teenie-weenie wienie (I hesitate to use a term that violates “the proprieties of language”).

Since plain and simple description of the female breasts has also been made illegal, the Bible will also have to be banned from Manila bookstores and churches, since it has these lines from the Song of Songs: “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among lilies…. This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes…. thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine.”

And I wonder what Ordinance 7780 would have to say about the story of Lot. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when there were no more men around to help them populate their portion of the earth, his two daughters came to an agreement. As the elder daughter said to the younger: “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.” So the two daughters got their father drunk, had sex with him, and got themselves pregnant.

The “proprieties of language” may have been observed in the telling of this story, but the story itself–a tale of incest instigated by the children, however noble or practical their motives may have been–would seem to fall under Ordinance 7780’s definition of obscene as “any material or act that is indecent, erotic, lewd or offensive, or contrary to morals, good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines.” The story is told in Chapter 18, Verses 31-38, of the Bible. Therefore, the Bible should really be banned from the whole of the city of Manila, on the strength of Manila Ordinance 7780.

But if Manila Ordinance 7780 is alarming, the pastors’ complaint affidavit is even more so. The ordinance only proscribes the depiction of “completely nude human bodies,” but the complaint affidavit objects to “nude or semi nude bodies.”

A number of the attachments to the complaint affidavit show sexy women in itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie bikinis, so I guess the complainants are referring to partially uncovered female human bodies. But the wording of their complaint gave me the initial impression that they also object to “nude or semi nude bodies” of the non-human variety, such as those you see on the Animal Planet channel.

Seriously speaking, however, how can the pastors complain about “semi nude bodies”–and the attachments to their complaint affidavit include photos of women in sexy poses revealing a lot of cleavage, but with bikinis to cover the strategic anatomical parts that might arouse prurient interest in pimply adolescents–when Ordinance 7780 itself, antediluvian as it already is, only refers to “completely nude human bodies” in its definition of what is obscene or pornographic?

I will grant that some of the attachments to the complaint affidavit–in particular, the reproductions from the tabloids–belong to the category that movie censors might label For Adults Only, or X, or even Triple X. Unfortunately, neither the complaint affidavit nor Manila Ordinance 7780 makes distinctions. Material that movie censors might just rate as For Parental Guidance is lumped willy-nilly with material that even the liberal-minded might concede as requiring plain brown wrappers if they are to be sold in public places, to keep them out of reach of children and pimply adolescents.

On more than one occasion, I have fulminated against the Victorian-era provisions of the Marcosian Presidential Decree 1986, which created the current Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. But PD 1986 now seems positively progressive compared with the super-ultra-uber-mega-conservative and pre-jurassic Manila Ordinance 7780, not to mention its equally revolting clone, House Bill 3305.

Here’s a copy of the text of Manila Ordinance No. 7780. You be the judge.

ORDINANCE NO. 7780

AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING AND PENALIZING THE PRINTING, PUBLICATION, SALE, DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION OF OBSCENE AND PORNOGRAPHIC ACTS AND MATERIALS AND THE PRODUCTION, RENTAL, PUBLIC SHOWING AND VIEWING OF INDECENT AND IMMORAL MOVIES, TELEVISION SHOWS, MUSIC RECORDS, VIDEO AND VHS TAPES, LASER DISCS, THEATRICAL OR STAGE AND OTHER LIVE PERFORMANCES, EXCEPT THOSE REVIEWED BY THE MOVIE, TELEVISION REVIEW AND CLASSIFICATION BOARD (MTRCB).

Be it ordained by the City Council of Manila, THAT:

SECTION 1. Title: This ordinance shall be known as the ANTI-OBSCENITY AND PORNOGRAPHY ordinance of the City of Manila.

SEC. 2. Definition of Terms: As used in this ordinance, the terms:

A. Obscene shall refer to any material or act that is indecent, erotic, lewd or offensive, or contrary to morals, good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or to any material or act that tends to corrupt or deprive the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure imagination or arouse prurient interest, or is unfit to be seen or heard, or which violates the proprieties of language or behavior, regardless of the motive of the printer, publisher, seller, distributor, performer or author of such act or material, such as but not limited to:

1. Printing, showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
2. Printing, showing, depicting or describing children in sexual acts;
3. Printing, showing, depicting or describing completely nude human bodies; and
4. Printing, showing, depicting or describing the human sexual organs or the female breasts.

B. Pornographic or pornography shall refer to such objects or subjects of photography, movies, music records, video and VHS tapes, laser discs, billboards, television, magazines, newspapers, tabloids, comics and live shows calculated to excite or stimulate sexual drive or impure imagination, regardless of motive of the author thereof, such as, but not limited to the following:

1. Performing live sexual acts in whatever form;
2. Those other than live performances showing, depicting or describing sexual acts;
3. Those showing, depicting or describing children in sex acts;
4, Those showing, depicting or describing completely nude human body, or showing, depicting or describing the human sexual organs or the female breasts.

C. Materials shall refer to magazines, newspapers, tabloids, comics, writings, photographs, drawings, paintings, billboards, decals, movies, music records, video and VHS tapes, laser discs, and similar matters.

SEC. 3. Prohibited Acts The printing, publishing, distribution, circulation, sale and exhibition of obscene and pornographic acts and materials and the production, public showing and viewing of video and VHS tapes, laser discs, theatrical or stage and other live performances and private showing for public consumption, whether for free or for a fee, of pornographic pictures as herein defined are hereby prohibited within the City of Manila and accordingly penalized as provided herein.

SEC. 4. Penalty Clause: Any person violating this ordinance shall be punished as follows:

1. For the printing, publishing, distribution or circulation of obscene or pornographic materials; the production or showing of obscene movies, television shows, stage and other live performances; for producing or renting obscene video and VHS tapes, laser discs, for viewing obscene movies, television shows, video and VHS tapes, and laser discs or stage and other live performances; and for performing obscene act on stage and other live performances – imprisonment of one (1) year or fine of five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos, or both, at the discretion of the court.

2. For the selling of obscene or pornographic materials – imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than one (1) year or a fine of not less than one thousand (P1,000.00) pesos, nor more than three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos.

Provided, that in case the offender is a juridical person, the President and the members of the board of directors, shall be held criminally liable; Provided, further, that in case of conviction, all pertinent permits and licenses issued by the City Government to the offender shall automatically be revoked and the obscene or pornographic materials shall be confiscated in favor of the City Government for destruction; Provided, furthermore, that in case the offender is a minor and unemancipated and unable to pay the fine, his parents or guardian shall be liable to pay such fine; Provided finally, that this ordinance shall not apply to materials printed, distributed, exhibited, sold, filmed, rented, viewed or produced by reason of or in connection with or in furtherance of science and scientific research and medical or medically related art, profession, and for educational purposes.

SEC. 5. Repealing Clause: All ordinances, rules and regulations or parts thereof in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions of this ordinance are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SEC. 6. Separability Clause: If any provision of this ordinance is declared void, the provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

SEC. 7. Effectivity: This ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Manila.

Enacted by the City Council of Manila at its regular session today, January 28, 1993.

Approved by His Honor, the Mayor on February 19, 1993.

APPROVED:

[ SIGNED ] [ SIGNED ]
ALFREDO S. LIM JOSE L. ATIENZA, JR.
Mayor Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer
City of Manila City Council, Manila

ATTESTED:

[ SIGNED ] [ SIGNED ]
RAFAELITO M. GARAYBLAS EMMANUEL R. SISON
Secretary to the Mayor Secretary to the City Council

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – –
Principal Author: Hon. Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr.

Joint Authors: Hon. Bernardito C. Ang, Hon. Leonardo L. Angat, Hon. Humberto B. Basco, Hon. Karlo Q. Butiong, Hon. Ma. Corazon R. Caballes, Hon. Avelino S. Cailian, Hon. Flaviano F. Concepcion, Jr., Hon. Jocelyn B. Dawis, Hon. Felixberto D. Espiritu, Hon. Chika G. Go, Hon. Gonzalo P. Gonzales, Hon. Ma. Paz E. Herrera, Hon. Joey D. Hizon, Hon. Ma. Lourdes M. Isip, Hon. Pedro S. de Jesus, Hon. Jhosep Y. Lopez, Hon. Honorio U. Lopez II, Hon. Ernesto V.P. Maceda, Jr., Hon. Romualdo S. Maranan, Hon. Victoriano A. Melendez, Hon. Rolando P. Nieto, Hon. Ernesto A. Nieva, Hon. Roberto C. Ocampo, Hon. Rogelio B. dela Paz, Hon. Nestor C. Ponce, Jr., Hon. Estrella S. Querubin, Hon. Manuel M. Zarcal, Hon. Manuel L. Quin, Hon. Bernardo D. Ragasa, Hon. Alexander S. Ricafort, Hon. Ernesto F. Rivera, Hon. Romeo G. Rivera, Hon. Danilo V. Roleda, Hon. Casimiro C. Sison, Hon. Gerino A. Tolentino, Jr., Hon. Francisco G. Varona, Jr., including the Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer, Hon. JOSE L. ATlENZA, JR.

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)

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)

Komentaryo sa Pagbabalita ni Mike Fajatin Kagabi sa SAKSI

July 17, 2008

Hinggil sa balita ni Michael Fajatin hinggil sa basura kagabi sa SAKSI

1. Hindi kailanman maaaring gawing essay ang balita. Ito ang sakit sa mediang kumakalat ngayon dahil sa buo-buong pag asa sa kapangyarihan ng kamera. Ang ulat kagabi ni Mike Fajatin (GMA7) ay naging isang essay, na gumamit ng mga pangalang kilala at ina-associate ng mamamayan sa mga popular na karakter ng mga kwentong Pilipino, kanta at pelikula. Nauunawaan ko ang nais ipahatid ng reporter pero hindi ito excuse. Porke ba naunawaan ko ay wasto na ito?

Ang balita ay balita. Straight facts. Sa ganitong simpleng punto, masasabing tinamad ang reporter na mangalap ng karampatang datos, dahil nakampante ito sa kuha ng kanyang kamera. Ang Juan, Pedro, Lorna, Aida, Fe at Petra ay dapat sanang mga pangalan nung mga taong kanyang nainterbyu. Basic na batas ito sa mga reporter. Ang mga pangalan ay nasa who.

Umasa ang reporter na mapupunuan ng kanyang mga kuha ang kanyang kakulangan sa datos.

Ang ganitong paraan ng pagbabalita ang pinagsisimulan ng mga balitang opinionated. At ang mga balitang opinionated ay karaniwang bitbit ng mga media person na nagpi-PR, o yaong mga media person na meron nang nabuong istorya bago pa man nakapangalap ng kanyang datos.

2. Masisilip ito sa isang bahagi ng balita na dinig na dinig ang pag-suggest niya ng sagot sa kanyang iniinterbyu. Kahit pa sabihing tumpak namang walang disiplinang matatawag ang mga taong nagtatapon ng basura sa mga ilog o kanal na walang pakundangan, mali pa rin ang naging paraan ng reporter sa pagkalap ng kanyang mga datos.Ang pagsa-suggest ng sagot sa mga iniinterbyu ay isang palatandaan na ang isang reporter ay may nabuo nang kongklusyon bago pa man siya pumunta sa lugar para mangalap ng datos. Kaya sa kanyang pagdating sa lugar, ang hahanapin ng ganitong klaseng reporter ay ang mga sagot na susuporta sa kanyang nahabi nang kongklusyon.

3. Nagkulang pa rin siya. Kung ganung paraan yung kanyang reporting e dapat sana linubos na lang niya. Tinumbok na rin sana niya ang ugat ng problema sa basura. Na ang tunay na may pangunahing pananagutan ay ang gobyerno at hindi ang kanyang mamamayan. Isinama na rin sana niya sa kanyang early conclusion ang katotohanan na ang usapin sa basura ay usapin din ng kawalan ng sapat na programa ng pamahalaan hinggil sa problemang ito, kawalan ng organisadong pagkilos ng bawat komunidad na dapat sanang pinamumunuan ng mga taong tinatawag nating “pinuno”, at kawalan ng aksyong dapat sana’y itinutumbas sa mga pronouncement laban sa problema sa basura. Pag ka ganun ang ginawa nung reporter, mas lalawak pa ngayon ang source niya ng datos dahil tiyak na magrereact ang mga taga-gobyerno, mas maeengganyong magsalita ang mga taumbayan, at tiyak na may maglalabasang datos mula sa mga magtitiwalang private groups sa integredad niya bilang isang reporter.

4. Pero hindi ko naman siya linalait o sinisira. Ang kanyang balita ay nagpakita sa atin ng mukha ng isang reyalidad na matagal nang isinasaisantabi ng mga nagpapanggap na pro-press freedom. Walang kalayaan ang pamamahayag sa bansa. May mga balidong dahilang maihahanay kung bakit ganun ang napiling paraan ng reporting ni Fajatin (pero hindi ko na ipupunto pa dito, alam na yan ng mga lehitimong media person, kabilang syempre si Fajatin). Ipinakita rin ng kanyang reporting ang reyalidad na walang absolute objectivity, at ang balita kailanman ay hindi neutral, lagi itong may punto (tinatawag itong anggulo ng mga media person) na pinapalingan o binibigyang-diin. Ang tunay na neutral lamang ay ang “pangyayari.” At mawawala ang neutralidad nito kapag nasimsim na ito ng mga mata ng tagapag-balita, at nakita niya ito ayon sa kanyang sariling pagtingin sa mga bagay.

Maraming salamat Mike!

ABS-CBN airs kidnap video shot secretly

July 15, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—A Philippine TV network has broadcast videos shot secretly by one of its crews while they were being held by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits, offering a glimpse into their jungle ordeal including threats to behead one of them.

ABS-CBN aired the videos late Sunday in a documentary titled “Kidnap,” partly to help police on Jolo island identify the kidnappers of news anchor Ces Drilon and two cameramen, who were released last month after ransom amounting to millions of pesos was paid.

Recounting her 9-day captivity, Drilon said in the documentary she was ready to kill any of her abductors who might have tried to rape her.

“I was thinking I would really have to kill if somebody attempted,” said Drilon.

“Before I slept, I looked around to check where the long knife was because I thought it would be easier to use than a gun,” she said, wiping away tears.

Cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion said the kidnappers bound his hands and made him kneel, preparing to behead him as a deadline loomed for the ransom payment. He said he was praying and weeping when the phone rang and the gunmen were told the ransom was on the way.

The three journalists were kidnapped on June 8 while hiking with a local guide in Jolo’s hinterlands in a failed attempt to interview Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron.

Kidnappers unaware

Encarnacion said he secretly turned on his camera a few times to film their kidnappers, led by a young commander named “Teks,” who frequently fiddled with his cell phone to send messages.

The mostly young-looking kidnappers, some in ill-fitting camouflage uniforms, appeared unaware they were being filmed. Some stood idly in the woods, their guns on the ground, while others rested in hammocks.

When one gunman asked what was on his tape, Encarnacion immediately rewound it to an unused part but the camera’s whirring sound made the rebel curious.

“I told him the camera was just heating up because it has not been used for some time. When I played it, it was blank. They didn’t know I had been shooting,” he said.

The ABS-CBN senior vice president for news, Maria Ressa, said the network decided to air the videos to help authorities pursue the abductors.

“We don’t want them to do this with impunity again,” she said.

No story worth your life

None of the kidnappers has been captured but police have arrested Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son Haider, who had been chosen by the kidnappers to relay their ransom demand. Police have accused the Isnajis of masterminding the kidnapping, but they have denied the allegation.

The documentary included recordings of cell phone calls made by Drilon in captivity to ABS-CBN officials, her family and a hostage negotiator. In one call, she asked that her husband be told to update payments on her life insurance.

Drilon, who disobeyed an order from superiors to avoid the dangerous assignment, has been suspended from work for three months, Ressa said.

Drilon said she had learned her lesson well. “No story is worth losing your life for,” she said.

Dinampo not convinced

At the resumption Monday of the preliminary investigation of the case, Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo—who was himself taken hostage—maintained he had yet to see any evidence to prove the Isnajis were involved in the kidnapping.

Dinampo has executed an affidavit virtually clearing the Isnajis of involvement.

“I executed that affidavit in the interest of truth and justice. It is my truthful belief that there can be no justice if we point fingers at the wrong guys,” Dinampo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

He said that during their captivity, “I did not hear anything that incriminated them (the Isnajis).”

He also said Drilon “might have been pressured by police” into joining the case filed by police. He did not elaborate.

Drilon convinced

During the interview with the Inquirer, Drilon asked Dinampo in a loud voice: “Prof, did you tell the media that I was not telling the truth?” A meek Dinampo shook his head.

Drilon told reporters she felt bad Dinampo executed his affidavit.

“I told him that we cannot contradict each other,” Drilon said.

She added that when police showed her their evidence, combined with what they saw and heard while in captivity, she became convinced the Isnajis were involved.

“My appeal to the professor is, why clear them (Isnajis)? How do you know they were not involved?” Drilon said.

Reacting to the ABS-CBN documentary, State Prosecutor Emilie delos Santos said the prosecution panel would remain impartial.

“We are conducting these proceedings with fairness and we expect that from both parties. I urge them not to take advantage of media and to be fair,” Delos Santos said. Reports from Associated Press and Alcuin Papa

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

My Take:

Tsk! Ces and company are unwittingly being used as pawn now.  Lalo pa’t they treat the story as a mere story, they easily believed on what they see and heard.  San na ang pagiging journalist ni Ces?  Di man lang siya nagduda na maaaring ito’y gawa-gawang kidnap lang. Tsk.

Silip sa likod ng “Kidnap” ng ABS-CBN

July 14, 2008

Silip sa likod ng “Kidnap” ng ABS-CBN

Inabangan ko ang “Kidnap” presentation ng ABS-CBN kagabi, at umasa ako na may masisilip tayong mga bagong impormasyon sa naturang dokumentaryo na maghahatid sa pagkakalutas ng “kaso” at “pagkakahuli” sa mga “kidnaper” ng grupo nina Ces Drilon, Angelo Valderama at Jimmy Encarnacion.

Matatandaang ang grupo nila ay “nakidnap” bago pa man bumisita si “Frank”. Ang pangyayari ay hinarap ng buong industriya ng midya ng buong ingat, dahil na rin sa concern sa buhay ng tatlo, at hindi pa dahil sa politikang naglalaro sa likod ng naturang pangyayari. After all, hindi ganun kalaya ang pamamahayag sa bansang ito, to the point na, ang mga media personality ay nagkakasya sa pagtingin sa mga “pangyayari” bilang simpleng “pangyayari”, disregarding the fact, na may mga dahilan kung bakit nangyari ang naturang “pangyayari”, at may mga nagpapakilos para mangyari ang mga naturang “pangyayari.”

Anyway.

Disappointed ako sa napanood ko.

Ang “Kidnap” ay isang tele-dramang tinubog sa dokumentaryong mala-Eye Witness Account. Bagamat kauna-unawa naman ito dahil ang naging pangunahing layunin ng “Kidnap” ay maipakita ang ordeal ng tatlo sa pinaka-delikadong oras ng kanilang personal na buhay (hindi buhay-media). Ang layuning ito ay umiikot sa batas ng “esklusibistang” praktika sa daigdig ng komersyal na midya sa Pilipinas. Ang “esklusibistang” praktikang ito ang siya ring nagtulak sa grupo nina Ces sa kapahamakan.

Nasabi kong tele-drama ito, dahil na rin sa pag-employ nila ng “re-enactment” (in fairness to the ABS-CBN Current Affairs Team, di naman ito masama, actually, ginagawa din ito ng ibang mga dokumentarista sa ibang bansa at maging dito sa lokal) nang walang sustenidong paglalagay ng mga paunawa na ito’y re-enactment lamang (ito lang ang masama, kasi masasabing isang porma ito ng pag-mislead sa mga viewers), dun sa mga video clips na kinuha sa performances ng mga actor na gumanap bilang sina Ces at ang mga “kidnaper” nila. Tapos sa bandang hulihan ng palabas, ay ipi-play nila ang ilang clips na may nakalagay na paunawang “Actual Video Footages”. Sa mga susunod na eksena ay makikitang nagpapaliwanag si Bb. Maria Ressa na ang mga shots na yaon ay malikhaing kuha ni Jimmy Encarnacion. Sa katapusan ay makikita ang mga pangalan ng gumanap na kidnaper (bagamat “kidnappers” lang ang nakasulat at walang “as” sa unahan nito.

Fine. Pagpupugay kay Jimmy. Now that’s one brave media worker. At dapat lang talaga siyang parangalan at papurihan. Siya lang sa tatlo ang talagang naging media personality sa gitna ng mga pangyayaring iyon. Ang dalawa (Ces at Angelo) ay naging purong bihag lamang.

Pero nabawasan ang legitimacy ng mga video clips dahil sa pagkakahalo nito sa mga “re-enacted scene” na walang paunawa na ito’y mga re-enacted scene lamang. Nakadagdag sa pagkabawas ng legitimacy ng video footages ang pagpapablur nito sa mukha ng isang taong nakunan ni Jimmy (umano) sa isang eksena (yung nakaupong nilalang). Now that’s not Jimmy’s fault. Alam nating lahat na wala siyang kapangyarihang mag-censor sa loob ng naturang network.

Mas tumingkad ang pagiging teledrama ng “Kidnap” nang kapansin-pansing “mawala” sa eksena si Propesor Dinampo. Apat silang bihag, pero bakit ang tatlo lang ang sinentruhan ng dokumentaryo? Now this point runs against a popular claim that our media is objective. And this point shatters the very title of the documentary: kidnap.

Ang napili nilang titulo ay ang popular na tawag sa ginawa sa kanila ng mga kidnaper. Pero wala silang naisingit na sariling pananaw o analisasyon man lamang sa kanilang mga captors (maliban sa claim ni Ressa sa isang bahagi ng palabas na matalino daw ang mga kumidnap sa kanila, which is being equated by others bilang isang porma ng pahayag na nagsasabing hindi ASG ang mga kumidnap sa grupo nina Ces). Mas angkop pa nga sigurong gamitin ang “hostage” pero, with that, kailangan pa rin nilang isama sa daloy ng kwento si PropesorDinampo.

Which brings me to the documentary’s objective.  Sabi nila, “this is a documentary about recklessness and violence, about spirits that will not be broken by the barrel of a gun, about brotherhood, about family, about choices, about fear, and about just what it means to have courage.”  Walang objective.  Pure drama.  Or maybe, baka nalilimitahan sila ng reyalidad na nasa korte na ang usapin kung kaya limitado na rin ang maihhayag pa nila sa publiko.

Yet Still, they should have a specific objective.

At dito maaaring pumasok ang usapin ng komersyalisasyon ng midya.  Bakit ka magsaslita kung mwala ka namang ibang sasabihin?  Bakit?

Dahil may Advertiser.  Dahil may labanan sa ratings.  Period.

(2:24pm).

Freeing the Press

July 12, 2008

The unabated killings of journalists and the power that local political warlords continue to wield in the provinces; the continuous pressures exerted by the Arroyo administration on the media; the serious implications of the decision of the Makati Regional Trial Court which virtually legalizes police repression on media; and the self-imposed limitations of media agencies and journalists – all of these, among many others, affect the freedom of the press (or worsen the lack of it) in the country. These problems seem insurmountable but they are not.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANALYSIS
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 22, July 6-12, 2008

Writers from all over the world gathered in Stockholm, Sweden July 1 to decry the harassments and censorship that they are confronting.  Bangladeshi novelist-in-hiding Taslima Nasreen complained about the numerous threats to her life issued against her by Islamic fundamentalists after she had written about women’s oppression and the role of religion. To make matters worse, the Bangladesh government banned her from returning to her home country instead of protecting her rights. Turkmen writer Yusuf Azemoun decried the strict censorship being imposed by the Turkish government on media.

The Arroyo administration claims that the Philippines has one of the freest press in Southeast Asia. But the country has been described as the second most dangerous place for journalists in the world, next only to Iraq. Ninety-one journalists have been killed from 1986 to 2007, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).  Of this total, 55 journalists were killed from 2001, the year Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency.  This is being attributed to the culture of impunity prevailing in the country under the Arroyo administration.

What is this culture of impunity?  It is the ability of the perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes to get away scot-free, much like soldiers accused of being involved in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. But in the case of killings of journalists, which happens mostly in the provinces, these are often perpetrated by local political warlords who wield power in the provinces and who control most, if not all, the money-making ventures (both legal and illegal) in their respective areas.  Their power emanates from their control of local politics, their vast landholdings and numerous business interests which include illegal gambling, logging and drugs. Tragedy befalls anyone who dares expose their dealings. And this power is strengthened and their impunity fanned by the Arroyo administration that relies on local political warlords – aside from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and her allies in Congress – to stay in power.

A court decision with serious implications

Just last June 20, the Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Laigo dismissed the class action suit brought against the PNP and other government officials by journalists and media organizations.  Journalists filed the suit after the police cuffed, manhandled, threatened, pointed guns at them and herded them into buses and brought them to the police camp in Bicutan in the aftermath of the Manila Peninsula standoff.  The rough handling and intimidation of journalists were committed after the leaders of the standoff, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, have already surrendered peacefully to police authorities, which makes it more suspect.

It is interesting to note that the court decision dismissing the suit filed by journalists was signed last June 20 but was only released a week after on June 27; and as of June 30, the complainants have not yet received a copy of the decision. Why? Was it done on purpose to dissipate the reaction of the media and the public?

In justifying his decision, Laigo claimed that the rights of journalists were not trampled upon when they were cuffed, manhandled, herded into buses, and brought to Bicutan. He even added insult to injury by saying that journalists were fortunate that the police did not file counter-charges against them. What kind of reasoning is that?

This court decision practically gives the police the power to prevent journalists from covering events by giving them the legal basis to arrest, manhandle and charge in court those who refuse to heed their orders not to do so.  This is censorship plain and simple and violative of the public’s right to know.  This is the legal authority and justification the Arroyo administration has been yearning for and which it failed to appropriate through executive edict.  Remember the media guidelines that the Arroyo administration tried to impose in the aftermath of the supposed Left-Right conspiracy in February 2006, which was made as a pretext by the Arroyo administration to declare a state of national emergency?

Self-imposed limitations

Carlos Conde of the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times came out with an interesting and informative article titled “Torture: Just a Story” which was published by the GMANews.TV.  He described the difficulties journalists face in writing about torture in particular and human rights cases in general.

One problem Conde raised is the mindset of journalists, which is shared by their mentors, superiors, and colleagues alike, to treat everything as “just a story,” and to refrain from being involved in advocacy as it may compromise one’s objectivity.

Conde also related tales of journalists being ostracized in their beats and being denied access to information by their sources because of their reportage on human rights. In one case, according to Conde, a journalist was warned by a military general not to set foot on a military camp again.

There is also the mindset among journalists to treat certain subjects, such as human rights, as belonging to the fringes and to be ignored. In my own experience in human rights advocacy, we have encountered journalists who told us that unless a human rights case is sensational – because of the sheer number of victims, the grossness and brutality of the violation, or there is direct evidence linking a high government official to the crime – it would never be published or aired.

This mindset for the sensational may also be the reason crime stories permeate tabloids, broadsheets, radio and television news reports. This is also the source of the scoop mentality that afflicts most journalists. Objective but sensational – sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?

Aside from the mindset of journalists, some stories do not see the light of day because it impinges on the sensibilities of editors, publishers, sponsors, companies, or agencies that place ads on the media agency concerned.

These problems emanate from the orientation and nature of the press in this country.  The media are supposed to be “objective,” whatever that means.  But every event has a cause, and every story has different sides to it. What to emphasize is now left to the writer, the editor and the publisher; and that is where the subjective position of those concerned comes in.  I would rather be, “panig sa katotohanan, panig sa bayan” (stands for the truth, stands for the country) than “walang kinikilingan, walang pinoprotektahan” (does not take any sides, does not protect anybody) because the second is a fallacy.

A media agency also operates as a business venture and that is where the objective interests of the stockholders come in.  Added to this, journalists have a job to keep and protect; losing a source, the inability to chase and come up with sensational stories, and touching on the sensibilities of publishers could mean losing their jobs.

Freeing the press

The unabated killings of journalists and the power that local political warlords continue to wield in the provinces; the continuous pressures being exerted by the Arroyo administration on the media; the serious implications of the decision of the Makati Regional Trial Court which virtually legalizes police repression on media; and the self-imposed limitations of media agencies and journalists – they all affect the freedom of the press (or the lack of it) in the country.

These problems seem insurmountable but they are not. We are not lacking in stories of people from the media who have defied the powers-that-be.

Philippine press freedom icon Jose Burgos defied Martial Law by publishing the We Forum in 1977, the year the protest movement against Martial Law was on an upsurge. He was subsequently arrested and the We Forum office raided and padlocked in 1982.  Burgos was not cowed by the Marcos dictatorship and he published Malaya which was also critical of the dictatorship immediately upon his release.  There were also many lesser-known journalists who did the same all over the country. They reported about the numerous human rights violations and excesses of the dictatorship and published news about the growing protest movement in the country.

These men and women of the media who dared to defy the Marcos dictatorship were the product of the intellectual ferment and growing protest movement against Martial Law at that time and they contributed significantly to it. They dared to make a stand against the evils of the dictatorship and joined the Filipino people in bringing it down. In the process, the Filipino people freed them from their encumbrances and they joined the people in their fight for freedom. That was the peak of press freedom in the country.

Press freedom is not measured by the lack of censorship – because it would always exist whether from pressures of the government and its security forces, certain segments of the population such as fundamentalists, or by the corporate interests of media agencies themselves – but by the political will and actions of the people and journalists in confronting it.

Some media persons say that press freedom is the foundation of all the rights of the people.  On the contrary, press freedom is the result of the people’s assertion of their rights.  Bulatlat

Editorial Cartoon: Kicked

July 11, 2008

Another setback on our fight for freer press.

Manila Pen Case Dismissal Hit: Police Warned Against Using Court Decision to Arrest Journalists

July 11, 2008

The arrest and investigation of media practitioners who covered the Manila Peninsula incident by the police were justified, said a Makati regional trial court judge. He even said that journalists were “so lucky for not being charged with criminal cases.” Media groups called the decision the biggest blow on press freedom since 1946, adding that the situation is even worse than martial law.

By Ronalyn V. Olea
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 22, July 6-12, 2008

Mas masahol pa ito sa martial law. Sa martial law, alam mo ang limits. Ngayon, gugulatin ka na lang.” (This is worse than martial law. During martial law, you know the limits. But now, you will just be caught flatfooted.)

Journalist Vergel Santos more or less summed up the sentiments of his colleagues at a roundtable discussion last July 2 in Taguig City.

Irked by the June 20 decision of Makati regional trial court (RTC) Branch 56 Judge Reynaldo Laigo, Santos said this has the biggest chilling effect in the journalism profession.

In his five-page decision dismissing the civil case filed by media practitioners, Laigo maintained, “The order issued by Philippine National Police National Capital Region Office (PNP-NCR) Chief Gen. Geary Barias was but lawful and appeared to have been disobeyed by media when they intentionally refused to leave the hotel premises.”

Laigo added, “An appropriate criminal charge under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code could have been initiated against them…they were so lucky as none had been initiated. Their having been handcuffed and brought to Camp Bagong Diwa for investigation and released thereafter, was justified, it being accord with police procedure.”

He also said that the pronouncements made by Barias and other defendants and the advisory of Secretary Gonzalez following the Manila Peninsula incident “have not and will not in any way curtail, much less avert media from exercising freely their rights to cover or obtain information on future events.”

Journalists were handcuffed and “processed” after the Manila Peninsula incident.

Thirty-six journalists and camera operators, along with representatives of some media organizations and the academe, filed a civil suit against the police and authorities after the siege.

Atty. Harry Roque, legal counsel of the complainants, said he was surprised that the civil case has already been dismissed. Laigo’s ruling was issued June 20 but Roque said he was the last to get a copy. “Nauna pa si Barias makakuha ng kopya. Siya pa nga ang nag-leak sa media.” (Barias was the first to get a copy. He was even the one who leaked it to the media.)

Roque initially thought that the dismissal pertains to their petition for preliminary injunction intending to prolong the temporary restraining order (TRO). Earlier, Makati RTC Executive Judge Josefina Salonga granted their petition for TRO directing the PNP, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) not to repeat the offenses against the media.

Roque said that contrary to Barias’ pronouncements and to Laigo’s opinion, Ashzer Hachero of Malaya testified before the court that the police issued no categorical order for journalists to leave the hotel premises.

Wrong decision

Roque said, “Dahil sa Chavez vs NTC ruling, sa tingin ko, with all due respect, mali ang desisyon ni Judge Laigo.” (Because of the Chavez vs. NTC ruling, I think, with all due respect, Judge Laigo’s decision is wrong.)

The Supreme Court upheld press freedom in its ruling on Chavez vs. National Telecommunications Commission. “Kahit advisory, kung ang resulta ay magkaroon ng takot ang media upang gampanan ang kanilang trabaho, ay paglabag sa karapatan ng pamamahayag.” (Even an advisory, if it will cause chilling effect on media in performing their jobs, constitutes violation of press freedom.)

Roque said he is still studying whether to go to the Court of Appeals or to the Supreme Court to file an appeal.

He said he is ready to take the case to the United Nations Committee of Human Rights in Geneva when all domestic remedies have been exhausted. ”Naniniwala na ang ginawa ng ating kapulisan ay seryosong paglabag sa Article 19 ng International Covention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)” (I believe that what the police did is a serious violation of the Article 19 of the ICCPR.) The Philippine government is a state party to the agreement.

Warning

In a statement, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said, “The RTC decision would not only legitimize an illegitimate attempt to subvert press freedom, the Constitution and democracy. It would now embolden and arm the regime with the license to repeat the offense, as it has several times threatened to do.”

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) also expressed alarm, “The dismissal of the suit and the executive rationale behind the police’s arrest of covering journalists to start with, immediately brings uncertainty and danger to media practitioners in future urgencies – uncertainty and danger not from the inherent risks of emergencies, but from the mandate that police and the government have granted themselves (now with court backing) to dictate what would be out of bounds for news coverage.”

In a statement, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), an alliance of tertiary student publications, criticized the court ruling, “…in effect, [it] excuses authorities’ abuse of power over unfounded allegations and baseless accusations.” “After accusing members of the media of colluding with the military rebels, the police were unable to support their accusations,” the CEGP said.

Roque said that Barias is obviously happy with the decision. He told the media, “Huwag kayong mabigla kung gagamitin [ang desisyon]. Hindi na lamang kayo aarestuhin kundi kakasuhan na rin.” (Do not be surprised if the police will use the decision. You will not just be arrested, you will also be charged.)

But Roque also warned the PNP that the RTC decision is binding only to the parties thereto and has no jurisprudential value. “Akala nila, sapat nang basehan, nagkakamali sila. Hindi pa po ito pinal.” (If they think they have enough bases, they are mistaken. The decision is not yet final.)

If the PNP will repeat the offense, Roque said, “Pupwede na natin silang kasuhan ng kasong kriminal, coercion or serious illegal detention.” (We can also file criminal charges against them, such as coercion or serious illegal detention.)

Judiciary

Ellen Tordesillas, one of the complainants, said she is concerned on the possible loss of faith in the judiciary.

In an interview, Carol Araullo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) chair, said that justices, because they are appointed by the executive, are vulnerable to undue influence or interference by the executive department.

She said, “If media practitioners, despite their being influential, were slapped by the RTC decision, how could the ordinary citizens who do not have the political and economic power to voice out the injustices done to them obtain justice?

Policy

Santos said the attacks on media are ‘methodical and conspiratorial.’ “May mga pwersang gustong sumupil sa atin.” (There are forces out to suppress us.)

The CMFR deemed that the ruling was issued “in the context of a clear policy by a regime hostile to press freedom and the people’s right to information to do all it can, both within and outside the law, as well as to stretch to the limit of what is legally allowed.”

It added, “No regime has the right to dictate that a decision to stay and cover is wrong and can be penalized.”

Araullo said, “In covering the news, intentionally or not, journalists are able to expose the oppressive nature of the state, the use of state power to protect and promote the interests of a few ruling elite. An administration like Arroyo, which is under siege and hugely unpopular, cannot tolerate even that. And the purpose of the actions at the Manila Pen is to instill fear among media practitioners.”

She said that the message to the media is clear, “Better behave, either by self-censorship or by meekly following military or police orders or they themselves will be targets. The state is the number one violator of human rights, particularly civil and political rights. It is important that journalists remain independent and fair and assertive of their right to cover the news, especially controversial political issues. In a sense, it is an important shield or defense against an all-powerful state.” Bulatlat

Expelled student torches school

July 6, 2008

By Ruby P. Silubrico

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A 17-YEAR-old boy is presently facing arson charges for torching his school Wednesday.

Edwardo Leysa Jr. is under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) of Barangay Caigon, Calinog, Iloilo, after he attempted to burn down six classrooms of Caigon Elementary School to take revenge on the school principal after she refused to accept him when he tried to enroll.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Leysa admitted the crime, saying that he torched the classrooms by setting fire on the textbooks around 7 p.m. until the fire quickly spread to the principal’s office.

He added that prior to the incident he had a drinking spree with some friends.

He said when he went home later he passed by the school and thought of burning it down.

“I really didn’t plan it but when I passed our school it suddenly came in to my mind to burn it because I was really mad at the principal for not enrolling me,” Leysa said.

Leysa is supposed to be a graduating student of Caingon Elementary School. However, he was expelled for allegedly trying to kill his teacher last year and for being involved in a fist fight with his classmate.

“I begged my teacher to enroll me because I promised to myself that I will change but they still refused and I really got mad,” he added.

Leysa was arrested after the incident.(SunStarIloilo)

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

My Take:

I hate the guy.  Especially if the allegation that he tried to kill one of his teacher is true.

But he is a minor.  And the media has sworn to protect the names of minor involved in such incident, be it a suspect, or a victim.

This item is unethical (at least in journalist’s ethics).

Illegal loggers behind broadcaster’s slay?

July 4, 2008

Were illegal loggers behind the killing of broadcaster Robert Sison?

Quezon Gov. Dante Nantes said Sison, who was exposing illegal logging activities in their province, told him he had been receiving death threats in the past few weeks.

Speaking at the Usapang Daungan news forum in Quezon City, Nantes said the killing of Sison was triggered by his hard-line campaign against illegal logging and fishing.

He said authorities have already made a breakthrough in their investigation of the case.

“We have already a strong lead, and it’s just a matter of time before the brains and the killers will be arrested,” he said.

Meanwhile, police have arrested two suspected hit men following a manhunt for the killers of Sison in Sariaya, Quezon Wednesday night.

However, Senior Superintendent Fidel Posadas, Quezon police director, said investigators have yet to gather more evidence to link Simeon Esguerra Aguila, 23, of San Juan, Batangas, and Joselito Cabrera, 32, of Matina, Davao City, to Sison’s murder.

“As of now hindi pa namin sila pwedeng ituro na sangkot sa pagpatay kay Sison dahil illegal possession of firearms pa lang ang pwede naming ikaso laban sa kanila,” he told The STAR.

Posadas said Esguerra and Cabrera were arrested for possession of two unlicensed caliber .45 pistols.

Police will test the guns seized from them and match these with shells recovered from the site where Sison was ambushed, he added.

The guns are owned by their employer, a certain barangay chairman Aristeo Ilao who owns a farmland in Barangay Sampaloc 2, the suspects told police.

However, a reliable source said Cabrera’s paraffin test showed that he was positive for powder burns.

Gov’t told to probe killing

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the government to thoroughly investigate the murder of Sison.

“We are deeply troubled by Bert Sison’s killing and implore the local authorities to investigate his death swiftly,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director.

“The Philippine government must do all it can to ensure that journalists will not be harmed for performing their duties. Our condolences go out to the Sison family.”

CPJ is investigating whether Sison’s murder is connected to his work as a journalist.

The CPJ said the Philippines ranks among the deadliest nations for journalists.

In its Global Campaign Against Impunity, CPJ has partnered with local press groups to raise awareness on the unresolved killings of dozens of journalists. – Perseus Echeminada, Arnell Ozaeta(PhilStar)

Radio man killed in Quezon

July 2, 2008

BY RAYMOND AFRICA

A RADIO host and reporter in Quezon province was killed Monday night in Sariaya by two men on board a motorcycle.

Bert Sison, 60, a correspondent of the weekly Regional Bulletin and host of radio program Harana aired over dzAT-AM based in Lucena City, was driving home to Barangay Guisguis in his Toyota Corolla (PEU-887) when he was waylaid in Barangay Lutucan Bata. He was with daughters Liwayway, 30, and Almira, 24, both correspondents of the same paper.

“Sison was killed on the spot from nine bullet wounds, shielding one of his daughters,” said Senior Supt. Fidel Posadas, Quezon police chief.

He said the daughter seated behind the driver’s seat was hit in the arm.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Sison was the second Quezon newsman gunned down by motorcycle-riding killers.

In May 2003, Apolinario “Polly” Pobeda, a Lucena-based radio announcer was also shot dead while on his way to work.

“This climate of impunity against journalists has to end. The government must now act decisively to stop all these killings and harassments of journalists,” the NUJP said.

The Philippines has been tagged one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist. Since President Arroyo came to power in 2001, at least 57 reporters have been killed.

Under fire for its failure to protect hundreds of journalists and left-wing activists killed over the past seven years, the government has vowed to track down killers of reporters but there have been few convictions.

In April, the New York-based journalism watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines at sixth in its index of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press. – With Reuters(Malaya)

Ilocos fiscal dismisses theft charges vs. UNP campus newshen

June 28, 2008

VIGAN CITY — A Vigan City prosecutor dismissed the theft charges filed against a student journalist of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP).

According to the Resolution signed by City Prosecutor Dedicacion Banua, the Criminal Complaint for Theft filed by . Nolito Ragunjan, coordinator for Student Publications of UNP-Vigan, was dismissed because the City Prosecutor’s Office finds no probable cause to hold Ma. Criselda Diocena for trial.

Said court resolution stated that the “taking” referred to in Art.308 of the Revised Penal Code, must be accompanied by the intention, at the time of the taking, of withholding the thing with some character of permanency.

“So if the taking is momentary as when the purpose of the offender is to return the things to the owner when he was apprehended, intent to gain is not present,” the resolution noted citing People vs. Visconde 75 Phil. 520.

Ragunjan charged Diocena and Rafal, editor-in-chief of Tandem and former student regent respectively, of robbery before the complaint was amended to theft charged solely to Diocena.

Intent to gain

The resolution upheld the stand of Diocena that she has the unlimited access to the Student Resource Center (SRC) where the alleged Central Processing Unit (CPU) is located.

“It is settled that the allegedly missing CPU is with the SRC of UNP and had been there since the report that the same was missing.” The resolution stated, and added that, “It was removed from one office only to be transferred to another office of the same University. Meaning, it is still within the custody of the University and not transferred to anybody, it is within the control and free disposal of the University.”

The resolution stressed that the elements of intent to gain and unlawful taking could “hardly be inferred”.

According to the Revised Penal Code, Theft has the following elements: a) Intent of gain; b) Unlawful taking; c) Personal property belonging to another; d) Absence of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things; and e) without the consent of the owner.

Persecution campaign

Human Rights groups in Ilocos welcomed the decision of the City Prosecutor’s Office. In a joint statement issued by Tanggulan Youth Network for the Advancement of Human Rights and Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA), said that the decision only showed that attempts to hide the truth would succeed.

However, they dismissed the thought that the harassments will stop.

These fabricated cases are meant to persecute the students fighting for the rights of the students. The statement noted stating that the dismissal of Diocena does not end the continuing persecution among student activists.

“As part of the educational system that is commercialized, colonial and fascist, it is expected that they will continue their vilification campaign against Diocena, Pelayo among others to demoralize the students in asserting their rights,” the statement stressed.

Diocena for her part, also welcomed the prosecutor’s decision, however, she feared that another trumped up charges are yet to come.

“According to Office of Student Affairs (OSA), there is still a pending case against me,” Diocena lamented. “With this continuing repression, my future is at stake,” she said.

As this developed, Diocena and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) lobbied the issue to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and rallied in front of CHED’s national office last week to call for the reopening of Tandem and to stop campus press freedom violations committed by the UNP administration. # Rod Tajon(NorDis)

Student journalists decry press freedom, democratic rights violation

June 20, 2008

PASIG CITY — Student journalists denounced violations of campus press freedom and democratic rights in a picket-rally staged first week of June in front of the Commission Higher Education (CHED) in relation to the move by administration officials of an Ilocos-based government school.

Campus journalists belonging to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) were joined by about fifteen (15) protesters from National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) the CHED National Office protest during the recent meeting of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) Board of Regents (BOR).

Said BOR meeting would tackle the approval of The Blazers to change Tandem as the new publication of UNP, as approved at the recent Policy Conference of the UNP administration last May. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) has consistently pushed the Blazers since last year; however, the BOR did not approve said publication and recommended that the administration resolve the issue inside the university.

According to Ma. Criselda Diocena, editor-in-chief of Tandem, the official student publication of UNP, and convener of Defend Tandem, the UNP has launched blatant attacks to the rights to the students by silencing its voice in the publication and the student council.

“They closed the publication and used force to harass the student leaders and instill fear among the students.” Diocena stressed as she enumerated the cases of student’s rights and campus press freedom violations that the UNP administration allegedly committed.

Diocena was among the student leaders who was harassed and charged with theft after allegedly taking the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of Tandem to the Student Resource Center. To date, Diocena’s case is still at the City Prosecutor’s Office and the office of Tandem remains closed.

In addition, Diocena was not allowed by the College of Engineering (CE) to take up her final examinations, as the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) through Dr. Gilbert Arce did not issue her any clearance. Diocena has not yet enrolled.

Vijhae Alquisola, National President of the CEGP lambasted the UNP administration for creating a new publication to replace Tandem. “The BOR should look into the Tandem seriously, it should not resort to the closure of publication.” Alquisola noted and suggested that the BOR should see to it that the “democratic rights and campus press freedom of the student are upheld.”

Diocena is currently lobbying at various government and non-government agencies to support her call for the reopening of the publication and to stop political persecution to her and other student leaders. # Rod Tajon(NorthernDispatch)

Advocate’s Overview: Decriminalizing libel

June 12, 2008

By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW

The journalists’ campaign, which the National Union of Journalists of the Philipines (NUJP) leads, urging Congress to enact a law decriminalizing libel has gained ground again with the conviction of The Daily Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivarez of libel lately by an RTC judge in the National Capital Region.

The Daily Tribune was closed down by the police force after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, putting the country under national emergency. The Supreme Court, however, ruled for the unconstitutionality of the takeover of the Daily Tribune by the police as it (SC) upheld the supremacy of the constitutional freedoms of expressions and of the press. Olivarez’es paper was at that time consistent in bringing out people’s issues whether it is against the administration or not.

This time, however, Olivarez was convicted in exercising her constitutional freedoms. She was convicted of the antiquated libel law.

It is timely to trace and discuss how the libel law came into being in the Philippines. The libel law was introduced by the colonialist Spaniards. It was then used to contain the propaganda movement in the Philippines whether in relation with the call for reforms of the system or independence from their colonial policy in the country.

It provides that cny act, whether through oral, or in writing, or in visual expressions which the Spanish colonial government considered “seditious” must be silenced. That was a tactic that they had adopted to silence any advocacy related for reforms or for independence.

The concept of libel was adopted and institutionalized under the Philippine system by post-colonial governments. It is now contained under the Revised Penal Code (Codigo Penal which originated from the Spanish) particularly Art. 353, which defines libel “as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”

Art 353 added: “Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown.” Here, even if the statement is true you can still be punished in Libel if the court will found out that you don’t have no good intention or not justifiable in your publication or broadcast.

This antiquated law should have been removed from our system as past constitutions adopted afterwards contained freedoms of expressions and of the press. In fact, the Bill of Rights under the 1987 constitution provides that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedoms of expression, of speech, of the press, of assembly, and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

By all means, the libel law contradicts these fundamental rights and it has no place under our system. Its repeal is just but formalization. Under our system, journalists who exercise their constitutional mandate can be made criminal because of the libel law, particularly that journalists are among the lowest paid who cannot hire the services of topnotch lawyers.

It is therefore a challenge for congress to show its genuine adherence to the basic constitutional rights to enact a law that would decriminalize libel law. Such antiquated law is already thrashed by most countries.

I personally believe that even removing the libel law under our penal system, any act that causes damage to a parson would entitle the said person for the damages caused unto him or her. The greater the damage caused by the act makes a person entitled for damages to be granted by the court. #(NorDis)

College editors to spearhead first-day-of- school ‘Pubs Baha’

June 9, 2008

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) today announced that it would greet school opening with its traditional ‘Pubs Baha’.

‘Pubs Baha’ is a customary protest activity for CEGP’s member publications. It is characterized by a ‘downpour distribution (baha)’ of old and new issues of a campus publication to students by editors and staff, especially if the publication is experiencing campus press freedom violations.

CEGP National President Vijae Alquisola announced that their member publications will simultaneously distribute their respective campus papers tomorrow, June 10, the first day of classes, in different colleges and universities.

“For this year’s school opening, we are giving ‘Pubs Baha’ a twist. Our message is for students to meet the school year aware and vigilant of past and present issues that have hounded them as published in our publications, ” said CEGP national president Vijae Alquisola.

Alquisola said that among the most pressing issues that students should address head on are the yearly education and tuition woes, press freedom violations, the economic crisis, corruption in government and human rights violations.

Campus publications expected to participate are the University of the PhilippinesPhilippine Collegian, UP Manila’s Manila Collegian, Ateneo’s Matanglawin, Polytechnic University of the Philippines‘ The Catalyst, the EARIST Technozette, University of Makati’s The Makati Collegian, Philippine Normal University’s Torch and the Arellano Herald.

The ‘Pubs Baha’ will be the CEGP’s main participation in the Youth Action Day planned by different youth and student organizations for tomorrow’s school opening.

Simultaneous protest actions are expected to commence at lunchtime tomorrow in Taft Avenue, the University Belt and Katipunan consortia of schools with the theme, ‘Balik-Eskwela, Balik-Sigla ang Protesta.’

“We are enjoining our fellow editors and writers to participate and launch their own ‘Pubs Baha’ as a symbolic action of the campus press’ collective vigilance,” Alquisola said.

He announced that they are set to release a pooled editorial calling for ‘renewed youth vigilance and action for truth, accountability and social change’ to be published by CEGP’s 700 member publications nationwide in the first weeks of classes. ###

Campus press reports 279 cases of campus press freedom violations

June 8, 2008


CEGP calls halt to censorship, harassment

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) today reported that it has documented a total of 297 cases of violations against campus press freedom, mostly involving tuition-related issues.

Of these, 61 are cases of adviser/moderator intervention, 64 of censorship and 41 of harassment. Other complaints concerned with publication fee collection, the non-release of publication fee funds and illegal closure of publications are also included in the report.

The 279 cases of violations from 53 respondent campus publications nationwide were gathered in a caucus held during the CEGP National Convention last May.

CEGP National President Vijae Alquisola said that violations against campus press freedom sprung mostly from tuition-related issues and students’ assertion of their right to education and other democratic rights in campus.

“Campus editors and writers are easy victims of campus repression, censorship and harassment because of their orientation to uphold the interests of students,” Alquisola said.

Alquisola earlier demanded a halt to censorship, harassment and campus press repression in light of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’ s announcement of a tuition hike freeze.

Alquisola said that one of the gravest cases of harassment reported to them is that of false theft charges filed against Tandem editor-in-chief Ma. Criselda Diocena. Tandem is the official campus publication of the University of Northern Philippines, and a member publication of the CEGP.

The UNP-Vigan administration filed false charges of theft against Diocena who it accuses of stealing a computer CPU (central processing unit).

Diocena has denied the charges and has cried harassment by school administrators because of her hard stance against the university’s proposed tuition increases. UNP increased tuition last year eliciting widespread protests from students.

Diocena was unable to get a clearance to take her final exams this summer and, as a result, is unable to enroll for the incoming school year. The case has also resulted in the UNP administration’ s illegal closure of the publication.

In a press conference held this morning, Diocena said that she is mulling over filing counter charges of grave slander and harassment against the UNP administration. She had already filed a complaint to the Commission on Higher Education last year but the agency is yet to address her case.

Alquisola said that they are also set to present Diocena’s case and other complaints to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Technical and Higher Education (CTHE) hearing on June 11.

Media watchdog condemns Philippine editor’s libel verdict

June 7, 2008

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An international media watchdog slammed the prison sentence of a Philippine newspaper editor found guilty of libeling the president’s former lawyer, saying Friday that the case against her was undemocratic.

The Makati Regional Trial court on Thursday sentenced Niñez Cacho Olivarez, editor and publisher of The Daily Tribune, to two years in prison and ordered her to pay damages to Arthur Villaraza and his law firm for an article alleging he tried to extort money from a building company.

The June 2003 article written by Olivarez was based on a purported recording of Villaraza – formerly President Arroyo’s lawyer – and a German company that won a bid for a new airport terminal.

The law firm argued that the story was baseless and maligned its reputation. Judge Winlove Dumayas found the article “defamatory” and “attended with malice.”

Olivarez called the ruling “an injustice.” Her lawyer, Alexis Mina, said they would appeal, and the court allowed Olivarez to post bail.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Olivarez’s conviction and expressed hope it would be overturned.

Bob Dietz, Asia coordinator for the group, said in a statement that “it is high time for a democratic country like the Philippines to remove the threat of imprisonment for journalists by decriminalizing libel.”

He noted that Olivarez is a well-known critic of Arroyo administration, which has also filed sedition charges against her and two columnists that are still pending.

The Tribune has frequently reported on alleged government corruption. In February 2006, police raided the newspaper’s offices when Arroyo declared a state of emergency to quell a coup plot.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said earlier that the ruling highlighted “the urgency of decriminalizing and improving our antiquated libel law.”

Media groups say politicians in the Philippines often abuse the 106-year-old libel law to silence critics. Under the law, violators can be fined or sentenced to up to six years in prison. – AP(PStar)

Pandarahas sa mamamahayag sa Olongapo binatikos ng NUJP

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Binatikos ng NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) ang magkahiwalay na insidente ng pandarahas sa dalawang mamamahayag sa Lungsod ng Olongapo.

Kinilala ang mga biktimang sina Jeff Tombado, stringer ng ABS-CBN at Robert Gonzaga, reporter ng Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ayon sa NUJP, kumukuha ng video footage si Tombado noong Mayo 27 kaugnay ng nasamsam na shabu sa SBMA nang pagbawalan siya ng mga awtoridad. Hinanapan umano siya ng ID at nang wala siyang maipakita dahil bago pa lamang siya sa kompanya ay inagaw ng isang Col. Virgilio Tolentino sa kanya ang video camera habang ang iba pa ay pinalipit ang kanyang kamay.

Pinakawalan lamang umano si Tombado nang makapagpakita ng ID mula sa kanyang dating kompanya.

Samantala, hinanapan rin ng ID ni Sheriff Leandro Madarang ng Olongapo City Court si Gonzaga habang ginagawa ang kanyang trabaho bilang reporter. Bagamat hindi kasing-grabe ng nangyari kay Tombado, kinondena ng NUJP ang inasal ng opisyal ng gobyerno sa pakikitungo sa mamamahayag.

Hiniling ng NUJP sa mga superyor ng dalawang opisyal na imbestigahan ang mga ito at patawan ng karampatang parusa dahil sa kanilang mga inasal.(PinoyWeekly)

CEGP to UNP Administrators: The fight will continue until Tandem re-opens, repression ends

June 5, 2008

04 June 2008

PRESS STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference:

Vijae Alquisola, President, 09162034402

CEGP to UNP Administrators:
The fight will continue until Tandem re-opens, repression ends
This should be the prime agenda of today’s University of Northern Philippines Board of Regents meeting: to hold the violators of students’ democratic rights accountable.
The closure of TANDEM, the official student publication of UNP is nothing but a desperate attempt by UNP President Lauro Tacbas and his cohorts to prevent the issue of the “illegal” 33% tuition increase last year from reaching the students and thwart the possibilities of collective resistance against the said increase.
TANDEM members have been experiencing various cases of harassment from the school administration. Editor-in-chief Criselda Diocena was banned from taking her final examinations and was even charged with a baseless accusation of theft.
The CEGP strongly denounces the latter. The Guild considers the attack as part of a greater plan to further silence the TANDEM from voicing out different student issues inside the university and exposing the bleak future of the youth under the Arroyo regime.
Such move by the school administration leads to the illegal 33% tuition fee increase. This is a clear violation of the regulation that students should be made aware of such tuition hike. Instead, no consultation took place, which left the students totally unaware of this sudden increase. Aside from this, miscellaneous fees also increased.
For 33 years, the TANDEM has fulfilled its duty of being the vanguard of academic freedom and has never faltered in its commitment to the entire UNP community, which gained the publication numerous awards in campus journalism.
It has been steadfast in its task of informing students about different anomalies inside the university brought about by the evil schemes of this Arroyo government to hinder accessible and quality education.
This trend of silencing student papers has been imminent since the administration sees the power and ability of student publications to inform and mobilize the student population.
This issue does not call for a new student publication; thus the need for reforms in handling not only the publication but also the entire UNP community should be addressed.
UNP administrators should bear this in mind: freedom of speech and the practice of student’s democratic rights will never waver despite numerous attacks made against it. Such a move only strengthens and unifies the ranks of students against an oppressive administration.
This fight will continue until perpetrators are deemed liable, the Tandem re-opens, and repression ends. ###
COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES
Rm 305, National Press Club Bldg., Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines
Tele Fax.: 524-3937
Email: cegpnational@ yahoo.com
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