ENTEBBE, Uganda–The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) launched a book on community radio broadcasting in the Philippines, narrating its nearly three-decade history and laying down the challenges it faces in one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world.
Entitled Amplifying the People’s Voices: The Philippine Community Radio Experience and Challenges, the 72-page book was launched by its President Violet Gonda and Philippine Chapter head Jola Diones-Mamangun in Kampala, Uganda during the group’s regional conference.
The book chronologically narrates how community radio broadcasting in the Philippines started in the 1990s as well as the problems it faces to this day.
Produced for IAWRT by its Philippine chapter, the book also recounts how current broadcasting laws in the country make it difficult for low-power radio stations to acquire franchises and licenses from government institutions.
Gonda said radio is one of the oldest and important forms of media in communications.
“A number of our members represent the various tiers of radio – public, private and community. The Philippine chapter has been pioneering a project, the Mobile Disaster Radio, which is the need of the hour – with the problems of climate change, regular cyclones, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis which have become a part of our life,” Gonda said.
“This project targets vulnerable communities to prepare them better for the unseen disasters, from risk to preparednes. It began in 2014, and is giving voice to the voiceless and empowering women to be prepared and reduce loss to lives and properties,” she added.
Through IAWRT funding, the chapter has managed to set up transmitters in the most disaster prone communities and provided computers, cables, mobile phone units for the reporters and training and mentoring exercises to empower the local communities in various provinces in the Visayas region.
The book recalls how one of the first community radio stations, Radyo Cagayano, was attacked and burned by unknown persons, suspected to be members of the Philippine Army, in 2006, setting back the planned establishment of more stations by several years.
The Philippines is deemed by Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists and other global media groups as among the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 184 media workers killed since the supposed return of democracy in the country in 1986.
The majority of media workers killed are provincial broadcasters, as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in several of its reports.
However, Diones-Mamangun, also IAWRT International treasurer and Kodao Productions executive director, said the book is less about the campaign’s problems but more about its successes despite overwhelming odds.
“We want this book’s readers to realize that whatever successes the community broadcasting movement in the Philippines has achieved are due to the communities’ determination to tell their own stories through radio,” Diones-Mamangun said.
“The lesson here is that community radio broadcasting will never happen without the communities themselves.”
Gonda added that IAWRT is happy to have published a community radio handbook to share the group’s journey and for its to learn from experiences.
“There could be no better place than Uganda to release this publication as there is a strong presence of community radio here,” Gonda said.
Aside from Diones-Mamangun, the Philippine delegation to the Uganda conference include IAWRT Philippine chapter vice president Prof. Lynda Garcia and members Walkie Mirana and Lady Ann Salem. #