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Former UP dean launches workshop on ethical reporting

By April Burcer

“One of the most common flaws of Philippine media is lack of context in reporting,” former dean of the College of Mass Communications in UP Diliman Luis Teodoro pointed out during his workshop on journalism ethics yesterday.

Organized by the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya), the workshop aimed to remind young media practitioners about the importance of adhering to ethical standards when reporting and to discuss the common ethical problems in the Philippine press.

Lack of context, according to Teodoro, is both a professional and ethical failing because people can’t make sense of what the story is all about.

He cited conflict reporting as an example, particularly the Marawi siege and the 2001 military campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF).

“During the Marawi siege, 90 percent of the coverage was in the conduct of the war. There is hardly any context. Same with the 2001 military attacks which the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) analyzed, showing that out of 6000 articles, only seven provided context,” Teodoro said.

Social issues and the Philippine Press

Teodoro criticized the Philippine media for failing to provide context on the social issues they are covering, including poverty, contractualization, unemployment, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive against so-called loiterers.

“The most crucial thing about the Filipino society is its poverty. There are 22 million Filipinos in extreme want and 50 million others who are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of living in the Philippines. Much of the reporting has to be about poverty and its related consequences and implications,” the former dean said.

He also said that not all ‘tambays’ (loiterers) are lazy or criminals, and that most of them are victims of labor only contractualization, poverty and poor housing conditions.

“The media have to be reporting all of these. Are they reporting these? Are they doing a good job of reporting these?” he asked.

He also noted that the social issues are given more exposure in social media than in the Philippine media.

Ethical Problems in the Philippine Press

According to Teodoro, being accurate is very important, especially today in the era of alternative truth and fake news, saying “false information can be very dangerous.”

He also emphasized the importance of adhering to the rules of journalism at a time when ordinary citizens and non-journalists can practice journalistic work.

“The press has the capacity to help transform society. It can do this by being true to the ethical standards that for many years have been established,” Teodoro advised.

Teodoro, Altermidya chairperson, is a retired Journalism professor in UP College of Mass Communication, a noted author and resource speaker on journalism ethics, media education and other media issues for various workshops, seminars and conferences in the Philippines and abroad. #

POOLED EDITORIAL: Seven years of injustice for Ampatuan victims, reign of impunity must end

by the People’s Alternative Media Network

THAT JUSTICE remains elusive seven years since the Ampatuan massacre proves how the culture of impunity persists today. We are alarmed that recent events including the Marcos burial and continuing extrajudicial killings not only of alleged drug personalities but also of activists and journalists feed such an environment under the Duterte administration.

The same environment of impunity is the appalling circumstance that allowed the suspected Ampatuan clan to kill all 58 people, including 32 journalists, in broad daylight on November 23, 2009. This climate of unaccountability continues to embolden perpetrators to continue committing the worst crimes against Filipinos.

We are further concerned that the appointment of former Ampatuan counsel Salvador Panelo as one of Duterte’s top officials makes the struggle for justice for the 58 victims and to make those behind the massacre accountable even more difficult.

All these dampen hopes that justice will be served soon, even as Duterte recently created a presidential task force to investigate media killings. The still unsolved cases of media killings, Duterte’s reckless pronouncement justifying the killing of “corrupt” journalists, and the escalating impunity do not give us any assurance that the country – regarded as among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists – will be a safe environment for media workers soon.

Seven long years have passed since the Ampatuan massacre, but not a single conviction has been made. The slow and flawed judicial process is a source of agony for the bereaved families waiting for justice. The perpetrators, after all these years, continue to succeed in prolonging the legal proceedings and preventing the trial’s conclusion.

We cannot underscore enough the importance of the Ampatuan Massacre in the Filipino people’s fight against the climate of impunity. The prolonged injustice for the Ampatuan victims is unacceptable as it further encourages the continuing attacks against human rights in the country.

We demand that the long-overdue justice be given to the Ampatuan victims and for the massacre trial to be completed without delay. We call on the Duterte administration to put a stop to the killings, harassment and human rights violations not only of journalists but also of human rights advocates, activists, and others. We call on the government to protect and uphold people’s rights, and to immediately end the reign of impunity in the country. #

STATEMENT: Journalists are not the enemy

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte errs in declaring that most journalists are being killed for being corrupt and in implying that only corrupt journalists have been killed in the Philippines. While corruption is a continuing problem in the press and media, it is simply not true that most of the journalists killed in the line of duty were killed because they were corrupt. On the contrary. Most of those killed were in fact exposing corruption and criminal activities in the communities, and for their social and political advocacies. The Pagadian city journalist Edgar Damalerio was killed in 2003 for exposing wrongdoing in the local government; Marlene Esperat was killed in Tacurong city for exposing anomalies in the Department of Agriculture; and Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega was killed for his environmental advocacy in Puerto Princesa. Read more

Kodao’s Villanueva accepts Titus Brands Award

Kodao Productions’ Raymund Villanueva was awarded the Titus Brandsma Award 2015 for Emerging Leadership in Journalism in a ceremony last November 27.

The award is given to an “outstanding young journalist who possesses an impressive and commendable track record in his or her professional performance and who has shown fidelity to the journalism code of ethics.”

The award is also given to journalists for their “use of the tools of media in fresh and innovative ways and has displayed courage in speaking the truth about issues involving peace, social justice, and the integrity of creation.”

The Titus Brandsma Award is a biennial recognition of outstanding journalists and social communication practitioners given by the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines.

This year’s award is the seventh time the awards have been held. Villanueva is the only second recipient of the Emerging Leadership in Journalism award.

Asian Institute for Journalism and Communication president Florangel Rosario Braid, PhD served as this year’s jury chair.

In this acceptance speech, Villanueva cited Kodao’s efforts to establish community radio stations for vulnerable communities all over the country.

He also mentioned Kodao’s workshops and training for marginalized sectors in the Philippines and abroad.

Villanueva is a veteran broadcaster, journalist and photographer for various alternative media organizations. He is now head of Kodao’s radio department.

This is a video of Villanueva’s acceptance speech.

ALTERMIDYA EDITORIAL: Ampatuan Massacre, a grim symbol of reigning impunity under Aquino

23 November 2015

It is Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s last year in office but justice remains elusive for the victims of Ampatuan massacre. No perpetrator has been convicted, the victims still cry for justice. Aquino’s vow six years ago to immediately resolve the gruesome massacre has become a hollow promise: the culture of impunity and sheer lack of accountability continues to reign under his administration.

The Ampatuan massacre, considered as the single most violent incident in the history of Philippine media, claimed the lives of 58 people including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009. The case against the alleged masterminds, the Ampatuan warlord clan, moves painfully slow.

The court case, after six years, is still at its preliminary stage at gathering evidence and bail proceedings. One of the primary suspects, Ampatuan patriarch, former governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. died early this year of liver cancer, extinguishing his criminal liability in the massacre case. Another suspect, Sajid Ampatuan, was released and is running for mayor of Shariff Aguak, under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay, in the 2016 polls. Majority of the suspects including members of the clan’s private army and several police officers are still at large or were granted bail.

The gross failure and lack of interest of the Aquino government to swiftly bring justice to the victims and end impunity continues to cultivate a dangerous atmosphere for Filipinos, media worker or not. After the Ampatuan massacre, the killing of journalists persists under Aquino’s term. The recent killing of DWIZ correspondent Jose Bernardo brings the total number of murdered journalists to 30 under the Aquino administration and 150 since 1986.

Extrajudicial killings of political activists, human rights defenders, indigenous people, and community leaders continue. Threats and harassment of state critics are intensifying. All these are a bleak reminder of the escalating impunity in the country and the ineptness of government that breeds it.

Six years of waiting has been enough. The Ampatuan massacre is a pivotal issue in the people’s struggle against growing impunity. Another day of delay in bringing justice to the 58 victims is another license for greater human rights violations and unaccountability in the country. We could no longer allow this government, or the next, to continue this injustice. We hold the Aquino government accountable for this injustice as well as its own crimes against the people.  We would persist in demanding for justice for the victims and their families of the Ampatuan massacre, and all cases of extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.

Accountability for these murders, for political repression, the absence of justice, and the persisting culture of impunity are all the responsibility of the President and the State. #

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Altermidya-People’s Alternative Media Network is a national network of independent and progressive media outfits, institutions and individuals. Kodao Productions is a founding member of Altermidya.

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: Podcast on Charlie Hebdo massacre

SAGOT SA MGA TANONG NG KODAO UKOL SA CHARLIE HEBDO
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
January 9, 2015

Tanong 1: Ano ang inyong pagtingin sa pagkakapaslang sa mga staff/journalist/cartoonist ng Charlie Hebdo?

JMS: Kinokondena ko ang pagpaslang sa mga editor, cartoonist at staff ng Charlie Hebdo. May karapatan silang mabuhay at magpahayag. May karapatan sila sa due process. Hindi lang basta kung sino na lang ang pumaslang sa kung sino pa. Hindi sapat na dahilan ang mga sinulat at drawing nila para patayin sila.

Nakikidalamhati ako sa kamag-anakan, mga kolega at mga kaibigan ng mga pinaslang. Malalim ang simpatya ko sa kanila. Pero may kalipikasyon at hantungan ng aking simpatya. Hindi ko iproproklama ang sarili ko bilang Charlie Hebdo. Hindi ako sang-ayon sa anti-Islam at racial prejudices ng Charlie Hebdo at ang ginawang pang-iinsulto, panunuya at panghahamon sa mga Muslim at mga taong hindi puti.

May karapatan ang Charlie Hebdo na mamahayag, magpuna at magmungkahi. Pero may responsabilidad na igalang ang karapatan ng iba, mga indibidwal man, organisayon o komunidad. Lahat ay may mga karapatan at may responsabilidad na igalang ang karapatan ng iba. Maglalaro ka sa apoy kung saktan mo ang niloloob ng maraming tao, tutuyain mo at hahamunin mo pa dahil lamang sa relihyon nila o kulay ng balat nila.

Tanong 2: Ano po kaya ang maaaring impak sa buong daigdig ng massacre sa Paris, sa bansang maunlad gaya nito na sinasabing may kalayaan naman daw sa pagsasalita at pamamahayag ang mga tao.

JMS: Sa Pransiya mismo at sa ibang bansang imperyalista, may mga pwersang reaksyonaryo na gustong gamitin ang insidenteng Charlie Hebdo sa ngalan ng pagtataguyod ng press freedom para palitawin na terorista ang mga Muslim at mga taong hindi puti ang balat at para gawing lalong maigting ang represyon o terorismo ng estado at para bigyan din ng katwiran ang mga digma ng agresyon ng mga bansang imperyalista sa Middle East at North Africa.

Malamang na ang pumaslang sa tauhan ng Charlie Hebdo ay kumilos dahil sa labis na galit sa pambabastos kay propetang Mohamad at mga Muslim. Pero pinapalaki ng mga imperyalista ang insidente at tinataguriang terorismo para ilihis ang pansin ng mga mamamayan sa krisis sa ekonomiya at sa mega-terorismo o malakihang terorismo ng mga imperyalistang estado sa loob at labas ng bansa nila.

Sabi ng ilang ulat na ang dalawang magkapatid na suspetsado ay mga miembro ng Al Qaida o Islamic state ng Syria at Iraq (ISIS) na sumasalanta ngayon sa Syria at Iraq. Kung kailan lang, ang ISIS o ISIL ay pinondohan, inorganisa, inarmasan at sinanay ng mga imperyalistang ahente ng US, Inglaterra at Pransiya tulad ng dating ginawa sa mga tinaguriang Islamista na nagpabagsak sa gobyerno ni Qadaffi sa Lybia. May teorya ng ilan na mga ahente mismo ng gobyernong Pranses ang nagpakana sa Charlie Hebdo incident para gawing sangkalan ng terorismo ng estado ng mga imperyalista at mga papet nila.

Ang mga tunay at malaking o dambuhalang terorista ay mga imperyalistang kapangyarihan na pinamumunuan ng Estados Unidos. Kasama riyan ang Pransiya. Sa mga gera ng agresyon nila, milyun-milyong tao ang pinapatay at pinalilisan at winawasak ang kabuhayan at social infrastructure nila. Dahil sa paglubha ng krisis, ibayong lumilitaw ang rasismo, represyon at pasismo sa mismong mga imperyalistang bansa na nagyayabang na mga sentro sila ng demokrasya at kalayaan.

Pooled Editorial | Fight for genuine freedom of information law

ALTERMIDYA_LOGO-final

There is no reason to rejoice over the recent approval of the consolidated bill on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the House at the committee level, and the approval of the Senate version earlier this year.

We, alternative media practitioners united under Altermidya, believe that the FOI versions restrict rather than enhance public access to information.

The consolidated bills, both in the Lower House and the Senate, fail to meet the minimum international standards set by Article 19 for an FOI law to be effective. These include, among others, the following:

  • a strong presumption in favor of disclosure (the principle of maximum disclosure);
  • broad definitions of information and public bodies;
  • positive obligations to publish key categories of information;
  • clear and narrowly drawn exceptions, subject to a strong harm test and a public interest override; and
  • effective oversight of the right by an independent administrative body.

Both FOI bills adopted all of the exceptions proposed by Malacañang in its own version. Contrary to Palace claims that these are necessary, the list institutionalizes the absence of transparency and accountability.

Exempting from public access the minutes, drafts of resolutions, orders, memoranda etc., including drafts of bilateral and multilateral agreements from public scrutiny, precludes citizen participation in decision-making on issues of public interest.

Subjecting access to income tax returns, and statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) of public officials to existing laws, rules and regulations  further undermines efforts to curb corruption.

The provision exempting from disclosure matters involving national security is also so broad that it could be used to hide cases of human rights violations perpetrated by state agents.

With regard to the public interest override, both bills state that “The President, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Constitutional Commissions may waive an exception with respect to information in the custody of offices under their respective supervision or control, when they deem that there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.” (Emphasis supplied)

This provision does not provide a mechanism for checks and balance. In both bills, no independent administrative body that will have effective oversight of the right to information will be created.

Journalists and ordinary citizens have been demanding enactment of a genuine freedom of information law. We cannot settle for a law that will make truth telling even more difficult: a bad law is worse than no law at all.

 

AlterMidya is a nationwide network of independent and progressive alternative media outfits and practitioners in the Philippines that promotes journalism for the people.

Pooled editorial | FIVE YEARS AFTER THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE: AQUINO MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE

end impunity
Five years after the massacre of 58 men and women including 32 journalists in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, justice remains elusive and impunity still reigns. The promise of President Benigno Aquino III to help speedily resolve the case that has put the Philippines in the limelight as one of the most dangerous places for journalists not only remains unfulfilled; through his statements and actions he has downplayed the killing of journalists and ignored the possible accountability of military officers in the Massacre.

Something is already terribly wrong with the country’s justice system when a warlord clan can murder 58 people in broad daylight and still get away with flooding the courts with petitions and motions so as to delay the proceedings, and worse, probably cause the murder of four probable witnesses to the crime.

The majority of the suspects, mostly police officers and members of the private army of the Ampatuan clan, remain at large. Forty-one, including the policemen who flagged down the convoy on November 23, 2009, have been granted bail. The government prosecutors are accused of accepting bribes. Just four days before the fifth year of the Ampatuan massacre, another possible witness was again gunned down.

All these favor the Ampatuan clan, allowing it to show the families of the victims and the witnesses that they are still in power and can play with the courts until public interest on the case wanes so that they can forge out- of- court settlements and strike deals with the government.

A welcome development in the midst of many disappointments is the Supreme Court’s release of guidelines in December 2013 to expedite the case. However, there is still no cause for celebration as the case continues to drag on.

end impunity1

The Ampatuan Massacre is a key issue in the Filipino people’s struggle against the culture of impunity that has afflicted the country for so long. A decision favourable to the masterminds and killers will encourage more killings of and human rights violations against journalists, activists, and other sectors.

Time is of essence. It has long been recognized that it will take the intercession of President Aquino himself to speed up the case. But instead, the Aquino administration promoted the two military officers who refused to provide security to the victims at the time of the incident—Col. Medardo Geslani and Lt. Gen. Alfredo Cayton, who were promoted to brigadier-general and major-general respectively, thus sending across the country and to the armed forces and police that the Aquino administration is not interested in putting an end to the culture of impunity.

Under the Aquino administration, 25 journalists have been killed for their work since 2010., making the Aquino record second only to that of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime. Instead of recognizing the political nature of the killings, Aquino has also blamed the victims themselves and dismissed the cases of journalists killed as merely the consequence of personal disputes. This does not only aggravate the pain of the bereaved families whose lives are also at risk amid the lack of meaningful government support, but more alarmingly feeds the culture of impunity and the reign of injustice in the country.

red candle

For these reasons, the President and his administration should be held accountable as well.

Despite the declarations of President Aquino that his administration has been implementing “reforms” in the country’s system of governance, traditional patronage politics still characterize the policies and official acts of the Aquino administration, and political dynasties and local warlords still lord it over the country.

white candle

Attaining justice for all those killed not only in the Ampatuan massacre but in the many cases of extra judicial killings as well lies in the hands of the Filipino people. The people and not only the journalism and media community must remain vigilant. They need to monitor developments in the Massacre trial and other cases closely, exert pressure on the government, and demand justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and other killings of journalists as well as those of activists and human rights defenders. But even more crucially should they continue to monitor the policies, acts and statements of the Aquino regime towards holding it to account for helping perpetuate the culture of impunity.

AlterMidya is a nationwide network of independent and progressive alternative media outfits in the Philippines that promotes journalism for the people.