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NUJP STATEMENT: No excuse for Sec. Lopez’s treatment of Businessworld reporter

Statement April 7, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s totally unjustified behavior toward Businessworld reporter Janina Lim, who she cursed and maligned Thursday for simply doing her job.

It is doubly unfortunate that Ms. Lopez, the scion of a family intimately involved in media, should justify her boorishness toward Ms. Lim by blaming one of the qualities indispensable to being a journalist – persistence.

A recording of Ms. Lopez’s tirade captured her berating Lim of being “just a f—ing employee” and asking the reporter why she did not have a “heart for the poor.”

Ms. Lim was simply asking Ms. Lopez to elaborate on her order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “rehabilitation fund” for formerly mined lands but the DENR secretary berated Lim and another colleague, telling them: “You know, you guys should do your work, but why don’t you have a heart for the poor? Where’s your heart?”

When Ms. Lim tried to follow up, Ms. Lopez turned on her and said: “You know you are so young and you’re already bought by the greed and selfishness.”

It was at this point that Ms. Lim finally answered Ms. Lopez squarely, saying: “I was not bought, Ma’am. I was not bought. Thank you. Thank you.”

Ms. Lopez subsequently sent a message to Businessworld attempting to explain her side. If anything, however, she only helped indict herself even more.

She claimed she was late and rushing to a TV interview when accosted by Lim in a stairway and was piqued because she had “often been irritated” by the “line of questioning” of the “young and persistent reporter.”

“She was not the best person to meet while rushing for an appointment. So I lost my cool with her,” Ms. Lopez said in her message to Businessworld.

She also attempted to blame Lim for recording “a repartee that took place in a stairway” that, she claimed, should have been “left in the privacy for which it is meant,” even hinting the whole incident seemed to be “like looking for some kind of hole to punch.”

When does being “irritated” by a “persistent reporter” give a public official or anyone else for that matter the right to verbally abuse them?

If, indeed, Ms. Lim had consistently and persistently shown objectionable or offensive behavior in the course of her work, Ms. Lopez could easily have communicated this with the reporter’s superiors and asked that the situation be rectified.

And no, Ms. Lopez, what happened was not “repartee.” It was a legitimate attempt by a journalist to interview you on an issue related to your work and, thus, of public interest.

If you were, as you claim, in a hurry because you were late for an interview, you could have simply said so or even ignored the question. Instead, you actually took the time to stop and insult Ms. Lim and, worse, belittled her for being “just a f—ing employee,” as if honest toil were something to be ashamed of.

Ms. Lopez, your zeal for the causes close to your heart can never justify your despicable treatment of Ms. Lim. If anything, such a mindset, which brooks no questioning or dissent, is anathema to democracy.

We demand that you apologize to Ms. Lim and pledge to be more open to questioning. This is the least you can do. #

NUJP: Hands off our campus colleagues

THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemns the harassment and surveillance against our colleagues in the campus press by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

According to our long-time affiliate, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), police and military agents have visited Ateneo de Naga University (ADNU) and Baao Community College (BCC) in Camarines Sur earlier this month to warn school officials against allowing their campus publications and journalists from joining the CEGP and attending its activities. Police personnel visited ADNU’s The Pillar and BCC’s The Nexus to interrogate student journalists about recent CEGP-Bicol activities, the list of attendees to the Guild’s Luzon-wide student press convention and the whereabouts of its Vice President for Luzon Jan Joseph Goingo. CEGP Bicol chairperson Jhoan Villanueva was also notified by the BCC student affairs director that the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division and the PNP in Bicol have shown them a memorandum on the conduct of an “investigation” on student publications in Bicol. Both schools refused to give copies of the memorandum to the CEGP but Callueng said that ADNU has tightened its security procedures because of the surveillance.

The CEGP is a legitimate media organization that has a long history of upholding press freedom and the people’s right to know. It serves as the wellspring of the Philippine mass media. We call on the PNP, the AFP and the Duterte government to stop its surveillance and harassments of student journalists. We also urge the Ateneo de Naga and Baao Community College to be transparent and share the contents of the memorandum left by the police with the staff of The Pillars and The Nexus. #

PAHAYAG: “Di po laro ang pagbabalita, Mr. President!”

Mawalang-galang po, mahal na Pangulo. Sinasadya ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) na gamitin ang pambansang wika sa pahayag na ito upang bigyang sapat na halaga ang kaliwanagan sa komunikasyon at tiyakin na mauunawaan ng lahat ang nais naming ipaabot.

Sa inyong panayam sa midya nung Huwebes, muli mong sinabi na “nilalaro” mo kami at “mahilig” kang “magbitaw ng kalokohan.” Kung kaya, pananagutan ng mga mamamahayag ang pagsusuri sa bawat mong salita, kung totoo ba o hindi, at kami ang dapat sisihin kung ‘di tugma ang aming ulat sa mensahe na nais ninyong iparating.

Ipagpaumanhin po ninyo, subalit tuwiran kaming tumututol sa inyong pananaw. Hindi dahil ayaw naming suriin ang inyong mga salita — dahil kasama po ito sa aming gawain — kundi, bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas, kayo po ang may pananagutan at tungkuling maging malinaw sa lahat ng inyong pahayag sa sambayanan at sa buong mundo.

May mga pagkakataon naman po para sa biro o sa kalokohan. Subalit dahil kayo ang Pangulo, ang inyong mga pahayag sa publiko ay aming itinuturing — at dapat lamang ituring — na patakaran ng inyong pamahalaan. Dagdag pa, marami rin sa inyong masusugid na tagasuporta ang nagtuturing ding atas at utos maging ang inyong mga biro at gamitin ang mga ito bilang dahilan para sa mga karumaldumal na hangarin ng mga kriminal at tiwali sa loob at labas ng gobyerno. Sa ganitong kalagayan, aming kagalang-galang na ginoo, hindi kaya mainam na huwag mo na kaming laruin at bawasan na ang hilig ninyong magbitiw ng kalokohan?

Ipagpatawad po ninyo , mahal na Pangulo, kung amin namang ibinabalik sa inyo ang inyong sinabi: Kung hindi malinaw ang inyong mga pahayag at hindi malinaw kung ito ay biro o seryoso, nasa inyo po at wala sa amin o sa taumbayan, ang problema. Seryoso po kami sa aming gawain at tungkulin naming ituring na seryoso at iulat ng tapat ang anumang namumutawi sa bibig ng Pangulo.

Huwag po ninyong baliktarin ang kaayusan ng pananagutang maging malinaw, Mr. President.

 

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Columnist-publisher is first journalist killed under Duterte

A columnist and publisher is the first media killing victim under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Larry Que of the two-week old community newspaper Catanduanes News Now died 1:45 a.m. Tuesday after he was shot by a gunman wearing a bonnet and raincoat who then fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice Monday morning in Virac.

Que’s murder came after he wrote a column criticizing local officials following the recent discovery of a shabu laboratory in the province.

Que’s column, written in Bicolano, blamed the negligence of local government leaders for the shame the discovery of the laboratory had brought the province.

He also wrote it was likely the Chinese nationals who set up the laboratory had help from Chinese residents of the island province.

Fear

In a statement, the Catanduanes chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philppines (NUJP) said Que’s murder has sown fear within the local media community.

It said a number of journalists fear they might be the next target for their reports on the shabu laboratory, said to be the largest discovered in the country.

NUJP-Catanduanes also said Broadcaster Jinky Tabor revealed she received threats after acting as media witness during the police raid on the shabu laboratory.

Last November 8, Northern Watch columnist and dwPR broadcaster Virgilio Maganes survived a slay try by playing dead after a gunman shot him inside a tricycle he was riding to the radio station in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

The NUJP said the suspects tried to make the slay try on Maganes appear to be a drug-related hit as the victim saw a cardboard with a “Pusher Ako Huwag Tularan (I am a pusher, do not be like me)” written on it.

“This added dimension to the thankfully unsuccessful attempt on Maganes’ life highlights the increasing risks faced not only by journalists but by most anyone who may be killed with impunity in the name of the government’s war on drugs,” the NUJP at the time noted. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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: Treacherous burial mocks struggle for press freedom during Martial Law

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) shares the Filipino people’s outrage against the treacherous burial of the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.

The burial mocks the life-and-death resistance of the journalists and media workers in the struggle to expand the frontiers of press freedom during the dark days of Martial Law.

While it is true that the Libingan has long been desecrated as a sacred space for the national memory, the people still cling to its intended political and social symbolism, that is, to hold in high esteem the people whose deeds reflect the values we hold dear as a society.

Marcos’ filthy record of suppressing press freedom and attacking journalists at the onset of Martial Law, and then prostituting media practice through the operation of crony news organizations is anything but deplorable.

Press freedom was among the first casualties of Marcos’ vile adventurism with political power. Martial Law not only led to mass extrajudicial murders, it also attempted to kill the truth.

Marcos ordered the closure of newspapers. His government took control of radio and television stations.

Many media workers were imprisoned, tortured and died fighting the dictatorship. Others were forced to go underground or into exile to evade arrest.

To protect and maintain his monopoly on power, Marcos allowed the operation of crony-controlled newspapers, radio and television stations whose main purpose was to air and publish the “good and beautiful” about Martial Law or the so-called “Bagong Lipunan (New Society).”

Amid the tyrannical rule, Filipino media workers continued to fight for press freedom and exposed the truth through underground newspapers and alternative news media later called the “Mosquito Press.”

These papers were secretly distributed or passed from reader to reader by hand, detailing the massive human rights violations, plunder of our economy by the Marcos family and their cronies and calling for heightened resistance. These helped in galvanizing the resistance and unity against the dictatorship leading to Marcos’ ouster on Feb. 25, 1986.

The overthrow of the dictatorship also led to the restoration of democratic institutions including the independent press.

The burial of Marcos at the hero’s cemetery seeks to gloss over, erase or worse, reverse these historical facts. This is anathema to the very essence of our role as chroniclers of our country’s contemporary history.

We stand by the people in decrying this mockery. We are one with them in ensuring that this will not happen again.

After all, it is because of the people that we exist. And it is the interest of the people that we will tirelessly serve. #

POOLED EDITORIAL: We will never forget

by the People’s Alternative Media Network

The furtive burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a heinous addition to the long list of crimes of the Marcoses against the Filipino people. The Supreme Court decision dismissing the petition against the Marcos burial has yet to become final and executory, but the Marcos heirs nevertheless went ahead with the burial.

 We in the media have not forgotten the dark days of Martial Law, when Ferdinand Marcos closed down all mainstream news publications, the campus press, and radio and TV stations. We remember how Marcos allowed only his crony media mouthpieces to function so that news about the cruelty, greed and repression under his regime would never get aired or published.

 We have not forgotten the atrocities that Marcos committed against freedom of the press, speech, free expression and the right to information. Countless media practitioners who fought the Martial Law regime and struggled to expose the truth were hunted down, arrested, abducted, tortured or murdered. His burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is an outrage to journalists and media professionals who fought the despotic regime relentlessly alongside innumerable Filipinos and Martial Law victims. 

 We remember Antonio Zumel, Joe Burgos, Ester Resabal-Kintanar, Abraham Sarmiento, Jacinto Peña, Joaquin Roces, Francisco ‘Soc’ Rodrigo, Alex Orcullo, Eugenia Apostol, and  the many other  Filipino journalists who fought and upheld press freedom during Martial Law.

 More than laying Ferdinand Marcos to rest, the burial is an appalling attempt to distort history, absolve the tyrant of his sins, and herald the full return of the Marcoses to power. The act of burying and giving tribute to the late dictator is itself symbolic of the family’s bid to conceal the numerous crimes of the Marcos terror regime.

 Past administrations, through their inaction and political accommodation to the Marcos heirs, have thwarted the quest for historical justice. The Marcoses, Pres. Duterte, and the Supreme Court justices have added to this injustice by allowing the dictator’s burial. They should be held accountable, as should the military, which collaborated with the Marcoses in committing this outrage.

 The truth shall not be forgotten. We will continue to fight attempts to bury the truth just as we persist in fighting the dark legacies of the Marcos era: the corruption, the plunder of billions of public funds, the repression, militarization, illegal arrests, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and impunity that still persist today. We will continue to fight for real democracy,  the democracy we supposedly have today being clearly false, deceitful and serving only those in power.  

They may think that they have triumphed in their effort to revise history, restore tyranny, and prolong the climate of impunity. But they are mistaken. The people have not forgotten, and neither will we in the media ever forget. #

POOLED EDITORIAL: The Prez and the press

REGRETTABLY, the conversation between President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and the news media has turned sharp and shrill. All but lost in the noise is the two parties’ common duty in law and tradition to serve and to inform the Filipino people on issues, events and policies that affect their interest and welfare.

A president—all at once the chief executive, fount of foreign policy, manager of the national household, guardian of peace and order, commander of the uniformed services, and arbiter of policy conflicts—is the most important pivot of news and policy in the land. A president is mandated by law to lead the nation and to promote transparency, accountability and good governance.

But the Constitution also upholds the citizens’ rights to free speech, free press, free expression, and peaceable assembly. It guarantees as well their right to due process, equality before the law, access to information, justice, and life.

As “the people’s private eye in the public arena,” the news media serve as custodian and gatekeeper of some of these rights. It’s a task that must be accomplished, and the President-elect’s predecessors as well as the nation’s journey from democracy to dictatorship and back illustrate why and how we must inquire into, inveigh against, and investigate questionable public officials and agencies, on the citizens’ behalf.

Thus, despite his vexation with those he calls the “lowlifes” and the “mouthpieces” in the news media, we must at all times cover him, his actions, and his statements. In truth, the news media must report more—and better—about him, his policies and his actions, with our reports guided by the best standards of accuracy, fairness and context.

This we must do even as we note at least two disturbing “messages” from the President-elect.

First, by saying that “corrupt journalists … vultures of journalism can die for all I care [because] you’re asking for it,” he mocks the memory of 172 journalists (at latest count) killed in the line of duty since democracy’s rebirth in 1986. The last reports filed by a majority of those slain journalists precisely exposed crime and corruption, the same social ills that he says he wants to curb. Sadly, not a single mastermind or principal suspect in these murders, including state agents, local warlords, and criminal elements, have been held to account.

Second, whether intended or not, his volcanic language has dampened, indeed chilled, the daily reportage, so that journalists with valid, if testy, questions are seemingly forced to eat expletives by way of a response.

To be sure, corruption in the news media is as real as the 16-million vote that secured the victory of the President-elect. To be sure, corruption afflicts both individuals and agencies in the news media, and has evolved into a subculture with a language all its own.

As anywhere else, however, corruption in the news media is a supply-demand chain. One solution offers a key role for the incoming administration: Slay it at the source. The government’s own media agents, as well as politicians and corporate PRs who offer more than stories to get favorable coverage or to spike bad news, must, in the President-elect’s words, “stop it.” Another solution calls for quick action from media managers: Provide better pay and protection for journalists.

But here’s the thing: The institutional capture of the news media by politicians has begun in some parts of the country. Local politicians and their families have acquired ownership and control of print and broadcast media agencies, and certain local government units have bought block-time segments using public funds. The corruption of the news media thus also involves partisan political interests driving editorial processes—as the President-elect knows full well.

Yet for all the supposed differences, the news media and the President-elect have complete agreement on one factor: the urgency of a Freedom of Information Law. The issuance of an FOI executive order on Day One of his presidency should prevent the 17th Congress from tarrying in its task.

An FOI Law will provide the necessary institutional and legal framework for full and true functional links between transparency and accountability in government, and for the right of all Filipinos to access information in order to take part in nation-building.

We in the news media wish the incoming administration success in all its endeavors. As journalists and as citizens, we commit not only to do journalism right and better, but also to uphold and defend free speech, free press, free expression, and the people’s right to know. #

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List of media organizations and outfits that published this editorial: 

Philippine Press Institute (PPI)

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippine Star

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation (NDBC)

Mindanao Cross

Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Sun.Star-Cagayan de Oro

The Journal

The Freeman

Bicol Today

College Editors Guild of the Philippines

Kodao Productions

Bulatlat

Philippine Collegian

Eastern Vista

Pahayagang Balikas

Banat News

Northern Dispatch

Panguil Bay Monitor

Mindanao Monitor

Catarman Weekly Tribune

The Standard

Lanao del Norte Today

Panguil Bay Monitor

Mindanao Monitor

Eastern Vista

Panay Today

The Manila Standard

 

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

STATEMENT: On Duterte’s media boycott dare

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines wishes to clarify that it was not the Philippine media which called for a boycott of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s press conferences.
For the record, it was the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers; RSF) that issued the call, one that was, rightly, not heeded by the Philippine media.

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