Tag Archives: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

[Statement] Apathy and alibis -NUJP

Apathy and alibis

It says much when the president of a country that time and again boasts of being a democracy insists that one of, if not the, worst wave of media murders does not constitute a national catastrophe.

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No, we don’t believe President Benigno Aquino III is in a state of denial about the three latest killings, which happened in all of two weeks’ time, bringing the death toll for media since he came to office in 2010 to at least 21.

We believe he is clearly aware of how serious the problem is. The problem is, he keeps on looking for excuses to play down what the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has called the worst annual incidence rate under any president.

In short, he just doesn’t care.

In a meeting with Filipino journalists in Tokyo, Aquino, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said he would not treat media killings as a national trend unless “somebody can say that there is some sort of an established policy to kill a journalist of this particular position, mentality.”

According to the PDI report, Aquino said a “’correlation’ must first be established: ‘What’s common among (the killings) besides (the reality) that somehow they are connected to media’.”

“’Now if you don’t identify the problem correctly, you will not come up with a solution. The point is … we are 95 million Filipinos. It’s difficult to see the intent, especially for those … some might really be wanton and merciless and totally wrong,’ he said.”

Evidently, Mr. Aquino has not been listening, if he ever did in the first place.

Mr. Aquino, in case you missed it, we have never claimed the murders of our colleagues were the result of any “established policy” unlike, say, the extrajudicial killings of activists, environmentalists, indigenous people and other dissenters that human rights experts both here and abroad have rightly linked to a murderous counterinsurgency program that deliberately targets members of legal organizations.

What we HAVE said is that these killings are the inevitable offshoot of governance by expediency, which has seen administration after administration, bar none, allowing the corrupt, the warlords, the crime lords to reign supreme in their respective personal fiefdoms in the regions and provinces in exchange for their support.

It is a system of governance that has allowed local tyrants to keep their populations cowed and silence any attempt to unmask them while the national government turns a blind eye for fear of losing their loyalty.

But of course, no self-respecting president, especially one who has staked his name on “tuwid na daan,” would ever admit to that.

Thus the search for alibis, like Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma’s describing some of the victims as “not legitimate” to justify describing the problem as “not so serious,” or the attempt by an investigator to explain the recent killings as the offshoot of the victims’ less than impeccable ethics.

Admittedly, Philippine media have their work cut out to improving ethical and professional standards. But before sanctimoniously dumping the blame on the individual practitioner, especially the grossly overworked and underpaid variety that populate our provinces, shouldn’t we look first to those who keep them so overworked and underpaid that not a few succumb to the blandishments of those would have the news slanted in their favor? And if corruption were to justify murder, shouldn’t we be wondering, given the surfeit of evidence, why our corridors of power continue to be populated by the foremost purveyors of graft and who, by all indications, are the most likely brains in the murders of our colleagues?

So there, Mr. Aquino, is the “correlation” you claim to seek, the problem identified to which you must now find a solution.

That is, if you even care a whit to.

For reference
Rowena Paraan
Chairperson

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[Press Release] Health advocates welcome victory over PDAF’s unconstitutionality -ABI-Health

Health advocates welcome victory over PDAF’s unconstitutionality

Finally, the health of the Filipino people seizes to become just another target for political patronage of traditional politicians. This came as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) is unconstitutional. With this latest development, health advocates have welcomed this as a hard-won gain of the mass movement’s continuing struggle.

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Public finance in health is one of the critical issues in the people’s fight against the pork barrel system. PDAF is only 5.5 percent of the Special Purpose Fund (SPF), one of the presidential pork barrel funds. Therefore, the fight to scrap the other lump sum, discretionary funds continues.

Medical assistance for service patients, along with scholarships, has always been the justifications of politicians on why PDAF should stay. However, the recent review of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) of PDAF showed that these items got morsels from the billions of pesos spent for pork, only PhP3 billion or six to eight percent of the total pork released from July 2010 to June 2013.

According to Mercy Fabros, ABI-Health Cluster Coordinator, “for the longest time, poor people knock on the offices of congress representatives and senators like beggars begging alms for medical assistance; Because their mindset has been clouded by the assistance their receiving, the people do not fully understand that PDAF is sourced from their own money (taxes). It is their right to access health services and the obligation of the government to provide them. The evil of the system of patronage lies in the fact that it imprisons people constantly in a morally-degrading relationship with politicians.”

About PhP25.2 billion funds will be freed-up in the 2014 National Government Budget, which can be used to finance programs that would genuinely contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Care (UHC). The Department of Health (DoH) could use this opportunity to make its budget a real leap forward by adopting ABI Health Cluster’s proposed alternative budget.

Now the rendering of PDAF as unconstitutional and forwarding of funds instead to frontline agencies such as the DOH insulates health services from politics.

“For the 2013 additional, PDAF-sourced funds, while we understand the need still for medical assistance through the set-up voucher’s system, DoH could also use the funds to restore basic health systems at least in the Yolanda-stricken areas that could provide more health services for the survivors,” Fabros added.

Access to health services is a right and it is the state’s obligation to do so. Traditional politicians have no business using need for medical assistance as a ticket to buy votes and make people dependent on their bleeding hearts. Clearly, the fight against PDAF is a battle half-won for health advocates because the biggest chunk of the pork barrel remains intact. Because it has opened more spaces for meaningful participation, this is now the best time to influence public health policy and budgeting.

The ABI-Health Cluster is composed of 62 member organizations advocating for Universal Health Care. It is one of the clusters of ABI along with Education, Agriculture, Social Protection, Environment and Persons with Disabilities Clusters. It is attached to Social Watch Philippines (SWP), a network of a hundred nongovernment organizations that, for eight years, has been successfully pushing for increases in the national budgets for social development, called for the realignment of P25 Billion allotted to the unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to national government agencies’ programs to help victims of disasters and prevent more tragedies caused by super typhoons and other calamities.

ALTERNATIVE BUDGET INITIATIVE (ABI) – HEALTH

Press Release
25 November 2013

Contact Persons:
Jofti Villena, Sarilaya, +63949.525.3494 (Media Liaison)
ABI Health Cluster: (632) 9273319, abihealth@gmail.com

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[Off the shelf] Human Face, a Journalist’s encounter and awakening by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

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From INQUIRER BOOKS and ANVIL PUBLISHING
Size: 6”x 9” Pages: 336 Bookstore price: P795
Available at National Bookstores, Powerbooks, BestSellers and Anvil, tel. 5709993,www.anvilpublishing.com
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City, Metro Manila, Tel. 8978808 local 352
eBook soon available on the Inquirer Digital Newsstand: http://www.inquirer.net/store

humanfacebyceres.blogspot.com

humanfacebyceres.blogspot.com

MA. CERES P. DOYO, a journalist for more than 25 years, is a staff writer and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She covers a variety of issues and writes special reports, feature stories and a weekly column, “Human Face.”

Ceres’ written works have earned various awards and citations. She has contributed to several major book projects. Many of her stories are in her book “Journalist in Her Country.”

Ceres traces her roots to Iloilo and Albay and speaks several Philippine languages. She finished college in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and has a master’s degree in psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. Ceres was a Jefferson journalism fellow at the East-West Center in the U.S. She was a member of the board of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism for many years until 2010.

Ceres’ book for children “Bituin and the Big Flood” (Si Bituin at ang Malaking Baha)is now in bookstores. Published in 2010 by Anvil, it is “dedicated to the children who who lost their lives during the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng and to the children who survived.”

Source: http://humanfacebyceres.blogspot.com/

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[In the news] JOINT EDITORIAL | Take a stand, don’t cop out on FOI -InterAksyon.com

JOINT EDITORIAL | Take a stand, don’t cop out on FOI
By NUJP, KBP, PPI, PCIJ, CMFR
January 21, 2013

InterAksyon logo2The following is a joint editorial released by the the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Press Institute, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. InterAksyon.com endorses the call for the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill.

It is the season of elections and all political parties and candidates are wont to spin a slew of promises yet again in their drive for votes.

But before they start courting voters yet again, the first order of business is this: Political parties and candidates must deliver on a promise they’ve made in elections past by taking and making known their party and personal stand on the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

Read full article @interaksyon.com

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[From the web] A triumph for free expression and press freedom – CMFR

A triumph for free expression and press freedom
BY CMFR
January 31, 2012

STATEMENT OF THE FREEDOM FUND FOR FILIPINO JOURNALISTS (FFFJ) ON THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE’S VIEW THAT THE PHILIPPINE LIBEL LAW IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS (ICCPR)

 THE Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) hails as a triumph for free expression and press freedom the declaration by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), which was adopted during the 103rd session of the United Nations, that the provisions of the Philippines’ Revised Penal Code (RPC) penalizing libel as a criminal offense is “incompatible with Article 19, paragraph three of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)” to which the Philippines is a signatory.

Recalling its General Comment No. 34 that “state parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation” the UNHRC also recommended the decriminalization of libel in the Philippines, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has been urging for nearly two decades. It also recommended the review of the libel law, and urged the Philippine government to compensate Davao City broadcaster Alexander “Alex” Adonis for time served in prison.

Under the provisions of the RPC, libel is punishable with imprisonment, although some of those convicted of the offense have also been subjected to exorbitant fines running into millions of pesos. The possibility of being arrested and imprisoned even before conviction for libel has been used to silence critical journalists. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, for example, filed 11 libel suits against 46 journalists starting in 2006 in an attempt to stop press reporting on and criticism of his wife.

The UNHRC issued the declaration in response to a 2008 complaint filed by Adonis protesting his conviction and subsequent imprisonment for supposedly libeling then House Speaker Prospero Nograles when he reported over his radio program in 2006 that Nograles had run out of a hotel room without his clothes on when the husband of the woman he had supposedly spent the night with showed up. Adonis was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of five months to four years, but questioned the decision after he had served two years. Lawyer Harry Roque filed the complaint, with the CMFR and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) as Adonis’ co-signatories.

It is now up to the Philippine government to take the steps necessary to decriminalize libel and prevent similar occurrences, to cause the immediate dismissal of all pending cases of criminal libel, as well as to compensate Adonis and every other journalist who has been imprisoned under the provisions of the Philippine libel law. To hurry the process along, the FFFJ calls on all journalists’ and media advocacy groups as well as civil society organizations to campaign for the immediate adoption of the UNCHR recommendations, including the dropping of all pending criminal libel charges against journalists.

Founded in 2003 to stop the killing of journalists and to support journalists under threat, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) is a coalition of journalist and media advocacy groups Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Philippine Press Institute (PPI). CMFR is the FFFJ Secretariat.

Read full article @ www.cmfr-phil.org

[From the web] A long, sad search for SALNs « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

A long, sad search for SALNs « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
by Karol Ilgagan, PCIJ
January 12, 2012

 WHAT follows is an account of PCIJ’s correspondences with the Office of the Secretary General and the Records Management Service of the House of Representatives, which as discussed in PCIJ’s story yesterday denied the release of the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) and personal data sheet (PDS/CV) of the members of the 15th Congress.

The Office of the Secretary General is the repository agency of the SALNs of the members of the House of Representatives as provided in Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and the Civil Service Commission’s Resolution No. 060231.

Read full article @ pcij.org

[From the web] Excess of freedom, impunity; Deficit of ethics, self-criticism « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Excess of freedom, impunity; Deficit of ethics, self-criticism « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

by Malou Mangahas
December 12th, 2011, http://www.pcij.org

  THE PHILIPPINE media community, one of the freest and most rambunctious in all of Asia, is an incredible, hopefully not incorrigible, story of dissonant currents and practices.

For instance, while press freedom has broad and firm guarantees in law and jurisprudence in this country, the Philippines remains one of the deadliest places in the world for journalists, even as the executive and legislative branches have been slow to move on strategic reforms, including the Freedom of Information Act.

Reporters and editors also zealously guard and assert their freedom and resist all attempts by state authorities to restrict their trade, and yet self-regulation by professional and industry associations has always lacked vigor and constancy. Indeed, self-criticism of media by media remains scant and thus ineffectual, even as competition for sales, revenues, and audience share drives most editorial decisions of most gatekeepers.

Moreover, as much as journalists assert their independence from state authorities, and insist on the strict observance of the laws by political leaders, media managers have tended to ignore and neglect concerns of media rank and file about economic benefits, safety provisions for those assigned dangerous areas, and security of tenure for correspondents and stringers in the provinces.

Read full article @ pcij.org