Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Meet Faith Salazar,who represents a growing number of Filipinos relying on new media technologies and tools for news and information. GMANews.TV's Howie Severino and Inquirer Group's JV Rufino present their views about and prospects for journalism amid rapid changes in the media landscape.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Here are photos of some places in San Jose del Monte, taken a day after Ondoy's disastrous rains.
Maria Galope, mother of six and earns a living by cleaning used plastic in the river and sells it, lost her house after torrential rains swept it away.
The only things she were able to save were her old TV set, some clothes, and a few metal scraps (photo below). She hopes she can still sell them. "Even just for a coffee," she said.
Maria, a mother of six children, lost her house and belongings after tropical storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) swept her makeshift hut last Sept. 26. Ondoy’s massive rains overflowed the river near her hut in the town of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan province.
“Thank God we’re alive,” said a teary-eyed Maria. She does not know, however, how she will be able to rebuild her house or earn a living again. All their belongings, including her children’s schoolbooks and husband’s job application documents, were swept away by the river.
“Why would I stay near the river when I know that it can kill me and my family if a typhoon like Ondoy happens again?” Maria asked in Filipino. “But I cannot do anything because I need to earn a living for my family.” Maria earns P100 (about $2) by cleaning used plastic in the river and selling it.
Like the rest of the provinces in Luzon, Bulacan was not spared from Ondoy’s onslaught. According to local disaster officials, at least 38 people were killed in the province. Officials also said at least 2,835 families in Bulacan were affected by floods. The government placed Bulacan, nearby provinces, and Metro Manila under a state of calamity.
Drawing comparison with hurricane Katrina that battered the United States in 2005, Ondoy unleashed torrential rains in Metro Manila and provinces in Luzon.
As of 6 p.m, Sept. 27, at least 73 persons were killed and nearly 70,000 families were displaced due to the typhoon, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) officials. NDCC officials also said there have been 337,216 persons affected in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. More than 9,600 families took shelter in 101 evacuation sites in affected areas.
Ondoy is the worst typhoon that hit the country in history, according to Dr. Nathaniel Cruz, director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Ondoy, which officials say dumped the heaviest rainfall in Metro Manila in four decades, submerged hundreds of houses in Luzon and destroyed millions of properties.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
"The persistence of the killings has been attributed to a culture of impunity in which the killers and the masterminds have mostly evaded prosecution in a flawed justice system," FFFJ said in a statement released on the eve of this year's commemoration of the assassination of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. in 1983.
The FFFJ is an alliance of six media organizations—the Center for Community Journalism and Development, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Philippine Press Institute, and the US-based newspaper Philippine News—created to address the killing of journalists in the Philippines and to assist besieged journalists. It provides financial, legal and other support for prosecution of case and for the survivors of slain journalists, as well as for the witnesses in the killings. CMFR serves as the FFFJ Secretariat.
Journalists still being killed 26 years after Ninoy's death
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Aug. 20, 2009
THE PHILIPPINES marks the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino on August 21. Aquino’s assassination emboldened the anti-dictatorship resistance, and led to the ouster of the Marcos regime and his widow Corazon’s assuming the Presidency in 1986. Press freedom and other rights were officially restored during Aquino’s term of office. But 26 years later its full realization is still problematic as reflected in the continuing killing of journalists for their work.
The persistence of the killings has been attributed to a culture of impunity in which the killers and the masterminds have mostly evaded prosecution in a flawed justice system.
The successful prosecution of a criminal case, to which the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) and its member organizations are committed as part of their efforts to dismantle the culture of impunity, depends on several factors, the most basic of which is the arrest of the accused. There is no consolation in having a criminal case filed only to have the court order it archived prior to arraignment simply because the accused is at large. But it continues to happen.
Without the accused in court, there can be no arraignment. This stage of criminal proceedings in the Philippines requires informing the accused of the nature and cause of the charges, and the accused’s personally entering a plea. The rationale behind this rule is due process: the accused must know and understand the charges against him so that he may adequately prepare for his defense.
Click here for more.
The killings reflect how deep the roots of this rotten culture of impunity exists in the Philippines. As CMFR's Melanie Pinlac writes: "The continuing murder of Filipino journalists/media practitioners indicates how much the culture of impunity in the Philippines has flourished—one more result of the systemic weaknesses of the country’s justice system."
"In addition to the government’s lack of political will, inefficient law enforcement, prosecutors burdened with impossible case loads, the primitive state of forensic investigation, and the poorly-funded witness protection program are responsible for the culture of impunity," added Pinlac, who serves as the CMFR press alerts officer. She analyzed the culture of impunity and why a poor witness protection program contributes to the problem.
Impunity and Witness Protection: An Analysis
Source: Freedom Watch
Melanie Y. Pinlac
July 30, 2009
The continuing murder of Filipino journalists/media practitioners indicates how much the culture of impunity in the Philippines has flourished—one more result of the systemic weaknesses of the country’s justice system. In addition to the government’s lack of political will, inefficient law enforcement, prosecutors burdened with impossible case loads, the primitive state of forensic investigation, and the poorly-funded witness protection program are responsible for the culture of impunity.
The prosecution of criminal cases including media murders in the Philippines relies heavily, sometimes solely, on testimonial evidence rather than forensic evidence, the result of the rudimentary—and sometimes careless—processing and gathering of physical evidence by law enforcement agencies. Investigators, prosecutors and lawyers try to gather extensive and comprehensive testimonial evidence to make up for the lack of physical evidence, and their unreliability if available. The families and colleagues of slain journalists have also been burdened with the task of locating possible witnesses for the prosecution of the suspected killers of their kin.
In the murder case against the alleged killer of Davao-based broadcaster Fernando “Batman” Lintuan, the testimony of the lone witness, described by the court judge as “ridiculous and unbelievable”, contributed most to the dismissal of the case and the acquittal of the suspect last April 22. The prosecution had failed to present additional evidence to corroborate the testimony of its lone witness.
On Christmas eve almost two years ago (Dec. 24, 2007), Lintuan—a radio blocktimer based in Davao City—was shot to death by a lone assassin.
What happened in the Lintuan case was not unusual. Many other media murder cases, like the 2003 killing of another Davao City broadcaster, Juan “Jun” Pala, never even reached the courts because no witness dared to come forward.
Click here for more.
Shawn Crispin of the Committee to Protect Journalists, also writes about the state of the country's witness protection program and the troubles witnesses face when they come forward to help solve cases. Crispin, who is CPJ’s senior
Philippines Special Report: Under Oath, Under Threat
Committee to Protect Journalist
Shawn W. Crispin
August 18, 2009
When motorcycle-riding assailants shot and fatally wounded Dennis Cuesta along a busy, tree-lined highway here last year, friend and fellow Radio Mindanao Network reporter Bob Flores was walking by his side. Flores recalls Cuesta’s body being flung into his own as one gunman fired three times at close range. As Cuesta dropped to the side of the road, a second assailant fired twice more, inflicting head injuries that contributed to the 38-year-old journalist’s death five days later, on August 9, 2008.
In a twist familiar in journalist killings in the Philippines that allegedly involve wayward public officials, local police initially labeled Flores a suspect rather than a witness. “They said I was the No. 1 suspect in the crime,” Flores told CPJ, recounting what police told him in the immediate aftermath of the murder. “I knew then my life would never be the same.”
Click here for more.
Here's an overview of the CMFR database on the killing of Filipino journalists/media practitioners since 1986 (as of July 2009).
For an interactive map of the killings, please click here.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The British Embassy in Manila made a major booboo today when it sent journalists a press release stating that the UK Government is extending its condolences "following the death of President Corazon Aquino."
Here's what the embassy sent to journalists more than two hours ago:
UK Government extends condolences following the death of President Corazon
Following the news of Corazon Aquino's death Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown has extended the British Government's condolences to her family. Lord Brown, who worked closely with Mrs. Aquino during her election campaign said: "I received the news of Corazon Aquino's death with great sadness. As an advisor in her campaign against President Marcos, the privilege of working with Cory and watching her was one of my life's greatest lessons in courage, leadership, the art of politics and humanity. The way she and all her family made such friends of me as an outsider is something I have always treasured. On behalf of the British Government I extend our condolences to her family at this difficult time."
British Ambassador Peter Beckingham added: "I had the honour and pleasure of meeting former President Aquino on several occasions, when we were able to discuss her visits to London and her interests in members of the Filipino community in Britain, especially those serving in the Church. Those discussions left me with an overwhelming sense of her grace, charisma and compassion. The Philippines has lost a wonderful leader who is widely admired in Britain for her courage and inspiration."
Aquino, on the contrary, is still alive. Jiggy Cruz, Aquino's eldest grandson, has been tweeting that the former president is still alive. "(S)pending time with my Lola (grandmother). People, don't believe the rumor," Cruz tweeted earlier. Another tweet from Cruz, just a few minutes ago: "To all those concerned, please don't believe the rumors that are spreading..."
A few minutes after realizing its gaffe, the British embassy sent another email to journalists. In my opinion, the email sounded callous and less than sincere about the earlier release:
"Our deepest apologies, it appears the information we received was premature. Please embargo our statement until Pres. Aquino's passing has been confirmed. Thank you very much for your understanding."
Can't you just feel the love?
Okay, mistakes happen and I understand that the UK embassy realized that it had a made a mistake in sending the first release (although the embassy staff could have really waited for an official announcement on the issue, especially since we are talking about Pres. Aquino here--a global icon of democracy and a moral guiding light in this sorry country of ours). I also felt that the embassy officials were very sincere in their statements.
What irks me is the way they try to wangle themselves out of the situation by issuing the second email only to come across callous and insensitive.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Welcome to a dying industry, journalism grads
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The dean gave me some very strict instructions about what to say today. No whining and no crying at the podium. No wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth. Be upbeat, be optimistic, he said - adding that it wouldn't hurt to throw in a few tips about how to apply for food stamps.
So let's get the worst out of the way right up front: You are going to be trying to carve out a career in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. You are furthermore going to be trying to do so within what appears to be a dying industry. You have abundant skills and talents - it's just not clear that anyone wants to pay you for them.