Saturday, September 23, 2006

Press freedom in Thailand deteriorates

Press freedom in Thailand begins to erode.

Thai media situation deteriorating: Broadcasting regulated, Internet webmasters warned. Community radio stations shut down. Self-censorship on the rise -- SEAPA
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

The Internet is the latest medium under threat in military-ruled Thailand, as media conditions continue to deteriorate in the first days of the military takeover. The overall environment for the press is unstable, and is being undermined by the day.

Following restrictions placed on the broadcast media, the Information and Communication Technology Ministry has now warned webmasters that they would be held responsible for all postings on their sites. Webmasters have also been told to delete messages that could refer to the monarchy, and to ensure that postings would not disturb the peace.

Meanwhile, a website set up to encourage Thais to air their views about the pros and cons to the coup was shut down within 24 hours of its establishment. The Ministry pulled the plug on website http:// saying its contents ran contrary to the guidelines laid down by the Council for Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) (previously referred to as the Administrative Reform Council).

The CDRM was set up by the military following a bloodless coup against then caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawarta on 19 September.

Meanwhile, the Council maintains its strictest controls over the broadcasting sector. National broadcasting networks had been advised of guidelines for reporting on 21 September, and since then the authorities have shut down more than 300 community radio stations in the upper provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, where Thaksin has strong support.

While there are no guidelines specifically applying to the print media, and while journalists seem to still be enjoying freedom to move around Bangkok and to gather news and information, general media guidelines “urge” the press to refrain from “negative” reporting. SEAPA is concerned that the “request” is strong enough to trigger self-censorship among Thai media players. Websites known to be supportive of Thaksin, for example, are still accessible but their contents have shifted to merely featuring the latest news, indicating that its editors and webmasters have perhaps begun censoring themselves.

The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and Thai Journalists Association issued a joint statement on 21 September, urging the CDRM to respect freedom of expression. They also called upon the Council to ensure that the interim Constitution would maintain the previous Constitution’s articles 39, 40 and 41 which guarantee freedom of expression including freedom of the press.

Meanwhile, the Council has maintained the status of the Political Parties Act, allowing current political parties to exist, but banning new ones and political activities until further notice.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Attack against Baguio journalist

From the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines comes this alert:

freelance journalist survives attack

A woman journalist was attacked by a knife-wielding man while walking home at around 7:25 p.m. Sept. 19, along Barangay (village) Betag, La Trinidad town, Benguet (a province in northern Philippines).

According to a report submitted by the Baguio-Benguet chaper of the NUJP, the male attacker held the knife against the neck of Abigail Bengwayan, 25, a regular contributor of the Baguio-based newsweekly Northern Dispatch and a staff member of the militant group Cordillera Peoples Allliance (CPA).

The attacker was reportedly startled when his victim began screaming. Bengwayan described him as male, wearing a cap and a handkerchief to cover his face. She said he locked her arms and held a knife to her neck. She also said there was another man whom she believed served as lookout for the assailant.

Bengwayan is a graduate of the University of the Philippines and daughter of Dr. Michael Bengwayan, a widely acclaimed and prominent professor, activist and journalist.

The attack was reported to the La Trinidad Police Office by the victim aided by her lawyer and officemates who promptly responded to the incident.

Bengwayan, also a regional council member of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) Baguioand Benguet chapter, said she did not notice anyone tailing her. "Petty crime or not, work-related or not, authorities must be on their toes in looking for the perpetrator," the NUJP-Baguio Benguet said in a statement. There must be an end to these senseless killings, it added.

Ka Satur's online adventure -- an update

Just an update to my earlier chat session with Satur Ocampo.

Aside from editor Joey Alarilla, another journalist present in the session was Erwin Oliva, who also posted about the event in the site.

"His right to freely express himself as a journalist and a Filipino citizen was curtailed 34 years ago when Martial Law was declared," Oliva began his report. "But on Thursday, House of Representatives Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna (People First) Representative Satur Ocampo was in front of an Apple laptop computer, leading his first Internet-based chat and press conference. Ocampo led the conference held with several members of the local and international media, constituents and guests who included New York-based Filipino feminist and writer Ninotchka Rosca."

Read his story posted in the here. He also wrote about it (and mentioned this site) in his personal blog.

Bayan Muna media officer Tonyo also wrote about the event. Check his post here. Tonyo, we should do more press conferences like this.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thai media under threat

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) warns that freedom of expression and media in Thailand is under threat after the military behind the September 19 coup has started moves to control the media, especially on news and opinion against the coup.

Military asserts rules for Thai media following coup, silences dissenting voices, arrests demonstrators
Source: Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Two days into the peaceful military takeover in Thailand, freedom of expression and the media is under threat as the interim Administrative Reform Council moves to isolate deposed caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and clamps down on expressions against the coup.

Foreign and local journalists still enjoy unrestricted movement, and the Internet seems to be left untouched by the military. However, local English broadsheet "The Nation" reports that the Council on 20 September empowered the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to censor reports that are deemed conflicting to its interests.

The same day, international satellite-transmitted news services CNN and BBC were censored when the news programme featured background information on Thaksin. The screen went black before resuming, presumably after the Thaksin feature was finished.

On 21 September, an interview with the Council on a local television channel was cut short when reporters asked about Thaksin.

The Nation reports that the Council has ordered broadcast executives not to air public opinion that would undermine its efforts to "reform" political governance in the country. The army owns the country's airwaves and all broadcast networks are essentially government operations. Troops have been positioned outside all stations since the coup, ostensibly to "protect and provide security".

Community radio stations in Chiang Mai that broadcast public opinion will be shut down, added "The Nation". It quotes Major General Sup-aksorn Sangprakul, commander of the 22rd Sub-Regional Command, saying, "The right to operate community radio stations was recognised by article 40 of the Constitution, but the Constitution was revoked by the third announcement of the council."

Wire service AFP says media heads have been ordered not to publish viewers' text messages in a ticker at the bottom of the television screen, as had been featured in some local programmes.

The AFP report quotes an unnamed army official saying that in an afternoon meeting on 21 September, "the army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin…will ask all media to stop broadcasting text messages from viewers, and to stop running other expressions of public opinion."

The Council has meanwhile banned political gatherings of five or more people, imposing a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to 10,000 baht, or both. "The Nation" reports the arrest of democracy activists on 20 September who were demonstrating against the coup. Those arrested include former members of Parliament Chalard Vorachat and Thawee Kraikupt.

Satur Ocampo goes online chatting

Earlier today, I was in a very interesting and lively online press conference remembering the 34th anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines. It was my first time to be in an online press conference – and I’m glad that it happened today, when we are commemorating the infamous Proclamation 1081 issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on this date 34 years ago.

On September 21, 1972, former president Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law. Even though he officially lifted January 17, 1981, the former dictator continued to rule the country until People Power 1 toppled him from power in 1986.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna (People First) party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo was the guest in the conference, a good choice for the occasion. “Ka Satur” (as he is more popularly known) was a political activist and communist rebel during the Marcos dictatorship. According to his profile in Bayan Muna’s website, he was among the revolutionaries who founded the National Democratic Front in 1973, which “sought to unite various anti-dictatorship forces.” This former journalist was later arrested by the dictatorship, tortured and detained for the next nine years. He was able to escape in 1985 and rejoined the underground revolutionary movement.

Ka Satur was also the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front during the 1986 peace talks between the government and the group. Today’s event was his first online press conference.

Ka Satur is glad that technology has now allowed him and others to express their feelings, something which was not available during Martial Law. “The feeling is great that we have a medium through which we can communicate freely and fast,” he said. Since the mainstream press during the dictatorship was curtailed and regulated, he and his other fellow activists “took recourse to an alternative underground press to assert our freedom of expression.”

“I welcome this new medium,” Ka Satur added, “since it affords me a chance to reach others I may not normally be able to reach.” Technology, according to him, has made it easier and faster for him to communicate with constituents, allies, and friends here and abroad.

Although he acknowledged the role new technologies play in helping him and others to communicate faster and easier to the public, Ka Satur also said that the mainstream media has become more accessible to the Left. “The tit-for-tat with our political adversaries,” Ka Satur explained, “is livelier with the wider media coverage.”

He also talked other issues as well, among them, the possibility of having a military takeover in the Philippines after what happened to Thailand. According to Ka Satur, the Philippines has a different political dynamics and historical experience from Thailand. “But what must be noted that the problems that plagued Thaksin were the same as those that beleaguered Gloria M. Arroyo – issue of legitimacy, corruption, political repression.” He added however that a military resolution of these issues is not the way, adding that the military played a big role in Arroyo’s sins against the people.

He also reacted to the non-appearance of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan before the Melo Commission. Dubbed by the leftists as “Berdugo ng Mindoro,” Palparan was accused of being behind the killings of numerous political activists in the country.

“Palaparan’s non-appearance before the Melo commission may reflect a hesitation on his part about his status,” Ka Satur said. “Is he now a private citizen called to account for misdeeds as military offficer, or is he waiting for that promised new position in the government which he can continue to use as cover for his irresponsible statements that both the AFP and the President encouraged him to make against his perceived ‘enemies of the state’?”

When I asked him if People Power can really still be considered an option given the fact that most Filipinos seemed to have become weary of it, he said: “People power remains a possibility, given the unresolved political, economic and social crisis. I do not share the view that the people have grown weary of protest actions.”

Added Ka Satur: “We just have to work harder in mobilizing the people against the continuing acts of repression, including political killings, attributable to those in power.”

He was also asked if he’s running for senator in next year’s elections. “The encouragement for me to run for senator has persisted since my first term in the House” including offers of campaign funds, he said. “However, I am personally inclined not to run, especially because of the high cost of campaigning that my party and I cannot afford.”

Ka Satur also said that Bayan Muna is against the charter change plan led by Arroyo and House Speaker Jose de Venecia. “As per the plan the shift to a unicameral parliament will not solve the bane of traditional politics – the dominance of political dynasties and political parties that are mere cliques of trapos,” he said.

The last question came from respected Filipina writer Ninotchka Rosca, who is based in the United States. She asked what Filipinos who are abroad can do regarding the alleged political repression in the country. According to Ka Satur, the condemnation and pressure from abroad has prodded Arroyo to act on the killings. That shows that the Filipinos’ presence and vigilance abroad has spurred the pressure on the Philippine government to “take a decisive step to stop the killings.”

Joey Alarilla, a contributing editor for, was among the journalists who had attended the conference. Like what he had written in his blog, I also think that the conference showed that technology can help political leaders reach out to their constituents. “What makes this online press conference particularly significant is that it’s another example of how technology can be used to encourage political discourse and safeguard freedom of expression,” Alarilla wrote. “It’s particularly apt considering that Martial Law” sought to curtail these freedoms.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, in an article I wrote for the May 2006 issue of the PJR Reports about a recent Manila conference on free expression in cyberspace, I noted the attempts to stifle free expression in Asian cyberspace, even here in the Philippines.

“There is a new arena in the fight for freedom of expression,” I wrote. “This is cyberspace, a new zone where a conflict rages between those who promote free expression and those who seek to restrict it.” For my article “Governments seek to control ‘citizen media’: Cyberspace: The new combat zone,” click here.

Ka Satur’s press conference was said to be the first in a series of online press conferences by, a Philippine portal. Thanks to Bayan Muna media officer Tonyo for inviting me to the press conference. Many thanks to colleagues Venus and Don for “helping” me in the chat.

Ka Satur's photo from The screenshot of the chat earlier came from Alarilla's blog.


Saying that the press situation in Thailand remains unstable and unpredictable following a military coup against Thaksin Shinawatra, the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) came out with a statement yesterday, calling for vigilance.

SEAPA: Vigilance needed to protect Thai media, as coup renders environment unstable and unpredictable

BANGKOK -- Press freedom and access to information in Thailand following a military coup against caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appears to be normalizing one day into the military takeover, but an interruption in news flow on local and cable channels in the first hours of the putsch, and the military's assertion of ownership over the airwaves, underscore an unstable and unpredictable environment for the press.

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance calls for vigilance.

On 19 September 2006, the Thai military staged a peaceful coup d'etat while Thaksin was abroad for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

International satellite-transmitted news service providers CNN and BBC were the first to break the story at around 10pm. CNN broadcast live footage of military vehicles on Bangkok roads and stationing themselves around the Government House, where the premier's office is situated.

CNN also aired Thaksin's brief counter-coup statement and interview with his deputy Surakiart Sathirathai who had accompanied him to the UN meeting. However, a couple of hours later, signals from CNN and BBC, and later CNBC and CCTV, were totally blocked in Thailand after the army seized control of the country's satellite operations unit under Shin Sat, the company once owned by Thaksin.

The Administrative Reform Council formed by the coup leaders also took over the programming of most TV and radio stations, playing royalist songs with occasional interruptions in the form of updates of the situation as well as reassurances for the people.

The Council quickly said the situation was temporary. By 9AM on 20 September, all broadcasting programmes had resumed with the provisional authority's green light. However, they were told to expect interruptions when there is a new announcement from the Council.

Access to local news websites is also back to normal following last night's jammed situation due to a sudden surge in people trying to access the Internet for information.

As far as SEAPA has been able to gather, foreign and local journalists in Thailand have been free to report on the latest development. Newspaper operations are running without interference and at their usual output. There has been no attempt to block the press from covering the latest development, nor instructions to the media on what to report.

Still, SEAPA stresses that the overall situation in Thailand remains abnormal, and therefore unstable, especially for sensitive sectors like the media. The "normalizing situation" continues only at the tolerance of the ruling council. The broadcasting sector in particular remains vulnerable, as the army still owns the country's airwaves, and all broadcast networks are essentially government operations. In addition, the army has stationed its troops at all TV stations since the coup.

In this light, SEAPA says there is likely to be more threats to press freedom as the ruling council moves to gain and maintain an upper hand in a likely media war against Thaksin. There are reports, for example, that the head of Mass Communication Orgainisation of Thailand (MCOT), which controls Channel 9, was detained for interrogation for ordering the broadcast of Thaksin's counter coup speech on that channel. Also, controversial new media outfits recently propped up by Thaksin supporters, including websites and one satellite TV channel, are said to be bracing themselves for a targeted clampdown.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reactions to Thailand's crisis

Reactions to the military coup in Bangkok last night are starting to come in. Freedom House, a pro-freedom and democracy group based in the United States, quickly condemned the coup, calling for "a speedy return to constitutional rule."

Here is the group's statement:

Freedom House Condemns Thai Coup; Country Briefing Information Available

Freedom House denounces today’s coup in Thailand, which overthrew the ruling prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Thailand has ipso facto ceased to be a democracy. No matter the rationale -- and the restoration of democracy and the end of corruption are frequently cited as justification for coups the world over -- no group that gains power through a coup can be accepted as legitimate by democratic governments.

Thailand has had a long history of military interruptions of civilian rule, although beginning in 1998, progress in political rights and civil liberties had merited it a Free rating in Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World. However, in the most recent survey, Thailand was downgraded to Partly Free, due to the growing restrictions on freedom under the rule of Prime Minister Thaksin.

Along with friends of Thailand everywhere, Freedom House hopes for a speedy return to constitutional rule. Freedom House urges the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, to use his good offices to facilitate the quick return of a democratically elected government in Thailand.

Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has monitored political rights and civil liberties in Thailand since 1972.

More information on political rights and civil liberties in Thailand can be found at:

Freedom in the World 2006

Countries at the Crossroads 2005

Is the Philippines next?

I don't think President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would like this latest political twist in Thailand. This happened just last night.

Thai PM office seized by forces loyal to sacked army chief

BANGKOK (AFP) - Forces loyal to sacked Thai military commander Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin seized the prime minister's office in Bangkok, witnesses said as tanks and heavily armed soldiers were seen in the streets of Bangkok. Amid rumors of an apparent coup, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was quoted earlier by local television as saying Bangkok was now under a state of emergency, and that Sonthi would be replaced by another military commander.

Read more here. For Yahoo's complete coverage of Thailand, click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chilling news

Journalists should really go to CJR Daily if they want to improve in their reportage. Here's a recent report from the site, noting the lapses by the US media in the coverage of the melting Arctic ice. After reading the story, I wonder: How do Filipino journalists fare in science reporting? Or do even journalists know that there's such thing as science journalism?

A Reporting Error Frozen in Time?

Curtis Brainard

"Science writers often face the same technical difficulty as foreign correspondents -- their sources speak a different language. In the case of the former, this is a metaphorical challenge, and in the latter, a literal one, but the consequence is the same. Sometimes the finer points of a story get lost in translation. That was the case in recent coverage of melting Arctic ice, where one misinterpreted point made some already bad news look even worse."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland announced last Wednesday the results of a new study shedding further light on the retreat of Arctic sea ice, a subject of serious concern for some years now. Every summer Arctic sea ice melts, and refreezes during the winter. The amount that melts every year has been increasing since scientists began collecting satellite data nearly three decades ago -- a worrisome phenomenon that many experts attribute to global warming. But once the hot months are past, ice coverage has seemed to return to normal.

Not so, according to NASA's new study, which paints a bleaker picture. According to a report by Goddard's Dr. Josefino Comiso, to be published soon in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the amount of sea water that refreezes each winter in also on the decline. Furthermore, he says, the period from when ice begins to thaw in the spring to when water begins to freeze in the fall, is growing longer. The overall effect is that the geographical extent of sea ice has failed to return to normal during the last two winters.

Unfortunately, this was not quite the information disseminated by the Associated Press and The San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. As disquieting as Comiso's new data may be, these two news organizations sounded an even more horrific, though false, alarm. Rather than explaining that Arctic sea ice is not returning to normal levels, both claimed in their lead paragraphs that it is actually melting during the winter as well as during the summer.

"That's a fallacy," Dr. Comiso said when asked about the articles. With sub-zero temperatures during winter months, "there's no way that Arctic sea ice could be melting during this time period."

The bulk of the AP and Chronicle dispatches are true to the scientific research and accurately recount the risks associated with sea ice melt, including global warming feedback effects and threats to the polar bear population. But the errors committed by authors Seth Borenstein (AP) and Jane Kay (Chronicle) are conspicuous in the opening sentences. The Chronicle also printed the mistake in the story's headline.

Other media accounts were more accurate. Kudos go to Marc Kaufman at The Washington Post and Mike Toner at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for their spot-on reporting.

Read more here.

Mike Arroyo's libel spree

President's husband suing 42 journalists for defamation in the Philippines -- IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked by reports at least 42 journalists are currently facing libel charges filed by Juan Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, the husband of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo.

According to information release by IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the president's husband has sued 42 journalists, publishers, and editors from seven media companies in the last two years.

"These figures are outrageous," IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

"It is deeply concerning that the husband of the president, a man of considerable influence and power, can try and hinder free speech by suing journalists into submission," Warren said.

These figures were released after July's unbelievable conviction of Abante Tonite columnist and TV broadcaster Raffy Tulfo to 32 years prison and a Php14.7million (US$285,000) fine, on 14 counts of libel arising from several articles written nearly 10 years ago on a customs officer.

"President Arroyo has a responsibility to her people to decriminalise defamation immediately, and ensure that journalists cannot be subject to such horrendous jail terms and ludicrous fines," Warren said.

The NUJP is holding a roundtable discussion on defamation and the media, on Thursday September 21 9am-12pm (local time) at the Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fallaci, 76

One of the legendary names in journalism and a great political interviewer, Oriana Fallaci, has just died. She was 76.

She will be missed.

Veteran Journalist Oriana Fallaci Dies

Oriana Fallaci, a veteran journalist and author who challenged world leaders in uncompromising interviews and recently drew criticism for her vehement attacks on Islam, has died at 76, officials said Friday.

Fallaci, who was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, died overnight in a private clinic in Florence, said Paolo Klun, an official with the RCS publishing group, which carried Fallaci's work. Klun said Fallaci, who lived in New York, had come back to her hometown days ago as her condition worsened.

Fallaci had publicly talked of her battle against cancer, calling the disease "the alien."

A Florence native and former Resistance fighter, Fallaci started her career in journalism as a teenager.

She worked for two decades with L'Europeo, a now defunct news weekly that used to be among Italy's more prominent. Her work was often translated and published in the world's most prestigious publications.

As a war correspondent, Fallaci traveled the world covering hotspots, including the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. In 1968, she was shot as she was covering an army massacre of student protesters in Mexico.

But it was her challenging interviews with world leaders that best defined her work and personality, including with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Fallaci's questioning was abrasive and provocative, her writing style impetuous.

"Fallaci's manner of interviewing was deliberately unsettling: she approached each encounter with studied aggressiveness, made frequent nods to European existentialism (she often disarmed her subjects with bald questions about death, God, and pity), and displayed a sinuous, crafty intelligence," The New Yorker wrote in a profile on her this year entitled "The Agitator."

Read more here. Fallaci's photo taken from this site.

Question: What is Mike Arroyo's favorite hobby?

Answer: It's filing libel charges against journalists.

Mike, as my colleague Don had said, should be called a prolific "libeler."

It's really hard to be a journalist in the Philippines these days. After all, tt's not exactly a financially rewarding job. Worse, you have accept the reality that as a journalist here in the country that supposedly has the freest freedom in the region, dodging bullets and facing libel suits are a normal part of your work routine.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) will hold a roundtable discussion on the libel charges filed by Arroyo against journalists, which at present, are more than 40 already. It will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21, 9 am - 12 pm, at the Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. NUJP also invited lawyers and academe leaders to discuss the issue.

"This situation highlights the predicament of journalists who risk imprisonment when reporting on controversial issues, particularly those involving powerful individuals," the NUJP wrote in a statement.

The group added: "It also highlights the need for the decriminalization of libel to allow greater room for open debate and public discussion of socially-relevant issues. Decriminalization of libel will strengthen the safeguards on free speech and expression and promote free flow of information – ingredients necessary in a democracy which we claim to enjoy."

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), which has been monitoring attacks against and threats to press freedom in the Philippines since 1991, is going to participate in this roundtable discussion.

The PJR Reports (and its predecessor the Philippine Journalism Review or PJR) has been monitoring the issue of libel and the cases filed against media organizations and journalists since it was established in 1990. It even devoted an issue on libel back in 1993, when the then PJR reported on a CMFR roundtable discussion on libel that year.

Below is NUJP's list of journalists charged with libel by Mike Arroyo:

Newsbreak ("More Properties", Dec. 8, 2005 issue)

1. Marites Vitug (editor-in-chief)
2. Glenda Gloria (associate editor)
3. Ricky Carandang (business editor)
4. R. E. Otico (editorial consultant)
5. Jose Dalisay Jr. (editorial consultant)
6. Booma Cruz (contributing editor) who also serves as the copy editor of the PJR Reports

Newsbreak ("Will she now change?", June 7, 2004 issue)

7. Concepcion Paez (contributing writer)

Malaya ("Poe's Camp says Mike is Chief Cheating Operator", May 19, 2004)

8. JP Lopez (reporter)
9. Regina Bengco (reporter)
10. Amado Macasaet (editor-in-chief)
11. Enrique Romualdez (editor)
12. Joy de los Reyes (editor)
13. Ma. Teresa Molina (editor)
14. Minnie Advincula (editor)
15. Ellen Tordesillas (editor)

Malaya ("First Couple's idea of charity," July 9, 2004, Business Insight column by Macasaet)

16. Rosario Galang (business editor)
+ Amado Macasaet (publisher)

Philippine Daily Inquirer (14 counts, Tulfo's column "On Target" that appeared on Jan. 14, 17 and 26; March 9 and 23; May 23, June 17 and August 3, 2006)

17. Ramon Tulfo (columnist)
18. Isagani Yambot (publisher)
19. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc (editor-in-chief)
20. Jose Ma. Nolasco (editor)
21. Abelardo Ulanday (editor)
22. Rosario Garcellano (editor)
23. Artemio Engracia Jr. (editor)
24. Jorge Aruta (editor)
25. Pergentino Bandayrel Jr. (editor)
26. Juan Sarmiento (editor)

Bandera (six counts, Tulfo's column "On Target" that appeared on Jan. 26, May 23 and 27, June 6,8 and 17)

27. Eileen Mangubat (publisher)
28. Beting Laygo Dolor (editor-in-chief)
29. Jimmy Alcantara (associate editor)
30. Raymond Rivera (circulation manager)

The Daily Tribune (stories where Tatad was quoted as saying Arroyo was his wife's "chief cheater", May 14, 16, 17 and 18, 2004)

31. Ninez Cacho-Olivares (editor-in-chief)
32. Romulo Mariñas (editor)
33. Gina Capili-Inciong (editor)
34. Jake Martin (editor)
35. Marvin Estigoy (editor)
36. Gerry Baldo (reporter)
37. Sherwin Olaes (reporter)
38. Lito Tugadi (circulation manager)
39. Jing Santos (subscription manager)

(For accusing Mike Arroyo of influencing RPN-9 network to axe "Isumbong Mo , Tulfo Brothers during a press conference in QC on August 2)

40. Erwin Tulfo
41. Raffy Tulfo
+ Ramon Tulfo ("How to Solve A Problem like Mike Arroyo", July 5, 2004, High Ground column)

42. William Esposo

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The cheap Philippine press

The Malaysian news agency Bernama reports what has been a long problem of the media community here in the Philippines. In fact, this problem has been featured several times in the Philippine Journalism Review/PJR Reports.

In one issue that tackled the low salaries of journalists in the country, former PJR Reports reporter Roselle B. Miranda noted:

"The low salaries Philippine newspapers pay their employees including their reporters are legendary. Many Philippine journalists have the perennial problem of earning enough money to make ends meet. This often leads them to go into various money-making sidelines to augment their incomes."

For her article in the July-September 2000 issue of the then Philippine Journalism Review "Journalists still believe they're underpaid," Miranda looked at the status of journalists' salary scales in several newspapers. She also interviewed newspaper sources to provide her additional information on journalists' salaries and benefits.

"The situation of journalists as far as wages are concerned has not changed much over the passing of time and the growth of the inflation rate," Miranda wrote. "The salaries and benefits journalists receive today have improved, but journalists still believe that they should receive more for their work."

"As if to corroborate that conviction, corruption -- one alternative for the underpaid -- is rampant in the press and is one of its major problems."

Another pressing problem of media in the country -- the lack of public uproar over the unabated media murders -- can also be linked with the low salaries journalists get as a result of corruption in the corruption. Many practitioners, especially those who are paid very little, see nothing wrong to be on the take or under the payroll of a certain official or businessman. For them, it is just a way of living -- not thinking that this undermines the integrity and credibility of the profession.

As a result, people look down at journalists whom they know or perceive as corrupt. Unfortunately, they begin to regard the whole media community as corrupt or can easily be bought. I think this thinking is partly a reason why there is lack of public uproar over the killings. "He's corrupt anyway," I hear some people (and even some journalists) say when a journalist gets killed, whether in the line of duty or not.

Philippines' Media Workers Moan Low Pay, Poor Working Conditions

Low pay and poor working conditions remain the chronic complaints among media workers in the Philippines.

A report by the country's National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU) (First time I heard this group by the way -- Bryanton Post) said the rising cost of living and lack of basic social welfare had hampered the workers' ability to live a decent life as collective bargaining agreements could barely alleviate their problems.

"The starting salaries of reporters in major newspapers range from 4,500 pesos to 7,000 pesos (RM328 to RM510) a month -- the same as that of drivers employed by middle class families," it added.

(RM1is equivalent to about 13.71 pesos)

The report was presented at the Union Network International's Media, Entertainment and Arts sector (UNI-MEI) Conference of Media and Entertainment Organisations in Asean here.

According to the report, last year the average monthly salary for workers in motion picture, radio and television was at 10,717 pesos (RM780), while news agency workers were the highest paid at the average of 94,458 pesos (RM6,881) per month.

Unlike in other Asian countries where the governments provided social programmes such as educational subsidies, price regulations and labour protection policies, the Philippines had none of such.

"The media industry reflects the liberalised, free-market economic system of the country and inherits the social ills of this system.

"While the Philippines prides in having a broad freedom of the press such as being able to criticise the government, it also ranks high among countries with the most number of journalists killed in the line of duty.

"The Philippines is now categorised as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and media persons to work in, second only to Iraq," the report said.

Since 1986, more than 40 journalists have been killed in the Philippines.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What you don't know about your Nokia phone; and some from Super Inday and the Golden Bibe and Doraemon

Got this from email. I'm posting this for whatever it's worth. Only for Nokia users.

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

1. The Emergency Number worldwide for mobile numbers is 112. If you find yourself out of coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

Try it out.

2. Have you locked your keys in the car? Does you car have remote keys? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone:

If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the personat your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away,and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

3. Hidden Battery power. Imagine your cell battery is very low , you are expecting an important call and you don't have a charger. Nokia instrument comes with a reserve battery. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.

4. How to disable a stolen mobile phone? To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #

A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.

You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

I am ending this post with two text messages from two of my friends and regular textpals. Enjoy.

The classic line of battered martyr spouses

From Rc:

"Ang mga pasa at bukol na ito ay ebidensiya ng kanyang marubdob na pag-ibig. Kapag hindi niya na ako sinasaktan ibig sabihin hindi niya na ako mahal. At iyon ang aking ikamamatay."
- Nova Villa, Super Inday and the Golden Bibe

Doraemon as Confucius

"Mali ang ginawa mo. Kahit kaya mong gawin ang isang bagay, hindi nangangahulugan na dapat mo itong gawin."
- Doraemon to Nobita

Shooting the messenger?

Has the government completely set its eyes on the media? Shooting the messenger would never solve the problems in this country.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines recently came out with this statement.

NUJP on Mike Arroyo's libel suits and Gonzalez's order to investigate Arlyn de la Cruz

The shotgun libel suits filed by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo against the Tulfo brothers and practically the entire editorial staff of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Bandera, and the order of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to the National Bureau of Investigation to determine any possible criminal liability Arlyn de la Cruz may bear for her article on the "security test" conducted by an anti-terrorism expert, prove that it is not just bullets and threats journalists have to contend with in the continuing struggle to bring the truth as best as they can to the people.

Indeed, libel suits have had a long and ignominious history of being used in this country by those who seek to prevent the press from delving into and exposing their dark deeds.

As the International Federation of Journalists so aptly pointed out, the resort to libel cases has gone "out of control," not only by the outrageous claims plaintiffs often lodge but, even more so, by who file them.

In fact, the IFJ has held up Mr. Arroyo and his propensity for filing libel suits against those he does not agree with as the epitome of what it described as "attempts to control and censor what journalists are able to report on, by manipulating outdated laws" in a "deliberate attempt to
undermine press freedom in the Philippines."

We do not begrudge Mr. Arroyo's plaint that he is only out to defend his rights. But, we ask, since when have the Philippine media ever begrudged him or anyone in his position of awesome power and influence the right to respond to allegations he deems undeserved?

And lest we forget, is this not the same Mr. Arroyo who, while seeking to ingratiate himself with one of the country's oldest press clubs, practically justified the murders of journalists by lashing out at media "irresponsibility" and held up the case of Klein Cantoneros as an example of what supposed miscreants in our ranks stood to reap even as our colleague was still vainly fighting for his life?

But then again, can we, should we, expect any better from a dispensation whose justice department is headed by someone whose idea of responding to unwelcome news – particularly of official ineptness and malfeasance – is to shoot the messenger?

(Arlyn de la Cruz's photo from

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How did 9/11 change the news?

This is one amazing report. I wish similar studies could also be done here in the Philippines.

How 9-11 Changed the Evening News

Looking back five years later, how did 9-11 change the news?

If the network evening news is any proxy, the attacks of September 11th 2001 in Washington and New York and the wars that resulted have led to increased coverage of foreign policy and global conflict on the network evening news, but less coverage of domestic issues, according to data from ADT Research’s Tyndall Report, which monitors those newscasts.

The mix of traditional hard news and feature of lifestyle coverage, meanwhile, has remained virtually the same on the evening newscasts.

Those are the findings drawn from examining the four years of network newscasts prior to 2001 (1997 to 2000) and the four years since (2002 through 2005) according to data generated for the Project for Excellence in Journalism by ADT Research, which publishes the Tyndall Report.

The number of minutes devoted to coverage of foreign policy was up 102%, according to ADT's data. Coverage of armed conflict rose 69%. Coverage of terrorism rose 135%.

At the same time, there has been a serious decline in reporting about domestic issues. Coverage of crime and law enforcement dropped by half (47%). Science and technology coverage fell by half (50%). Coverage of issues involving alcohol, tobacco and drugs dropped 66%.

A rise in foreign coverage may not surprise anyone. U.S. troops are currently fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The issue of global terrorism is the new question of our times. It may dictate the outcome of the 2006 midterm elections and define the Bush presidency.

What is less obvious is the effect of the shift in coverage on the overall tone of the newscast. For instance, the balance between reporting-driven “hard news” and softer features, interviews, and commentaries remained virtually unchanged after 9-11. The newscast minutes devoted to hard news increased by a mere 2 % in the years after the attacks while the airtime given to softer coverage decreased by only 5 %.

Tyndall Report publisher Andrew Tyndall says his work -- which monitored the ABC, CBS and NBC weeknight newscasts -- suggests that it is events, rather than the journalists who cover them, that determine news content. “The big lesson is that we overstate the influence journalists have on the news agenda,” he says.

Still, the network newscasts are a zero sum game, meaning that for every battleground or terror threat generating coverage, there is another story, in many cases a domestic one, going unreported.

Following a period in which news organizations cut back on foreign bureaus and de-emphasized geopolitical coverage, the events of 9-11 have reinforced the old Cold War truism that the first responsibility of the nightly newscast is to determine whether our world is safe that day. The jump in minutes devoted to coverage of foreign policy, armed conflicts, and terrorism appears to be in sync with the concerns of citizens as measured in a Sept. 6 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll. In that survey, 51% of the respondents said the 9-11 attacks changed life in America in a major way and 82% considered the assault on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as serious as or more serious than the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the US into World War II.

Tyndall accounts for some of this focus toward war and terror by arguing that Al Qaeda makes a more menacing and compelling national threat than crack cocaine or urban murder rates. Although subjects such as drugs and crime were the traditional ways of making people frightened, they are easily trumped by terrorism, he says.

The apparent determination, however, to continue to showcase feature-style coverage even in times of war and terror was obvious on Katie Couric’s much-anticipated Sept. 5 debut as CBS anchor. After leading with a disquieting story about the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the broadcast moved to an interview with columnist Tom Friedman, the first pictures of baby Suri Cruise, a soapbox-style speech by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and a heart-warming story about Nicaraguan orphans.

See more here.

The journalist as an OFW

"Sheila Coronel becomes an OFW. She will be terribly missed."

That is what Manolo Quezon had written in his blog about Sheila Coronel's new post at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, where she will also be the inaugural director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Ma'am Sheila has been the executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) for 16 years.

"I leave PCIJ with sadness. After all, some of my best, most productive and most exciting years as a journalist were spent at the Center," Ma'am Sheila posted in the PCIJ blog. "In 1989, the PCIJ started out with second-hand equipment and a borrowed office. In its first year, none of its staff was paid, except for a secretary. Since then, the PCIJ has grown to be, modesty aside, the premier investigative reporting institution in Asia. Its work is widely recognized and its reporting has made an impact on politics and public policy in the Philippines. It is also a model investigative reporting center that has inspired similar initiatives in places like Nepal and Indonesia."

Read her post here.

Congratulations and good luck, Ma'am Sheila.

More Americans "Gulf Wars Episode II" star for 9/11

With the US congressional elections just a few months away, I really wonder how Dubya's Republican party is feeling right now. (Photo at left from this site)

From the CNN website comes this report:

Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11

The percentage of Americans who blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington has risen from almost a third to almost half over the past four years, a CNN poll released Monday found.

Asked whether they blame the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

But the Clinton administration did not get off lightly either. The latest poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, found that 41 percent of respondents blamed his administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the attacks. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)

That's only slightly less than the 45 percent who blamed his administration in a poll carried out less than a week after the attacks.

Before 9/11, there was Marcos

The Filipino Librarian is right. "Before September 11 was hijacked and became 9/11," he wrote, "the day was better known to Filipinos as the birthday of Ferdinand Marcos, former President of the Philippines."

Saying that "there is a lot that has already been written about Marcos—and there's probably a lot more that will never be written," the Filipino Librarian focused on Marcos's inaugural address on December 30 1965. He pointed out that he talked about "a young patriot... (who) fell from a tyrant’s bullet and out of the martyr’s blood that flowed copiously there sprang a new nation." He was referring to Jose Rizal and the birth of the first Philippine republic, according to the Filipino Librarian. "But he may as well have been predicting the death of Ninoy Aquino and the end of his dictatorship, too."

In his speech "To be Great Again," Marcos said: "... Armed with nothing but raw courage and passionate intelligence and patriotism, our predecessors built the noble edifice of the First Asian Republic." He added: "Today the challenge is less dramatic but no less urgent. We must repeat the feat of our forebears in a more commonplace sphere, away from the bloody turmoil of heroic adventure – by hastening our social and economic transformation. For today, the Filipino, it seems, has lost his soul, his dignity and his courage."

"This nation," he then said, "can be great again."

Read more here. Interesting insight, I must say.

Marcos's September connection was also discussed by former PJR Reports editor Luis V. Teodoro in the October 2002 of PJR Reports (then known as the Philippine Journalism Review).

"The rest of the world may attach a different significance to it nowadays," Teodoro wrote in his article "Following the Leader," "But September 11 has been a significant date for Filipinos since 1972."

"The year marked the declaration of martial law, the first open attempt to place the country under a dictatorship," he added. "That declaration also happened in September -- on the 21st, or ten days afdter the 55th birthday of the one man in Philippine history whose name is indissolubly linked with it, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos."

Describing Marcos's one-man rule a "catastrophe worse than a combination of natural disasters", his one-man rule also set "democratization back by at least 20 years, reversing a process in which political participation was visibly widening in the early 1970s."

He said that what was a chilling possibility then in 2002, was that "the political and military centers of power in the Philippines, rather than departing from (Marcos's) example, have discovered something eminently worse than that the law can be sued to suppress the Bill of Rights."

Teodoro ended his article by saying: "It is that they can ignore the law, with few being either the wiser or being overly concerned. In this they have not departed from Marcos's authoritarian example, however, but are only following the leader."

With the growing dictatorial tendencies of the government led by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, are we seeing a return of Martial Law in the country?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Attacks against journalists caught on tape

The perils of investigative reporting.

An award-winning investigative American journalist suffered cracked ribs, bite wounds, and cuts in a confrontation caught on camera.

Fox reporter bleeds in on-camera attack
Investigative TV journalist gouged, flayed by man who admits to problem with anger
By Joe Kovacs

An investigative reporter for a Fox television affiliate in southern California is recuperating after suffering cracked ribs, bite wounds and a gouged face in a confrontation caught on camera.

"I was just going to do some interviews and got attacked," said John Mattes, an attorney and journalist for Fox 6 News in San Diego. "We were doing a series of interviews on a gentleman who's been threatening people in La Jolla, businessmen, people in the community, his neighbors."

The person who was the subject of the TV station's probe is alleged real estate fraudster Sam Suleiman, who is shown on video walking up to Mattes yesterday and immediately unleashing an onslaught of physical fury.

"We all thought he'd come screaming, but he literally just came flying straight at me and just BOOM!" Mattes told his station in a post-attack interview. "He didn't even stop, didn't even slow down. And I'm feeling someone ripping at my face, pulling my hair. We're not talking about someone going a few rounds, we're talking about someone ripping, gouging, scratching, and biting me! I just don't understand ... this cannot be going on."

Also at the scene was Suleiman's wife, Rosa Baraza, who Mattes says talked about grabbing a firearm.

"I'm fighting not to get hurt," Mattes said, "but then to hear the screams of his wife, 'I'm getting the gun,' knowing the context of this person, I mean it was terrifying."

Read more here.

Watch the clip below.

Mattes is an award winning journalist who holds an advanced degree in Communication Research from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from University of Miami. Read more about his background here.

Cases of attacks against journalists in the Philippines are never caught on camera. The only local case caught on-cam was the attack against Laguna-based journalist Iring Maranan by a city council in San Pablo City. The attacks received by Maranan may be lesser than Mattes, but this does not mean that what happened to Maranan was not an attack.

Eternal vigilance

To be fair, it's good that cops are doing some progress -- or at least it seems -- in the case of Roger Panizal. But the resolution of the case is far from over. We have to keep vigilant.

Policeman and two other suspects arrested for attempted murder of tabloid reporter
Source: Reporters Without Borders

The police announced today that three people have been arrested for the attempted murder of reporter Roger Panizal of the tabloid newspaper Tiktik on 14 August in Valenzuela, near Manila. One of the detainees is a police officer. Another is suspected of being the mastermind.

Panizal was shot in the neck and hand and spent several days close to death before beginning to recover. Nonetheless he was able, from his hospital bed, to identify some known as George Demonyo ("George the Devil") as his assailant.

At the start of August, President Gloria Arroyo gave the police and justice department a 10-week deadline to solve ten cases of journalists and left-wing activists who have been murdered, but few arrests have so far been made.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the security forces to redouble their efforts in order to put an end to the climate of violence that has made the Philippines the second-most dangerous country in the world for journalists, after Iraq.

And now, some wise words from Lito Lapid

If the wonderful nugget of wisdom below indeed came from him, then all's well for the Philippines as long as administration senator Lito Lapid (rumored to be running for mayor in Makati) is there.

"Dare what it takes to be. Then we shall so because it is. To do or not, now or what else to be without."

Wise words!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

For Mindanao, lasting fish and prosperity

Good thing there's Mindanews. Reports like these rarely appear -- if they do at all -- in the Manila press.

Tuna can be the fish of peace

Will lowering the tariff on Philippine tuna shipments to the United States contribute to the peace process in Mindanao?

American Embassy officials think so, according to Francisco J. Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines.

He said American Embassy officials who had held talks with tuna industry players believed that increasing the value of tuna earnings via lowering of levy charges would contribute to the peace process in Mindanao “in Mindanao in line with the wider campaign against global terrorism and world peace.”

Currently, in-quota shipments in the United States are slapped with a 6- percent tariff while out-quota shipments are imposed a 12.5-percent tax.

The Andean Trade Pact, wherein the United States gives preference to Andean member countries, will end in December this year.

Under this scheme, Andean countries have been allowed to ship in their tuna in pouches at zero-percent tariff.

Buencamino suggested they want to enjoy the same privileges the US accorded to Andean member countries.

The market share of Philippine tuna in 2004 was at 10.75 percent valued at $74 million, although its share of the volume was at 18 percent, he said.

He noted the United States wanted to increase the Philippines’ tuna export as doing so would create more jobs essential in enhancing the peace process in Mindanao, where tuna production activities are concentrated.

Mindanao has been plagued by an intermittent wars waged by Moro and communist rebel groups.

Peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been stalled by the ticklish ancestral domain agenda, which includes issues on territory and governance.

Read more here.

She leads a courageous example

Here is the lecture made by veteran journalist Eugenia Duran Apostol, this year’s Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.

Inside PCIJ posted Apostol's lecture. You can read or listen to it. The open forum after Apostol's lecture can be heard here.

Below is the citation given to her by the Ramon Magsaysay Awards:

"Information—timely, accurate information—is the common coin of democratic life. Without it, the debates that animate the talk of citizens and guide them as voters are pointless. For democracy to work, truth must be in the public domain. Yet often it is not. Even democratically elected governments frequently hide or distort information that incriminates or embarrasses them. Because of this, citizens depend on the press to discern what is true and make it public. In the Philippines, this high calling is personified by Eugenia Duran Apostol.

"Eugenia Apostol spent her early years in Sorsogon, Philippines, where she was born in 1925, and later moved to Manila where her father served in the National Assembly. She studied Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas and began her career in journalism writing for Catholic magazines. Then, for twenty years, she edited the women’s pages of the Manila Times and the Manila Chronicle, bringing a fresh approach to the "lipstick beat" by appealing to intelligent, civic-minded women readers. When Ferdinand Marcos closed the country’s independent newspapers at the onset of martial law in 1972, Apostol found a niche with Women’s Home Companion and later launched a new magazine with the hip name of Mr. & Ms. In 1981, she joined a few brave others in the "mosquito press" and began publishing articles openly critical of the dictatorship.

"The assassination of Marcos’s rival Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino in August 1983 led Apostol to abandon restraint. "From then on there was no stopping," she says. Defying the regime, Mr. & Ms. published sixteen pages of photographs and text depicting the tumultuous public response to the killing. Afterwards, special editions of Mr. and Ms. reported weekly on Marcos abuses and the rising opposition. Emboldened by the revelations, readers snapped up copies by the hundreds of thousands. As the political crisis deepened in late 1985, Apostol rose to meet the need for an independent newspaper. Under her leadership, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported fearlessly on Corazon Aquino’s popular drive for the presidency and its jubilant people-power climax, the Edsa Revolution.

"Apostol built the Inquirer’s reputation on integrity and independence, maintaining a critical distance from Mrs. Aquino’s new administration. She set high professional standards for the industry and required her own reporters to honor the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Apostol stepped down as the Inquirer’s publisher in 1994 but reentered the fray in 1999 with the Pinoy Times. This Taglish-language tabloid took up the cudgels against President Joseph Estrada’s assaults on press freedom and responded to public hunger for the truth about his unexplained wealth and wayward leadership. It sold in the millions and buoyed the movement for Estrada’s ouster. But advertisers feared reprisal from the administration and stayed away. When the paper lost money, Apostol covered its expenses personally.

"The Edsa Revolution brought many good things but not an end to corruption and misgovernment. Apostol concludes from this that 'we have to educate our people better.' This is something she is doing through the Foundation for Worldwide People Power, which she founded with friends in 1996. Its programs promote excellence among teachers and call on the spirit of people power to upgrade instruction and facilities in Philippine public

"Apostol is legendary among her friends for her passion, wit, and irreverence. And grace: Eggie loves to dance. Reflecting on the momentous role she played in reclaiming her country’s press freedom and restoring democracy, she says. 'I was just doing what should have been done. Journalists have to tell the truth.'

"In electing Eugenia Duran Apostol to receive the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts, the board of trustees recognizes her courageous example in placing the truth-telling press at the center of the struggle for democratic rights and better government in the Philippines."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Earthquake drill

Got this from email. We might all need these to remember someday.

1. Do Not Duck and Cover

Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" when buildings collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2. Triangles Save Lives

Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get! next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3. Wonderful Wood

Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake.

If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4. Roll Out of Bed

If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5. Curl-Up

If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6. Do Not Stand in Doorways.

Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway.

In either case, you will be killed!

7. Never go to the stairs.

The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads -- horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse,stay aw ay from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8. Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible

It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9. Get Outside That Car

People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed.

They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10. Choose a Void

I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's booboo time

Even the mighty CNN has its own share of booboos. Photo at left from this site.

CNN sorry for Bush speech gaffe

Source: ABS-CBN Interactive

NEW YORK - CNN apologized Tuesday (August 29) after an open mike transmitted an anchor's bathroom conversation with another woman live over the network as it was carrying President Bush's speech in New Orleans.

"Live From" anchor Kyra Phillips had apparently left the set around 12:48 p.m. EDT Tuesday (12:45 a.m. Wednesday in Manila) for a bathroom break while the news channel carried Bush's speech marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Phillips' wireless microphone was turned on and picked up about a minute and a half of a muffled conversation she had with an unidentified woman where she apparently talked about her husband, laughed and talked about her brother.

"I've got to be protective of him," she said without being aware that the mic was on. "He's married, three kids and his wife is just a control freak." CNN anchor Daryn Kagan broke into the telecast immediately afterward updating viewers on what Bush had been saying.

"CNN experienced audio difficulties during the president's speech today in New Orleans," the CNN statement read. "We apologize to our viewers and the president for the disruption."

CNN apologized to the White House on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't clear whether it was a technical or human malfunction, and CNN, citing corporate policy, said it wouldn't comment on whether anyone would be disciplined. It seemed unlikely that anyone would.

CNN hasn't been immune to technical problems, particularly during political events. In November, a gaffe during a live speech by Vice President Dick Cheney showed an intermittent "X" on the screen. CNN apologized and fired a telephone operator who told a caller who complained that the network was exercising "free speech."

And in July 2004, viewers heard Democratic National Convention producer Don Mischer swear over an open microphone when balloons didn't immediately drop after a speech by Sen. John Kerry, the party's presidential nominee.

But some in the TV business said Tuesday that CNN should have had a system of checks and balances in place to make sure anchor's mikes are off when they're not on the air.

"It's a cardinal rule," one executive said. Reuters

Check out what happened in the video below.

Undermining press freedom

From Freedom Watch, the institutional blog of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

Defamation cases getting "out of control" in the Philippines
, global press group says

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, is concerned at the "number of defamation charges still being used to silence journalists in the Philippines."

Here's the full text of the statement:

Despite the approval of a new bill by the House of Representatives in the Philippines tipped to reduce the use of libel to harass journalists, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned at the number of defamation charges still being used to silence journalists in the Philippines.

The Court of Appeals affirmed on July 31 the extreme conviction of Abante Tonite columnist and TV broadcaster Raffy Tulfo to 32 years prison and a Php14.7million (US$285,000) fine, on 14 counts of libel arising from several articles written nearly 10 years ago on a customs officer. The court ruled Tulfo's reports showed "reckless disregard" for the truth.

"This sentence is not just unreasonable, it is totally excessive and makes a mockery of the legal system in the Philippines. 32 years in jail, not to mention the extortionate fine, simply for reporting is almost unfathomable. It is obvious the court system of the Philippines has no respect for freedom of expression," the IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Cases such as this, and outrageous claims for civil damages, are being filed all over the country at an alarming rate. Clearly, not enough is being done to protect the fundamental right to free speech in the Philippines," Warren said.

Read more here.

Pay it forward

Are you or do you know someone who's a graduate of the noisiest college ever in University of the Philippines-Diliman? Then read here.

Out of the three things they are asking me to do, I'll probably choose the numbers 2 and 3. I'm so financially broke that I am even thinking of asking for donations for myself.

The letter below came from Dr. Elena Pernia, president of the UP College of Mass Communication Foundation (CMCFI) and current dean of the college.

Dear Alumnus/na,

Mabuhay and warm greetings to a fellow alumnus/na!

I represent a group of our co-alumni of the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) who are concerned that the quality of communication and media education may take a downturn given the continuing budgetary strictures of our State University. Our concern has moved us to organize, together with the UPCMC Foundation Inc., a major fund-raising campaign entitled, Pay it Forward. The goal of this campaign is to bring back the glory of UP, one College at a time, starting with the CMC. To do this, the campaign is targeting to raise P50 million by the end of 2010 that will be used to:

• Modernize and equip the CMC with the state-of-the-art facilities and,
• Provide incentives for faculty recruitment and development

The UP-CMC (formerly UP-IMC) has graduated many of the finest communication and media professionals who have done our country proud, in the spirit of our national hero Plaridel (nom de plume of Marcelo H. del Pilar) after whom the college building is named. To this day, the College continues to produce outstanding graduates despite aging (almost obsolete) equipment, overused facilities, and underpaid faculty.

That is why we turn to you for help and hope that you will answer with generosity and kindness. As a graduate of the CMC (or IMC), you still have an “incomplete”. And the way to complete it is by helping your alma mater that now urgently needs your assistance. You can help by:

• Providing financial assistance to the College via donations and solicitation of donations
• Assisting in your field of expertise, or endeavor in ways that could benefit the College and/or
• Contacting other alumni, thereby, assisting us in developing an accurate alumni database.

You can see more details on the Pay-it-Forward (PIF) Fund-raising Campaign describing its overview, campaign specifics and most importantly, the specific objects to which you are donating on the PIF website at To make it easier for you to send your donation, you may fill out the interactive Donation Pledge Form on the website.

We earnestly hope that you too will respond positively. Should you have other questions or concerns regarding this matter, I will be more than happy to address them. You may contact me by phone (928-3188 at CMC or 0920-906-4976) or by email: or


Dr. Elena E. Pernia
President, CMCFI

A new Manila paper?

I also heard this report from my colleague Don.

From Victor Agustin today:

"Despite, or probably because of, his Manila Times experience, real estate developer Noel 'Toti'Cariño is launching his own newspaper, this time a business daily tentatively named Philippine Chronicle, to compete with BusinessWorld and Business Mirror."

Kudos to PCIJ

Congratulations to our colleagues at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. I hope they win in these two categories.

PCIJ blog vies for best Asian podcast award
Source: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

Following its selection last week as a contender in the best Asian group blog category of this year’s Asia Blog Awards, the PCIJ blog gets a second nomination, this time in the best Asia video blog/podcast category.

The PCIJ Channel, the blog’s podcast channel, made it to the list along with five other nominees —,, Ron Simms, Thailand Video Blogs, and Zen Kimchi.

Public voting for all the categories will take place in early September. Check the Asia Blog Awards for further announcements.

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