Tuesday, February 28, 2006

UP law faculty and student council fights 1017

Below are the statements of the University Council of UP Diliman and the the faculty of the UP College of Law on Proclamation No. 1017. Got this from Sir Arao's blog:

Defend our civil liberties and fight for freedom!
Oppose Proclamation No. 1017!

Declaration of the University Council (UC) of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City on Proclamation No. 1017
28 February 2006

A university in a democracy draws its life from an environment of political freedom. None of its basic functions – the quest for truth, the encouragement of critical inquiry, the stimulation of the imagination – is possible in a climate of repression.

The University of the Philippines (UP) as the national university is the vanguard in upholding civil liberties and fighting for freedom. We affirm UP’s commitment to the fundamental constitutional and human rights of the people.

  • UPD remains an open space for public debate consistent with its treasured value of academic freedom;
  • UPD is a refuge for those who are subjected to political arrests and other forms of harassment;
  • UPD challenges every move to clamp down on any of our basic freedoms;
  • UPD reiterates its call for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign; and
  • UPD supports a peaceful transition in the political leadership.


Last Friday, February 24, 2006, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1017, declaring state of national emergency. Immediately after, she issued General Order No. 5, directing the chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “immediately carry out necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence.”

Since then, these two issuances have been used to justify the imposition of severe limitations on – and in certain instances the outright denial of – civil liberties guaranteed and protected under the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech, expression, of the press, and public assembly. Ostensibly on the strength of Proclamation 1017 and General Order No. 5, a general ban on rallies has been imposed, the PNP has raided one newspaper and threatens to take over other media outfits which “fail to conform to government standards,” and numerous persons, including several members of Congress, have been arrested without warrant.

We, the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law, speaking with one voice, condemn in the strongest possible terms this brazen assault on essential freedoms. We firmly and unequivocally take the position that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5, and the manner in which they are being applied by the Executive, constitute an unconstitutional infringement on civil liberties.

We refuse to accept the half-hearted excuse, put forth by some officials in the Arroyo administration, that the two issuances were “not intended” to violate the Bill of Rights. The simple and undeniable fact is that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 have been utilized by the PNP and other executive organs to mount a vigorous and unrelenting campaign against perceived critics of the administration, in full and flagrant disregard of the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights as well as the legal rules of procedure. Equally undeniable is that the President has sanctioned, or at the very least tacitly approved, these actions undertaken by her subordinates, all of whom are fully within her control.

The indisputable truth is that the violations of the Bill of Rights done pursuant to Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 are acts of the President.

It must be emphasized that nothing in the Constitution can authorize the suspension of the Bill of Rights. Even under a declared state of martial law, which the Arroyo administration repeatedly insists this is not, the Bill of Rights remains fully operative. Thus, the suppression of free speech, the muzzling of the free press, and the prohibition on public assembly sanctioned by the two issuances cannot be constructed as anything other than clearly and unequivocally unconstitutional.

Our civil liberties, particularly the freedom of speech and public assembly are indispensable to our democracy. We cannot allow them to be arbitrarily suppressed. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional rescission of Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5.

UP CMC: Rescind 1017!

Here's the statement made by the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) on the declaration of a State of National Emergency by Pres. Arroyo. The statement calls for the withdrawal of the proclamation, which "clearly (undermines) the role of the free press in the country." Thanks to Sir Danny Arao for posting this statement in his blog.

N.B. - This statement titled “Rescind Proclamation No. 1017″ was signed by 124 students, faculty members and administrative staff of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) at its emergency assembly last February 27, 2006.

Statement of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) on the state of national emergency

Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5, both signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last February 24, have been used by the government to quell legitimate dissent as manifested by the arrests of demonstrators and so-called conspirators to bring down the President. We can conclude from the raid on the broadsheet The Daily Tribune and the tight watch by the military on other media agencies that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is savaging press freedom.

The suppression of mass media agencies and other organizations will continue unless we unite to fight for our rights and to oppose all measures aimed at curtailing our freedoms. As an academic institution, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) is committed to the defense of free expression and press freedom.

We believe that press freedom is the cornerstone of a democratic society. It is crucial in providing the people the information they need to form enlightened opinion on matters of public interest especially in times of crisis. And yet, Proclamation No. 1017 condemns the media for “recklessly magnify(ing)” the claims of the political opposition.

The UP CMC is committed to oppose measures like Proclamation No. 1017 which clearly undermine the role of the free press in the country.

We demand that the President end the assault on press freedom and the media and immediately rescind Proclamation No. 1017.

1017 attacks the media

Got this from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility's blog (Pres. Arroyo's picture with Vice-Pres. De Castro and AFP Chief Generoso Senga was from a Malacañang site):

MANILA, Philippines – Exactly twenty years after the restoration of democracy and press freedom in the country, local media was again under threat shortly after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of national emergency via Presidential Proclamation 1017 (PP1017) early in the morning of 24 February.

Several hours after the declaration of PP1017, elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) swooped down the offices of oppositionist national newspaper The Daily Tribune along T.M. Kalaw Street here around 12:30 am Saturday (25 February).

The policemen, who came from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and numbering about 15, took mock-up copies of the newspaper’s Saturday edition—which bannered Arroyo’s declaration—as well as several story drafts and photos.

Inspector Jonathan Pablito of the Police Community Relations Group based at the PNP’s headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City later confirmed that they were tasked to secure the Tribune offices “because it was a possible source of destabilization materials.” Pablito clarified however, that they were ordered not to impede the work of the publication’s editorial staff and reporters.

Several staffers of Tribune said they were able to go to work as usual during the past weekend, although they admitted being distracted by the presence of the police.

Policemen from the national headquarters remained stationed inside the editorial and business offices of the Tribune, while operatives from the Manila Police District have been posted outside the building. Several law enforcers were also seen surrounding the premises of another pro-opposition newspaper, Malaya, and its sister publication, the tabloid Abante, reports said.

Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor stressed that the government has not taken over the Tribune, but added that the “strong presence” of the police in the editorial offices of the newspaper will remain, to caution other media organizations not to aid those who want to overthrow the government.

In meetings with police officials, Defensor said it was agreed that the government would not interfere with the stories that the paper would put out.

The Tribune has been consistently publishing reports critical of the Arroyo administration. Leading to its temporary seizure by the police early Saturday, the said publication released stories that several disgruntled military and leftist were forming up to mount a coup against Arroyo.

Arroyo declared PP1017 primarily to quell a rebellion allegedly instigated by renegade military officers, supported by civilian supporters and leftist groups wanting to topple the government. Arroyo is facing serious charges of election fraud, allegedly incurred in 2004.

Under this emergency state, the government has the power to take over media facilities whose operations are deemed a risk to national security, Defensor claimed. PP1017 specifically invokes Section 17, Article 12 of the country’s Constitution, which gives the president the power to "temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest" in times of national emergency.

In the wake of the raid on the Tribune, Defensor professed the government is currently talking to owners and editors of other media organizations to clarify issues.

In the meantime, military personnel have been stationed outside broadcast network giants, GMA Channel 7 and ABS-CBN Channel 2. According to the government, the military personnel is there “to protect” these media establishments in the event that lawless elements try to take control of them.

Defensor said police presence in media organizations is not a regular state policy. The proclamation, which put the country under a state of emergency, said that some elements of the media are “recklessly” promoting the cause of those who want to overthrow the administration.

Last Friday (24 February), Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Randy David, lawyer and BusinessWorld columnist Argee Guevarra as well as 35 other militant leaders and academicians, were held by the police for allegedly inciting sedition and leading several hundred of protesters in Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in Metro Manila. Guevarra was also the legal counsel of Marine colonel Ariel Querubin, one of the two top military officials charged with planning to lead a botched coup attempt.

On 25 February afternoon, 15 hours after the raid on the Tribune, PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao has warned that the police will take over news groups that will not conform to “standards set by the government.”

This is in accordance with Presidential General Order No. 5 (GO5), directing the country’s armed forces—the military (Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP) and PNP—to maintain “peace and order and prevent and suppress lawless violence.”

As implied by GO5, reports or publications that hurt the government by “obstructing governance including hindering the growth of the economy and sabotaging the people’s confidence in government” will be subjected to review and possible prohibition, according to Lomibao. GO5 was made in pursuant to PP1017, calling upon the military and police to take direct control of the peace and order in the country.

Lomibao said police will implement standards for media, as a small group of investigators and prosecutors will monitor the news.

Local media sounds the alarm

Tribune publisher and editor in chief Niñez Cacho-Olivarez said she was tipped off a day earlier that she was on a list of people to be arrested by the government.

"It’s just like (late former dictator Ferdinand) Marcos all over again. It won't be long before they start ringing editors and asking them to fire columnists or writers they consider being against them," Olivarez added, as quoted by the Inquirer online news service.

The raid on Tribune appears to signal the “start of a crackdown on media organizations," according to Newsbreak magazine editor in chief Marites Danguilan-Vitug in a statement to a local online news website.

Vergel Santos, chairman of the board of advisers of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) likened Arroyo’s proclamation and the corresponding harassment to media to the tactics used by Marcos during the Martial Law period (1972-81). Marcos was toppled by a peaceful revolt on 25 February 1986, in what has been popularly known as the “Edsa People Power Revolution.”

Santos said media organizations must unite and oppose PP1017 and any effort to suppress press freedom.

In its released statement, CMFR noted that President Corazon Aquino withstood seven coup attempts during her term without having to close down a single newspaper. The press was then left to cover the crises without government guidelines.

“The current attacks against the press are obviously needless, unless these fulfill a larger design to hold absolute unquestioned power,” CMFR added.

In declaring a “state of national emergency,” Arroyo made media among her main targets, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said in its official statement.

“That Mrs. Arroyo timed this crackdown on civil liberties with the anniversary of the Marcos dictatorship’s fall only highlights her break with the democratic aspirations of Filipinos,” NUJP added in its statement. “Even as she warns enemies of feeling the full force of the law, Mrs. Arroyo flaunts constitutional guarantees to free speech and expression and press freedom.”
“The role of media is that of serving as a watchdog for exposing social injustice and abuse of power,” Vice president Noli de Castro said in concurrence with reaction of the media groups. “The government may do justice to media by encouraging self-regulation and not repression.”

A former journalist himself, de Castro pointed however, that “if law enforcers believe that a media entity is committing crime against any person or government, then they must immediately enforce the law.”

Earlier, on Friday (24 February) afternoon, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), a national federation of broadcast media entities, held a dialogue with the government’s National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to discuss the ramifications of PP1017.

NTC assured the KBP members that it respects the freedom of the press and of free speech and expression as protected by the Constitution. The government’s telecommunications agency also pledged to observe due process in addressing matters affecting the broadcast industry, especially under the present situation.

The national publisher’s union meanwhile, took a more resolute stand in the face of Arroyo’s proclamation.

“Our commitment is to the truth. And while we have the room, however being constricted, nothing will bar us from pursuing our duty,” the Philippine Press Institute said in a public statement.

With reports from the Inquirer News Services

Monday, February 27, 2006

Martial law is here again?

Sheila Coronel writes in the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog:

"The police today forwarded to the Department of Justice two lists containing the names of a total of 59 individuals, including members of leftist party-list groups, leaders of the communist party and renegade soldiers, that it said were guilty of rebellion and insurrection 'committed on February 24, 2006,' the day President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced she had preempted an attempted coup and declared a state of emergency.

"The list, however, does not include Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, who the military said was a leader of the aborted attempted "withdrawal of support" from the Arroyo government that took place last Friday. Also excluded from the list is Col. Ariel Querubin, the commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, who admitted in yesterday’s standoff at Fort Bonifacio that he had intended to join last Friday’s protests.

"Instead, the lists, contained in two letters sent today by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, indicates mainly a crackdown on the legal Left and the communist party. And while there were only 59 on these lists, the police also included "others who may be identified later." The PNP letters came with investigation records on the named individuals, who they said were guilty of violations of Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes rebellion, insurrection and coup d’etat — all nonbailable offenses punishable with life imprisonment."

(For the rest of the entry, click here.)

Given the intensified crackdown on these so-called destabilizers/coup plotters who allegedly want to overthrow the Arroyo administration, I won't be surprised to see journalists and media organizations being added to the list.

Whoa. It's like martial law all over again.

CMFR's position on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Declaration of a State of National Emergency

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility strongly opposes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of a State of National Emergency and urges her to withdraw it.

The Center also condemns the suppression of democratic rights and liberties committed in its name. The government has announced that it will take over media outlets as necessary. This, together with the raid against The Daily Tribune and the arrest and questioning of columnist (Philippine Daily Inquirer) Randy David, together with 35 other civilians, signal the intent of government to limit the capacity of the press to further investigate and criticize government actions.

The Center warns against the veiled threat of General Order no. 5 against the media. This was followed by the not-so veiled threat of Philippine National Police Director Gen. Arturo Lomibao. He said that PNP would take over any media organization that would not follow “standards set by the government.”

These actions follow up the failure of this administration to take strong steps to stop violence against journalists and media practitioners who work in the community press. In 2005 alone, seven journalists had been killed and no one has been jailed for it.

President Corazon Aquino, who withstood seven coup attempts during her term, never had to close down a single newspaper. The press was left to cover the crises without government guidelines. The current attacks against the press are obviously needless, unless these fulfill a larger design to hold absolute unquestioned power.

Clearly, the actions of President Arroyo reflect her failure to understand and appreciate press freedom as a core value of Philippine society.

We call on all Filipinos to defend press freedom as their right as it is the only way they can get the information they need as citizens of a democracy. This right is protected and preserved by no less than the Philippine Constitution.

CMFR asks its allies around the world to express its solidarity with this cause and to protest most vigorously the current suppression of the free press in the Philippines.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why do we blog?

Chip Scanlan of the US-based The Poynter Institute, who writes an "advice column" for journalists (titled "Chip on Your Shoulder") for Poynter Online, states why he recently started a blog of his own.

"To paraphrase Kafka," Scanlan writes, "my blog is the ice-axe that broke the frozen sea within me. It has helped me find myself again as a reader and writer. It has set me free."

Check out his reasons for coming up with his blog, "The Mechanic & the Muse," which he stated last January 17.

His reasons are almost the same as mine.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Covering disasters and catastrophes

Rightfully, the press was quick in covering the Feb. 17 landslide in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. News reports pointed out the similarities of the incident with the 1991 Ormoc tragedy which, ironically, also happened in Leyte.

Below is a set of guidelines published in the August 1990 issue of the PJR Reports (which was still then known as the Philippine Journalism Review) to help the media in adequately covering such catastrophic events (which we hope to be lesser in the future).

Guidelines for Coverage of Disasters and Catastrophes

- On-site and field reports for radio and television must build on verified facts. Facts of geography, location, population, infrastructure, commerce, and industry flesh out the damage with specific detail.

- Estimates of casualties should be corroborated by various sources. If official counts are available, these should be cited and specifically sourced.

-At the time of the crisis, broadcast reporters need to tone down their delivery, so as not to contribute to public hysteria. Updates and warnings serve the purpose better when issued in a calm and restrained voice.

- Reporters must beef up their stories with research. Orientation about the issues raised by the particular kind of disaster and rescue operations prepares correspondents to observe the procedures more intelligently without interfering with the conduct of operations.

- Reporters must bear in mind that rescue operations take precedence over their story. They cannot interfere with the saving of lives and prevention on injury. They must respect the primary obligation of rescue workers which is to save lives.

- Reporters and photojournalists cannot be too sensitive to the plight of victims and their families and friends. In getting their story or picture, they must respect the victims’ desire for and right to privacy.

- News directors for radio and TV should aim for balanced coverage with the use of straight news, feature, and human interest stories. The latter two provide the necessary color but cannot take the place of hard information.

- Unconfirmed reports should be handled with care and caution. Completely blind reports must be passed off until verified for accuracy.

- Crisis coverage must be devoid of posturing, playing hero, and other kinds of grandstanding on the part of media. It should also guard against the use of media time or space by those pushing for their individual and personal gains. Such gimmickry can get on the nerves and add to the burden of stress.

- Reporters should prepare a line of questioning for spot interviews. Radio anchors should minimize the chit-chat ordinarily used to project intimacy with listeners or to fill up idle time. The level of triviality can be disturbing and out-of-synch with the gravity of the situation. Hour-on-the-hour formats to cover developments should use well-informed resource persons who can help to promote understanding of the disaster. Such segments can also enrich program material by expanding the cast of personalities and voices.

Why are we so obsessed with titles? (some wedding jitters)

A day after my sister's debut party, I was again busy for the wedding of my cousin. And boy, no one told me how hard it was to be the program coordinator, emcee, and best man at the same time!

The affair went well -- except for some incidents which almost made me lose my temper that day. You see, some of the primary sponsors (ninongs and ninangs) are police officials. So, being the program coordinator (15 minutes before the actual wedding), I called out the sponsors for them to get in the line for us to proceed with the wedding procession immediately.

In the list, the police officials have their official designation at the start of their names, the most common of which is the title "Police Superintendent." Since I was unsure of the ranks of all these officials (i.e. colonel, general) and I did not want to sound clunky and too formal if I address most of them with the term "Police Superintendent," I began referring to them as either "Mr." or "Ms."

One lady reacted when I addressed someone with that. "Col. XXX 'yan, hindi mister," snorted the woman, whom I later learned as also a police official, although of lower rank. (The colonel whom I addressed as mister, by the way, did not react)

I could have retorted back at the lady, saying something like, "Sorry, thanks for informing that he is a colonel, but isn't he a guy? Addressing him as a "miss" instead would sound silly, right?" But fortunately, I did not.

I told the incident two days later to my cousin. Well, at least, she sounded sorry for me. But I was surprised when my cousin -- who is currently training to be a member of the police force, -- said: "Intindihin mo na lang. Police character iyon eh. Hindi talaga papayag iyon na tatawagin lang silang mister o miss. Naghirap iyon para makuha iyong ranggo eh."

What followed was a long discussion alright (no, we didn't end up angry at each other), but in sum I reacted that it was not my fault that they have to train hard to become part of the police force and therefore giving them the right to be arrogant and feel superior towards civilians like me. What, should I now know the ranks and police designation of every effing member of the police I know and address them with such?

What's with us Filipinos and our obsession with titles? Do we really need to impose upon everyone the title we have? Is this a sociocultural thing we need to impress upon others of the achievements we made or a validation of how high (or low) we are on the social scale?

What about me? Should I tell everyone that they need to refer to me as "Bryant, the journalist" or whatever position I hold in PJR Reports?

Haay, before I go on a full discussion of the subject here (which I think deserves another post), here's a link on my photo album to my cousin's wedding.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Shigi shigi

Are you a Shaider fan? Do you miss the dazzling moves of Alexis, ang Pulis Pangkalawakan, and the repeated but failed attempts of Fuma Ley-ar to destroy him (and not to mention Shaider’s partner Annie in her, well, thought-provoking poses)?

Well, Pulpcommunity’s Tarhata offers Shaider DVDs for the hardcore fans of the series (like me). She says she has the complete Shaider collection (a six-CD set) for P450.

If you want to order or have questions, email her at pinkbayawak@yahoo.com. Aside from Shaider, Tarhata also sells films ranging from various genres and movements around the world, such as classics, indies, expressionism, neo-realism, and film noir, among others.

As for me, I’ll order Shaider first before I get my copy of Citizen Kane and The Bicycle Thief from her. Hmmm. Better yet, ask Tarhata if she also has Bioman and Maskman DVDs. That would really make my day.

By the way, for those who still do not know, Hiroshi Tsuburaya, the actor who played Alexis in Shaider, died on July 24, 2001 due to liver cancer. He was 37.

Talk about transparency

Here’s an interesting Reuters report from Yahoo News. The photo below is from this site.

Stripping away the mystery
By Alexandra Hudson

Amsterdam's famed red light district held its first ever "open day" Saturday as its peep-shows and brothels gave crowds of wide-eyed visitors free entry to help shed the area's increasingly negative reputation.

Armed with a list of 25 establishments opening their doors and flinging back their red curtains, hundreds of tourists and locals seized the opportunity to see a prostitute's bedroom, watch a brief live peep-show or chat to a lap dancer.

Click here for more.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sorry for the late posting of these pictures

Sorry, Hazel, for posting these late pictures. I'm quite busy these days, that's why it took me so long to post these pictures.

These were taken from my sister's small informal debut party last Feb. 11 at D' Charcoal Haus in Bulacan. I also have the pictures of my cousin's Joy wedding the next day, but will post them next week. With so many issues that we have to tackle in the March issue of the PJR Reports, I'm having a hard time maintaining my blog. *Sigh* But I promise, as soon as I am finished with the March issue, I'll post again.

Here is the link to Hazel's birthday pics.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

If you've got nothing to do on Feb. 11, Saturday (unlike me)

Bandido Production



featuring performances by..

Valley of Chrome
18th Issue
Except Zero
Pedro Lucas III
First Degree

120php with 1 free beer

February 11(Saturday)
ALKYS BAR Menlo St. cor. Leveriza St.
(Near Arellano University and La Salle Taft)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cebu photojourn’s killer gets death

Too bad I wasn't able to post this earlier. Here's an except from a post made by Freedom Watch, the blog of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

Cebu photojourn’s killer gets death

A Cebu judge ordered the death penalty for the convicted killer of Allan Dizon, a photojournalist who worked for The Freeman and Banat News last January 19.

Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Ireneo Lee Gako Jr. handed down the death sentence to Edgar Belandres, who was found guilty of slaying Dizon on 27 November 2004. I

Belandres’ lawyer Pedro Salva said they will appeal the conviction. Dizon also reportedly worked as a police asset, which could be the reason behind the killing, as the photographer allegedly tipped off the local police about Belandres’ suspected drug dealing.

Belandres’ conviction was the second successful resolution of journalist-killing cases in Cebu. Just last November, Edgar Wapile, killer of Pagadian City journalist Edgar Damalerio, was convicted to life imprisonment.

Here's the complete post of Freedom Watch while above is the picture of Dizon, taken from Sun.Star.
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