Tuesday, May 30, 2006

If only the Pinoy Everest climbers did this

This post may be different from my previous posts, but I can't help but chuckle from this short report from Yahoo News.

Naked on Everest: a peek on the peak?

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association urged the government Saturday to take action against a sherpa who reportedly stripped on top of Mount Everest.

The Himalayan Times had reported Friday that the Nepali climbing guide, whose name it gave as Lakpa Tharke, stood naked for three minutes in freezing conditions on the 29,035-foot summit of the world's highest peak.

If confirmed, he would be the first person known to have stripped atop Everest, considered by Nepali Buddhists as a god.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, head of Nepal's top mountaineering body, said he could not confirm that the incident had happened.

"But if he did it, it is very shocking because Sagarmatha is the goddess mother," he said, using the mountain's Nepali name.

"The government must enforce strict ethics for climbing."

Authorities have yet to comment.

But the climb's organizers seemed happy enough with Lakpa Thaeke's strip.

"We are planning to file his extraordinary feat for the Guinness Book of World Records," the paper quoted an official of the hiking group that employs Tharke as saying.

At least 1,345 people have climbed Everest since 1953 from either the Nepali or Tibetan side.

The futility of it all

Carlos Conde continues the discussion on the arming of journalists in his PinoyPress blog.

Explaining that "journalists in a democracy should not be living like this," Conde wrote: "To be sure, having a .45 caliber pistol tucked in your waist while you type away on your computer might give you a sense of protection, perhaps invincibility. But how long can you keep doing that before you realize the futility of it all? How can a journalist do his job if he spends most of his time watching his back?"

Read his post.

Monday, May 29, 2006


"What thoroughly idiotic things to say. Have we lost all our senses?"

Thus wrote Philippine Daily Inquirer's hard-hitting columnist Conrado de Quiros in his column today about the idea of arming journalists as a way of solving the continued killings of members of the media.

De Quiros continued:

"To begin with, if arming journalists is the solution to their current decimation, why not arm activists, too? It’s not just the journalists that are being slaughtered like chickens in this country, as one activist puts it, it’s the activists too. Indeed, more the activists than the journalists, the murder of activists now having reached a mind-boggling near one-a-day. Why not allow them to carry .45s as well? Or since they’re fairer game than the others, Armalites and other high-powered weapons to defend themselves from the murderous?

"Indeed, why not arm the ordinary citizens who are victims also of murder and sundry mayhem? Why not arm the balut vendors who are robbed by istambays, and fast-food women workers who work at night and raped by thugs, and who may not report the crimes to cops for fear of being robbed or raped twice? What is the argument here, that only privileged classes or professions deserve to have the means to defend themselves?

"But more than this, where does government, even if it takes the face of the braggart (Justice secretary Raul) Gonzalez, get off exuding this airiness? Government is responsible for these killings, by commission and omission, by active encouragement and encouraging passivity, by commanding irresponsibility and command responsibility."

Read his column.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The continued journalist killings in the country prompted the international press watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres and other media organizations worldwide, including the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, to write a letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to show their concern about the killings.

Ten international NGOs press Arroyo over Esperat murder case
Source: Reporters Sans Frontieres

On the eve of the trial of four men accused of carrying out the March 2005 murder of journalist and anti-corruption activist Marlene Esperat, ten international non-governmental organisations today called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to ensure that justice is carried out for those who ordered the killing, as well as for those who carried it out.

The NGOs pledged to support the demands of Esperat’s family, lawyer and colleagues for justice to be done in this case.

“We support the calls by Philippine press freedom groups for the investigation’s conclusions to be reviewed,” they said. “This case shocked both Philippine journalists and the international community, and judicial system must not allow the instigators to go unpunished. Its credibility is at stake.”

"We are concerned by reports that the Cebu regional court says it foresees a rapid trial for the accused perpetrators, who have reportedly confessed. While trials should be quick they should not be hasty, and we are concerned that others, suspected of commissioning this murder, have not been named in the indictments for the trial, scheduled to resume on May 22," the NGOs said.

The NGOs also urged President Arroyo to ensure that the witnesses are protected before, during and after the trial. The groups have supported - morally and materially - the efforts of Esperat’s family and colleagues to obtain justice. And they intend to follow the trial with the help of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists.

To read the rest of the letter, click here.

Democracy is alive and kicking in this country

Another journalist was killed. Long live democracy in the Philippines!

Palawan Journalist Killed
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Batul's photo courtesy of DYPR Palawan

Barely a month after a receiving death threat, a hard-hitting radio commentator was shot dead last May 22 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, 586 kilometers south of Manila.

Fernando “Dong” Batul, a radio journalist working in Palawan-based radio station dyPR, was killed early morning by two unidentified gunmen, who shot him repeatedly, just 200 meters away from the station. The gunmen immediately fled aboard a blue motorcycle.

Batul was rushed to the nearest hospital, but was declared dead-on-arrival.

According to Palawan provincial police chief Elpidio de Asis, the gunmen opened fire using 9mm and .45 pistols, hitting Batul twelve times. Initial probe by the local police suggested that the gunmen could be professionally hired assassins.

Batul, 34, was a popular hard-hitting radio commentator in the Palawan Broadcasting Corp-owned DyPR where he had his early morning program “Bastonero.”

Although the motive for the killing has yet to be established, de Asis said that it was likely more work-related than political. He stressed the fact that Batul had made many enemies of people he had criticized in his radio program.

Batul was known to be a severe critic of incumbent Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn. His adamant criticisms of the local government, as well as interviews with members of the New People’s Army, a local leftist group, has also earned him the ire of both government and military officials.

Hagedorn immediately denied any involvement in the assassination. Several years ago, the mayor filed several counts of libel cases against Batul when the radio announcer was still with RGMA Super Radyo (Radio).

Although confirming that Batul had been his critic, the mayor offered a bounty of Php500,000 to anyone who could give information on Batul’s killers. He even ordered the police to resolve Batul’s case within 48 hours or face possible dismissal.

A former vice mayor of Puerto Princesa, Batul’s term was cut a year short in 2003 after an electoral protest ruled in favor of rival Lucilo Bayron. He ran again in 2004, but lost to incumbent Bayron.

Batul had initially raised an alarm last 24 April after discovering two live grenades inside his house. Fortunately, local police were immediately able to detonate the bombs before they could explode. A death threat penned in red ink was also found in front of the Batul’s residence, warning the broadcaster to “hold his tongue, or his family would suffer harsh consequences.”

Prior to that attack, Batul had been commentating on the plight of several overseas Filipino workers allegedly being maltreated in Taiwan, as well as illegal recruitment in Puerto Princesa, which involved a police officer.

Batul’s death raised the total to five journalists killed this year alone. If proven to be work-related, he would be the third to be killed in the line of duty after Orlando Mendoza and Albert Orsolino.

According to the tally of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, 59 journalists have died in the line of duty since the democracy was restored in 1986

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wow mali

By the way, here's a photo of the true Guy Kewney, taken from NewsWireless. Tsk tsk. This incident made me remember a story written by Booma Cruz, copy editor of the PJR Reports and Probe's editorial consultant, on how the local media became confused as well while it was covering the six-hour military standoff in Fort Bonifacio last February 26 (Too bad the story, published in the magazine's March 2006 issue, is not available online).

One hilarious part of the story went like this:

"With (Col. Ariel) Querubin already inside the building (the Marines headquarters), media was on heightened alert. From one side of the camp, reporters rushed toward a group of new faces. A reporter immediately pressed his radio: 'May foreigner na dumating. Foreigner ito!' (There's a foreigner coming. It's a foreigner!)

"Mobbed by reporters, the 'foreigner' was asked by an excited reporter: 'Sir, what's the stand of the US embassy?' The man in the sports shirt gave a puzzled look.

"Finally, another reporter recognized him. 'Ah, Iñigo!' The man was not from US embassy after all. He was Iñigo Zobel, son of the late industrialist Enrique Zobel."

Ooops, it's the wrong Guy

Talking about media booboos, well even the mighty BBC News 24 has its share of mistakes as well. At least they got a "Guy" who deserve an award for showing grace under pressure while being interviewed over the program. And man, check out that facial expression.

BBC News 'wrong Guy' is revealed

The true identity of a man who was mistakenly interviewed on BBC News 24 has been revealed.

Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, appeared on the news channel in place of an IT expert after a mix-up.

But Mr Goma, who was wrongly identified in the press as a taxi driver, was really at the BBC for a job interview.

Mr Goma said his appearance was "very stressful" and wondered why the questions were not related to the data support cleanser job he applied for.

The mix-up occurred when a producer went to collect the expert from the wrong reception in BBC Television Centre in West London.

The producer asked for Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, who was due to be interviewed about the Apple vs Apple court case.

After being pointed in Mr Goma's direction by a receptionist, the producer - who had seen a photo of the real expert - checked: "Are you Guy Kewney?"

The economics and business studies graduate answered in the affirmative and was whisked up to the studio.

Business presenter Karen Bowerman, who was to interview the expert, managed to get a message to the editor that the guest seemed "very breathless and nervous".

Mr Goma was eventually asked three questions live on air, assuming this was an interview situation.

It was only later that it was discovered that Mr Kewney was still waiting in reception - prompting producers to wonder who their wrong man was.

'Happy to return'
Mr Goma said his interview was "very short", but he was prepared to return to the airwaves and was "happy to speak about any situation".

He added that next time he would insist upon "preparing myself".

A BBC spokeswoman said: "This has turned out to be a genuine misunderstanding.

"We've looked carefully at our guest procedures and will take every measure to ensure this doesn't happen again."

A reporter's nightmare

I don't personally know Michael Fajatin -- he of the infamous hostage-taking incident in 2002. But, oooh boy, what a bad report. I think he was reporting about the Guingona-led Mendiola prayer rally months ago.

The May 2006 issue of PJR Reports

For those who haven't received their copies of the May 2006 issue of PJR Reports (like Sir Robert Jaworski of the Northern Luzon Bureau of the Philippine Daily Inquirer), check out the magazine's online version. Except for the monitors, almost all the contents of the publication are online.

These include my two articles:

Governments seek to control 'citizen media'
Cyberspace: the New Combat Zone

A negative editorial NYT makes Malacanang nervous:
Harbinger of Bigger Troubles?

(whom I co-wrote with Venus Elumbre)

Any comments? You are more than welcome to do so.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yep, still here

Yes, I know, I know. This blog needs updating. I was not able to post anything in this blog for quite some time because I was too busy with Philippine Journalism Review (PJR) Reports and the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ), the annual journalism awards program administered by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). Aaargh. I've been taken over by so many events -- the May 3 World Press Freedom Day, the continued killings of journalists and political activists, Gloriagate, even the issue of Sam Milby's alleged rip-off song "Close To You" (the rip-off issue again!?!) -- sigh, if I could only turn back time. I'll try to post something about these events... as soon as my workload on the June issue of PJR Reports becomes lighter. Aaargh again.

Meanwhile, here's the May 2006 issue of the PJR Reports. Four out of the five issues in the issue are already online, including my article on the recent conference on free expression in Asian cyberspace. Thanks by the way to Jove for posting my photo at the conference in his blog and to MLQ3 for granting me an ambush interview during the event. By the way, CMFR executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus was a speaker in the conference (Check her presentation and audio file from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog)

The fifth article, a story I co-wrote with Venus Elumbre on the views of foreign correspondents on covering the Philippines (including their reaction to the infamous New York Times editorial that had criticized the Arroyo administration), will be up tomorrow, I hope.

The main story in the issue, which was about stifling media criticism in the world by jailing journalists, was written by Nathan Lee and our newest reporter, Don Gil Carreon.

Before I forget, congratulations to Ma'am Chit Estella, PJR Reports editor, for becoming the first runner-up in the Poverty Issues category in the 2006 Developing Asia Journalism Awards (DAJA) of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).

To the CMFR interns whose research and help made me finish the May articles faster, thanks too. I'll remember your help when I do your final grades. Hahaha.
Blog directory