The country's best investigative and explanatory reports published last year will be recognized this coming June 25 by the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ), one of the most prestigious journalism awards in the Philippines. (Disclosure: I work for the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility/CMFR which administers the awards.)
Last June 11, CMFR announced this year's JVOAEJ finalists. This is the 20th year of JVOAEJ.
‘Political killings not official but an intended policy’
By Nikko Dizon, Jocelyn R. Uy and Leila B. Salaverria
Editor: Fernando del Mundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 9-12, 2008
Guns with silencers are not usually issued to soldiers. So when a Scout Ranger officer got one, he knew what it was for.
'The procurement of this kind of firearms is just for special ops,' he says of clandestine operations that critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration claim to have resulted in hundreds of extrajudicial executions.
The officer, who requested anonymity for obvious reasons, says his unit received the guns three years ago, along with an “order of battle” listing the names of state enemies for “neutralization.”
Someone in Wyoming is having a hard time paying for the house he bought years ago, so much so that last year, some bank took it from him.
Suddenly, that faceless man’s personal crisis is bringing down giants most people here have not heard about – Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Before we know it, the spiraling crisis is scuttling across the Atlantic and crawling up our shores from Ground Zero thousands of kilometers away.
The question is this: how did that man’s problem end up being our problem too? If the US government is already bailing out its financial system, why do we still have a problem?
Since coming to power in 2001, the Arroyo administration has committed a series of acts geared toward compromising Philippine territorial interests in favor of China.
This was made possible through the agreement for joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) that the Philippines signed with China through their national oil corporations on Sept. 1, 2004. (Vietnam was an afterthought. It protested, and was therefore accommodated through a tripartite JMSU pact signed on March 14, 2005.)
Our investigation shows that in exchange for conceding territorial waters, the Arroyo administration, in the last seven years, agreed to receive padded loans from China. Critics say this is a betrayal of public trust.
Aid inflow sparks scandals for GMA, debt woes for RP
By Roel Landingin
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Published in The Philippine Star on February 11-13, 2008
Foreign aid inflows to the Philippines are soaring to their highest levels in about six years, but the availability of more money for government projects has not made life any easier for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Filipino taxpayers.
Indeed, the latest controversy to rock her seven-year reign stems from the sharp surge in official development assistance (ODA) from China, an emerging economic behemoth, and the Philippines’s growing inability to impose its procurement policies and procedures on ODA projects.
A six-month study of project documents by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also showed that seven of 10 projects reviewed fall short of economic benefits promised, even after completion and roll-out.
Squatters and the city
By Cherry Ann T. Lim and Rene H. Martel
Editor: Cherry Ann T. Lim
Sun.Star Cebu August 11-14, 2008
Every Christmas season, a controversial taipan plays Santa to a number of justices in the Court of Appeals. With the help of two retired CA justices, he would distribute gift checks to the magistrates who would graciously accept the harmless offering. Or so it seems.
It would have been a simple act of generosity were it not for the fact that the taipan has a string of pending cases in various courts. He knows how to cultivate goodwill to ensure that his business thrives.
Quedancor swine program another fertilizer scam
By VERA Files
Published in BusinessMirror on September 2 and 4, 2008, Malaya and The Manila Times on September 1-3, 2008 and Philippines Graphic on September 15, 22 and 29, 2008
Aura Dew Escanlar was all set to take the nursing board examinations that December of 2004 when she decided instead to put up a piggery.
What changed her mind was an offer from the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor). Called “the poor man’s financing institution,” the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) credit guarantee arm was giving out loans in the form of piglets and feeds, with a buy-back scheme that assured borrowers some income.
Escanlar then used her parents’ savings to build pigpens and buy piglets, and signed up for the Quedancor Swine Program (QSP). Less than a year later, Escanlar lost almost everything. The income from the buy-back scheme was always delayed, and the feeds came late or were not delivered at all. After 50 of her piglets died, Escanlar stormed the Quedancor regional office here. “You have turned my farm into a graveyard,” she told Quedancor employees.
Less than 10 people in plot; 5 core, 5 others 'in the know'
By Fe Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer August 21-27, 2008
An hour after former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. was shot dead on Aug. 21, 1983, a military agent verbally reported to his unit commander his assignment of monitoring the tarmac of the Manila International Airport.
After listening to the report, the commander said: “O, who was there?” The agent replied: “Si Colonel Abadilla po, sir.”
The unit commander did not ask further questions. He knew, chief of the Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) Intelligence and Security Group of the then Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police). They had coordinated with each other on several operations. They understood the culture of their job. An officer does not show up in any place if he had no business being there. In their kind of work, there were no coincidences.
"To focus attention and encourage reporting on the urgent issues of human rights, the environment, and governance and corruption, the JVOAEJ awards this year still scanned both investigative and explanatory articles on these three topics, but added a fourth theme, the economic and financial crisis," CMFR said in its announcement.
This will be the thirteenth year that the Canadian Embassy will award the Marshall McLuhan Prize, a travel study tour of Canada to one of the winners.
CMFR will hold the awards and the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Seminar on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at the SGV Hall, 3/F AIM Conference Center Manila (Benavidez cor. Trasierra Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City). The seminar will be held at 9:30 AM. The awards ceremony will follow at 11:30 a.m.
The first JVOAEJ were given in 1990 to honor the late Jaime V. Ongpin, who was secretary of finance during the Aquino administration and press freedom advocate. For more information about this year's JVOAEJ, please click here. For additional information, please click here.
On a personal note, this is my first post after a long blog hiatus (again). I hope the change in the layout and the need to update the links (I'm still not finished copying here the links from the old template, sorry) will persuade me to blog more often.