6th post, students’ file vol. 6


  1. Student 5 |

Hi Ma’am,Thanks for editing my article about Maila Ager. Looking forward to the class discussion. -J. HermosaFeb 4, 5:16 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Jessica Hermosa on an Inquirer reporter’s article & apparent “pattern”

  1. dianne rosario |

Bulletin violates code of ethics
By Dianne Rosario, Student 11 Student 11 Student 11 Student 11 Student 11
1st blog entry
Unedited by blog administrator
In its article ‘Stop using asphalt overlay on major streets, MMDA told’ (see article below), the Manila Bulletin failed to get the side of the MMDA in the issue. It only quoted a former DPWH official and a jeepney operator as its main sources. Thus, the Bulletin violated the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct of the Philippine Press Institute which states that “All efforts must be exerted to make stories fair, accurate and balanced. Getting the other side is a must… The other side must run on the first take of the story and not any day later.”
(NOTE: The jeepney operator, Antonio Robel, was used as a source before in another article. http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2005/05/17/MTNN2005051734913.html)
Moreover, the source was not properly identified. The name of the former DPWH official was not revealed, neither the reason(s) for withholding the name of the said official. Again, the Bulletin violated another provision in the Code of Ethics: “As a rule, anonymous sources shall be discouraged, especially if they are coming from the public sector or publicly accountable agencies. But when we have to shield the identity of our source—because revealing it would put his/her job or life in danger—we must: First ascertain the truth of his/her assertions; Determine if he/she is not a polluted source or an interested or beneficial party; Describe him/her in a manner that would establish his/her expertise or right to speak on the subject.” These, however, were not justified in the article.
In this case, I don’t think the situation was life-threatening. The source was merely giving a suggestion. Would that kill him? Would he lose his job? Also, it wasn’t mentioned if the source personally requested that he be not identified.
Stop using asphalt overlay on major streets, MMDA told
By Chito A. Chavez
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was asked to change its method of repairing roads in Metro Manila to make the repairs more cost-effective and to protect motorists at the same time.
A former high ranking official of the Department of Public Works an Highways (DPWH) made the call following numerous complaints on the frequent overlaying of asphalt along national roads and highways of the metropolis.
He said pedestrians and motorists have noticed that the layers of asphalt have made street curbs and gutters dangerous to unsuspecting motorists especially at night and during heavy rains.
A jeepney driver protested that the thick asphalt coating damaged his axle and other major parts underneath his vehicle when he was maneuvering towards a loading and unloading bay at the side of the road.
“Pambihira naman, ilang patong na aspalto, kitang kita naman siguro ng ga engineer ito, di man lamang inayos para hindi naman malusot ang mga sasakyan. Ang gutter naging sing-lalim na ng kanal. Tiyak wasak na naman ang pang-ilalim ko. Gastos na naman,” jeepney operator Antonio Robel said.
Instead of resulting to asphalt overlay, the MMDA ang DPWH district offices should use the squaring process of repairing damaged positions of the roadway to save on costs, the former DPWH official said.
He cited Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay for doing away with asphalt and repaving many city roads with concrete instead.
“Concrete is economical in the long run due to its lower maintenance costs and tested durability. Unlike asphalt, concrete roads can withstand floods even for long hours,” the former DPWH official said.
He said MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando should discourage the overlaying of asphalt on streets unless absolutely necessary.
“It is a common knowledge that Fernando is the DPWH head in Metro Manila. I think he should look into this problem. Sayang ang pera. Ayos pa pinapatungan agad,” he said.
He suggested that Fernando facilitate the construction of a government-owned asphalt or batching plant to save on repair and maintenance costs of national roads of inner streets.
In the meantime, he said, the government should immediately acquire a milling machine where discarded asphalt may be recycled and re-used for patching potholes and damaged roads.
–Manila Bulletin, January 29, 2007Feb 3, 7:10 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Jessica Hermosa on an Inquirer reporter’s article & apparent “pattern”

  1. kelly |

HO!hi.
Good article!
Feb 2, 10:09 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — About

  1. dianne rosario | drosario04@yahoo.com |

Bulletin violates code of ethics
By Dianne Rosario, Student 11 Student 11 Student 11 Student 11 Student 11
1st blog entry
Unedited by blog administrator
In its article ‘Stop using asphalt overlay on major streets, MMDA told’ (see article below), the Manila Bulletin failed to get the side of the MMDA in the issue. It only quoted a former DPWH official and a jeepney operator as its main sources. Thus, the Bulletin violated the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct of the Philippine Press Institute which states that “All efforts must be exerted to make stories fair, accurate and balanced. Getting the other side is a must… The other side must run on the first take of the story and not any day later.”
(NOTE: The jeepney operator, Antonio Robel, was used as a source before in another article. http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2005/05/17/MTNN2005051734913.html)
Moreover, the source was not properly identified. The name of the former DPWH official was not revealed, neither the reason(s) for withholding the name of the said official. Again, the Bulletin violated another provision in the Code of Ethics: “As a rule, anonymous sources shall be discouraged, especially if they are coming from the public sector or publicly accountable agencies. But when we have to shield the identity of our source—because revealing it would put his/her job or life in danger—we must: First ascertain the truth of his/her assertions; Determine if he/she is not a polluted source or an interested or beneficial party; Describe him/her in a manner that would establish his/her expertise or right to speak on the subject.” These, however, were not justified in the article.
In this case, I don’t think the situation was life-threatening. The source was merely giving a suggestion. Would that kill him? Would he lose his job? Also, it wasn’t mentioned if the source personally requested that he be not identified.
Stop using asphalt overlay on major streets, MMDA told
By Chito A. Chavez
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was asked to change its method of repairing roads in Metro Manila to make the repairs more cost-effective and to protect motorists at the same time.
A former high ranking official of the Department of Public Works an Highways (DPWH) made the call following numerous complaints on the frequent overlaying of asphalt along national roads and highways of the metropolis.
He said pedestrians and motorists have noticed that the layers of asphalt have made street curbs and gutters dangerous to unsuspecting motorists especially at night and during heavy rains.
A jeepney driver protested that the thick asphalt coating damaged his axle and other major parts underneath his vehicle when he was maneuvering towards a loading and unloading bay at the side of the road.
“Pambihira naman, ilang patong na aspalto, kitang kita naman siguro ng ga engineer ito, di man lamang inayos para hindi naman malusot ang mga sasakyan. Ang gutter naging sing-lalim na ng kanal. Tiyak wasak na naman ang pang-ilalim ko. Gastos na naman,” jeepney operator Antonio Robel said.
Instead of resulting to asphalt overlay, the MMDA ang DPWH district offices should use the squaring process of repairing damaged positions of the roadway to save on costs, the former DPWH official said.
He cited Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay for doing away with asphalt and repaving many city roads with concrete instead.
“Concrete is economical in the long run due to its lower maintenance costs and tested durability. Unlike asphalt, concrete roads can withstand floods even for long hours,” the former DPWH official said.
He said MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando should discourage the overlaying of asphalt on streets unless absolutely necessary.
“It is a common knowledge that Fernando is the DPWH head in Metro Manila. I think he should look into this problem. Sayang ang pera. Ayos pa pinapatungan agad,” he said.
He suggested that Fernando facilitate the construction of a government-owned asphalt or batching plant to save on repair and maintenance costs of national roads of inner streets.
In the meantime, he said, the government should immediately acquire a milling machine where discarded asphalt may be recycled and re-used for patching potholes and damaged roads.
–Manila Bulletin, January 29, 2007Feb 1, 4:06 PM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — trail

  1. student 12 | “Why Speak on Y-Speak”
    By Kristine Servando
    Student 12 Student 12 Student 12

J192 MWX
2nd Blog entry
(unedited by blog administrator)
For a field trip for comm theory class, I had the opportunity to be an audience member on Studio 23’s youth debate or youth-centered public affairs program called “Y-Speak”, hosted by B i a n c a
G o n z a l e s and D J Moe. It is in fact pursuant to the KBP’s statute that stations should provide a forum for articulating views, opinions and comments from all sectors of society.
On their episode entitled “All’s fair in WAR”, the show was supposed to tackle the issue of whether or not to keep “wars” among celebrities or politicians private or to broadcast them in public through media. The first segment of the show included a panel of celebrity speakers whereas the second half of the episode was spent interviewing controversial media figures such as
Jo – ann M a g l i p o n and E r w i n T u l f o.
I had the chance to observe several ethical violations committed by the show and Mr. E r w i n T u l f o during the taping and when the show was aired last Sunday, January 28, 2007. They are the following:1) In the first segment of the episode, the show was supposed to clarify to its viewers whether or not one should keep fights public or private especially when it concerns public figures and public officers. However, the show deviated from this theme somewhat when they interspersed the story of two teenagers undergoing a break-up in lieu of the debate. They invited the girl and boy on the set, and interviewed both of them separately about the breakup and their opinions on the issue (should we keep fights public or private?) then staged a reconciliation between the two at the end of the segment. It was of the girl’s opinion that conflicts should be kept and solved in PRIVATE but no one seemed to note the irony that she was broadcasting their break-up on national television. The ethical violation here was when the show failed to contextualize the inclusion of these two and their story or to at least specify which school they both came from. The show failed to attribute and explain to the viewers how these two were chosen by the show in order to air their breakup story. (In short, as my seatmate asked me, saan nila napulot yung dalawang mag-siyota?)
Although using a break-up as an example may appeal to the young viewers of the show, YSpeak missed the issue at hand (that is, should we broadcast quarrels in showbiz and politics?) by dwelling on a personal break-up, somehow misleading the audience. This is in violation of KBP’s Code stating: “Public affairs programs shall be geared towards building an enlightened citizenry through the discussion and clarification of issues of national and international significance.”
2) Mr. M o n T u l f o, when asked by an audience member whether or not he is, as a journalist, a good role model for the youth, responded by saying that it is the youth who must tell him if he’s doing a good job or not. “Alam kong sinasabi nila ‘yang mga Tulfong yan mura nang mura’ pero kasi talagang maraming… excuse my saying, GAGONG politiko diyan eh.” Although this latter statement was met with laughs and applause, it is my view that this instance is a violation of KBP’s code on public affairs programs stating: “Name-calling and personal insults are prohibited. Constructive rather than negative criticism shall be emphasized and shall be based on fact. The language used shall not be vulgar, obscene, derogatory or inflammatory as determined by prevailing legal and community standards.”Feb 1, 10:48 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Conrad S.C. Lacsina on Phil. Star coverage of U.S. Balikatan

  1. student 12

“Why Speak on Y-Speak”
By Kristine Servando
(unedited by blog administrator)For a field trip for comm theory class, I had the opportunity to be an audience member on Studio 23’s youth debate or youth-centered public affairs program called “Y-Speak”, hosted by B i a n c a
G o n z a l e s and D J Moe. It is in fact pursuant to the KBP’s statute that stations should provide a forum for articulating views, opinions and comments from all sectors of society.
On their episode entitled “All’s fair in WAR”, the show was supposed to tackle the issue of whether or not to keep “wars” among celebrities or politicians private or to broadcast them in public through media. The first segment of the show included a panel of celebrity speakers whereas the second half of the episode was spent interviewing controversial media figures such as
Jo – ann M a g l i p o n and E r w i n T u l f o.
I had the chance to observe several ethical violations committed by the show and Mr. E r w i n T u l f o during the taping and when the show was aired last Sunday, January 28, 2007. They are the following:1) In the first segment of the episode, the show was supposed to clarify to its viewers whether or not one should keep fights public or private especially when it concerns public figures and public officers. However, the show deviated from this theme somewhat when they interspersed the story of two teenagers undergoing a break-up in lieu of the debate. They invited the girl and boy on the set, and interviewed both of them separately about the breakup and their opinions on the issue (should we keep fights public or private?) then staged a reconciliation between the two at the end of the segment. It was of the girl’s opinion that conflicts should be kept and solved in PRIVATE but no one seemed to note the irony that she was broadcasting their break-up on national television. The ethical violation here was when the show failed to contextualize the inclusion of these two and their story or to at least specify which school they both came from. The show failed to attribute and explain to the viewers how these two were chosen by the show in order to air their breakup story. (In short, as my seatmate asked me, saan nila napulot yung dalawang mag-siyota?)
Although using a break-up as an example may appeal to the young viewers of the show, YSpeak missed the issue at hand (that is, should we broadcast quarrels in showbiz and politics?) by dwelling on a personal break-up, somehow misleading the audience. This is in violation of KBP’s Code stating: “Public affairs programs shall be geared towards building an enlightened citizenry through the discussion and clarification of issues of national and international significance.”
2) Mr. M o n T u l f o, when asked by an audience member whether or not he is, as a journalist, a good role model for the youth, responded by saying that it is the youth who must tell him if he’s doing a good job or not. “Alam kong sinasabi nila ‘yang mga Tulfong yan mura nang mura’ pero kasi talagang maraming… excuse my saying, GAGONG politiko diyan eh.” Although this latter statement was met with laughs and applause, it is my view that this instance is a violation of KBP’s code on public affairs programs stating: “Name-calling and personal insults are prohibited. Constructive rather than negative criticism shall be emphasized and shall be based on fact. The language used shall not be vulgar, obscene, derogatory or inflammatory as determined by prevailing legal and community standards.”Feb 1, 10:46 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Conrad S.C. Lacsina on Phil. Star coverage of U.S. Balikatan

  1. J. Hermosa, Student 5 | Journalist quotes Rep. Puentevella too often
    By Jessica Hermosa
    Student 5 Student 5 Student 5

J192 MWX
2nd Blog Entry
Unedited by blog administrator
I came across an old article in INQ7.net by Maila Ager and Lira Dalangin-Fernandez that suspiciously looked like a PR article. Using the Search command box on the website, I then found that Ager had authored around 20 articles that favorably mentioned Rep. Puentevella. I read through some of the articles and I noticed an alarming pattern: she quoted Rep. Puentevella even for stories which, in my opinion, had nothing to do with him. In a number of these articles, Rep. Puentevella was an irrelevant personality in the situation being reported, and his quotations were merely placed for publicity’s sake. In an article mainly about Antonio Cojuanco’s alleged involvement in the taping General Lim’s withdrawal from Pres. Arroyo for instance, she quoted (at the end) Rep. Puentevella and Rep. Edwin Uy’s opinions on the issue. These congressmen however, were not even key players in the issue.She even devoted a whole article to Rep. Puentevella’s and Rep. Uy’s statements against the Senate’s allegations that the House was railroading the passing of the anti-terror bill. 8 of 9 paragraphs contained quotes from Rep. Puentevella and Rep. Uy.In another article, Maila Ager again quoted Rep. Puentevella’s statements against Hyatt 10 and the rest of the opposition leaders. The entire article centered on his and Rep. Nograles’ quotes. She unnecessarily/irrelevantly quoted Rep. Puentevella in various articles with topics like Pacquaio’s Las Vegas match, Drilon’s involvement in the Northrail probe, the wiretapping incident, the postponement of the ASEAN summit, and illegal logging operations (Rep. Puentevella is chairman of the House transportations and communications committee, and not a significant key player in environmental issues).If she were indeed _________ (blog administrator: i removed three words for legal reasons; even if the tone is hypothetical. I’ll explain in class why) for these articles, then she “could be perceived to be” (blog administrator: i replaced two words for legal reasons; i’ll explain in class why) in violation of ethical provisions that prohibit the acceptance of “cash or gifts in kind from politicians and political parties”, and the employment for “paid or unpaid work for a politician or political organization” (PPI Expanded Code of Ethics). Visit http://onesideofjess.livejournal.com/33249.html for a compilation of some of these articles.
(The newly constructed Inquirer.net website had broken links and some of the old stories are not accessible there anymore.)
This compilation, however, does not cover all of her past contributions. Her editor would be a better judge of this possible violation. And even if it can’t be proven that she is indeed _____________ (blog administrator: i removed three words for legal reasons; i’ll explain in class why), she is still guilty of writing unbalanced and improperly emphasized stories.Feb 1, 10:08 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Conrad S.C. Lacsina on Phil. Star coverage of U.S. Balikatan

  1. WAN | the best to do is compiling all these into one single page.. i’m trying..

Jan 31, 11:15 AM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — thanks everyone! this blog debuted at Top 20, worldwide, WordPress Growing Blogs

  1. Conrad S.C. Lacsina | Untruth Prevailed
    First Blog Entry
    By: Conrad S.C. Lacsina
    Student 7 Student 7 Student 7 Student 7 Student 7

Unedited by Blog administrator The Philippine Star truly lives up to its slogan that truth shall prevail— so long as it is told by government officials and powerful nations like the United States through its embassy in the Philippines. Under the headline “Balikatan to resume Feb. 18” on its front page, the Star reported the resumption of the joint military exercises of American and Filipino troops. The news article quoted only government and US Embassy sources, thereby violating the first provision of The Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics of the KBP, to wit:
“I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.”
The news article is quoted here verbatim from the front page of The Philippine STAR, Wednesday, January 24, 2007:
“Balikatan to resume Feb. 18
“Philippine and American troops will resume on Feb.18 their joint annual military exercises, focusing on Jolo where an ongoing military offensive has killed two Abu Sayyaf leaders.
“The resumption of the “Balikatan” war games came weeks after the US pulled out of the military exercise at the height of the custody battle over convicted rapist Marince Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith. Washington said the exercise could go ahead after the Philippine government agreed to hand over Smith, 21, to the US Embassy during his appeal.
“ ‘The exercise the, the 23rd in the series, will be conducted under the auspices of the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement,’ a US Embassy statement distributed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines said. The exercises end March 4.
“The resumption of the war games, the statement said, reflects the ‘robust and active military partnership’ between the Philippines and the US.
“The coming Balikatan will also include medical missions and engineering projects to be carried out by US and Filipino troops.
“ ‘These will complement similar activities carried out during Balikatan 2006 in the Sulu region as well as ongoing operations by the US Joint Special Operations Task Force- Philippines,’ the statement said. The Balikatan usually involves 3,000-5,000 US troops.
“ ‘As we said all along any kind of training will be good for our forces, in fact good for both sides,’ AFP chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.
“The annual training has proven crucial for Philippine troops, which announced over the weekend they had killed Abu Sayyaf chief Khadaffy Janjalani in a jungle battle in Jolo in September. DNA test results confirmed his death on Saturday.
“Days earlier, Philippine army special forces gunned down Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Solaiman, who was seen as a possible successor to Janjalani.
“Janjalani and Solaiman were accused of plotting the kidnapping of American and Filipino tourists from a resort in Palawan in 2001, during which one of the Americans, Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded. The two were also believed to have masterminded the 2004 ferry blast that killed 116 people in Manila.
“The battlefield successes, backed by US intelligence operations, prompted CIA Director Michael Hayden last week to praise US-Philippine cooperation as having ‘contributed greatly to strengthening the capacity of the Philippine armed forces and the Philippine security services.’
“ ‘Our victories against the Abu Sayyaf highlight the success of our training and intelligence fusion programs with the United States,’ said President Arroyo.
“The 2001 kidnapping spree by the Abu Sayyaf brought the first American troops to Mindanao.
“They have since maintained a presence in Zamboanga City and nearby Jolo, the hotbed of Muslim militants.
“The US decision to push ahead with Balikatan was announced by US Charges d’affaires Paul Jones during a visit to Jolo, Sulu last Jan.8.
“The US official was in a command conference presided over by Mrs. Arroyo at Camp Bautista in Barangay Busbus in Jolo.
“In Palo, Leyte, members of the 3rd US Marine Expeditionary Brigade offered gifts last Sunday to 132 children, including victims of the deadly mudslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. The gift-giving is part of the Okinawa-based unit’s “Operation Goodwill Delivery.”
“The gift-giving was held at the Leyte Gulf Landings Memorial National Park.
“ ‘We are here once again in our annual operation Goodwill in the Philippines to extend and share our blessings to the poor children,’ Brig. Gen. Joseph Medina, the group’s leader, said. From Okinawa, the group arrived in Subic and later proceeded to Leyte. ‘The gifts came from our hearts,’ Medina said.”
—With Miriam Desacada and AP
The news was about the resumption of the Philippines-US joint military exercises in Sulu and Zamboanga, provinces in Mindanao that are said to be Abu Sayyaf strongholds.
Now, the Abu Sayyaf is indeed one of the scourges of the Philippine society. It is, unquestionably, a criminal group because of its acts of violence indiscriminately conducted all over the country. It kidnapped tourists in Palawan and beheaded an American in 2001, bombed a Superferry ship and killed 116 people in 2004, bomb marketplaces and other public places killing civilians and injuring even more innocent bystanders. And by doing these, it trivialized the justifiable aspiration of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a Muslim state separate from the rest of the Christian Philippines who have always ignored them. The Philippine state, through its military, must therefore rid our society of this scourge.
But while reporting on Abu Sayyaf, another potential source of fear and dread has been conveniently ignored by journalists. The Balikatan was a contentious issue in 2002 when this joint Philippines-US military exercises commenced. Like the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement that has been the subject of criticism and objection recently, there was widespread opposition to it based on valid and alarming reasons. Think of “My brother is not a pig” or more recently, the Subic rape case and Nicole.
Notice that the Star news article did not even have a byline. It was conveniently tagged “With….” Perhaps because the news article was a reproduction of a press release from the US Embassy? It’s awkward, of course, to put there by Ambassador Christie Kenney or from the US Embassy. But those are speculations, of course.
After breaking the nutshell of the news in its lead— “Philippine and American troops will resume on Feb. 18 their joint annual military exercises, focusing on Jolo where an ongoing military offensive has killed two Abu Sayyaf leaders,” it gave a background of why the exercises is going to be a “resumption” of what would otherwise be an undisturbed activity. It implied that the conviction of Daniel Smith and the presiding judge’s adherence to the rule of law by refusing to hand over the convict to the US Embassy got in the way of Balikatan:
“The resumption of the Balikatan war games came weeks after the US pulled out of the military exercise at the height of the custody battle over convicted rapist Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith. Washington said the exercise could go ahead after the Philippine government agreed to hand over Smith, 21, to the US Embassy during his appeal.”
In between the quotes from the US Embassy statement, the reporter thought it necessary to write about the extracurricular activities to be conducted by the American and Filipino troops:
“The coming Balikatan will also include medical missions and engineering projects to be carried out by US and Filipino troops.”
Afterwards, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was quoted through its chief, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr:
“As we said all along any kind of training will be good for our forces, in fact good for both sides.”
Perhaps in an attempt to do her part in making less offensive and more acceptable the unpopular and controversial presence of the American troops in our country, the reporter or whoever wrote the article, presented her interpretation of the importance of the joint exercises in the light of the successes of the Philippine military against the Abu Sayyaf. It is, however, more of a misinterpretation:
“The annual training has proven crucial for Philippine troops, which announced over the weekend they had killed Abu Sayyaf chief Khaddafy Janjalani in a jungle battle in Jolo in September. DNA results confirmed his death on Saturday.”
Of course, part of the credit goes to that training but that must not be overemphasized so as to remove the objectionable features of Balikatan. It can be clearly inferred from the previous that without the “annual training” of the Philippine military by the American troops, Janjalani would not have been killed and for this, the presence of the American troops in the country is something Filipinos should be thankful of. Thus, the truth was distorted through the improper emphasis of the training of Philippine soldiers by the American troops. The writer would have been more accurate had she just go by a later passage from her article: “the battlefield successes, backed by US intelligence operations…” if what she meant by “the annual training has proven crucial” are the intelligence reports the American troops provided the Philippine military. (This is a digression: More suspicious and cynical readers would even think that the writer stopped short of reporting that it was the American troops that had killed Janjalani. If that were so, the RP-US VFA has been violated.)
Afterwards, another background on the terrorist activities of the Abu Sayyaf was provided and another official was quoted. This time it was CIA Director Michael Hayden praising US-Philippine cooperation for having…
“…contributed greatly to strengthening the capacity of the Philippine armed forces and the Philippine security services.”
Then, it was the turn of another government official that goes by the name of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be quoted:
“Our victories against the Abu Sayyaf highlight the success of our training and intelligence fusion programs with the United States.”
How much more official can you get than that?
In the next paragraph, the reporter provided an explanation of the presence of American troops in Mindanao— in one sentence:
“The 2001 kidnappings spree by the Abu Sayyaf brought the first American troops to Mindanao.”
This the writer did without benefit of an expert. Those who care enough about world affairs, of course, will have reservations about accepting this explanation. There just might be more reasons than that simplistic explanation like geopolitics or balance of power or preemptive strike or any other military and security strategies, etc.
Still, the writer didn’t know when to stop. Relying solely on her native intelligence, she attempted to justify the Americans’ continued presence. Thus proceeding from the last quoted paragraph, she added:
“They have since maintained a presence in Zamboanga City and nearby Jolo, the hotbed of Muslim militants.”
If she meant that terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf abound in the two provinces, she misused “Muslim militants” which is not synonymous with “terrorists.” American troops have no business going after Muslim militants or any other militants for that matter. Mentioning the presence of the American troops and Muslim militants in one breath imputes a bad meaning to both “Muslim” and “militants.” It is as if being a militant and more so, a Muslim militant is enough reason for American troops to prey on somebody. In many democratic countries, the Philippines included, militants, Muslim militants included, are not fair game for the military.
Near the end of the article, the writer reported that a US Charges d’affaires announced the resumption of the Balikatan more than two weeks ago in Jolo. Makes you wonder why this is being peddled just now as “news.”
To go by the article, it takes this particular news that long to reach Manila. (Of course, it was news a couple of weeks ago. No matter, it is still being peddled by the article as news more than two weeks later.) But the swiftness with which the writer shifted from Jolo to Leyte was truly a feat because right in the next paragraph is an account of the heroism of the American troops:
“In Palo, Leyte, members of the US Marine Expeditionary Brigade offered gifts last Sunday to 132 children, including victims of the deadly mudslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. The gift-giving is part of the Okinawa-based unit’s “Operation Goodwill Delivery.”
Initially, one would wonder what that good operation has to do with the news of the resumption of the Balikatan? Then one remembers that Smith was based in Okinawa when he hopped over to Subic. The news took pains to mention the itinerary of the group: Okinawa-Subic-Leyte. So it must be clear to everyone that the main destination of the American troops is Leyte to do some goodwill and not to Subic to have a good time in not exactly a good manner.
And if all those officials speaking were not enough to portray the American troops and their presence in the country as the manna from heaven that will solve a considerable number of our problems, the writer quoted a statement made by— surprise!— another official, Brig. Gen. Joseph Medina:
“We are here once again in our annual operation Goodwill in the Philippines to extend and share our blessings to the poor children.”
As a finale, the author has this quote from Medina who said without missing a beat:
“The gifts came from our hearts.”
Now this is not to berate the American troops and all those officials. This is meant to show one ethical violation Philippine journalists are wont to commit. It was already mentioned that the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups, because of their activities that are absolutely devoid of any good purpose by whatever standard, deserves to be wiped out off the face of this country and this earth. If we are to be rid of the Abu Sayyaf, wouldn’t we, perceived as a perpetually optimistic and happy people, become even more optimistic and happier? At the same time, the American troops and their presence here in the country are not evil per se. We need all the help we can get. Everyone is welcome to help us attain development and progress for everyone by all legal and moral means.
What was objectionable was the way the writer of the news article disregarded the opposition to the Balikatan exercises despite incidents in the past. This is an omission of the truth. The opposition to Balikatan is real, widespread and valid enough to warrant mention in the article in the interest of truth telling. The reporter did not have to dig deep into the archives of the library to know the opposition to the joint military exercises and some people who have different tunes to sing about the issue. By reading the article, anyone not acquainted with the affairs of the country would have thought that Balikatan is a non-issue because by citing only official sources, it was presented as such. A cursory research would have sufficed owing to the recentness of the Subic Rape Case and the many sectors and organizations that opposed the Balikatan.
Three other newspapers reported the same news on the same day. All of them seemed to put the blame of the disruption of the joint exercises on the conviction and the subsequent imprisonment at the Makati City Jail of Smith. All of them gave emphasis to the humanitarian activities of the American troops as justification for their continued presence here. And most objectionable is that all of them disregarded the other sides of the news by relying solely on government officials and US Embassy statements as sources of information.
Take a look at the relevant headlines and the sources of three other newspapers on the resumption of Balikatan printed January 24, 2007.
From the Manila Times: US help crucial in defeating terrorists. Its sources: President Arroyo, US Embassy. From the Manila Standard Today: Large-scale RP-US military exercises on next month. Its sources: “US Embassy,” sources it identified as “officials,” “government troops,” “CIA Director Michael Hayden,” and “Pres. Arroyo.” the Philippine Journal, in turn, showed a photo of US Marines distributing relief goods to mudslide victims in Leyte. Its caption: REACHING OUT. US Marines from the 3rd expeditionary brigade based on Okinawa in Japan distribute goods to the victims of typhoon Durian. Some 25,000 pounds of relief goods, including toys, rice, health care items, food and clothes were delivered to families devastated by typhoons and mudflows that killed over 1,000 people last month.
In fairness to Philippine Journal, it published an article about the mass protests being planned by those opposing the Balikatan exercises. However, the article was put under the US Marines photo. Besides, the article was not as prominently highlighted as the other news about the successes of the military campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao and the joint military exercises of the US and Filipino troops.
It must also be mentioned that on the page opposite the previously mentioned article on the Star, was another news article, this time of Arroyo praising both the US and Filipino troops for their victories against the Abu Sayyaf. The article occupied half of a page and had government officials and a speech delivered by Arroyo, as the sources of information. There was also no mention of the opposition to the Balikatan and the RP-US VFA.
There is no question that the Balikatan exercises is a matter of public interest. It is just proper to treat this newsworthy issue with more care and more attention by doing more research and by giving equal space to the views of the other interested parties. The press is the servant of the citizenry and the powerless, not of the government officials and the powerful. In view of the occurrences of government abuses and crimes by American soldiers in our country, the Philippine press must closely scrutinize their activities and inform the public about them. Philippine journalists can do this by not relying solely on official sources of information and by giving equal space to the other interested parties to the issue, the locals included.
Of course, those officials are valid sources of information and quotes but what is wrong is the heavy emphasis and space allotted to them to the complete disregard of the other potential sources of news.
Such is the state of Philippine journalism now: the watchdog getting warm and cozy to the watched and in the process, depriving other sectors in the society the opportunity to have their howls of protests against government excesses and abuses be heard.

Jan 30, 1:34 PM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — Notes of Kristine Felisse C. Mangunay on Ch.5’s Sentro

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