with a grant I om The Asia Foundation

Organized by the Cente for Media Freedo and Responsibll y

A Multi Sectoral Perspective

Report on the National Roundtable Discussion

Corruption in Media:

A Multi-Sectoral Perspective

A Summary Report

on the National Roundtable Discusston

October S.1 0, 1999

Development Academy of the Phillpplnes (OAf) Conference Center Tagaytay City, PhiUppines

O.rgam1~zed by the

Genter for Media. freedom and Re-spo[Js~b:ili:ty

with agrent from The Asla foundation

Copyright 2000 by the Center for Media freedom and Resp onslbilUy, Ph Hi P pi nes

AI~ rights reserved. No part ,of ;this report may '~r'e:produood in any form or by arry electronic or mecnanicat means,iI1duding ilf'lfDrma:tiOill storage and retrieval systems, without pewmission w~iijl1g lfrom the pu bUslller; except by ,11 reviewer who may quote bri.ef passges In a review,

EcU®o:iS:: lJlUis V. Teodoro iMild Me~,i nda Quinws de J:e5US

Cover deslgn. ~masinaNon Inc.

Audo Works &.. Video Proouotians and Ma. Rose:l~,e' Miranda

In RecognItion of Raul l.acson l.ocsln journellst, Publisher/Owner of Bus~nessWor]d

Participants at the Corruption in Media Roundtable Discussion conveyed tbelrcongratulatlons to Business,World publisher Raul Lacscn Locsln for betng chosen as the '1999' Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism, literature and Creat~ve Commanlcenon Arts ..

'Ihlsaward ls a well-merited recognition of a Ur=e dedlcated

to ethica.~ v lues " .... ". ,~:" ·1 " I et - -.-" ,- -- -- .-I~,- .. --

__ _ .. _,. . a_e5 as pro!Css~,ona rompe enc.e ~n JournihJs.m.

- ,

lralso rests in Mr. locshla unique leadersblp role for PtliUpp~ne jourrrallsmete trume when the bllgbt of corruption erodes the ~deal.s of this vital lnstltutlon

c............ Ta_·· .. _b_ .• l'e~ .. _of_.·~ _c_lo_nt_e_n_ts_· .. ·· __ ~-=======-"')

The Overview of the Problem


A Summary Report of the

National Roundtable Discussion Proceedings


Folio 'Of Discussion Papers


r. The Constltutlonal Con text of Legtslanon on the Mass Media:

Exploring the Statutory Remedies

Available to Address Corruption In the Indus try LegIs/ative Rernedies

by Atty. Victor AvecU]Cl


2. The Ro~e of the Business Cornrrnmfty Busine:ssperspective

by Guillermo UJZ


3. In Need of the Mediatrlx P"lbliCRelalions J'eIspeclive by Raul Contreras


4. Defining Corruption PubliC Reiations pelsp<xiive' by nanno Gozo


S. ReconnecUng with OUf PubUc JWedia Pcr.specli· i5'

by Chay Horenrino-Hofi.lefia


Corrupt/on in Medja



In recent years, the rnternauonal community has intensified. its focus on corruption as a factor in development The World. Bank. identified corruption In business and government among the causes of tile Asian crisis. rnrernanonal conferences have discussed the roles of government or the private sector in perpetratmg corrupt practices as well as combating the same,

As msuturions of power and. influence, the press and. media are clearly mvolved: although few discussions actually concentrate on the problems raised by a corrupt press or the unethical practices of journalists, Where the press ls an instrument of government authority, newspapers become instruments of politicians or government officials. where the press is free.jhe lack of responsimhty raises all kinds of problems as regulatory restraints can only be seen as a way of conrrollmg press independence.

In this Hght. the Center for Media Freedom & ResponsibilIty, a press-orlerued foundation based in Manila, has devetoped programs and collaborated on projects to promote professional ethics and responsibility In recent years, other news organizattons. civil society sectors and. funding partners have expressed interesr in the specnlc problem of media corruption. In 1998, CMFR Joined in the publicatlon of an investigative report of the PhHippine Cemer 'for Investigative Journaltsm (PCU):

News for Sale. The report written by Chay F~orenUno·Homen.a, examined how

payola and lncennve contracts corrupted the coverage of the elections .in 1995.

Later that year, Asia FoundaHon approached CMFR to explore the posslbillty of a larger program to address the problem of media corruption in (he Philippines. VI/hen the book News for Sale wa launched on February J], 1999. the event also served to formaJly start up the program that would engage various cornrnuntnes in search for solutions .

Corruption in the Philippine Media

The problem of media corruption in tile ,Philippines involves the parttcioeuon of various sectors, It is a political problem that requires poltucal win for Us remedies. Given the constltutlonal framework that protects press freedom. government's regulatory force is not easily appt ied. lrorucally, politicians and pubhc olncials are major players in the dynamics involved but government acrlon to regulate the conduct of the press would be perceived as untoward interference as well as unconsrnunonal. Thus, the project ser out to identify non-governmental mterventions. actlons wtthtn the private sector that are voluntarily promoted based on consensus or shared values.

It might help to appreciate why the Philippine solution should shy away from governmem mrervcnuon. The project has tramed the issue with special reference to the experience during the Marcos regime,

A SummalY Report on tbe .National.Rollncltable .Discu.ssion

a period whtch tnsnt unonaltzed press contra] with ~he bacJdng of Marl~a~ Law. rnl was a rlme wh en gove rn rneru systemartcally co-opted the press In Its l rea rrn e n t of news orgamza t tons. However. media corruption extsted even before MarHallaw-bul the pracnce was neuner sysremanc nor msmuuonauzed unUl Marcos established auihorlrartan rule,

Ftrom ]'972 until tne downfall of MarOOB. me Min~su;f of ~nformaUon and. the NaUonal Media Production Center. [WO agencies whlch managed government tntormauon. conrrotled and regula ~ed me flow of informalion with the cooperation of major prlvetelv-owned prtnt and broadcast organlzanons, Under the guise of voluntary setr-regutatton. the existing matnsrrearn press submt ned to jhe dlrecrtons of propaganda objectives" ,,"VUh few exceptions. 'the owners of newspapers and televlston networks were crony businessmen, fr]ends and relatives who benerlred in other ways from their agreement to provide Marcos-friendly coverage. The benetlts were dfustrfubuled to various members of the press. .A number of journallsts openly enjoyed speclal treatmenr and a range of perks and privileges from government. Government s ubsjdi,zed media coverage of ~he adrnlnlstrancn. Publ.ic ofn,cia~s readily distributed. allowances andlgifts. In general, people assjgned to cover Malacanang (offloe and. home of the Philippine preslderu) and the many foreign trips of tmetoa Maroos received mcennves ln varying degrees,

In 19S6.lhe year t.hat saw the downfall of [he MaKOS dtctatorsh~p and the dramatic ascendancy of Gomzont-\qu,ino to me presidency. a hberanzed press reclalmed its freedom from government control, A new consnrunon in 1987, raHfJ:ed by nanonal

plebiscne, assured press. freedom with ns clear prohlbirlon of laws abr]dging press autonomy. BUll the constltutlou could nOI promulgate against corrupnon. WUh the opentng up of "democratic space" in poltucs. the comperttton for power lnvolveo amances .in me press. nemocsacv opened up [he marker for payola and omer perks for journallsts. Government sources no Jonger m onopoltzed the-flow of mcen t ives to press pocke (S _ The framework of shared power allowed. other institutions to perncipate in POHcy~Fonnation. Thus business organizations and various groups began 1:0 see m ed]a as an l!1Strumem lha~ could he]p mem pursue [he~r agenda. N01 ell poltucalpress alliances were forged because 'Of ~.deo~og~.ca], parusan or lntellecroal kinstlip. Some were dlf~ven entirely by material or monetary issues, Soon enough" H became O:l:)V~OllS ~hal so much positive treaimem in the news was avatlable for a prtce, Furlhermore, busmessgroups and polmclans scrernoted to own newspapers. ra~sing an .kinds of conrUc~-of-imeres1 wssues in the coverage of news" 1n a report on the PhU]ppines, an inrernerlonal joumahst dubbed [he Filipino newspapers as ~ As~a'S most aUof,dable press,"

Corruption in media affects the way governrnem handles lts duties ln the same way that government artecrs the performance of the medta, The press .influence.s wf nor creams public oplraon, 170 tackle me tssue of corruption, ]1: Is ]mponanl to tsclde corruouoo in the medta and its effects on coverage, Since it was organlzed .in ~'989. CMFR has looked ]nto the issue of corrupnon in Us rnonlronng acnvlty and the publlcanon 'Off reports ]n the PhJHppine Journaltsm Rev~ew. BOth, activities focus onme media cornmunlty itself.

(. corruption in Media

This has not been an easy task, while there has been mud) talk. among the media about corruption asrealny, reponing on tile Issues fall short of naming names. ;-\S it has be n pointed out time and again, the naming of names in specific cases has not been possjble because no direct evidence is ever readily avallable. Be_.cause there are so many cases and. the practice of "incentives" so widespread, journalists themselves have become confused about what ls acceptable and standard practice. Is it all right to accept money to cover rransportatlon so that one can auend a press conference - a practice that is done often in the provinces where small newspapers do not provide transportation allowances in line of work.7vVhat gifts or other s.igns of goodwill from PR sources violate ethical. norms? Is eating an expensive meal courtesy of a source pronlntred? What about all expense paid 'field trips to sites arranged by companies who want the press to see some new development in their companies?

Tile situation ls not helped by the lack of public awareness about press ethics or standards. People, among them PR officers, presume that paying for U'J.e pubucanon of press releases Is an acceptable practjce,

There is even less understanding of the Impllcations 01 press corruptton on democracy and national polltics. ]f the press is seen as the watchdog of those In power, press or media corruption threatens [he critical capactry of the press fa check the abuse of power. Further: corruprlon ln the press derails journansm from its public mterest impulse, wtrhout public interest to balance Us commerclal motivation, H wi]] be more dffficult '(0 nurture an informed and engaged citizenry, without whom there can be no real democracy


CMFR has pushed for greater pubnc awareness of media corruption. through the involvement of its execunve director as resource person in various fora and through reporting and commentary in the Philippine Journalism Revjew. P JR has published a total of 14 articles on the Issue of corruption. reporting on cases mvesngated by either tile Philippine Press Institute (PP[) or the r-ianonal Press Ciub (!PC). Heporters have complained to CMFH about corruption in various press corps assigned to. governrnenr 'b ats.' But the capaclry of the CI\-'tFH is llrruted to raising awareness, advocacy and applying morat suasion ..

Because 'the corruption of media invol ves external sectors, CMFR has always perceived the issue as' requiring: broad societal. response. The media cannot be corrupted without others partic~pating in lts corruption. Because dlfterent news organizations hold the journalists to different kmds of values and discrpunes. an orgaruzanon like the _ hilippine Press mstitute (PPI)whicl'l is a national. association of publishers Is also limited In its capactty to correct the situation. A. Code of Eth.ics is a value system that needs to be tested in practice. And the PH has so far held back from the kind of industry-wide action to "clean up the stables." ®

A SumrnalY Report on tbe .NatJonal Roundtable Djscussion •



Given the Phrl~ppine experience, a program addressing medla and corrupuon has to be based on a mutu-secrorel perspective. TI1e objectives of the program were as follows:

1, ro engage a rnulrt-sectora! dscuss]on thaI willidenllfy straregles to check media corruption.

2:. To produce marerials that can be useful to different sectors In formuh:H~ng their own response to media corruption.

3, TO raise pubnc awareness about media co rru pt~ on and en hance puouc response to check corrupuon

The three key sectors lnreracting with the presszmedla were ]dent~fied as major actors: government, business and. me punuc rejanons cornmuruty

The Hole of Government

]n ]999. Senator M~ria.m Defensor SantIago soug.hJ 1O punish a.s crimes acts of media br]beIY" fHing Senate 8m NO, 280 enrttled ~The Cod"e of r=roreestonet Sfandards for the Pract~ce of poHtica.1 Public ReiaHons," 'rne biu initiates a role ror governmenrln addressing the problem of media corruption. The b~U seeks ro punish PH pracnrtoners dea]jng with media from engaging In unethlcal practices. it pinpoln led specttlc ecrlvlues (hat are deemed unethical, such as the giving off g,ifts of more (han nominal value, payments

for preterennal treatment in the news. and providing members of the media trips unreleted to legmrnate news interests, II is, by the senator's own admission, very closely modeled after the code of emlcs of the Pubtic Rdations Society in the United Sfates"

CMFR and. peu Invlre d senator Sanliago (0 be one of [he panelists at (he launching of [he book News for Sa]e, She explained that the regulatory action of the bill is llmlrod only on the Public Helations communlty and therefore should not be seen as encroacrnng on press autonomy. She also pointed OU~ that the impact of public relations on politics and political campaigns requires some kind of oversigtn action to make sure that these activities do not affect the democratic character of the political system.

Journahsnc reaction to the bm has been mixed A few expressed the fear thai the bUl comes too dose to interference with the conduct of rnedla itself. Months foUowing the HUng of the bill, Santiago's effort seems to have languished m the byways otleglslauve action.

The Role of Business

Th e bus! n eSB communi ry in the Philippines has played a cnncal role not only tn econom .. ic development 'Of the country. The business c-ommunity stepped forward to push for political reform during Mania.~ Lawwnne .its role in the anti-Marcos prot es t movern en t rna y neve been

eel Corruption in Media

motivated by self-interest, progressive elements in the business cornmuntty have since acted as partners in efforts of civ]] society or church to ~nitiate ponncal change. The MakaU Bus1ness Club (MBC) and the Finance Executjves tnsttture of the PhHippines (FlNEX) have been actively tnvorv d in various polrttcal and social iss ues, M Be ls a p ri va te bu s.i ness ass oc la t i on of s eni or execu nves representmg close to 4(1() of the largest corporations in the PhUipp.ines .. Three of its main activities include policy advocacy, information service and publishing, and investment promotion. It also addresses economic and social pollcy issues aftecUng the country.

The associanon was tormeo ]n 198~ with the mtennon of unittng the voices of the business community to advocate pohctes aimed at the development of the country us constructive cnuclsrn encompasses not only business policies but also sensitive issues such as governance and media control. One such example is MBC's September 1983 Media Dlalogue on the local meotas lack of coverage of Ninoy Aquino's assassination and. funeral. [t was then that the late Jaime Ongp.in observed thai forejgn rnedia coverage of Philippine events was more extensive than local media reports.

The F]nancial Executives msntute of the Phmppines is an organization of members of fmancjal management who are involved h1 the formulation of policies and decisions. Formed in 1968 by a group of Ilnanclal executives, its purpose is the development and advancement of the professional careers of its members with special emphasis on the field of modern business practice, its active involvement in the shaping of public opmlon and key policies coincide with [he medias role to influence


public opinion. Recently, P]NEX started up efforts to develop a code of ethics for its member tmanctal executives.

In g erier al, however, bustnes s cornpanles or business executives are part of (he process of media corruption. In seeking rnedla publicity for thetr comparnes and their products, the business community offers monetary' or other materia] mcennves ln exchange for desired coverage or for representing their s ide in cont rovers res lnvo lvlng th etr companies and officials. The operation of PR funds for the press is an acknowledged practice that many see as part of the game of product or company promotion It is quite probable (hal' many business executives have accepted T11]s practice without questionlng the ethics: that '[hey are simply unaware of any code of conduct that prohlblts the acceptance of monetary gifts for the publication of company news.

The aoie of Public RelaHons

The field of public relations has become establtsbed as a profession quite apart from advents i ng, It is defined as a management function that creates, develops, and carries out policies and programs to influence public oplrnon or public reaction about an idea, a product, or an organizanon, J Us purpose is to influence public opinion by creating. developing and prornottng jhe ideas, programs or products of Its diems.

PH shapes bustness reporting to an extent that they manage the flow of news from business sources to the rnedla VVhi.le Iegttlmare public relations practice can enhance the kind of news that the press

I. 'J"LJbJiC Rela.tiO!'ll..,"." Mfcl'o..,<;O/I@ Ef"lca,ra@!J7 £rtr.::yc/opc(/k1. e 1993-1900 M.icrosor, Corporation, All rigt'IitS reserved,

A Summary Report on the National RoundtabJr:;, Disc-ussion •

carries, PH practitioners can also corrupt the system of news and the way journallsm is practiced .. In execuung Us purpose, PH taints the flow of information because it can ]njen other issues other than the inh 'rem value of company n .... ws.

F0'llowing the trend abroad. the public relations comrnuntty in the Fllilippjnes has also organized their members in a professions] group. TO safeguard the crediblnty of tile profession, the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) 1'1 as recen tly beg unto ace red i t PH pracrtrloners through examinations consisting of a written exam and -1 revallda portion. wherein the practlnoner defends a t h ests before a pa nel of se n i or pracnnoners .. '1'0' date, only a handful. of rnern be rs of the orga n i za (ion ha ve undergone the exams.

Program Design

What sectors to involve in the discuss ion?'

tn des ign Ing rhls program, eM FR decided that we would not focus on the governments role, although it included a sesslonwhlch would allow parncipants to r view the exlsnng laws that have to do wittl the press and media in the Philippines. The discussion takes up three areas in tile private sector; the role of business, ihe role of me public relations cornrnunlry and the role of the media. A dlscusslon paper primes ideas for strategies and remedies [hal can be undertaken by the sector cono rned. vvith more parn ]pants coming from the media sector, a greater amount 001 time is given to the efforts of the press community trselt participants from. the business sector, the academe and PR cornrnunmes msure the mcfuslon of their

perspectives. Their mvolvement is also seen as a way of buUdjng up consensus to adopt corrective measures that wl I! help at least fO rntrumtze corruption in their lnreracnon with the media. ,®

C. COTIUption in Media


Program Actlvltles:

The program initiated two streams of acrlvlry:

]. Organizing a National Houndtable rnscussion on the issue with journalists from an over the l::;)h~lipp~nes partlcipat Ing. The purpose of [he discussion is. to identify do-able protects that will address the problem of corrupnon,

A As stgnmen t of four d tscussron papers. These papers serve to prime 111e discussions, The four subjects or themes taken up by the papers are as follows:

(I) Legislative remedies

(2) Hole of 'the business cornrnuntry (3) Role of the public relartons


(4)1 Formation of a press cornplamts councn

B. The presentations of the four papers provide a common framework of undorstandlng of the dJf[erenl perspectives lnvotved. The weekend schedule would include workshops for discussion of strategies and a plenary session where all parncjpants win ldentlfy strategies and ]niiiatives that can be undertaken by different groups! actors to control or mlnrmze corrupt practices as well as promote professional ethics and. values.

2. '1,lvr]ting two case studies on prcssmedla corruption to he lp illustrate and exemplify the reality. This component was undertaken by the i=cu peu decided that the two case studies 'would focus on the mreracnon of me media and. the offi.ce of the president. The presidency remains the most vjsU)le locus of pross/poltncs mreractlon. 'rnts ]5 due to the prlmacy of national n wspapers base-d in the rnetropolitan capital area" During the ESHada a drn trust ra t ion I M 8.18 canang's relationship with the press has been continually embroiled in controversy. 'rhese two case studies are designed to help both government and the press to understand better the flawed system mat allows so much corruption in the jnteraction of [he press with govemmem and public offficla~s covered ]n the news,

The design of the program intends acnvtrtes beyond its own UmUe-d s ope . .A.. complex problem like corruption cannot be solved with one or two strategies, Strategies cannot be put into motion 'Overnight Program, acnvmes are therefore seen as stan up efforts in a process that wUl require more ume and. resources hom journansrs and those who believe in the value of a free and independent press. ®

A Summary Report on (h,e National Roundtable .DiscussiOn •



Friday October 8, 19991



Iv1S. MEUNDA QU1~TOS DE JE.S·US Executive D]rector

Center for Medla Freedom and Responsib]Hty

Saturday October 9, .~ 99'9'

• SESSlON t: Legislative .Remedies



Assls (an '[ Pro f essor

College of Mass Communtcatton-tjrtiverat ty of the PhIlippines

Open Forum

• SESSION 2; Buslness Perspective


MR GUIUERMO M. WZ Executive Director Makatt Business Club

ooen Forum

• SESS]OI 3: PI~ i=orso ctivc pane~ Discussion

Resource persons:


Public Communication Associates


ASSOC]me Director of Corporate Affairs

Ayala Corporation



ChIef Executive Officer McCann-ErIckson Phlllppmes

Open Forum

• SESS[QN 4; Medla perspective


[\.'Is. MA .. tOURD -S MANG!-\lir\S Phlltpprne Center for tnvesngartve Journalism

Open Forum

'. SESSION 5: \'\Korkshops

Sunday October 10. 1999

• SESS~ON 6: Plenary Session to Discuss ResoJwions

• SCSSrON 7: Plenary Discussion for Action Plan

( • Corruption in Media

T·· ·-HE



.M linda Qutntos de Jesus was moderator for th ruin proceeding. mnoducing speakers, and facilitating the discussion. The group represented both national and community press orgenlzatlons,

Twenty-one (21) participants attended me roundtable discussion. These were:

L EugenIa Apostol, president, Foundation lor worldwlce people Power

2 Any Salvador Diputado. ednor-mchief. Bohal Times

3. Johnny Goluyugo, journanst, NewsWor]d

4. Bill Huang,. associate editor, Cyber oiarto

5. Rey Hulog,. execunve director; Kapisanan ng rnga Brodkaster os Pilipinas

6. Gerry Lmo, metro assistant editor, Phlllpplrre Daily mquirer

7. Hau~. t.ocsln, edltor-publtshec Businessworld

B. l\'~a.. Lourdes r-tangahas, fellow, Ph1Uppine Center for mvesugatlve Journalism

9. Bobby Manzano; communications manger. Coca Cola Export Corporation

to Juan Mercado, editorial director Press Foundation of Asia

u. ChUa Montes, on-line editor, Preeman in Cebu

tz, Maribel. Ongpin, columntst, 1bOOy is, Jose Pavia, editor-pubhsher; Sun.Star Mabuhay

14. Guillermo Santos. exe unve director; Phlllppme Press lnstitute

]5. vergel Santos; columnist BusinessWorld

16, Pau.lyn Paredes~Sjcam, ednor; Cyber Diarjo

17, John iremtl Teodoro. editor; Bandmo ng Palawan

lB, Luis Teodoro; dean of the College of Mass Communtcatton, tmtversfty of [he 1 hilippines.; managing edltor; Phmpp~ne Journallsm Revjew

]9', Marvin TOft. assistant news editor; BusinessWorld

20 Joselno \"'abul'. president Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Plllplnas

2,]" [sO;gan~ rambot, publisher, philippwne Daily Inquirer

Resource Persons:

Any. Victor t-\vecUla graduated from the Uruversiry of the Pl1H1ppines jn Dil.iman with a degree in broadcast commurucauon in l'9SI after which be enrolled at rhe UP' College 'Of Law for his Bachelor of laws degree, In .1994, he earned his masters degree in commurucat ion. majoring in broadcast cornmuntcatton In UR He ls currently an assistant professor of the College of Mass Communicallon. University of the Philippines" legal counsel of til CiTizens Legal Aid Society of the Philippines and historical consultant to the Philippin Judiciary Foundation and rhe PhiHppin Supreme Court

Gumermo t.uz has a degree in social sciences (SOCio~.ogy and. political science; from the Ateneo de Manila Univers]ty. He

A Summary Report on the National Roundtable Discussion

Mania] Law years, He becarn e Press Undersecretary in 1986 under the administration of then Pres tdent Cora zan Aqu lno, He Is now assoclate director of corporate affairs of the Ayala Corporation.

Emily Abrera ts a mass communications and jou rna Usm graduate of MaryknoU College (now M]riam College) and" the University of the PhiUpp~nes.. She was first hired in ~978 by M cC ann" E rl cks on F'hi Uppi nes as i IS

Creative Group Head.

She is currently the Pre5.ident and CEO of the agency as wen as the chairperson of the Ad Congress and a member of 41\5, TVRC and The Advertislng Board. She was recently given the UJetime Achievement Award. by 41\5 PhHipp]nes Creative GuUd.

Participtam i~ (he roundtable dscusson iKJp: John Ilrerflil "kOOoro. Bill Huang. VergellSartt05. Jose PQ,ViCl\ luan ~O; lsagani'rnmbot and rv'tIlVin ilr!:. NIlddle Raul)'n ParOOe5"SiRlm, rv~liooa Qurntos. de Jesru~ Eug,~~ AposIDI,. M;;lnb€1 OflQpin, CMffi staff Evetyn KajjgOOK, Guil!erm() Sa nros. Luis T~odQro and Bot\try Manzano.. Seated1 Gerry ~oo, O:i!to MGntes, :Salva~gr lDip~o and O~RR staff' Qwol P()~el€; Ederfc Pet'iZl!ftor Eder an.d rv\a\ Roselle Miranda. Nm. p.1crum IErni~ Abreltl, '\Actor ~il]a, Ratl~ Con1!reiRls, Johnn~ GoluyugQRey Hub) Raul ~nl Guilletvno Santos, fI.4.l Lourdes Mangahas and JoselitO Va but

has been a member of the Mal.<ah B~sJness Club, since 19183 and. became its execunve director in .mS7 .. Apart from hls duties to me MBC. he is also the secretary-general of the NaHonai Citizens Movement for Free E]ection (NM1FREU and is a member of the Economic Mobilizat]on Group's technical workin.g panel and MecUum ~erm Development P]an. Mr. Luz recently became the managing: director off The knowtecgemsutute, an afnnare of SGV &. Go.

Rau.l. Contreras is the president of PubHc Commun~cations ASSociates mc., B. pubHc reienons company. He also. writes a weekly column for the newspaper 'today,

Danilo Gozo gradoared with a degree in journalism from the University off the PhHlppines in 1968. He worked as a broadcast journalist before venturing into marketing cornmunicatlons during the

Chay FlorenUno·Hofile.na earned her masters degree in Journalism In 1998 from Columbia University in New York City. One of the pioneer reporters of the PhUjpp.ine Dally Inquirer and a reporter for the Manila Chronicle and [he Manila Times, her career ]n journalism spans IS years. She ]8 also a fellow of the Phmppine Center for Jnvestlganve Journalism. She presently edns "Politlk," a quarterly pubucatlon of the Areneo Cemer for Social PoUcy and PubUc Affairs and teaches a journalism course at the Ateneo de Manila Uruverslty Her book News for SaJe acknowledged the growing trend. of corruption ln (he media. ®

Ie. Corrupt jon in Media


Summary of the National Roundtable Dlscusslon

October 9, .[999 8:25 AJ\1


Legtslattve Remed~es

Executive Summary of paper Presented by A.tty, Victor Avec.iUa

At ty, Victor AvecHla presented tJ)e landscap - of the law as it applies to U'1e press and the media. He noted [hat Hie t.mlred States ConsHtutlon influenced the provisions included in both the ]935 and. the ]987 Phmppine Consritution. None of me existing laws address the Issue of corruption. Given the cons tl tut lena 1 protection of freedom of expression and press freedom, legislanon generally shies away from the acuvmes of the press and media.

Mr. Avecilla discusses in detail the laws that do affect the conduct of [he press. primarily dealing wHh press vtolanon of clnzen righ rs:

Ubel Extortion

incnmtnenng or tntrigu]ng an lnnocent person

Pilferage and pubhcatlon of documents

mvaslon of privacy

Dama,g,iIlg the reputations ot others




• Comempt of Court

The nnportance of the medla policing ns own ranks with [he help of Ule public in curbing corruption was stressed.

Summary of the Open Forum

The open forum began with quesnons about the bill of senator Miriam SanUago, Senate am No. 280 entitled "The Code of Professional Standards for the rracnce of politIcal Publ.i.c Relatjons," which aims at restrjcnng and prohibiung certain activities of public relations protesslonats. U was noted. that the bill is not unconsntunonal. It does not abridge the freedom of the press nor does it encroach on Us autonomy. Rut the 'weakness of the law is that it fans ~o provide sancnons for the viotanons mentioned.

Maribe~ Ongpin of Tbday commented. thai: the privacy law; Article 26 of the CiVil Code, is continually violated in the entertainment pages and wondered. why reporters have not been brought up on charges. Mr. !\veciUa claritied that the privacy of lndtvrduals is not absolute. Exceptions to rhts law are [hose people who are considered public figures and those involved ln newsworthy events.

wnn respect £.0 another law, Article 2900 of the Hev[sed Penal Code, wblch punlsnes those se ekJ ng to' i ea rn class ttled information by stealing and publtshtng

A Summary Report on the NatIonal Roundtable Discussion •

those documents, Mr: rwecHla stated rnat Supreme Court cases t rl co un der this provtston have not involved members of the press, but cases under the jurisdiction of the trial cou rts may have been semeo out of cowl

t.eglslanve remedies that apply to media corruption include treating journansrlc corruption as crlrnes punishable by law Pena~. code punishes extortion" The pra cuce among corrup t journaltsts of "AGDG' (Attack and Collect. Defend and Collect) is an act of extortion and charges can be tlled aga ins 1 [ournalls ts on rhts basis. The problem of course is who would take the case to cou rt. Bribery is also punishable by law, But the term of [en applies only to bribery of government officials,. The antl-gratt-ano corruption law therefore only apoues to cases involving public officials.,

Session 0 ne: Atly Vi;dm Aveci II ~ of the: U rlIive rsity oftl"e Ph ~Upplf'ies presents his pa pe r On the ~eg Islatl\/€. rerned les ava i la b~e to the rned i(.) to cu rb corru ption

Another problem j n des ling wl rh journaltsuc mlsconducr has to do with the way [he labor court handles journalists who are fired from their jobs. Editors and puoltshers said that they have never won any case contesnng the rermmatton of journallsts because the National Labor ReCond1ialion Comm,.iss~nn {NlRC) has always upheld the worker fired. H was further stressed that managernenr cannot prevent former employees from taking their grievances to the Department of Labor and Employment' (DOLE) O.U the NLRC IS this not undue government interference with ednorial autonomy?

The role of the DOLE and the NLRC in the terrnlnatton of employment is valid if the issue Involves the unjusrltted iermlnarlon of an emoloyee, The bias of [floe DOLE and NLRC favors the worker. The discussion Identttied a way by which edlronal Jurisdiction can be strengthened in supervising and sancnontng offensive andunethlcal conduct of journalists on staff. News orgaruzanons' management should clarity between rnanagerlat and. non-managerial employees in~helr plannna ]t is easter to defend the termination 'Of management personnel tn court rather [han

'c. Corruption in Me,dJa

[0 justtty rhe dtsrnlssal of rank-and-tile emp loyees because the u loss of confidence" lnvolvlng the employee provides greater dtscrenon for the }liringfiring authortry VlIorking journalists should be classtfied as managerial employees because of the ktnd of responslbmnes they carry.

Heporters are not time workers, The reporter makes decisions about what story to write, He or she can make decisions in the field about who to interview and what aspect of the story to cover They are given m anagertal independence and, responsfblllty, determlnlng the news agenda on their own, Because the journallst, editor, desk or reporter. lsglven rather significant responslbnlnes, their cases should not be dealt wirh in the same light as rank-anc-tue.

The arguments a~ong rhis line led to the discussion of an amendment of the labor code to mclude a provislon pronouncing reporters and emplovees of news orgenlzauons as rnansgeriel employees, Such an amendment can strnnltty rhe handling of labor problems that arise 'from the termlnatkm of reporters engaging In corrupt practices. With the amendment, such misconduct can be the basts of termination ]I it can be proven tnat the management has lost conndence in tile reporter because of such conduct or even doubts raised about the person'S conduct, 'rne group agreed that the nature of repornng classtfles these journalists as managertal employees.

Eugenia Apostol.,. president of (he Foundation for Wor~dwide people Power: offered to conrrlbute to a fund that will support rhe Invesugauon of the NLRC, which might lead to nsabolluon; given tts LJ n due tnrert e renoe with edit ona 1


supervlslon of reporters, NrnCs handling of the terrnlnanon of reporters has resulted in the failure of editors ro duly reprimand and. punish erring joumalists,

Shou~d Congress address the issue off corruption? The ,group felt that congress. belng corrupt ltself, would not jeopardize ]uS relations wnh a corrupt press and would resist attempts to pass such a b.ilL BUI the public can make use of their power of suffrage and the power of press freedom to act against the corruption of government

October '9, mggig .~ 0: .~.8 A:rvi1.


Business perspective

Executive Summary of the Presentation of GuUJermo Luz

Corrupv]on is a billion peso business and. lsntllmltcdto one particular sector of the soclery, DIscuss]ons wlthln the bus'ness sectorabout the issue reflect lts acknowledgem ent of its pan in the corruption off media, but these discussrons have not led (Q actions to curb the practloe, Its reluctance 'from laking acnon against the media Is fueled by rile tear thax (he medias mtluence over me public opinion would be turned against H.

The presentation of MakaU Business Club ExeclllV~,ve Director GuillerJ110 t.uz was based on his experiences in deallng with the rnedla, Hls observations included the accept eo p rae rice of co rru pt ton by business organtzauons andthe lgnorance

A Summary Report on the National Roundtable Discussion lei

means of geUing information [hey need

Changing and relruorcerneru of values and of ways of thinking in the press Building up internal systems Public's lack of awareness Commitment of news organlzanons to public disclosure

Refeni ng to the

docurnentarton in News for Sale, the issue of media corruption involves a bnnon~peso industry It ls not Ilmlted only to pounce: campaigns bur probably goes on in other areas for so long as there is media coverage of business issues and events. It is not going to be easy to change the course overnight Go~ng by the amounts cited In News tor Sa]e, the practice is quite entrenched and deeply embedded ln the system.

The media are not the only sources of news for the business community. BusIness corporations have thetr own means of getting news and developIng their sources of information and useful data. The

bust ness community reads the news from newspapers, televlslon or radio differently because the mformation and news they get from these medla are already screened through oiher references. Business also discerns the different styles and onentanons of different newspapers and broadcast progra ms. Au stness readers and viewers learn to discount much of when they get from the press, raoo and TV, rdying as dley do on other sources, such as the tnremer, The pervasiveness of press releases in newspapers and the number of newspapers has forced

Sesslol"! fWO: M~Mti Busi ness Club Executiv.e Director Gu iUermo tuz oil i rs hls llie'WS on C{) fwptiion in the meed i a with th e perspective of the busl ness seder

of the business community of the ethical parameters binding journallsts. Proposals for 8 medta-bustness dialogue and the widespread publication of the Journalists' Code 01' Eth1cs were offered.

The business perspective a.,c; presented by M.r. Luz consisted of several points:

Corruphon in the media is viewed as the norm News media devalued by those who have other

c. Corruption in Media

business organizations to cut back on their newspaper suoscnpnons. The press as a news source has been largely devalued.

However, It ts still vet)! dear that the news media stlll wield a power and mtluence over public aHairsand one cannot expect any group or person to wist) [0 stand up and chaUeng:e the press.

The path of lcgislatlon takes a longer route. Management practice suggests quicker ways of deal lng with erring journalists. ~Freezing~ or sldellrung the person ts a way of HmiUng the corruption. Suspicion, w.hiich may not be sufficient for tak.ing legel action, may be sufficient for this kind of managel]a~ acnon

Self-reform. mecbarusrns should mclude some ways of self-policlng through some kind of assoctarlon, Systems invotving press ombudsmen should be more wldeiy publicized so that the puouc knows how H works and how to use (he sysrem The system of me press ombudsman needs to become more transparent (0 encourage Those with complalrus against the rnedia to file forma! cornplalrns to the PhUippjne Press CouncU and the public mtormed of th e role and du ti es of the press ombudsman ..

~ndirectry, seh-correcnon can arise from me practice of dtsciosure. Who are the owners? who are the durnrnlesvwnar are their other Interests? Such information auows the public to look. into the use of the newspaper or news program for purposes other than provldtng tndeperrdentty sa the red and. reported news. Anomer course for correction ts for news organizations to go public so [hat ownership can be diversified.


\'\k)r.kshops to educate buslness and PH sector about the standards and. ethics of file press will he]p business to deterrnme how best to use H'Ieir budgets. Right now, they aregrven a budget proposal that includes payments for the media and that has beoome accepted as the way to get press coverage and pu bltct t y. Th e education of the business sector of (he codes andrules binding the media lnoustry was the main recommendation of Mr. Luz for addressing media corruption .. H was emphasized that the general public and most businesses are not aware of the existence of the .iournausrs Code of EthicS or of the Phmppine Press CouncU. Mos~ busjnessmen and comparues see the widespread pracnce of paying for publrcity and coverage as the norm. The]r OW.1'1 experience tells them (hal joumaltsts will exert pressure for some favor or benetn from a busmeas company by e lther negattve or posmve coverage.

Mr .. Luz acknowiedged that the controverstal issue of perrnitnngrorelgners Fa lnvest in media orgentzattons should now be discussed m view of the recent caH for consrnutlonal changes. A provision aUowing the influx of forelgn equuy ]n(o the medlalndustry could offer new solunons W problems regarding media ownershlo, freedom and! corruption. Arguments for and agamst such 8! move ought I'D be recognized and. addressed by aU sectors concerned, parncularly In the media cornrnunlty, since the preparatory commiss ion rs already at work on .it anyway and. thus, we need to come up with a recommendanon.

All these efforts require some leadership on the part of the rneola and business cornmonnes, Develop]ng a kind of culture in press organizations that wjjj stand against corruptton is necessary to br]ng anour the changes we want

A SUnlmalY Report on the National Roundtable Discussion •

sum.mary of the Open Forum

Some sharp reactions rook up Mr. LL~Z'S polnt that business thinks that paying for press releases and press publlclty is the norm and rha t the media commun lty needs to take tne lnmartve S'0 as to correct the misconceptions about dealing whh the press. verget Santos pointed our that business should clanly for themselves their purposes in using the press, There is only one way of dealing with the media; and the business community should try and understand how t herr purposes may actually go against ttle standards of the press: ClS when theywant only their side to be reported, or the story to be slanted to favor their postuon u Is not up to' the press community to instruct business, since Ule standards should be obvious that current practices are simply not accepteole. The proposal of Mr, t.uz for media ro hold workshops for U1e business and PH cornmunnles is problematic because it is not assured that those with the authority of approving the budgets, the CEOs or high-level managers would actually be 'the ones to attend, U could Durn out mat only the PRslhemselves" company based or external. who may be the ones initialing me practice would be the ones to attend.

Hey Hulog pointed out that the problem is heightened by the fact that the business community itself engages in corrupt practices to run their businesses. Are there any efforts to remedy this sltuarlon? Since .PH budgets are presented to companies, one solution proposed is for business companies to discourage oorruption in any form by ]nforming their PH hand~.ers outright that they would not tolerate H_

More suggestions on disserrunanng lntorrnanon about medla ethics to the business cornmuntty surfaced during the open forum, These suggestions were:


The publication of the Codes of Ethics of each. newspaper as well as that of the PPl:5 .rournallsts' Code of Ethics and (0 inform public relations handlers of its existence.

Fress releases should goO through the desk editor for strict edmng and pre-writing and should appear as press releases when published. It was recommended that th.is pracnce should be included .in the Journalists' Code of Ethics.

A me dla-bus Inessi nterac t i on workshop organized between the media and chief executive officers of businesses to clarify the rules of Interaction between the press and the rnedia,

Mr. IJJz was open (0 the idea of MBC supporting a media-business mreracrlon and to the suggesrlon that MBC punhsh a report on this rounoteole meeting in one of Us publicattons.

Ma, Lou rdes Ma ngahas, however, stressed that the media should be held to account for Us own corrupt practices; rather (han waiting for other lruuanves to bring this problem forward, She said that H is (he med ra and press wh tc h expose corruptton ~n other senors of the society, but hasn't turned its probing eye onto itself and reveal dtshonest pracnnoners, Th]s reiterated Mr. U!ZS earlier suggestion that as a form of selr-regulanon, the rnedtas eyes should be turned inward to expose corrupt journalists. Busjnesses ought to' be made aware of the other options [hey have when deallng wnh the media.

c. Corruption in Media

Jerry Lirio point, d out [hal press releases sent out do not pose a problem durtng norma] periods. Everyone observes that it is up 10 the editors to use or not usc the press release" uhan also been pointed out that press releases memselves are not necessarily bad practice because they can be used by the media as leads for devetopmg their own stories. But when a company is in crisis. then tho behavior of the press hanolers change. some of them may be seen inlhe newsrooms themselves, Editors and reporters receive a barrage of calls from PRs who try to exert pressure on the way thetr news comes out in the papers.

Other suggestions involved the business community taking the rein jn reducing corrupt practices. These lnclude:

oil Support responsible journalism by adveruslng in newspapers employing responsible journalists and not be ruled solly by high , 'ir ~ulatjDn figures [0 rcstru rure and improve the values system of the industry;

• Clarify Jts position on payoffs en d inform,ing][ '. consultants that br~ibing media personnel for publicltywlll not be tolerated; and

• Employ m-house c R agents instead of hiring outside PR companies to carry us messages across to the public.

The discussion urged corporate PH Bobby Manzano 10 point out that there are still PH people who do not engage the press ln corrupt practices, This was followed by conftrmatlons from Mr. LlJZ that he did not intend 10 generalize judgmem on aU. Clearly there are media persons


and PR people who are not pari of The corruption. In conclusion. Ms. de Jesus pointed our that the roundtable discussion was evidence of the beJief thai there were enough people who could not establish a consensus on what strategies dl fferent groups should adapt to address the problem.

October 9, 199'9' 1 PM


PR Perspective

Three re sou rce pc rs oris I ed the discussion on the PR perspective. Ms. de Jesus cxplamed that at one point, it was not clear, whether Raul. Gonrreras who was assigned to write a discussion paper would be able ro present it at the meerlng. Cl'vtFR had received the paper in draft form. So she mvtted DanUa Gozo, corporate PH for Ayala Corporation. and Em,ily Abrera, chairman and CEO of McCann-Erickson .1 hillpplnes ..

M r_ Contreras traced the problem of corruption to its historical and traditional 1'00lS - al~ rhe way to biblical references and the context of colonlaltsm. The discus slon of Mr. Gozo sriareu his experiences, as journalist. government official and as PR - recounting episodes which demonstrated the practice or corruption as so much a pan of custom that some ' ople do not even qu snon that iT is done. MS. Abrera fllusrrared trends in auverttsmg that lend (0 blur tile line between journalism and advernsrng, between PH and advertising. The issue of

A SummalY Report on the National Roundtable Discussion .1

the 'adverrortar is an example of how commuorceuon pracnnoners neve begun to treat news media as pan of delivering their message.

Executive Summar)' of me Presentations of Rau] Contreras, Danna Gazo and Emily Abrera

M r Contreras read. a strongly wOlded. speech entitled "ln Need of the Med.laJrix." ]I recounted the h isr o rt c a l background of corruption in the PhilippInes, {racing it a II the way to Adam and Eve and the Phil ipplne c ot o n t a t ex per len c e, which s tented

1\ member of the public relanons community, Mr. Contreras cites corruptlon and the low level of professionalism in. PR practice as barriers to a solurlon, Indeed, he points out the tacttnat some Journalists are quite actlve as PH agents, getting aU the perks and prtvtleges, foreign trips,

ree: lelt to fig ht Ra ur Centre ras, preside nt of Pu bl k Co mm un lotions Associates, lnc: Da n i 10

GOlD, associate director of corporate affa I rs of the Aya la Co rporatio n; and Emily Abrera CEQ of McCann-ErlcksO!ll Ph i I ippi n es, prese nted their opinions a nd com m ellis onthe pu bl lc rei anons pe rspective 0 n corru pti 0 n,

the practice of using newspapers as propaganda vehicles for the prevailing regimes. Corruption began before Martial Law and was present even during the American period when rhe government snfled press freedom; bUJ he emphasized thai it was the late Ferdinand Marcos' rule that fully corrupted the press as a means of controlling and using the media so that he could hold onto power

There are omer problems. W1rh meager wages and. benefits and. deficient education and rralnlng, the material and monetary galns one recer-es from corrupt practices weaken the resistance of joumajsts agarrsr corruption.

allowances and retainers so then their paperswlll carry the desired slant and spin to the story

However, even while pamtmg the dark prospects of a solution, Mr:. COnl:reras holds that U'l.G Filipino ts nor beyond hope but that solutions must get to The basic and fundamental need for struciural change and reform. One such stretegy is for a system of qualifying examinations for those who pracnce journalism. Af'10rher calls for publishers and owners of news organiza nons and. nerworksto divest tnemsetves otallthelr other commercial


corruption in Media

and polltlcal interests so as to be ab~e to commit to me only purpose of journaltsnc enrerprise.jhe search for truth.

Mr. Gozos paper in contrast tekes the rmcro-eoproech. recounting a number of eplsodes in hts experience as away of defining corruntton and what it constltures. One story had him look on as a mayor he hadjust mtervieweo counted our fifty peso bins on the rabte expecting him (0 pocket thls in his presence. He walked away leaving the bills on rhe rable. causing his crew to berate h]m for having insulted the mayor. Tiley told MI~ Gozo~hat he would never be able to lnterview the mayor aga~n. Another story mvolved h]s discovery ora plot to Innuence the 1971 ConstituHona! Convention wh]chhe revealed m a series of exposes ln a television news program. The plot involved one of the networks b]ggesl advertisers. His editor, upon establishing his honest intent sent rum 10 a train]ng program abroad for eight months with full pay, which led him [0 wonder .if he had been bribed. Another episode involved the problem of famillarlzatlon trips and me Quid-pro-quo arrangement that holds participating journalists to come out with a story. The accounts dramanze the need for a greater dennltlon of what is acceptable practice when businesses deal with the media ..

Mr .. Gozo's experience Irictudes government service and corporate PR. This background has only demonstrated ~o him the confusion in the conduct of aU players lnteractlng wtth the press. There are, as he says, many questlons (0 which mere are n.o answers . .He recommends 'that journallsts developa greater cyruclsm about their sources. detecUng the subtle attempts to slam and spin tile story. Other strategies mvotvethose who chronicle the flow of events in the process of learning and developing a context to the tssues,


SpeakJng informally from notes, MS ..

Abrera points out .how the blurring off the ~~nes between journalism and PR and PH and adverustng conrrrbures to our confuslon And this blurr~ng has come from me way adverusloghas developed. Today, they tell their cllents everything talks. Everything can be used as a medium to communicate (he message. Thus. bom media and advertising have come rogerher ro d eve I op ad ve no rrals iha t rna ke advertising look Hke news. "rhe blurrmg of .~.ines of corrmumcanon anows journalists [0 wear d.ifferent hats even as they present themselves as objective reporters or tssue out opinions as dlslrueresred analysts of news" Pub]ic]srs themselves have their own busmesses, and selt-advernsernent becomes product buildup.

A forum between media and business should Involve CEO parncipanon so that the top people themselves know whars what and can take responstbnnv for the actions or [heir people. S.he stressed the need for a greater clarification of [he rules of journalists, PR handlers, and advertlslng compamcs, Afli accrednauon process for PH pracrlnoners would help to dear the field and Jdentlty the protesslonals. A survey to measure the credlbllity of the press and the mrorrnanon it dissernlnates was recommended. 1t]5 a scary prospect (0 dererrrune how much people believe of what they read in the papers. But, she points out, n ts something we have 10 find out

Summary of the Open Forum

Mr:. Contreras clanned at the bcginn]ng of the open forum tbat tus d~scussjon paper, which had been previously labeled as "For Dl8cuss~on On~y,~ Is officially on the record.

A Summmy Report on the National Houndtable Discussion •

The discussion of the 'advertorial.' demonstrated that newspapers aoolleo different pollctes on their use. Some accept the a rra ngernen r, provid i ng ed i to ria ~ material as part of the advertising package, in addltlon to the specific advertising space that has been paid for, Compan]es in the middle of controversies sometimes resort to measures to assure that their side of [he story is published. It was recommended lllBI when deallng \,vHh crises, businesses should turn to advocacy advertising. buy the space and provide the material TO air their side, Asjde from the newspaper receiving legi ttrna Ie reveriu e" .i I also. gua rantees that the company's press r lease would be pubttshed,

AH of the participants agreed that columnists are not monuored and that these often become vehicles for one or the other side in a controversy; Several partlcjpants suggested that the arflllarlons of columnists and PR practitioners posing as columnists should be disclosed, and guidelines and pohcles regarding columnists should .be drawn up to avoid biases.

Accepting gifts from sources was a long debated issue, where reporters should draw the line when accepting gms was a ma He r of consci ence, with most participants saying that accepting nominal gifts such as flowers and. baked goods is permlsslble but monetary gifts should never be accepted, Although the PPI does have rules concerning gifts, it is not enforced in the newsrooms, which sets irs own guidelines. There are other newsrooms where the issue lsnever taken up, leaving everyone to his or her business.

Marvin 'ron points to the development of a corporate culture in the different media

organtzanons. This corporate culture provides the value framework (hat determines what pracnce is accepteble and. what ts not. Editors should inform PR practitioners wishing, to do business with them thelr pollcles on gift giving, Juan Mercado suggested. compiling speclnc cases of how journaltsts handled envelopmental journaHsm - a form of corruption commonly urlltzed in the media - ro use as. examples when faced with simHar circumstances.

A consensus was reached concerning the unaccepteblltry of advertonals - paid advertisements designed to appear as edltorlals. A dtsnncnon in layout between advertisements and editorials should remain. A can was also made for policies regarding advertonals to be mcluoed in the Code of Ethics,.

October 9, 1'999 3PM


Media Perspective

This session focused on the medla and the initiatives that can be 'taken wnhln the comrnuruty The paper of Chay FlorenUno" Homena described the world of joumausm and the reasons why corruption has flourished in the press. The solution offered was the estaoltshrneru of an enecnve press council and enumerated the steps to achieve it,

A consensus was reached that an effective form of selt-regulanon Is indeed needed, but the forum was djv]ded about

C.' COTTlIPtion in Media


whether to estaousn a new press council. strengthen the extsnng press counctl or begin at a leve~ lower than a council.

2. BuHda consensus among key players in m al n s tre.a m m edl a through a series of consultations, dialogues and discusslons.

3. Widen the circle of media

stakeholders beyond the


4. Make funds from a dtverstty of sources avanable.

ExecuUve Summary of the Paper of Chay Flo.rent]no~Hon]ena.

MS, Horent~no-Hofi.len.a focused on Hl.6 establishment of a new press councn in the country ]1 began w]'Ih an overview off journalists.une present slate off (he press andthe reason for the need for a press council. She emphasized the

roles of cornrnerclal ls m,

corruption, sensanonahsrn and journaltsrsurresponsibtlny as

the prevalent proponents of corruption ln the industry She recommended me sreps mat will help curb corruption in, media.

Her paper enumerated the fo]lowing:

Short- .. med.ium- and. long-term goals

Proflles of successful press councils ln other countries

Steps In the es tabllshrnen T' of an effective press council

More media involvement and the partlclpa tlon off members from other sectors are needed to successfully execute these goals. The shortto medlum-terrn goals are:


Construct an updated and current proftle of FiUpino journalists and. do an envtronmental scan of Philippine media today.

particu]ar importance was given to the establishment off a suecesstul press council

ne . Joumall tsm

presented Cl1~Y Rorenlllno·H ome rielS paper anile establishment of a s>eff-:regulating I:J~

A Summary neoorr on the National Roundtable Discussion •

to serve as a means of sen-regulanon .. The profiles included the Australian Press Counci .. I, the Brittsh Press Compla~nts Commjssion, VIle Thai Press Counc.il and (he M]nnesota News Counctl, These profiles served as examples and stressed the need to acknowledge media corruption for an effective form of self-regulanon.

Seven s reps were enumerated to establish an effective press council:

[. Create a core committee. which would include representatives from the different sectors.

2. Oeci.de what type of councn we want. Look at model.s and determine which type would be accepted by rnalnstream media and able to make meaningful lnterventlons,

3. Select members of the full council, not more than [7 members: eight from me medla, eight from the public and an independent chalrrnan ..

4. Organ i ze. E~ecl otttcers to the executive comrrsnee, Hire a director with stature in the media, appoinra comptamts comrnntee, compose articles and bylaws and set up an office.

5. Raise tunds and manage rile finances.

6. \"ibrk out the complaints procedure with the following requlrements a complainant must stgn a waiver of libel; he must' relate to what a news organization has done and not wnat it has not done: good-faith must have been exerted 10 resolve the issue with [he news medium; and The process must have deadlines,

7. Make announcements; can a press conference.

S mmary ,0. f·- th e Open Porum

u . .. ~ _ .

The open forum consisted of a debate on three options:

L to strengthen the present press councd;

.2. to abolish [t and. create a new press council: or

3. begin action at a level short of a press council.

Despite differences of oplnlon, it was agreed that an effective form of seltregulation is needed. u was suggested that if a new council is to be established, it should be a cnlzens' lruuanve and include non-media members, The pernclpatton of non-media members assures those who complain that They wlll give a fair hearing. u will also help the public overcome their fears about facing up to an all-]o urnal tst bod)'. who might then get the entire press community against them ...

The matter of membership was brought up, early in the d:iscussion of the open forum. A call was made to identify ways ot broadermg media parnclpatlon in the formation and the composltlon of the cou nell. The problem of getting all newspapers to participate in a couocn was raised, since some owners and publishers do not get along wnh one another.

Juan Mercado gave a htsrortcal overview of the first press counctl in the PPI, which was patterned. after the British Press Council, which preceded the present Press Complaints Commission in The UK He said that it had the advantage of having a broader consensus among the newspapers than what ls seen today. The council disintegrated during the Martiall.aw penod and was only recently revived. The members of the existing council, however,

c. Corruption in Media

could only agree on one issue: requirtng newspapers to recognize the right 'to reply If the newspaper concerned. does not give space to the aggrieved party's side of the story, then the orher members wlll carry the story. But there has been no other area of agreement. The practlc is also so poorly publicized that there have been only a few cases that have been brought to the Press Council's attention. Sorne of the participants said that this restriction narrows the regulatory and corrective force of the body to function effectively

Tile moderator asked aU the participants (0 express their individual views on the idea of a press council ill various forms. The round produced several opinions on the establishment of the councn These were:

Clout, credibility, integrity and the public's recognition and acceptance of the cooncn are needed for it [0 succeed. It should be pushed by the public to protect their nght to better quality newspapers. The idea aimed to invite the public to voice their oph1~ons and thus, attract more s rakeb elders. in part Icular ctvt I society groups. The leaders in the industry should be a part of the council to attract or force others to actively parttcipete, Respected and. credible members of the media industry ensure the council's clout.

Regional press councils should also be establtshed.

The new council. should be patterned after the British Press Complaints Commisslon..

A code should be created which. a pplies to al i co ncerne d and


sanctions must be rmplernenred, ln the event of a complaint filed in the councH, the complainant should sign a waiver of Ubel (0 force the council to resolve lts cases. Quick response and affirmative Clellan must be taken when investigating cases. The judgment of cases in the newspapers should be published in the newspapers and in a council pebucanon

Despite the drfflcultles acknowledged, a general consensus was reached thai an ettecuve council is indeed needed. However, a few insisted on strengthening the existing council first by Identifying and rectifying its problems and allowing it to execute . its duties before aooushlng it and forming another jf it does fait snn others opted to stan at levels lower than a council.

After the open forum, U1e participants were divided mro two workshops, One group was tasked to produce a set of other options the media community could consider without establishing a press council. The other tackled the issue of whether to establish a new press council or retain (he existing one_

The tlrst workshop was composed of I\'iarvin 'ron, Any. Victor Avecma, Eugenia Apostol, Paulyn Paredes-S]cam, John Iremil -rl:;odoro, Johnny Mercado., and Jose pavia, The second group included uns 'reodoro, vergel Santos, Gerry Llr lo. SaJvad,or Djputado, 8HJ Huang, Maribel Ongpin, and ChUo Montes.

Thejr discussion reports would be presented in the plenary session the following morning.

A Summary Report on the National Roundtable Dl.scussion •

October 10, 1999 gAM

Plenary Session to Discuss Resolutions

The events of the day before were reviewed during the first phase of the plenary Corrections, suggesrlons and other views partlclpants saw as lrnportant to include in the report were noted during this session.

Guil.lermo Santos, PF1 executive director (Ennin Garcla has s/oce taken over this position. Eel NO/B.), commented that the roots of corruprton in 'the relanonshlp between government and the media go back. not to the Marcos dtctatorshtp, but ramer in the Magsaysay administration and the extensive use of the media in the course of a ponucal carnpalgn. He added that this concept was distorted by Marcos,

The suggestion that the circulation claims made by newspapers should be submitted to a system of audit wruch

It was

noted and

confirmed through the transcrtpt that ln Sess]on Two, which presented the business perspective, Mr. Luz actually said rhar the business c omrriun n y regards the practice of corruption as the norm, because their public relations handlers have Guillermo Santos of the Plli~ipp.ine Press fnstltlUte shares his observations during tlhe plenawy session. advised them

that that is [he way they should deal wUM media.

The disclosure of all affrlranons of columnists, in,dudlng pouncal and business mterests, was suggested for inclusion in Session Three_ However, the question of disclosmg assets and ]iabmUes off oo]umnist' raised the issue of legaUty.

would force newspapers '10 be more transparent about their clairns. Some comments were made about U1e difficulty of getting (he figures. Another point said that the audn should look into readership and the market segments reached by a newspaper Instead of just ctrcu larlon numbers. AJ.I ~n all, the credlbulty of the press will be boosted by such a system ..

,C. Corropfion in Media


t. For the Center [or Med~a Freedom and HesponsiblUry to ask Raul Locsln 10 help convene a c lased-door surnrnlt of his tellow publlshers. along wnh their senior editors, so [hat they can come up with a mandate to implement an action plan

addressing th is ~ ssue. There is a need to demonsrrare that the e rh Lc a l practtce of jourriahsrn and the corrmnmeot to get at the truth and to exceuence e man a re from [he very top. The inputs fro m younger j 0 urn a 1 is t s should be factored into suer']. a plan.

Workshop Report 1

\Vbrkshop .1 parrlclpanrs asked theH the report express the body's wish to congratulate BusinessVVor]d puolrsher/ owner Raui Locsln for h]s selection as the

Paiu!yn Paredes-Sicam I

1999 Hamon Magsaysay I\wardeefor J au rna Ilsm, Li rer a tu re and Creative Communication Arts, The report re-ad that the award retlecteo well-des-erved recognltlon to a Ufe dedicated [0 ethical values as well as professional exceuence ill journalism as expressed in t.ocsln's uruque leadersrup role m PhHipp lne journalism at a Erne when the blight of corruption erodes Ideals in thts vnal ]nsfitution.

2" Such an action plan should include the funding of a comprehensive survey [Q dercrmlne me credib.~Uty of the media roday ln view of the numerous cases of corruonon and unethical practices besentng the mdustry and the profession. The survey results may serve as an eyeopener and thus, help provlde direction In media's own housec]eanlng efforts.

3, Tile action plan should also address the need to provide training,

The forum proposed and approved the fo]lowing strategies or proposals:

A Summa/)" Report on tl1e NationaJ.Roundrable Discussion 1.1

seminars and workshops to incoming as well as regular staff to ensu re cant lnuing upgradlng of knowledge, skills and. competence TO make The lou rnalists less vulnerable (00 corruption. It is perhaps now appropriate and umely for HIe FPI to evaluate its training programs with the view to helping msrlrurlonalize the needed upgrading of the skills and competence of the journaltsts In tl'le face of the daunting challenge confronting "an lnstnunon that serves as a pillar or democracy:'

4. For the CMFR to adopt the TvlBCs suggestion tha t a mu I u-sectoral dialogue be held to hrlef members of big business on the ethics of the profession; and in particular, the acceptable practices under the PPI Code of Etl'lics as weU as under The respective standards of individual publications.

5. For rhe CMFR, to replicate tnls multisectoral dialogue for the community rnedla at the provincial and/or regional leveis.

6. For t!' 1e Pli to create and launch provincial and/or reglona I press councils ro promote public awareness of their exlstence and the 1"01e the press councils play in providing redress to the complaints against the rncdla and the j ourna lis ts,

7. =or the CMFR to inHiilte [he creation of a legal task force (0 study and review exlsttng and pending legislative remedies. including arncndmenrs 10 labor lavvs. to help the media better police (heir ranks in cases of corruption and violators

of The code of ethics, editorial standards and policies as well as the norm s of conduct specttled in personnel handbooks of lndlvldua' publications or media outputs.

8. For the PI] to urge its member publlcanons to puonsn and publicize prorntnently the Code of Ethics and, at the same ume, to encourage the public to seek redress for complaints agaios: the media and journalists through the press council.

9. For the CMFR to Issue regularly and as called for by developments press releases and updates on the progress of tI1e media's own housecleaning campatgn and the efforts to establish and maintain a culture of accuracy. fairness and excellence in the industry.

Workshop Report 2

During the course of discussion in Session Four, a fundamental. question rose: 'wbat press council are we talking about? Arc we talking about the existing press council or will we be setung up a new council?" ]n order to settle that question, the second workshop made a quick assessment of what the present press council has been doing. In the course of [he discussion, several points were made:

t. H was observed that the present press council has failed to tmplernent sanctions. The PhiJippjne Star case was cited. The case, the details were of which were not presen ted, t oak a on e-year process and the Phlllppjne Star threatened to bolt the PPl As a result of which, the sancuons were never implemented.

C. Corruption in Media


Session Five divided the parncpants ofthe roundtablediscussion unto two groups, at.topisthe grOIJP tasked to develop a list of other opuons aval~Zlible For the media and~e other. to cleterm i r"I€ the recess ity of a press coundl

2. The fact that the present press councllis part of the PP] is a problem in itself. The PP[~s composed of newspaper publtshers-owners and their editors. The Press Council, whlch ]5 made up of managing editors of different newspapers, is therefore restrained from taking acnon or ]mplemenUng Us sanctions.

3. The present council has a narrow mandate. n ls llmlted to act only on ~he matter of right of reply

4. The discussion notedthat there have been attendance problems as a result of which actton cannot be taken on certain issues.

5, corrununnv presses are no! represented in the present cooncu

AS a result off m.is assessment, the consensus was reached to establish a new press council. n was agreed that the press complaints council model be tollowed. the Bri!islJ. Press Complajnts Council.

The workshop took. the next step of de rerrnl n ~ ng wh at wo u ld be the roembersno ]f there was going 10 be a new councn. The consensus declded (0 expand rnernbershtp to mclude nonjournalists. The agreement waSIQ have l7 members, nine (9') from the journalism Indus try and. eight (8) non-journahsts including the cha~r-"journalismindustry'i was eropheslzed [0 mean representatives

A Summa/y Report on th:e National Roun:dtabJe .Dlscussion Ie

from lh journansrn sectors; for exampl , publishers, editors. beat reporters, and columnists. The lncluslon of nonjournahsts into the councn acknowledges the public as a stakeholder in the development of the media

The non-medla members. nonjoumasst members could include members from the judlclary, the academe and other sectors of the sociery IdenHfylng exacrly whorn these members are going to be wHl be decided by an organlzlng cornrrunee, which the workshop proposed, should be esrabllshed to see thls councn through.

The third polnt dean with the mandate that the press council should have" The mandate will be first. to hear complaints from the publlc: second, to look lntomese complaints: and Third. to cause 'the publication of the results of ttl se mvesugarlons or h arlngs or to cause the publication .in the offend~ng newspaper with me approprlare correction or both. Jf both. men tt w.ill be duly noted in th publlcarion of the results that the newspaper concerned has corrected the error.

The fourth point identified the steps necessary to see this council through The I.iIrs 1 step is to create an organlzl ns committee and suggested rhar this be undertaken by the CMFH with the participation of (he PCIJ. The mandate of the organizing commtnee would. be 10 devise or aruculate the snort-. meolum-, and long-term goals of this council; to undertake consultations with civil society; to look .. into the legal Issues that are involved; and to determine rhe financing needs of lh]s council.

At tile same time, the task of identifying exactly the membership of rrus council would be len to the organizing commntee ..

Tlle task of tdenrlftcanon would include esiabushmg the criteria for membership in this council. The workshop stressed a journalist would not automatically become a member; a crltcrla would be set to determine membership. In addition, the workshop proposed a name for thls councn: Pllj I ippine Press Cornpla in rs Council.

october ~O, ~.g:gg

Recommendations for the Action Plan

The nrnellness of the awarding of the Magsaysay !\ward tolr. Locsln would be the preamble for the report as proposed by the other options workshop. The proposed busrness-medta closed-door sommu would also be best convened with hts help.

.' Editors and other journalists should also be included ln the summit to inform the senior management of bus messes of media's ethrca I boundaries. It was suggested. that a prel lmtnary dialogue shou Id be undertaken to prepare forme actual summit.

u was noted that Gutllermo Santos would take up the issues rhe roundtable has dlscuss ed, In particular the establishment of a new press counctl, during PPI:S next board meeting.

The discussion tollowtng the presentation of the other options workshop resutred in many

,C. Corruption In Media

propose Is, most of which were assigned ro .PPt The proposals involving PP] mclude:

r. Organization of rhe legal rasktorce rogerher with the UP College of Mass Communical~on and College of Law;

2. The publication otme credibility survey results of the press;

3. The organ lza t Jon of l rain lng sem i nars and workshops on eirncs building;

4. The evalua non of lis current training programs; and

5, The esrabusbmem of a Regional Comp~alnts CounCil"

The forum foresaw several problems associated Wllh the formanon of a new press council and developed solutlons for each:

• The po ss ibtllty of having two councils was raised if the current press council. decides to conunue, Ms. de Jesus suggested thai the two councils could co-exlst. The Complaints Board and the current Press Co unci l cou I d, rec e ive whareve r cornp la i n 15 that are brought 10 them.jnteractlng on cases when neoessary

• -rhe ldea of voluntary participation and acceptance of rh e coun ell should not be abandoned because Vh,~H ]8 the strength of the press councn, indlvldual journaltsts could join me counci 1 even if the newspaper rhey work for do nOI and (hose newspapers nor members of the council would snll be investigated when a complain t aga msr u ts presented to the council. Complaints would be acted upon wH~10LU (he


need [Dr a formal complaint 10 be filed

The proposed name of the new councn was met wnh resistance. mstead the forum recommended another name which was viewed as tho most approprtare and least problematic; Ph~l[pp]ne Cir]zens' Press ComplaInts B08.rd_ Th.e name reflects that the public has a s take in med i a beca use of its essennal role in the development of the country and should have say on how media develops.

The option of srrengthenmg and/or expanding the existing council had beer! suggested throughouithe roundtable discussion A solutlon to the problems besernng the present council was the seoaranon of PP] and. the present press councu to improve ettectt ven ess a nd the expa rrsl on of m em bers h ~P! stakeholders to include non-media members. ®



i II Corruption in Media



:By Vktor C Avec'iUa

The' Importance of Press Freedom

Press freedom ls very important in a democratic and republican country. In a. democracy where tll'e VilliU ,of ttu::majority shou~d prevaU, and in a repubUc where the top officiaLs of th,e government must reg!IU,lady seek the mandate of the electorate for them to oontlnue ~n hlgh office, a. free press 5eN'e5 as the HscaUZJing age-nt of tile people,

This runction is known as the watcl7dogfunction of the press. Through it, the press constantly reminds government offlclals that public office is a public trust, and that government offidalsare' tile servants of tl1.e people,

The exercise of the watchdog function is not possible without an envlrornnent that guarantees press freedom. [t is. lnconcelvable how a soclety wlthouta free press. can c:a.~~ ltselfdemocratkand repubUcarJ run dlarader.

Press freedom hlthe United Stat-es

"The incorporation of the FiiJst Amendment to the Constitut]Ofl! of the United States of America was. the first organized stternpt by a dernocratlcand republican Illation to recognize the importance' of press freedom. Under the first Amendment, the United States Congress is expressly prohibited from enacting legislation whidl. will amount to an, abridgement of the freedom .of the press, tiIUS:

"Congress shaU make no law ..•• abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press: 'Or the ~ht ofdle people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." D

The Supreme Court ot the United Stautes,,2: as the finEd arbiter on what the Constitution of the United States says~ ,and, more ~rnportantly. what the words used in the charter mean .• ~ recognizes the lmportance of press freedom In American Ilife.4 None,theless, even as, the Supreme Courtacknowledges this lmportence, it has also ruled t1la.t press freedom, is, not ,absolut,e, and that there are occasions when a ~imitartion on the' consti.rutional right m~y be allowed. Thus, the US Supreme Court has upheld the constirutionaUty otlegislatlon directed ~ga'inst, among others, libelous publications, 5 obsa:nity/~ prejudi,e:idl, publicity,7 and fraudulent adveltising. S The lIS Supreme Court has also Interpreted the

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Discussion Paper.s of the National Iloundtable Discussion II:

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constitutional rights of the people to liberty and to be protected agallifl,st u nreascnable searches and seizures to lnclude the .rig~t to privacy?

Press Freedom in 'the Phlllppines

In the rhwUpp~nes.th.e ~egal prlndplesand ]].1 nsprudence on press freedom asa constitutlonslrlght are vlrtually the same as those ~n the Uln lted States.

Section 4, Art]de 9' of ' the 1987 Constitution of the Pnlllpplnes guarantees press freedom, v~

".N. - I-w-h-IIH .. "" oassed abrldstne the freed rn ,-.f·,· .h ,"~ _ oa .. S.d_. v,- paSS'C'i.il a _~~g __ g __ e_ eeom 0_ speec _~ Ow

expression, or of the press, or [tie right ot the people peaceably to assemble and petir]on the government fo.r redress ofgr1 evances, "

Uke its Amerkan CQHl1terparrt, the Supreme Court of tile Ph~!ipp~nes recognizes the ]mpontMlce of press fm"eedoml ill a fj-,ee sodety, ~ (.I ThePhii~p'p]ne Supreme Court has 1iI.{€\iVise upheld the oonstiru.tn!orlaiity of ~.egl;siatiion directed a;gainst libel,' ~ obscene pub.~~ca:ti:ons C'lilld ex]"ruilbirlions1l as well as prejudicial publldty.13 The High Tr]bunal has a1soreoogn[zecl the' right to privacy as a lim]w:tion to press freedom andfree speech .. ~ 4

The Justificat~on tor Limitations on the freedom.

The above ~~mitations onfreedom of the press areanchored on the premise that freedom entails resp0:Ji1sibrnnt;y,. andW1.~t sweat freedom entails great responslbllity. l:nrhe!Df\llJar-c! to his trmlt1]s,e 0:11 Co]lst]tu~ion~ law, former Supreme Court Assodate justice rsagani, A. .. Cruz: discussed the need fair reasonable I i m~;tati,ons on wndam,entai freedoms, thus:

"Fascination with [Uberty isthe mark of the ~ndMdual who, holds human d~sn]ty as tile quintessence ·of I]reinany ordered SOC!iety . Without dignity. man is oBI, beast no better than the other habitues of the ~ungle, free only in a physical. sense because his freedom does not ,entarn~ c-oncomi,tant r,esponlSrnbilit~es.. 'Iherels mum to be said of sucha life, to be sure, But like i:t or not it is not forthe md]nall)f person, who has tolive witil1l hils fe:]~owmen and ]0 so dOillg must yield some onlisinnoS1!te freedom for the common cwe~five:. ltJa"tis the liberty protected byft~,e Constltutlonand ~.at is the liberty that, properly regu~ated,.guaran.tees blm his human d~ity+"~5

The Extent of Press Freedom in the Philippines

There is no doubtthat ,M:a6S media. in the Pnlllpplnes, particu:~aliy print media, enjoy unparalleled freedom compared to othem" oountnes induding the Unwted States. N,ewspapers and other media wh~ch awe hi~ly critical .of the governrnent may lrwokeme constltutlonal protectton afforded the press in ge'"Jl1!eraill, and the pro-press doctrlne of fai r comlm'€lltestab~.ish€dlin PhHi ppine ]u risprudeficeilll1

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II COlTUption in Media .

partlcular, Ie; and obtain absoluuon from crlminal and civH l]]abUity. A. ,~aw which, on lts face, amounts to an ab:rklgrn€.'n[ofpress freed.om carrie-sa presurnptlon that ltls urxonstitutlonal arid l't ls incumbent upon the Stare to prove otherwise, 1 7 The prosecution ,of the crime of libe] or of a violation of the obscenity law entails a long procedure where conviction :is warrented on~y upon proof of guilt beyond reesonable doubt. IS Should the Journalist be convicted, he may aPiIJe~, his cOfllvictiorl all the way to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, anac.quittal at any stage of the proceedings bars the prosecutlon from appealing therefrom.19 Reporters in the Phmppines regardless of na'lt'io]l~~tv r'Iiay not be compelled to reveal the sources of wnformatiion obtained in confidence unless the security ot ~taie State demands otherwise .. zo This is not the case fOllf reportersmthe Ulnited States.

MOfeo1Ve~ '[·he 1987 Constltution csrrles other provisions which complement the freedom oft~:e press such as the constltutional guarantee of access to matiers of publ lc interest dirujl concer fi12. ~a]1d tihe constutLli[)tOfl.a~, prohlbltlon against alien ownership and lmar!l.agement of mass media. ln tbe PhUippines. g;~ The latter provision v]rtual~lyallows the Philipphle press ,a monopoly ~n ~tsundertal.(jngs to the exduslon of the fOr,e~gr,l1. press. In addition, people in the mass media are generally exempted tom the so-c:allledLlini~ied.vehicularvdume reducnon program of the Metropd]itan Madia Development AuU1orit)r, ill exemption not expresSi]y afforded other wncUvidualsi ncm~d~lng laW::l'ems.2.3

A Free Press Is Not Always a Respenslble One

UnfortUj.Mrely. the extensive freedom ,enjoyed by the press in the ,Phmppines does not ,autumatillcal]y result in anideal si [u2I!tion.. 'I\lhi Ie 'qu lte a. number of pu bllcatlons and newsmen. have uti! lzed their GOnst~rutioQrwill, freedorn and statuto:])' rights for the publk good .• ~her,e are several perlodlcals that-and reporters who, have made: ruilluse of~:eselfeedoms for personal galn anclot:her rnotlves, There are otrnlers who invoke their 03n5mution:a~ rlg!ltsin order to, get away with tastelesswriting arJd/m iuespcmsi ble H~.porti.i1g.

Thus;,eternal vig~~a:nce ]s not the onlyprice of iiberty., Afree society must also be ready to~l~ow certain sectors to enjoy thei r constitutional rights! press freedom incltJded, even ]ftIDl.ey do. not deserve those rights. The ,emly ~ternaijve ls to OOo~[Lsh freedom off the press altogether, Such ailli'l, alternativels cert~nly ,oomp]eteffiy unacc-eptab]e to Filipinos who. ere known to cherish their fimdamental llberties, Our experience asa people dur]ng the Span]s'h cO]o:Jilial period, the pr~CommO:ilWealtlli1 era, the IDapamlese Oco.upa.tion and the Martual Law years will confirmthe dar!gers of shaddlng tne press.

The Problem of Corruptlon In Contemporary .Mass Med~a in the Phlltpplnes

To say that there is coeruptlonlrr c.o:ntempo,ramy mess media ln the PhiUppi nes is to make an undeil"Staltemerrut. It exists" Jifld U ls precisely because of this reasonthdllt mediLa conscience [nstiWltiOIll1$ like-the Center for MedIDa Freedom &. Responsib]~ny, the Ph~~~ppine Press lnstttute and] the Kapolsanan ng: mga Bmdl~,<.aster .~. Pi Ii plnas have been e..st.abUs!l1oo.. -l11.€5e imUtlI,nor1S are mandated totake concrete steps to, among others, address and cli:mina.te the problem of corruptlon in mass media.

Corruption in the' mass m,ed[a ma!y ta:~.e var]o1Usf'orms. The common instances of corruption an::;;

1(1 )corfupt]on bycommlssion, and (2) ,oorrupt.lon. byom~s..sion. "

.Discusslon Papers of the NatIonal Roundtable Discussion II

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There is corruption by commission when a reporter or some other person connected with the publication or broadcast facility concerned uses the mass rnedlum at his or her disposal for the puspose of attaddng or harasslng ,a person [ntogiving him or her money or some similar consideration ]n exchange for sUence or restraint. The harassment is at ti:rnes done upon the inst]ganon ,of a critic or enemy of that person, In such an event. tile corrupt Journalist gets to collect from both the person who lnstlgetes the harassment and tile person who has had enough of the same .e

The. harassment may take the form of sharp critidsm, baseless Of unjustiHed" or the form of subtle remarks calculated t-o, destroy the su blect of the tirade. [t can also, i nvofve the revelation of damaging: secrets.

Corruption by omission Is the opposite. There is corruption otthls sort when a [ournallst or some other person connected with the pubUca,tjon or broadcast facility concerned offers fhe mass medium at hls or her disposal to people interested ln buying publicity, the extent of the publicity being dependent on the amount of money or similar consideration the person is wilJ]ng to spend or give, as the case may be. ]f tile corrupt newsman does not get anything, the publldty sought will not be

C rth • Th" j.fI,. H ·1' ... , I =..,1' thl ·ki d f tt

10 I coming. IS isme om ssion mvo veo m ·15 .. n ... 0 'corrup ton.

It may appear, however that corrupnon by omission ls similar to the klnd of business solicited by advertising agendes, The diffe,ence~ however, Uesin the nature of the ulldertal.dng inv01voo. Advertisilll,8 agencies are open[vengaged i n promoting a partlculsr product or service, and thel r advertlsements do not or are not supposed to masquerade' as news items. On the other h~d, print or broadcast news should always be objective and prompted soJe.ly by truth and newsworthiness, Politi,~ propaganda, be it prornotlonel or destructive, should never be passed off as news items ..

Unscrupulous poUticians are fammar with corruptlon in mass media. They pay corrupt newsmen to attack tnelr political opponents. They also pay For what they consklerfavcrable publtdty with a view towards improving their political image in the eyes of their constituents,

Government agendes are also prone "to patronlzlng corruptlon in mass media .. By advertlslng ~n critj,cal newspapers and Investigative radio and te]evi~on programs, they hope to build some kind of sponsor's good,wn~ wlth the mass medium concerned. In time, the mass medium concerned gets to depend on their advertlsements for needed revenue. ln time as well, the governmerlt ag:endies. manage to tone down or muzzle the critidsm by threatening to withdr:aw their advertisements.

The Need for Remedies Against Corruptton in Mass Media

Human behavior in ,a democratic and republ.i.can society like the Philipp~nes cannot be curtailed except by way of legwslation duly enacted by Congress. .rthere is no law prohibiting a. particular human act, the act cannot be rurtai~ed end no punishment ther,erore may be lmposed on the person concerned. ~f there is such a law , that iaw must further stand rorns!l]tut[.onaJ scrutlny ln order to. remain ]n the statute books.

II ,Corruption' in Media

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Corruptton lin mass media is. essentially human behavior. To put a .stop to such corruptlon means restr]ctiog human behavlor; Thus, rneaseres to stop corruption must involve leglslatiorr, For thws reason, remedies to check corruption as well as abuses in mass media come in the' form of statutes (laws), whether civil or criminat There is, of course, ,art 'exception: acts ,oonsti,tutiing contempt of court .aI,e punlshed not by ~e,gisl,ation but by judl~d!a! Hat pursuant to the lnsntutlonallzed power to pun~sh such contempt. ~

Recognized Llrnltattens on Legislation

Whateve:r [eglslJation is enacted, the same must pass the clear and present danger test announced ln Schenck v. United State,i-§ Under this test. where the exercise of freedom of the press, free speech and freedom of expression amounts to ,a dear and present danger of ' a substantive evil whkh the St.alre may !!awful.ly prevenlt, taldng into account proi;(im~ty and degree. then such exercise may be curtailed by the State. Examples of such substannve ,evwt which the State may lawfuUy prevent are death and injumy to pelfSOns.2(i obstruction of justice.!:.7 obsc'enUy.2S and inju~ to {he reputation of people .. 29 The dear andpresent danger test has been upheld in PtIilippine ~uriscUction as ear~y as ~ 948 in Pliinidas tI: Fugo# and in a Wong Ilne of cases, thereafter"

If the ~egisl~:tion wn q uestion does not pass the dear and present danger test, then it ts an unconstitutional abridgement of the constitutional rights ofpress freedom, free speech and freedom of expression,

ExistIng Remedies Provided By Law to Address the Problem

There' are many remedies provided by law to address tine problem of corruption in mass media"


Article 35.3 of the ~eVlised PeTI!~ Code, es amended, defines libel while Arttde 35.5 provides the penalty for the c.rime.]';?: In Article 356 of thesame penal code, punishment is to be ~mposed on anybody who shall threaten '~O publish ,3 libel,ooncerning that person or the rnembersot h~s immediate fami~ry. The same artkle also pun]$hles anybody who shaill offer to prevent th'e publication of such libel roll a. compensation or rnonetaryconslderatlon, This crime is commonly referred to as blackmail. Article 357 of the same penal code punlshes ,anybody who shan publish facts connected wlth the privete Ufe of anomerand which a.re offensive to the honor. virtue and reputation of file said person.

The act ofil1uiminatl.ng an 'innocent person or imputing to hlma rnm:e is punished under Artlde 363 of the Revised Penal Code. Art~de 3640fthe same penal code, in turn, punishes anybodY wtIo intrigues ,a,gainst the honor or reputation of anomer, These two provisions of the penal code may be lrrvoked by ,a person harassed by the mass media. by way of unwanted publiciW which does not amount to libel under Artiide 353 cited above.

Article 290 of the Rev]sed Penal Cooe provides a remedytothe ofifended party mere a prosecunon under ,any ,of the sforeseld provisions of the penal code is not possible. Under this specific provision.

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punishment awaits-any private individua_ who, lin order to discover the secrets of-another, sl1:al.1 seize the papers or letters of the latter and reveal thejr contents. If the culprU does not reveal their contents. a Ugl1ter penalty awaits h~m.,33,

Should the particular offending matertal i;nissue amount to an obscene pubucanon ~n the case of print media. or an obscene exhibUion wn 'iltJ,e case of t,el.ev~sion or Clinema" resort to all additional prosecution under A.rt]de 20~ of the' Revised Penal Code is Ii kewlse availab~e to the offended panty. Prosecution under Article l;O~ may proceed srumultaneously with a prosecution under the afcredted provlslons of the penal code,

Anyboclywho pretends to be a n'ewsm:aJI1l and trles to extort money or slmllar conslderatlon frorn another may .rulso, be made to answer ,criminal charges fOIJi"(Jstaki or swindling under ArtiCle' 3,15, paragraph 1. (a) of the Revised P;enal Code.

The av]W Code of the Phil.ippines contains certain provisions whi,ch are also remedies ,~a:jnst corruption and abuses in mass media, Under the pemnerllit provlslon of the Code. the offended party 'is vested with a cause of acnon tor damages or other rellefs q:ga.iinst the party responsl bi]e for 'the offensive matertal. Since the' cause of action is, civil in nature.the party responsfble for the damage 'cannot be subjected to cr.irninal sanctions like in ,a prosecution and ccnvktlon for !JibeL

Unde,r Arttde 26 of the Code, pr-Y~ng into the privacy of another's residence, m,eddnng Mth or diistlJ.rbing the private life' or family relattons of anotiler,inbiguing to cause another to be alienated

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from his friends, and vex~ng or humil:iating another on account of his r,eIDwgious beliefs, lowily stanonin

I~fe, place of birth, phys[cal defect, or other personal eondltion shaU produce a cause ,of action :for damages and other reMefsagaiinst 'theoffeTIDd~ng party ..

Article 723 of the Code provides that letters and other private communications in writing al,e owned by the person to whom they are addressed. and dellvered but they cannot be publ,ished or disseminated without the censent o~ the wri:ter or his heffirs. unless a court of competent ~lIrisdiction orders fueir pubillh:ation or dissemination when the publlcgood or the interest ofjustlce 50 requires it.

By way of a catch-all provlslon, Article 2176 of the Code allows an action for dsmages ~ainst anybody who, by act 'Of ornlsslon, causes damage to iI.nother. thelie being fault Oil' negllgence ~ provided, however, that there is no contractual relation between the- parties concerned.

Thus, anybody who causes damage as contemplated by these provisions of the Code shan answer for damagesfn an appropriate dvU suit Such dvUsuIDt for damages may proceed sImultan,eou!3~y

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wlit'h and independently of' a crl m~nal prosecution far llbeland ~U(ie crimes." Th us, ~f the offending

material Is libelous and. at the same tlrne, its pubUcati:on or d~sseminatiion falls under any of the ~nstanc.es enumerated wn Artkle 26 or under either Article 723 of Artide 21 76 of the Code, tile offended party may proceed aga]nst the ,o:ffelldi,ng .party by way ,of a o:iminal prosecution for libel and/or a civil su~t for damages arising from Article 26.

• Conuptlon in Media


There have been instances 'in the past When the press took extreme interest ~n the trial of a, cert".din criminal caseto the extent that]ts coverage practically lied the public '[00 believe, even before the end of the lltlgatlon, that the accused was guilty of the cr:ime attributed to him. The trial of controverstal Calauan. Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, charged with rape and rnurder.get extensive coverage from IlbOoth print and broadcast media. Even the promulgation of the judgment of the triail court was covered live by radloand television crews wno went to the courthouse. In short" he was sublectedto trial bv p' U 11..'1',..-' hI 35

'i·] -J- V .,J~.J""

The converse is equaUy true: there have been occasions in the past when the press did just the opposite. Take the case of Hubert Webb. the son of Sen a' tor freddie Webb. The print media. coverage of his trial has made h]m ,a ce~ebrity ,of some sort with some Famous ca.lumn[sts36 insisting on h]s innocence. not\o\lit'hstmding, the facttnat the case was stiill subjudlce (pendli ng litigation) and, therefore, off limits to press commentary. ~J

When the press e:rngages. mn this sort of activity, it is guilty of pre~~ddal publlcltyand the persons responsible fOr the same: may be punished by the court as contemptuous behavlor and, aocordingly, enjoi.ned.3.'6 At times, the press. ~n its zeal or for some U~ reason, critlclzes the courts and the members of the bench by way of harsh. unfair and unnecessary criticism. Such behavior may aliso be punished and enjolned by tih.'e COUIrts as contempt ofcourt.39

So far, all these limitations on the freedom of the press have, not been successfully dlaUelilged, on constirutlonal grounds before tile Supreme Court


There is no doubt that any person who. does not ,approve of ,a ,pa!rticular newspaper or radio, or television broadcast is free "to, boycott the same. The boycott may mean actual refusal to patronlze the mass rnedaim wn question or a refusal to advertise in it. The .Iatter mode mey even lndude the' right of that lndivldual to persuade hils, mends and allies nottoadvertlse in the' rnedlurn or towtmdraw adve:rtis]ng support therefore. Resort to this measure may be consldereda private sanction by private' persons. offended by corrupt and abusive: mass media::1O

S~nce there is no law which provides 'that mass media are e'nfIDtled to finandal support from the government or private sector, boycotts of particuLar mass media for whatever reason ls not unlaVYfut 4. For this reason, even governm'ent offi,ciaIs who find themselves atthe rroeiiVlng end of corrupt and abusfve mass media may resort to this measure.

The Remedies Against Corruption tn Mass Media, Af1€!' Never Enough

~t appears. from .al] the foregoing that there are enough remed~es to check agaJ nstconuptio.ll in ftIemass medla However,. if such ws the case. then why iis corruption sn~~ pr~aIIe:nt lnthe hldustty? The

Discussion Pspers ,of the NatIonal Roundtable Discussion •

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search for the solutlon to this problem remruns,at the moment at least, a, teas!ing, illusion like the search for the soludon to end criminal ~avior itself. Nonetheless" as long as til.e iUness is around. the q uest ror a sol utlon SllilOllIDd never be aibando:ll,ed,.

Congress should always. explore the posslbllltles of both m:ooUylng existing laws to prevent corruption arid abuse in mass media and enactlng new legis!latlon for tl1.e same purpose. In both instances, however, Congwess must see t-o it 'H1at:tIh~ ~aws concerned do not undll~y abridge freedom of the press and other pertinent consnnmonal provlslons.

The Supreme Court shou~d always be vlgllant ln maintaining the' integrity of the Judiciary and in taking sreps to ensure 'Ilhat justice is adm~niiSter,ed ,at alii times and try men and women of unquestioned probity, This way, there win be far fewer occasions for corrupt members of the press to subject the courts t-o criticism.

Corrupt members of the press should be prosecuted to the fullest extent offhe law, ~Iil the 'event that they are found gunty by Rnal and executory judgment. punishment must be s\i\01ft end exemplary. This way. misfiits shall be discouraged from pursuing a crookedpath,

Media conscience orgamlzations Uketlhe Center for Media.Fn~edom and Respo:llSibmty, the Phmppine Press ~nstitute and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pil:ipinas should see to it that 'erring members of the mass media profession wUhin their ~lJJrisd~ctionare sub~ect&l to. appropri.ate but reasonable dlsclpllnary measures and that members who have proven themselves incorruptible are properly recognized and made role models,

:Mass media, themselves also have the' same du.ty under the drcomstsnces They must cooperate with media, conscience organlzatlons where' cooperation will improve the lndustty, There .is a. need on thel r part to adrnowl'ed,ge thatthere are scalawags in 'th.ei r ran ks \!VilO must be exposed,

Finally, the public must also shareln the responslblllty of maintaining a freeand upright mass media industry. They must fight corru pttonand abuse ill mass m~dlria with the Hr m resolution that hav]ng corrupt and abusive mass media 'is In~,e having no mass media at all,

Taken together, the bane of corruption and abuse may yet be eradicatedand the advocates of press freedom may yet be vlndlcated .. !mil


II Corruptton In Media


The first ten amendments to, the Constltutlon of the' Un,J:ted States arecoUedi:'tJIely referred to as the sm of Rights.

l The term lin/1M Smtes Supreme Cooltcann.o't 00 shortened !lIi;d iscrimiinate!y because ~hCilre ls <I. need to d isUnguis!hit from ~he moln)!, state supreme OOlUlriS lin tlte UnUed States,

~ ThlcS :I:s called the power 'ofiud~c:_ja[ review Invoked by the Un~ted States Supreme Court as eawly <l\S A1drbuty ~ .Madlson, ] Cranch (U.S.) 137 (1803).

;$ Abrams v. Uniit@d States, 2500 U.S. 6] 6 ( ] 919).

s New¥orklimesv" Sull,ivan, 376 U.S. 254 (I 9M}. See also (:iertzv. Wekh; Inc .• 4l8US. 313 0974) which rejected the rullng!n ~enbiloom v. Metrom~]a" 403 US. 29 (1971).

6 Rothv. Unl'~ States, 354 U.s. 476 (957) and Millerv.(alUorrlliol, 41.3 u.s. '15 (1913).

1 Sheppard v. MMW'ell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966); Rideau v. Louisiana. 373 U.S. 723 (1963); and IEstesv. Texas. 381 U.S. 532 (1%5)0.

6 Central Hudson Gas, &. Electronic Corporation v. Pub~kService Corporanon, 447 U.S. 557 (1900}.

9' Griswo~d v, GO'mUl:t.lcut. 381 u.s. 479 ((965).. See also Alfred H" KII1[ght, The Uk oftfit~ la'W. Crown Publishers, lnc., New YOI'k, New ¥orl~, ~ 006 and ~Hen Alderman and Qlroline Kennedy,. ll1e RIght to PrlM'lcy. Allfred A. Knopf. New York, ~. 995. ForOitiner ]I.ltisp!\i~ence 0111 ptiVolqr I~.w. :5@@COX Broadc:.astiing O~mpany v. Cohn. 4100 U.s. 469 (1915) and The florida Star v. B.).I': .• 491 U.S. 52.4 (1989).

K) United States v. Bustos. 31 Phil. 73,1 (~918); Burgos, Sr. v, Chief of Stan AFr, 133 SCRA 8(l() ( 1984); and CoifIO \I .. Lisl:ng, [311 SCR.A. M ~ (1985).

U Unlt,eeI States v .. BMStos, slIprili, Lopez v, O:J'UIIT of Appeals, 34 SCRA 1.16 ( I 970}, dtlng Po~icallPlo v. Manila TImes Pub~lishiog Company,.l~ 1602.7, May 30, 1.962, and, Borjal v. Court of Appeals, G.It Nco, ] 2J5466. fNlue\1)' 14, 1999 .. Amdle 3,53 ofthe Revised Penal Code, as amended, defines 1.lbeII as ~ a. publk and J'n.i\liiCious imputation of a clime, or of a vice Of defect, real or Imag1n.ruy'j or any act, omission, condltlon, status, or etreumstance tending to cause t.hedishono~. dllsoredi:tor contempt of <li nstural Dr' jurld leal person, or to blacken the memory of one \!I;!il;.o ts dead. ~ Artlde 355 thereef provides for penalties ther'efor.

11 Gon~les v. Kal!aw Katigbak,13 1 SCRJ\ 7 :11 ( ~ 985) and Pita v, Court of Appeals, 178 SCM 361. ( 1989). Article 200 ~ of the Revised Pen<lJ1 Code, as am.ended, penallZies obscene publ.!c:atLol1<5and exli'iibi:tio!!s.for anextenstve discussion on obscenity law. goo Vtctor C. Aved tla, "Legallnsig)nt:s on Pornography in Phlll:ppi:ne Newspapers,,"· Philippine journalism Rewt'w, Volume D(, Number 4" Dec:emberl99S. See-also VcomrC. Av@ollia. "Contempoif'.;uy legal Perspectives em O~so.enil:yaJl1-d film Censorsllip in the Phmpplnes,," ll:re Cowt5ystems journ.11. VO~lJIme ~. Number 2. December ] 996,

pu bl~shad !by the Supreme Court of tile :PhUippine:s.

ts Cruz. v, &'"I\la, 1 05 Phi!. I 151 (1959)andi P,oople v, Alarcon, 69 Pllil .. 265 ( 1939).

14 AyerPmdUc.tiOriSv, Capu~ong,IOOSCRl\86~ (19M}" See also Lag.utl_zad v, SctoYda, d:eGonzales, 9ZSCRA416 (1979).

Arlilcl,e 357 of th.e Revised Penal Code, as amended, punishes afIIyone who shal ~ publish rnc.ts oonnec~d wlth the p:tivate ~lre of t'll1ot!u~'I" person and whh:h are offensive to the honor, virtue aJ1Id 'I"@putation of the' sald person. ArI:~de 16 of the Civil Code oHh.e Philippines provides [Or civil sanctions agailllstcert.lill acts wh~cll amountto an lnvasjon ofone's p:rivacy.

liS ilSagan i A.. Ci\lz.; COflslitutiofJdi uw. Cei!litrallawbook Publ~:shlng Company, l\I\anila, 1987. 16 tlnlted States, v, Bustos and Bo~all v, Court of Appeals, SUprd, note ~ ~ •

11 Gonzalez VS" Kalaw Katigbak. supra; note 11 .. For Amerlc<ln]uri$prud.elllc.e 0111 thls score, s-e@ Near v, Minnesota, l83 U. S.

,697 ( ~ '93 ~ ) and New Yorl( T1 me; Company v, United States,11lO3 U.S. 713 , 191 I } .. 16 Seaton 14 (Z) ,. Artlde lll, I 987 Constltutlon.

19 Section Z 1 , Artide Ill. /d.,

ID Republic Ad: No. 53" as amended ~ Republic Ace No. 1477. tlnder the original provisions orthe' Ia:w; the disclos.ure mi1lY be demanded by the less restrictive' s,ta!ildard ~ i nteresr of the State." It should be int.erestllng to, note' that in the Unnted Sffi,tes. a. reporter 'I n.a libel! SU it IT'klIy be compelled to identify his sources .and even :surrender h is notes to the court (Herbe:rt v, ;1...;1:1100, 44l US. 153 [1979]).

II Sedion 7, j\rtide 111,1987 Constitution. 12 Sedktn 1 ] (I). Article XVI. id

llo Metropolitan Manila Development Authmity regulation dated May 31, 1996. See the June H3. ~ 996, Issue oftjlle PlJllJpPI.ne D.Jf1y Inqr.tin:r:

1.4 Lui.s V. Teodora. Jr. and Rnsallnda V. Kabatay, ~Merdk1 UM itnd Reguk1ti0n5 in the PhI!lppIrJes, nle Asran Media

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~nlformatuofl ~. Commu t)ucatiolil Centre, Quezon Oty, 1998, ;~e 161. 2!> 24,9 U.S. 47. d~ 5.2. (t 919) ..

It. Ibid

p Peoptevs_ Wiloy,143 SCItA.. 64 f~ 995) and Ii:H~lEmi~ ]ul'adlo.143 SCRA 99' (9950)lH Roth v. Uni.~~ States and Mi l!eIr v. Cal ~forn~a. :wpra. note 6 ..

19 New York Times. v. Sui ~ivan. SfJP41, note 5.

·:000 rhiL 71 n 9¢S)"

~u S~e fo:r ~ns~lClll, R~y~v. Bag8itsing,~ 2S SCR1\ 553 (1983): Ru~z v, Gordon. I. Z6 SeRA. 233 (1983); and E.as~m BrO<i!d~tirb.g Corpo[<l.tioll: v _ Dans, Jr. 13 "7 SeRA 618 { ~. 985} ..

~. ArtlcI.e 353 ofUn~ .l:®.Iised r~nal. Code, .. <13 dim~nded, dJeii!f'L~ Ubet For the definUicm. S~ ;sup.?, note II. Under Arl:licI~ 355 ofthe same penal code, Mybtxiy whocomm~ts lube~ shall be punished by ptiskfn w~bn.11i1'l its minimum end rnedtem periods (six monms Mel nne year to six yeaes Impl'ilsonrnernt} mill. fine"

3l, Amde 290' of ~he Revis~ Penal Code.as amended. dees not apply to pa:rents.gua:rd[ans, or persons ~ntruS'[oo: VIo'Itlh the custody of minors wvth respoed; W, ~he papers or letters of ,hi~d FeITl or m'i nors ~11 tiheif custody. [t is ~Iso irt:applkatJle to spouses With respectto papersClr ~et~rs of eUI'ile;r of fhem.

~ Article .33, CMI Code ofthe PhHirPl:J~l1Ies,.

jlS Ad! rian Cris~olbal, "Irial by Pubiidty." P/liJippI_ne.t:Wfy.inqvlrer; August 4, 1993.

3!> See the comment<'Jines ofTeadoro BenlgrTI.o found in the· dl~ferent lssues of l!Je·.P.Mil_PPll1eStarduwlngthe third quarter of


3l' P.eople vs, Ala!OJll. supra. notel 3. :l8 Ibid

Jl!j In Ie Emj~1 Jurado. S(.fpkt note Z 7.

4) Manueil f. Ailmalio" "TI~e Meanil1lg of Prl.'lSs ff\OOdlom." PlJllfppl.r'Je Gl"JpiJlc, AlIg~5;t 13". 1999. ~I. Ibid

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EDI Corruption in M'edia

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'Iranscrlptlon Presented by Guiillermo Luz (5 u btltl es p rovlded)

,I f you I ook th roughyou r fel ders, you wWII notl ce that [ dld not have a preparedtext, Instead what I did was ~ prepared a. set o:f notes because it might be more usefulto just not only give some observeticns but also to throwaround some: ldeas for dlscussion, And I guess II do re'O\,]iz;e I'm speaking on the record, and it [ thlnk ~ am say~;:ng sometll~J1Ilg sensltlve, maybe I wi]] backrrack it llttle blt from tlme to tlrne. But I think aJII~lway, om views on this. both my personal views I think and MBCs vlewsare well known regardtng media and media freedom and corrupelon ..

Since Melinda mentioned that ~ had sat ona panel a, few months ago, that's where ,I want to start, .1 was ~invit,ed to the book launchlrrg of News fo:r SaIDe and asked to cornrnent then. And my views halve not really chillnged at an slnce that time. Of GOIJ.r.se, that book focused on corruption during a polltlcal campaign period, a very recent one in 1998. ~t ourllned aU forms of and methods of,conupt]or1ll. ]t gave somelndkatlve prices. But I th]nlk., in the 'end of the day. you could conclude more Of ~e5S that this was a bilUon-pe-so industry. And ~ don't think th~s is limited merely to political ca'!llpaigns; this is somethin,g: that we have to assume goes on in other sectors whlchare covered by media and because l don't uhinkyou can wean people nom this large an industry overnight. We have to assume that this lsquite embedded or entrenched in tile pr:actice and :~ th.~nll;( tt was well documented.

This not ex:adly new. 1l!.is has been talked about for ,a long time, There have been numerous dI]scllssions, debates on the :~€Vel ofcorruptlon, what to do about wt. So. thls is not an entirely new area. Wh~.t should puzz]e us ls that in spite of all our talk, we continue togra.pple with this and we've not made much headway lnthis partlcular issue 011" concern. The question that comes to mind ls what wlll, whataffect wm this have on med]a, partlcularly the perception of media. and more wmportantrny. what we canall do about it. 'Il~s is what I want to focus on,

nrst of all, on the perception of media, as I have said before and as I continue to believe now, rnedta organizatlons are not our only S01LifCeS of news. We get news from many other sources, both witllhl the country and outside thecountry, We get ]t through. different m,edia.We look at these sources but we read different medi]a differently. We grow to understand the styles of d'ifferent newspepers or TV st.aUOfllS.. W:e grow to learn what their btasesare so when we wa.tdl the news or when we read the paper, we more or ~ess d~scount a,U this stuff, some of this stuff. and we Imaw, I think. which to take seriously and which not to, take seriously ..

And because there are many options outside of newspapers and TV stations, for instance there:' s ernatl there' s lnte met.; we are abl e to have, i III fact, a. lot of cornpetl ng so urces fa r


Discussion Paper.s of the Natlondl RnundtabJe Discussion II,

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inform.ation. What happens then, ] thin~~, my guess is that wU-jh these options, people will make a declslon: do they cut back on c.ertaIDn sources and move on to others and swltch choices. I know for instance from personal experience and w]t~h~J1 our office, that's exactly what we've done. AU newspapers today exhibit. at least for US,. two charactertstlcs. One ls that if we have so many newspapers, the same press releases are so pervasive in all of the newspapers that we find that we don't have to read them all, Ergo.we.cutba.ck.PI.ain and simpl.e. We take a ~ook and lt's not because we're trying tosave money wiith a.1I of the subscrlpttons going up; we want to, save time. We don't want to' read through so many papers 50 we simply say, "Trash some of them." Our other reason iis that we take a look at some newspapers and we deterrntne they are not really great sources of lnforrnanon for us, We don't know whether we can trust the lnforrnatkm in fact and we say., "'~t's not also worth our time," and we go to other sources, ~ get on email lists and I get a. lot of source documents via email. This one at least I have choice. If I don't like it I read the first couple of Unes; .1 can trash it. If we want to go to other sources. we can ,always go to the Internet or just switch to magazines or to other newspapers, So there are many" many options out there and the point is the credlblllty ,of the rnedlum sllps to a. certain level, lt's not worth our while to pursue that.

Solutions to Corruptton hl Media

We accept that there is some corrupdon ongoing. The key is what can we do about [to There have been many theories ~ think, people say. "ls it a problem of pay?", "Is it a problem of ownership structure?", "ls it a problem of patronage?" Whatever ~t is, there's been ,a lot of analysis on what the problems might be. The bottom line, however, is that it seems to me that very ~w individuals Of corporations would dare open~y speak out agalnst a rnedla orgenizatlon for fear that the same, the media's power would be then turned against that particular lndlvldual or corporation. I'm talklng here of private lndlvlduals or corporations. There is no doubt that media yields some power, a. great deaii of power, so we've got to be a little careful ~ think. In the back of some people's minds, they're go~ng to be a nttWe careful before they speak out That's not to say that nothing can be done about this particular problem.

With due respect to lawyers, I feel that, whUe maybe we: can do some tweaking of the laws and passing new ~egislation and try~l1g redress through the courts, to go that route we would

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have to be prepared for a very long waH and a tedious process ..

. 1 think that ]f we are to mad~e some changes, we are really ~.oo.kJn,g at a. matter of the culture or the values that we have' not on~y within 'the industry but among those who are themselves a subject of coverage and mn sodety ~n general, This. whole issue 'Of corruptlon ~ don't believe w:iII be addressed merely by pursuing cases. To begm with. I think. that the Iimitations were am ready pointed out in earller dlscusslons, one is that, if I heard it correctly, the issue of bribery really refers to, sltuatlons with a private' individual and a. government employee. But what happens when you have a sltuation where you have a privately owned rnedla organlzatton and a private lndlvidual or a. private corporation? The second issue there or second obstacle ~s that. this is an act which takestwo. You're not gdng to expect one person to lrnpllcate the other, The

II ,Corruption in Media

evidence you need t-o pursuea case is very d]ffku~t to obtain. So' you can see that we have a sltuatlon where therels a. lot of talk and dlscusslon but reaUy I have not heard cases at least recently where corruption has been proven. So ttl ere awe a. ~ ot of barrier'S that work agai ns t i tj but going the legal route, I'm not sure" is gotng to be the solution. lr's the partial solution hut ~ think we need more lmmedlate remedles that we can explore, And tbose lrnmedlate remedies wUl touch on really the change of culture, the change of thinking, thechange of practice, and a reinforcement of values, and this reinforcement of values and change of CIIJUure cannot be lim]ted merely to the med]a industry oran individual newspaper or TV station,

One of the problems ~ see ]5 that fn the private sectoramongcompenles, they mayor may not know the limlts ofacceptableor ethical practices because some of these practices may have become the norm. and if tlli1.ey are ]'ely~ng on the advlce OF the agencies or consultants who work. for them. they may ~n fact accept this ali as normal, everyday practices, And if they are not advised otherwise or educaeedtbat some of these are' i1eally beyond ethkal. boundaries, then they will continue. SO'] think the solution ltes both tn media and outside media ..

The other issues [ see towards a solution have to. do with self-pollclng. rt was ~ think perhaps mentioned in an earlier dtscusslonabout the policing vlaan assoclatlon, Can there be some sort of sanctlonglven by an assodatton? WhHe that would help, ~ think perhaps we need to go beyond just a. sanction byanassodenon, It's been my observation that media has been very good at uncovering a.bt of dlrt everywhere else, but perhaps not in media, White we read books, I don't often read newspaper articles on the front pages that Cite problems or cases of extortlon or bribe ta~,dng by a media practitioner against someone else outside media. Perhaps media's own eyes ma.y be turned ~.n.wa.rd and towards each other so that if such cases occur, they are fa~r game for coverage as much as any graft and corruption or bribery activity going on outside of media. This is what [mean. lake a look a,t some form of selt-poltclng,

What other remedies are there'? Short of, I. th'~n~,<' ,MaJou brought up the point of "Car! you put ltln the CB,A?", "Can you put it into the personnel handbook?" Whih,~ youcan, there win always be. ~ think. people who wm object ]f you move towardsterrnlnatlng thelr employment on the grounds of what was wrltten in, say the personnel handbook, people would want tocontest the causes of their d]smi.ssal, whether we redassif.y them as managerlal or rank-and-fne. ~ think from a management point of view, to the extent posstble, what mtght bea better solution is to sldeilnea person or put him or her ln the freezer, ]f they areunder some form of susplclon, you may not have a strong legal ground to terminate someone but certalruy if you wanted, to reduce a. a -a. until you know you can reduce not only the damage, perhaps, mitigate any future activ~ty ln terms ,or bribery or extertlon, I: think there' can be' many creative ways ofdeaRrng with, errant employees.

n would! be useful ~fwe had fu]l dlsclcsureof owners .or media. Who own the media? [think the publk ge'lileraUy ]s ~n the dark about who owns a. media organlzatlon, prlnclpal owners and other owners and the percent of their holdJngrs, llds does not necessarily assure readers that there wUl be responsible journalism or any lesscorruption but it at least provides us information

Discussion Papers of the National Houndtiible Discussion II

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with which to form judgments about whether we trust that particuler organization or not. People wlllsay, wellvthat they canalways put up fronts or dummies. I would arguethat it's. stlll more useful to know fronts and dummies than to have no lntormarlort ar all because that would just lead 'W' more questtons ,anyway and the people who, probe wiU be able to probe much better up to thefull ownership of media and who the prtncipals are, lt's widely known that virtually all the newspapers In the Phillpplnes.jhelr prlndpal owners have a, rron-rnedia business far larger than thelr medla business, Again this would be useful to know; at least we have some way of forming a judgment about what mayor may not color the editorial coverage of that paper. Now l'rn not saylng that a.1I owners interfere with the editorial, coverage of their papers but at least from a publlc perspective, from a reader's perspective. then we w]ll know when ally suspicion arises as. to whlch papers have publishers interfering with editorial polldes, we can at least pleoe together when! their other Interests lle,

Why don't we have more medla organlzatlons publkly list their shares so that there's an opportunity for the public to buy into these companies? Again, this ~s not ~ 00% assurarrce that you have any more responsible reporttng or less corruption but what pubUc Usting does is that disclosure rules on papers' ownerships and practices become more open especlally when large blocks. of shares might shift hands. and control. Again, this ]5 not 100% assurance but l'mtaldng this from the perspective that the more information that goes oQIJJt about the organization, th]s ls probably better for dlscernlng readers. The large, the majority of the population may not even bother to read tlh~s or compare but discerning: readers might want to know who owns what

One other idea that l know rus controversial and I'm not suggesting it, but 'it is something we need toantlctpate because U ]5 under dlscusslon now. is that in the context of-any consdtutlonal changes.Jt's been brought out that perhaps foreign equity be allowed to some degree in media, We need to explore whether thls wlll solve, help solve the problem regardtng medla ownership, media freedom, corruption w:n media. and somehow, come up wlth ,a recommendarlon. I think this is a sltuarlon which one must prepare for because the preparatery cornmlsslon ws busy at work on this anyway. This is, [ kn ow , a. sensitive issue both for m@dia people and tor people outside media but] think we need to at least .antillcipate what types of responses, arguments for and agalnst ought to be brought up,

FinaUy I think if you want to look at something really lmrnedlate, r want to. go back to (he question ot does private business know whar lsacceptable practice? As ~ said, ~t takestwo to tango run this who]e situation or bribery and ~ think it mlght be useful for the Center to. hold workshops that would also educate the private sector on how to deal with media. The simp,le way out for them is to rely on thelr PRagendesand their consultants and accept what they say and let them execute 'the prograrn so they have an arm's length r,e~a.t~onsh]p with media in th~s regard. On the other hand, [ wonder sometimes to what extent some companies are really taken fora ride by their consultants because they have [100 other way ofver~fying. [fthey are just

- . .

going to sit down and believe that they'regolng to need X amount and they need to come

acressto get the coverage and they are more or less pladng themselves at the mercy of their consultants, that's the way they'regoing to engage in the practice and unless someone: teaches

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II Corruption in Media '

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them otherwise, they w"ill continue. And [ suspect that is what is happening now" In the same token •. 1 believe that if oompanles change t-heir ways and were. 'I guess, more forthright and savvy about the way they meet with media and more honest, [ think that we will begin to move towards some sort of a constructtve solution.

The MBC Experience

I do believe that there ere very many good people in media who quletly want to carry on their profession, but we have a situation where so much of the practices are so entrenched that tm~ess someone steps in and says, "Wait ,a second. Shouldn't we dosomethlng differently? Are some of these things proper ('''these practices win continue because of fOrce ot habit and a certain form of dependency that has been created; these wnl continue, :1 think that once a ,critica~ massls identifi:edi, ifU be so mucheasier to weed out the negative practice.

From our experience at .MBC where we are both in some way a small time publisher because we publlsh magazines for which we need to get ~nforma.tion and stuffand from the point ofvlew where we ourselves are subject of-a lot of interviews, ] can ten you that we have had some pretty strange experiences .. l'rn happy to report that as a. news source, we deal with very many professlonal reporters, and we have had no problem at all as far as dea.ling VV'ith reporters and we have a very dear polky in MBC. l rnean, reporters are lnvlted to our lunch meetings to cover rneettngs, they are ]nvitedto the occaslonel press conterenoe. But. we' send out press releases, we make ourselves available for interviews; but we do not give anything outside of that,

We do. not give g~fI:s, even. We'r,e among the cheapest of crgantzatlons. I thfnk the most expensive gift we might have given was a, [t-hink ,a HI.ofax or, i think ,a roller ball pen. I. told our guys on purpose that if you' re g-oi,ng to give anyth]ng" make ~t useful for work, so the H~ofax was in fact loaded wlth economic lndlcatoesand key phone numbers 50 they can get updates on lnformetion, but do w~ give expensive gUTS? ~ sald, "No,. don't do it~ it's subject to. mis]nterpr,etatlon." Certa~l1~Y. no cash was ever gtven out to anybody. We get information korn people, ~

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say, "Never pay for your information especially lf its public lntormatlon. You may send it 'Thank

you; note. You may send a cake lfyou want or whatever but don't ever thank. anybody in government for your ~nrormaUon tfwe happen to need It In the course of our work."

Yet from the point of view where we are the ones collectlng ~.nforma,Uon as a. publisher; we get some strange behavior from private companies. We publlsha business magazine where we need to write people and find out: just glve us mnformaUolil and some people ask. us actually if they need to pay for us to publlsh the information. r said, "No, because I'm not going to guarantee that we' r'e going to publish it and [ don't want your money anyway. What we want is, we just want to be ana rna-ruling :list so we can widen our sources of informat]on." But evidently, companlescand especially" ~ can tell you.fn the travel busmess because we have a business magazlne and we wanted to just give some travel features, right ()[way they were saying, "Do we have to give' anythlng?" So tn~s must be common practlce for them. ] sald, "Noactuauy, you don't," • told our edltors and say, "No; we just merely want to. recetve the Informanon," I

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Discussion Papers or the National /lo,undtable Discussion Ii

suspect thts lsa bit of an eye opener for some of 'these groups th,at they can send information without havilllSto pay to get coverage .

. Ifwe want to. do something about it. we have to cutthls a bit at the source and byeducatIn.g: the private sector, 'then at the same time, engage in much stronger selt-pollclng. At the end of the day. ~ think the managers and the rank-and-file take thelrcuefrorn the senior executivesand the owners. ~t depends on the culture of the organtzatlon and the values of the orgsnlzarionand the wmingness to expose people who are doing wrong and w]lUngne5s to put them in the freezer, Unless we do that, notil1,~:rru:g wUI happen and on the part-of business. ~

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Ii ,CoffUption in Media


By Raul L. Contreras

We need to approach oorreptlon in :medla from a historical, polltkal, eeonomic and social perspective. Corruption in the Pnlllpplnes hills ~ts roots in the fact that there has been no democracy and therefore no freedom in our c.ouJI![,!y's long h~st-ory because our people hifve never enjqyed freedom of choice.

Fi nandal insecurity has beenthe lot ,of the mass of 'Our people and stll lls, But it ls not the onl~y cause of our loss of the sense of right and wrong. That the Filipino has developeda numbness to corruption may also be traced to the fad that he or she is a witness to the economic, pol:itical, and social heights cHmbed by the unscrupulous, the dishonest people ~n cur sodety, aU of them without honor. Withrun thlscontext, we ought notto wonder that moral mndig-lI1ation is not part of our psyche. Un~~I,(e the people of other sodenes, dishonest n~plnos do not commit suicide and the fhru~ruppine government" does. not falill because of graft ,amd corruption.

A look at Phlllpplne History

The passlvIDty, the tolerance ,and the cavalier attiwde of most fUipi:nos towards respecrfor law may :in turn be traced in great part to the ,colonial system Spain and to a. Wesser degree the tlnlted States operated ln our country. Under mese oolonlzers, Ilaw and trad~tion were used only to protect the ruUng class. Becau5e of colonlallsm, Flllplnos came to regard law as, that whi.ch, exnngu'ishes their survivaL Vi:olatil1g: Laws for us became a necessary evil because for the mass of Flllplnos it ls the on:iy way t-o grebthelr rlghtrul share of aU thin~, b~t and beautiful. Thet's why it became fastrionabl~e and virtuous to steal from the japanese during Wortd War ]1:.

The tragedy of the mass .5 that after one hundred years or so of independence, ,they are S'tiiU very weak economically, They are stlll forced to ding to 'those practices which enabled generations to survlve colental days. Corruption c-onull1'Ues to this day because ,of the almost total absence of nationalism wh~clli1, enables colorral values to contl nue to dornlnate our Uves. It 'is not' Sill rprlsl n,g ~hen tllaJlt in 'aUF oount.1)f eventeacherscheat during Board end Civii Servlee Ex:amtll1.ations and of course during elections. But we are not alone because corruption ~s endemic where once upon a time colonizers ruledand where they continue to rule through sheer economic power. The problem [5, the power diques in the economically weak nations are stUI ever ready W, kowtowto and protect foreign int,erests. There ~s no dEfler'ence between today"s call for charter change and the sale ,afOUl:" vidmy in the revolution against Spain for a pedtry sum to, the United States.

Yet PhiUpp'ine ,wrruption [5 perrvasive primaJl1il~ among the- emite. tlhe polIcy makers Wld the dedslonmakers. 111,(;: mass are in the main spectators, the essential s~lent MaJ]o:rlty. Gettjng rid ,of b:ri berry I

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! Dlscllssion Papers of me National Roundtable Discussion •

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'extortion and economlc incest rem~m; p:robl,emliltic because we afeallegedly dem,ocratic, too democratic to, e:xreil"mwna:~ tile scum afour counny's elite, the erremles ofindustrial~m, professiolUll~sm m"ld a pure dv]ll service.

VYtI~n we speak of oo.rrup~OF1 ln media. i:t is again neededend urgmt for us to r,ev[ew history and unravel ortce more that the Ulnited Sm.tes basmmdiz:ed freedom of the press as soon as we were esrabllshed as a OO:lony. III those bad old days. freedom of the press. was a~IWve but only to advance U.s .i:rntewests.The U1. S. was afraId that ttI.e fad that .Fi'I~p~nns, !lad a new GOm1lStitution and were aide to 'establish a demoaa!J~]c.gov'errJm,ent would give fmUplnosW"le strong urge to oppose U.S. interests. The Phiilippine Commission was an unabashed,ly al~-Ameiican show. It imposed a Sed~;~OIl Law which was more repressWe than tbe U.S .. Sed~tian Act of July 1 798.. That law extinguished freedom of speech and of assemb~yj made the dwsp.lay of OUIi Hag and the advocacy .of ~lndeperu1ence penal !offenses. We: were forced to speak only Efl!glish,. an eloquent way ,of sll'bjllgating us ,cjul,tura'l~ and to sever our ties to OUf revdutjoflarypa:s:t Fi~wp[nos then Gould have ruIDl with Did~~ and Jane but coll~d not s'~lJd!y the decalogue. .MllIItlmo Adloswas ,arc.Jhived and fejp1aced by Ament;a the Deaulim!.

~1i'I the US colonial perl00,tih,ere were three newspapers all owned and edited by Americans: r ..... m.c ,N - - :-A..c - - -jlr§i" 111 - U "i'f"j]a;' 'l1'r-m, &.::! and ·Th- -. ",JI"I"'l!la D"'~l - B!iJ]]~nn., .' I ~I t- .. ... n- ,j., d

~~e,ews ~.e~h .. I;"U., __ ._e ~YlC!l!!L ._._. _ ....... all___e JVK!!!L ULy o""~L, __ ,_~ a_I ilumpe~e.1

rulw-filip]no messages which made us' outto be savages and embru:goed anything about our qualities. Thelerters of the l1lomas~tes totnelr famUr:es in .Ameri,ca Me ind"J,e U.S. Ub~ary of c.ongress. 'They are r,eplet'ewllifllllorror stories about tile Mfives ..

The repr,essffion or the attempt to SUPPW'es5 .Pili1i~ippine me<iia.aillso lrncllJdedltle arrest and convi:oI:ion ofAureUo 10 I eflu 00 who auttlored a play "Kahapoll. Ngayonat B\J~" which achJ(~,:atedin.depemieru:e .. Juan Abad autho~edd1le p.lay 1anilkalang Olnto" \!\itih:Jn decried our enslavement by~e Yanl{e€ dollar. He avoided a convjction for treasonon a tochn~cal]ty.. Advocates of lndependence suchas PMcual Poblete., the fafuerofPill~ippille joun~isrn. and Juan "Matapmg:" Cruz. \,veiH1!simi~OO1y~. MlEiIin,g PhUippil1le m,ooii1L was perfected. The American establishment feaJj,ootilil.iilta free PJesswotl~d frustrate ti'hei]1!" anti-Orilel1tal,empire..

Do not wonder, therefore, ·tili1atf,_h:e .Pillilippilu!· media. detertorated lnto the mere vebkle ofima,ge' engil1eering that Wi 'is un~H tod!ay, a. vehiclewt.ioh promotes the image of po~IDtici.,s., bus~ nessrnen, ca;ptain:s of incffiustii)l,taipariS and ,an endless ,GlJj;avan of social dlrnbers, Do not wonderthat our media are now acesspool which reH,ed prima!l"i]y ~he vu~gar. the bogus.fne shameless and the ,cheap. Do notwollder that Ph!;Uppi11le media. area stage fo:r the gloriH:c.atiorn !of hoOO[~u,m$ in barong (sometimes they weall heather mackets), ~n robes and i rII uJiliform. and ,o.f women who, contribute tot1he lIp~~ft of Jlotlli:ng but the~!I" noses i;1fJd breasts.

M.edl.a. Issues

Yet some media pradllt]one!fS are illteileowaJ1iy drnshonest enough to caU the]r product news even if it's ,EI. mere reproduction of a press release. Like ttJ.e persons promoted by the media and by publlc ~elaJMons haCi<:s, most people in tine media and allied professions !11i,e mired in shallowness and


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I m Corruption in Media

vacuity. With rare exceptions. they di:SCha!l'ge thelr responsibmty unUbrm Iy and differ on Iy in the slent th.eyuse.

That slant ls the publisher's agenda, a business agenda without a mission and addressed singlemindJedly t-o profit. Because our pubnshers. broadcast media owners and shar,eholders are untainted by integrUy (some are 'even UUrerate and some are public officials), our media sjmp~ protectthe lnrerests of this Infenor class. Of course, we must recognize the few exceptions, two of whom happen to be named Locsin. Unfortunately for the Locsms. only Rau~ makes money; teddy Jr~ continues to bleed with Today.

The ugly reality faced by our media ls that their fate almost always depends on 'th:e government Who else can issue Ucenses" award rranchises, collect taxes, regulate prices and extend loans wn this country today besides the Indian usurer! and entities that go by ludkrous names such as Perpetual Help Pawnshop? The state of indebtedness of media entitles makes them even more vutnerabie to cretins in governmellt We have just witnessed the do-sure of lh.e Manila limes whlch lost heart because the father of the publisher owed prlnoely sums in taxes, It was a case of plain and simple blackmel I.

TodayH1,e Inqulrer ws be]ng boycotted by advertiser friends of the government in power. ~ts reporters. have been banned from covering the ,activWes of the most useless president in the nation's history. Today faces a libe~ suit from the current president.

And so we nerve in medle a wasteland ot praise releases comtng from the highest echelons which cannot even lnstltutlonallze press conferences for tear of humiliatiofl. We have [n media today a cacophony of ccmbobuiatlons which in the main, succeed only in the glamorization of useless. vulgar" srupidand silly personalldes, The defuJu]t of media has been aggwavated by the attitude efagovemrnene Which does not care at ,al.l.

Below the level of publishers, broadcast network owners. it few talents and some ed~tor5, people working in media continue to receive wages and benefits far outstripped by the income .of a, crooked clerk in the BUTeau of Customs or the Bureau of lnternal Revenue. 'Iheyalso suffer from a ~ack of proper education and «aiming', the teolslndlspenssbleto excellence in the practice of their clIIaft. Very few have the Lise otvebldes which lend dlgn~ty and prestige. Wo.~,. many have to rover assignments by using pubUc transportation. Look air the business beat and wonder no longer how a reporter can do a good lob covering the Securities and Exchange Cornrnlsslon, the National. Power Corporation and other asslgnments by bus and jeepney and on foot. all beforetwo o'clock In the afternoon.

The situation is not helped any by tile advertising sector whenadvertlserscancel their reserved spaces and aIrtime because an intellectually and spiritually handlcepped head of nation can do. a Gokongvve'] on them. lt is lamentable also that very llttte advertising reflects a sense of public service on the part ,of advertisers or Bohe.ri nge~r ~ngelhei m could not conti nut! to tnsul t and denigrate our women wlth that insufferab]e Pharmaton cornmerdel,


Discussion Pilpers or the National Roundtable Discussion •

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The sector wlth which .1 am iden:ijfied besides. medla is celled pubhc relations. There is only one seemingly insurmountable barrier to a. correct sectoral r,espons€'.' .. Mnst of the practitioners are equaUy corrupt and equa.Uy iii-prepared for "the serious, honest and competent practke of their craft Even pub Ushers and editors have invaded this sector brazenly and operate as publlc relations agents of clients in government and iin the private sector most of whom heppen to. be involved in controverslal and odious trensactions .. They are compensated 'Nith all-expense-pald trips (imi'ud]ng wife or querida) to as far as Argentina .. By the way, all-expense-paid shopping ls part of the fringe benefit. It is not only the men and women on "the beat who are handed envelopes and are even short-changed in the process. Publlshersand editors give their bank account numbers t-o the PR vermin, receive prepaid shares of stocks and are extended behest loans, They also feast atthe d~n ner table of the President of the Philippines and h]s partners,

Democratic Solution

] am afraid to ten you what I propose to do with such all. anomalous situation o3IiS ,existsroday not on~y in media but in all sectors of ou r sodety, B ut ~ see hope and ~ find consolarion in the fact that corruption is only a venlal si:n among the mass of our people compared tothe mortal S~1Il that it is among the elite. l amafiald that the best solution is undemocratic and too radcal for you. Let me say, however, that while [ 'tend 'to be unldndin my crlttdsm, I wHl never suggest that the FiUpino i,s. congen'itaU'y corrupt, ~fhe were, then the only solution would be not only undemocratic and radicaa but also inhuman. lt would amount to radal cleansing,

The democratic solution suggests that we continue to work for the el'imlnation of every form of :i:nsuffidency ~n our country, To do this, we must unshackle ourselves from the remaining maim; of coloruzanon now referred to euphemisij~1iy as globalization and lndustrtallzatlon. We must insist Of! fun honest to goodness i nd ustrtallzation and the hasten i ng of wortd-dass agrkultu reo lt is on Iyi:n a :sodety of suffidem:y where th.e mass of people call exerdse the freedom of choice without which there can be no democracy and where the media ,and allled prcfesslons can finally stop pUliSuing the business of survival the way many generations did ina colonlal set:£jng. I repeat, aU of us must look at the mass of our people.

Those who occupy exalted positions ln ,government. illl business and industry. in religious institutions and in the media. and allled professions must begfn to accept that the supreme mission of media, on earth is to get at the truth, consider the common good paramount and bring about a better sodety, PubHsh.ers in print media.owners of brood cast networks and their shereholders must divestthemseive5 of holdings in other businesses. particularly those businesses which have built-in confilcts of interest. Along with all practitioners ~n tile media and ,a1lli,oo professions such as public relations, publishers and broadcast medla network owners must be required to undergo qualifying exarrtinatlons even more ,exacting than those required to ~,avvyers; doctors, and so on. There must be a passionate practice of conttnulngeducatlon particularly educaaon in values. nm

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• Corruption in Media

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By DanUo Gozo

Mr. GOZfl presented the foll~owing paper wi.th this brief statement;

I wish tv pamdpatein the discussIon based on my own expe-denceds.a communications Pef:5(}fl that spans dose to 30yealS In the business~ 1iI:5tdS apmcticingjourna!ist subsequently ss« publlcreJatlonsprokssional engaged lncounselll'lgdients. later as agovernment oFlldal with responsibilIty Ii:Jr governmentin!Ormaiion [andyouca.n reed propaganda· into that OI1e.l dndsdillater as apolitical candidate 5 spok€!!5man, and ClJJTe/1t{y;asd cOlpOratecommuniwtiofls manager. And Iguess this would ii/SO gi'Ve.aperspectiveoftlJeconfitsion I have In my mlndas to whdt re€illy constit-utes coat/pilon.

As ayoung journaMst in the late 60s to the early 70s, I had my Hrsttaste nfhav:ir~g been offered a bribe bya suburban mayor who shall remain unnamed 'because he is already dead. This mayor, after the i ntervlew ~ literally started to count fifty peso. bills i;n his hand and laldthem down on his tab~e in front of me, presumably for me to pick up end pocket. l lookedat him lncomplete surprise; ] did not know what to do to be honest; there were no lessons in journalism school for that. I decided to walk out on hls honor to the dismay of my cemera crew who. told me how wet] was behind the earsfor hawing insulted this mayor and that we would no longer be 'inv!'ted to interview him.

W'ell. on til1econtra.y. the mayor kept lnvltlng us to come and lntervlew blm because it was cheaper for him to do so. Of course, there was neverany assurancethat whatever he told us woutd go on the air. but I: found out later that this act of "disrespect" ted him. to say good things. to my boss .. Wn short, r believe we earned hi~s respect.

Dwingthat period too, as a budding, scandal-seelrdng. mllcJ{faldng joumallst in broadcast. I stumbled upon a secret lobby fund by CI. local organization of businessmen who were attempting to inHueflce tile dellberatlons of the 197 '1 Constitutional Convention. As ~ had a free rein on what to write and what went on the air. ~ started a series of exposes. on the subject, not concerned wi1th. whateverfhe outcome was to, be.

Of COUf5e, ] later found out that among the leaders of this lobby group were OUII" network' s largest advertisers who threatened my boss to pull out thelr sponsorship from our televlslon news program. My boss, bless hls heart. upon establishing that ~ head no other agendJathain good journalism in mind, did what ~ call a. Solomonic thing: he sent me 0:11 ·a bain~ng program abroad :for a full e~ght months wah full salary, thus removing me from the coverage of tile 1971 Constltutlonal Conventlon and Sifv~ng: the ads that the clients were ~ rearenlng to pull out.

Discussion Papers 01' the National Iloundtable Discussion EfJ

I was woflde_ring\lVhe1.her I was bribed. whether I was rom.wpted at that po~nt. [P1ease hemp me vviith that~~ards.]

f:ast MIWCVd to MartJia1law)l'eaJS. ~ m.oved, to a. new arena called Imartlc;et)ng mmmunicatiOIlSI. I had a, client, ,aJ'II airline. whleh wantml to o,rg~ize a,mmUiarization tour aID'nong life5tyl,eed~tors and tr&v'ei w.riteifS-aII~ fo:r free of'ceurse. But this client wanted those who would go to sign ,a contract tihat tihey will. in tum. wli.m atJCJ'Uit thetrip i,tse~f, ~ was na."J\re; [was new in the game; ~ told the writers about the condltlon.mdedlng the editor annd 'pub~~sher of a p~estigious nevvspaper~

Thws editor iforthwiith [published, a story abolltthe famtour ex deal 'offer and annourxed tl1at the airlines,' ad:Vlertis~rlg 'Wffi~~ no ~onger be accepted in his lI1ewsparper unless that poUcy was otnanged. [F ever fllell"€!' was a time in my plI",oressionail career that i felt I; wanted to die" Iilhatwas It. ~ n~it~mredtffilail:: ~ fajled 'UO do my duty as a. PRcounselor~ ~ should have steod up to my cllentandtold hwm that his c cli,e r ,- :,,~I~,," and [I-wo .. - >uld. not aU()w his rnmrn.:lrYV tIO be embafl2lssed :""".' irnsilstffing on a. " uid- ro auofor'

po __ qrSU~I;;I,III!":1 .'. '-' -"- . -- 11""-'':' - - - "- _. - - "":::1 - - _ - --q- - p - C]- -

s)lJml ,tt fam U~ari:zation tour,

It was a, lesson ttmt I ~ealined at a. v'ery high piIiiUoe. and in an. odd wit of way, whrule [I was embarrassed by tile ~ncident~ I thanked this 'ooIDto!f for h~s invaJ.uabl,e lessonl n PR eeuasell ng.

Stand your ground wfyoUl .e right at the ris~~. of losl ng the buslnessl ~n professlonal PR counseling. the c.Jjent ~s NOT aJways right~ 1lw.t is why he hi roo you in the fi;rst place - to provide oLrtside counsel illJ~pediVle of IhlS ,own biases.

Such was my frameof mind when I ~Oi:ned, the govemment as [Pr,ess Undersecretary in 1986 to become part of a. great erruterpriise toot brou,ghtabout ftJ.e resteratlon of press freedom ,and the Hberty to express oneself after 21 years. 1fthelT-e was Cit time in Pili1lilippllle [ournallsra that media was "unoomjpted" • at least for a. pe'ri.od of ti;me', I (flare offer that peri:ooas ,exh~lDit ene,

Fowthe firs!ttim,ein manyyears, rnedlawas askedto pay' for ltself'tn out-of-town presidential visits unliked1:f: previous adminis~raJitio(lls where Cilil,llleebies were hil fu~~ bloom. .My new boss and l would hold media ~un(tJ.es ata.".kilmbingmi' j:oint near St. Jude's church. ~Malou ~ahas: &hay Kubo.~ lJaiJay./(uiJo: [n1an~( you Ma]ou] And ~fwe hel~d i.t at Milky Way near freedom Park, we m~gJh,t halVe to pay for lt, 1l1.e mMI [~m:oon]wfith our meag~1I" aIDlowarlces. I would tJi,eat,as an UndJeif5eale,tary~ the t-JIaIacafiarlg ft.~,'Co~5 ortne "Brat :Padk" as we would can t1he;m~ to~and ~ndlem,eath d1e majeS!tic chandellers ()f MaIDacafiiang Palace, ltJa![ Wa5 "cool" ,enollgh for usl Do you thiinl,( we b:ribed. tile press corps?

During the ccngresslenal elections of ~ 987, when the Aqjuino, adminLstraJ\i]on offer,ed the KBL (KJJUsang ~.lipunad) free and equsl time in aJlgovemmel1[ and controlled medla 1V channels. I distJind~y recaU tlJatthen KlBl party dar. N[d< Y:rIIi.glJez. wllo WS lmy 5ellliior fratern ity bJiother~ almost fen off hls dlair in WMtinSto tlnankus for b\rirJ1,sjng 'tine good! news. Can you imagj:ne whattM might have meant to. ill OCBL politi,diWI. having ~nSJ]~encOO inn) oblivion for nearly·tvvo years now able-to speek in front .of a mike again and on rrattonaltelevlslon at that fall" free? Did we corrupt the KBL? [Ok, you mWgilt &ly that it W~ alr,eady tainted to begjin wi.ttI but they oertaiinl,y liked tit.]


II, ,Corruption In Media :

----- -----

During:fhe elecdons oW 1998 w]thtodJay's media in full stride, mruly of you may have I,m,own about the regu~ar delivery of brown envelopes from a certain house in Dasmarin~ Village', whmch happened to result in a positive spin of storles favorable to the owner. In faot. th.e spiin .. dlocrors weire so elloient that one lnstance during the- second lakas party caucusat the P~CC" that same' carndJidlate was reported to have won the second baJl~otjr!govew h~s nearest livaI desptte '!itJe fact that the hafkJling_ l1-e_VeLtmk .l?!a;C'~ Do ~I'ou~inl{ media. was dean?

What is the point of ~l ot these anecdotes? 'Why am I not giving ,any definlte answers wnstead of asking questions? l'm do~ng ~t dje~iberatel,y because l'm at a, loss as to what consfttutes "'(lomuption".W-hen we say PR handlers ~d spin-doctors are corrupt. what ,CaJI1 we say about jOllrnalists who own publlc Ireruati;ons com.J)iu'l~es7When we say eernwn media are' exemplars of integrntyand cr,edihrn]~1;y. what can we say of broadcasters who moonlight as talent endorsers for products and services? These am many questions and ~ don't havethe a!I'1!SW'ers,. The problems of medla to my m~nda:re but a reReotion of the problems of sodety lngeneral, The problem wn media wffiU not g'o .away if the problem in society oontilnuesro ex~st. We cannot, to paraphr:ase d. Une from the ~·RuI1la:wayB.ride," '!H!ail .Mary ourselves away from this problem" .We have to understand that we face i.e everyday andthe only sure obseadese :it lsthe strength of our ,oonvicnonsancil val ues,

Url,{e ,3 good PIR counselor, when faced wi.~ an i nsistent c~]ent, he prepared for the: consequences of youlr a.Q!Won if you thinl' whalt you're da]ng ls right. it is our duty fro, teillil it' how ~t is even if it displeases those we ~re dose to a-

At tln,e same tlme, may I: b:rlllg out the fact that it is our duty ~ j01U:nlal,[sts to be dwsc.ern~ng and knowledgeable on media. spin and media hype. A good amount ofcynlclsm is a characteristic £hat ~s welcome in this professlon. Mud:raking forHle sake of smearing: r,epurtations has dublous value, GOI1ls.iant readwiIIg and sensiti.vM:y to lssues ,and.1ffi1eir 1i",e:I,ationsll1ii.ps ar,e always useful. in one's rdle, as a. cIlIlOllic!,er o~ tine ttmes, In tae final anaillys~s,. I suom it that your good juc{gmentis as lmportant as your prose sty,lein impmv~ng the' crall. llUlI1~,< you, ~I


Discussion Papers 01' the Nationd! R.oundtable Discussion •


While I was working ,on a profile ~ast August, ,an wnterviewee told me that he found laudable what a. group of journalists was trying to do to bri:ng about a more credible and responsible mOOl[a.. ~efeilring to efforts by concerned journalists to raise questions about etbtcs and protesslonaltsrn.he however pointed out ttJat other joumalwsts were not too pleased wi'ttl what was going on.

Anexecudve .of a construction company associated with the purchase of The M:anlla Times the rnnteJ\!iewee went on to narrate how some lourna.lists. he had spoken wjth were reading neg(i\,wy,ely to the seIDf<rUlc;ism and how upset they were aboutme hoII~e]'~fllan-thou atti'wde that these ilourrn:alists appeared to be proI,ectl:ng., :Hlirving wor~ed as ,ch[efof staffcfa former senator, the exeeunve also sald he has seen especially during the' csmpalgn season how brazen some reporters ~ eventhose in the' provinces _" could be. For instrulce.envelopes willth cash were oonsidered"SOP" or standard operating procedure during press conferences. ¥et, he said, the conduct of these journalrusts was understandable, considering thelr pathetk take-home pay. He reminded me (hat ,.iMahirap iyang

• • "n.J\/iIh t · dol ,. d·ffi- It ]

gllJilgc1wa ntyo. LVUla you lie' '. omg 151' ,CU".

A couple of years back, whUe I was domg research b:rttu:: monograph News lOr Sale, a p'Ub~i.c; relations p:ractitioner who was it former journalist turned down my requestfor an interview. He said he could not mil me what he knew because, among others, he woul!d end up compromislng hls other joumaust-fnends whom he was payin_gto wriee press releases far his business clients. rom sure he was not just requesting them to write press releases since one partkular client was up ag.ai:nsta tough business rival. Where business cornpetltlon ts stiff, ilnside inliorma.tion is the name of the game and journalists on the beat and in the newsrooms areecknowledged to be excellent sour-ces"

For the PR practitioner. 'obtaining critical inbrmation means having to deal with journalists in it variety of ways.. And the rle~ati:onship carried an unspoken rule about keeping identities secret. 'For hlm, the relanonsblp was a symbiotic one - he needed the professlonal help of journallsts to service his cllents ln the best way possible and his jOlflrnalist-'rr~ends'needed him to augment their lncernes, His cllents naturally benefited from 'the re1atjonsh~p because :it ;a1~owedthem to mount business bames that oftenlnvolved media ..

~t is these runtrh.:aw relationshi ps that meke the' tasl~ of dealing w~th media corru pflon ~ unethical practioGeS, and irrespons'ibUfty complex and dwflku~t. There can neither be a qukk flx nor over.simpUfkation of tasks that can at best min~mb;ethe problems and there are bound to. be a. lot of g:ray areas fuatwell-meaning media stakeholders will. stumble j'nro·. But to better appreciate the oomplexlty ,of the sltuatlon, let us do it quid:, scan, of the media terrain, reexamine the extent of corruption and lack of prefesslonallsm, and assess its implications on the media community.

: 1m Corruption in Media


In J 997 j aocoiid]ng to an article in the PhH1ppine Journa!l~smRevjew~ sernor priint reporters were earnlng an average or Pt 1,000.00 a mo:-nfili1. wh]~e: mlddle-level reporters who had already pounded the beat received about P7,OOO.OOI, Entry-Iev,el reporters got a measly f4,5CK1OO mon1tl.ly, alittle morethen the P4A~43.00 poverty-line level then. OfteJl!times, low pay is cited asa reason for the failur,e of journalists to reslst bribes and monetary gi.ft:s gWen by sources in exchange fo:r slanted stories, It would appea:r that in some cases, and I stress some, the reasoning holds water;

In ~ 998, ~bon Databank computations pegged at r01JJgh~y P~1,079.60 the monthlycost of living for a family of SiX.l At the ]nquirer, where reporters are perhaps among: the h~hest paid in the indus-my. insiders saytha~ their salaries have' increased by P3~OOO~OO since 1997 .. On a monthly basts, ti1e;tr highest paid reporters today who have put in more than 10 years of service reoelveabeut r24,OOO.OO, inclusive of a transportation allowance, 'Ihelrentry-level reporters receive .aoout P7 jOCKl'.OOj exdudmg a P4.000.00 monthly transportation .aUowanlce·. The collective bargaining agreem~ent forged between th€~nqu~r,er union and management provides for a bonus eC[uNalent·to three months' pay and profit sil1amlng equivalent to five percent of the company's net income. In t997~ Jnquireremployees received from the prefit sharing scheme PI06"OOO.OO pr]or to tax deductions ~ the highest th.ey havegotten thus fur .. In J 998~ they r-eceived P8~,OOO.OO -less than the year before.?

The Inquirer rates are said to be highly competldve and. perhaps not too representanve of pr,evaiUng salaries ~ntihe smaller newspapers ~n the metropolis. Yeit given the poverty Une and cost of ,~Mn_g statistics., it would appeer that mfnus the bonuses, even iU'l. ,entry~levellnqulrer reporter belonging to a. family of .5;]);:. ~s earning barely enough to live decently. The situation [s not any better for journalists spread out in the ZS or so newspapers pub~!shedl]l.Ma!I1Ua.ln faot, sal.aties would pifooobly be better had there been fewer papers because therr, newspapers would be compelled to otfer cornpetitlve salaries and beneflts to atuact the best in the Held. As it is, moo~a are Uttered w]th hao siiilOSO:rfalKes who go around attendIng press ,ronferences\!VUjth over-slzed identification c.v,ds as well as over-slzed pocketswa:iti.ng to befilled wlth casa,

The finalldal situation leaves journalists wlththree options! switch jobs: stay on. work. ha!l"der and live modest llvesor make creatlvecornpromlses,

MedIa. Conuptlon

at lam, we have heard so much about the extent and types of compromlses that many in the professton have been wUUng to make.

for ]nstm1:ce~ research for the book News for Sa1e4 revealed diSID"rbwng new trends ~n media corruption. These days. payoffs are deposited dlrectly lneo automated teller machines or AIMs to deal wi'm the paper trai~ problem, Some journalists. use the accounts of their wwes or ctJUdrenfor these direct deposits.. During ill brief vlsltto Davao recently, I was told that some reporters seek employment for their reillati:vesi.lll City HaHandother government agencies and payments. made by goveJrlm.ernt officials to journalists are glven drectlytnUteir employed kiln. And not unlIkle some of

Discussion PapelS of the National /loundtable DIscussion Ii

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their M.etro ManUa counterparts, some members of the local 011" community media have come to expect envelopes lnexchange for their attendance ln press conferences or the publica:ti'on of photos,

If you recall, the Manila Times reported once that current Malacanang press cfficlal Ike Gutierrez banded out envelopes to reporters who attended ,a press conference called by Joseph Estrada when he was still vice president and head of the Presidential Antj-Cf.im,e Commission (pAGe). That press conference was. called to announce the reslgnatlon of Mr. Estrada (rom PACC~ an event that by itself w;a;s already newsworthy. ~t didn't really need grease money to make sure ~t got coverage. But appar,entl:y. Mr. Estrada's medla officers tnought otherwise, The ind.dent caused a stir then was swept under the rug and forgotten. No sanctions whatsoever were imposed on anyone,

Another pattern in m'edi,a corruption is the designation ofmedla shepherds and point men to facilitate the bui.ldirng of a. rtetwork within rnedta drcles, Shepherds app~,oach journalists and negotiate on behalf of a client ~ a. poUHdan, businessman or what have you. Point men are newsroom insiders who, by reason of their strategic. position in the news PJl'OOe5S, have a say on the publlcatlon ot stories and press releases, Some of them serveas inbrmantsabout stories, especially negatlveones, tha.t are set to see print, n is safe to assume that this practice continues till today ..

The ,campaiign season Jast year saw a melar1ge of tactics used by polltical parties and polltlclans alike to. make the most out of their media connections. There were spedel operations that Involved h]gh ]mpact stories whose pubill~iattion cerrled a stiff price tag, Many me-dia handlers sald that some media practitioners raked 'it in as consultants, with some charg~ng ~ if not being paid ~. from hundreds of thousands to at least a million pesos, P40,OOO.,OO to P50~OOO.OO a rnonm, if not governmere contracts. went to some top columnists and senior editors. Lower rranking editors ,and columnists were offered Pt O,OC~O.OO-P15,OOO"OO while reporters got paid monthly retainers that ranged from P5.000.00-P~ 0,000.00. Stature determined the price.

Collusion between candidates and enterplilsing radio stations during the campaign period resulted in. a. sophlsticated clrcurrwendon of the pclltlcsl ad bam .~ essennally legitlmlzed ccrruptlon, Some radio stations offered. P20 million packages to pr~i.dentllall candidates;. P( 0 m:illUon to vice presidential candidates. and PZ mimon-P3 mmion to senatorial candidates in exchange for positive media ,eov,erage' .. The packeges guaranteed media exposure via ,~Ne interviews, favorable news coverage, and the assignment ofa reporter who was supposed to devote full-time coverage to the candidate. The contract also committed the stations to- forewarn candidates about negative stories put out by their opponents and to promptly air tile payjng candidates' ,SlIde. Rad]o staruons were also supposed to t;y\l'ist or downplay the, negative stories 'to reverse their j,rnpad on potential voters.

Some newspapers were not to be outdone. Some papers offered P . .5 mllllon deeds that assured candidates of positive write-ups, throwing editorlal integrity and independence out the window. Others, simpl~y attached a price tag to photos and stories. Some tabloid editors demanded a flat rate per story 00]' press release, while others sold to. candidates 300,000 to .50,000 copies of the tabloids where the candidates themselves had secured SID!)' placements. ln short, political spin and legitimate news became diHicuU to dlstlnguish from each other and news be-came no d[fferent from other commodities ln the market,


m: Corruption in Media

Corruption ln medta has been a long-kept secret known only by journallsts and a limlted circle of P'R people. politidaftS and businesspersons - basically the bribers and the brlbees, Other consumers of news have been bUssru lIy ignorant about the seamy s]de of media. Today J the creel i bUl ty ot media, has been eroded tremendously by inaccurate, lrresponslble and partisan reportage. and may I add, unethkal conduct, lronlcally, we who hit erring government offidals with such fluyand nghreousness hesitate to apply the same rigid standards to, ourselves, We would rather keep qulet, if not speak in whispers, about the ethical lapses that colleagues are guilty of~ After all. we belong to, one profession and are bound by fraternal bonds.

We know of, and sympa.thize wifh, the financial ~nadeqtlacies that drlve colleagues. out of the ethical loop, We understand the dilemmas hard~wo:rkjng professlonals, who are connected with media o:rganizatlons that have llmlted resources, hav,e to g~app:te with. We know of abusive journal]sts whogive the profession a bad name yet we choose to ignore them to maintain the peace. Admittedly, ~t is so much easier to ~ust keep silent and rnelntaln the status quo. Yet we know that ]fwe do, we wUl also lose the credibility that weall hold dear. What good is journalism if the reading. flstenlng and watching public. are already cynical redplents of the news? What good is a press badge if journalists ere equated with con nlvi ng crooks, con artists and racketeers? What good is wrltl ng if our pu bl lc has ceased [0 believe us?

But beyond us. ,a media lnstitution that has ceased to be credible will have a profound impact on the ,quaJ~ty of our democracy. A strong democracy counts on a diversity of opinion, pluralism and

- _

competition among quality mdeas,.

Alienating OUI"' Publlc

When news is manipulated and opin]on bought, ]nbrmed chokes by citizens become fe\IV and far between, In thei:r stead is ]ncrease-d cy.nicism and lndlfference toward everyday issues and other democratic exerdses, As Amerh:an political science professor Doris Graber put it, "No slngle panty or interest group or news organization should serve ,as the sole gatekeeper able to control access to the

- _

news channels within ,a democracy. "5 Otherwise, dtlzens will feel alienated and be unable to choose

which ideas are best to move their society forward,

The signs of dtlzen alienation are starting to show and ltls Lip to us to either heed or ignore them.

first. newspaper readership is on the decline. Accord]ng to someestimates in 1990, only ,a little overmree percent of the population "buy" newspapers, A 1996-'~ 997 Media. Fectbook however says that according to a 1994 Asia Research OrganiZi\tlon (ARO) SUIV'.zy. 63 percent of the population read newspapers, many of them on]y sharing the copies of those with the means to buy. This means that a decrease in household income win necessarily translateinto fewer newspaper readers.

Readers of the news are however concentrated in urban centers, Metro Man]]a mostly ~ with tablotds having an edge over the more sober broadsheets. ~n 1990. although tabloids were about a 'third O'f the tornl number of dain.es~ 'fuey accounted '!br haJfthe total drculatlon Hgures. This means that most newspaper readers are exposed to sensational stories about crime" sex and violence.

- --

Discussion PapelS ,of the' National Houndtable Discussion lEI

Second, most of the TV audiences are exposed to sensattonallzed infotainment that does not contribute to their clvlc-mlndedness or Hleir active lnvolvernenr in polltlcal and economic lssues that ,affect their lives. Today, there are over 400 radio and over 1 50 television stations nationwide. r,;

Jill 1992,.82 percent of famllies owned radios, while 54 percent owned a televlslon set By 1997, an ARO tnmedla exposure survey found that nattonwide, 84 percent watched TV compared to 8{ percent who preferred radio. But television shows are Increasingly being dictated upon by the ratings game and we have begun to see the t'tabloldlzatlon" of newscasts, to. the disadvantage of sober, intemgent and thorough news reports. These have turned olf some viewers who assert fhat they deserve something better. lop 1V stations ABS··CBN and GMt\. have rationalized th€ sh[ft to the vernacular and atabloid format for thel r evening newscasts. citing: market forces and the sh ift of middle- to h]gh-earn~ng viewers to cabl;e.What does this leave the CDE classes with? Not much in terms of quality news.

Third, listeners of radlo, whlch has the widest reach 118dii:onwide based 011 the number of those who. own radio sets. are likewillse exposed to programs that do not encourage citiz.en involvement or partlclpation, ~nstead. in the splrlt of competition and the need to very quickly report breaking news, radio. stations have been known to scmetimes affireither still unverlfled lntormatlon or completely partisan views - even rumor - d]~guisedl as news, The effect on the llstenlng publkls certain: diminished credlbllltyon the part of broadcasters and radio stations.

In M.etro Manila at least, we have not seen anything quite Uke National Public Rad[o in the U.S. \Nhi,ch is solely dedicated to programs that are lnformatlve and not necessarily comrnerdal in nature. Here, we have many radio stations offelling their broadcasters a talent fee and what th,ey term a "premium" or addltional income from commerdels they bring in to fill two minutes of airtime. 7Th~s jacks up the' lncome ot talents by at least P9',OOO.QO and helps keep them. in the stables of radio stations, For blocktlmers, finding the means to buy air time. primarUy through sponsors. is ,a~so an imperative for survival. The mix of broadcasting andcomrnerclallsrn obviously does not maim for healthy and professional journalism. Nm does it encourage citizens to be heard and to participate in debates that determine the directions the government and the country wiU take.

Comme.ra1aUsm. sensationallsm, lrresponslbility and media corruptlcnlndeed constitute a potent formulafer alienat,ng our publlc, Our own pubUc complains about the quality of our stories • our maccurades and our fl.imsy reporttng. They complaln about our abuse of power when we' write storles that crucify private individuals and when we. lambaste offldals with such arrogance and don't bother to get or air their side. They sense something is wrong when we name rape victims and show the faces of victimnzed children and the accused ~n photos splashed across the front pages. They suspect we just want to. sen .

. Powerful, Invincible Media

Ou r publkgets so i rate and agitated bLital readers. cam do ls write a letterto the crp]nion edltor and hope it gets published. Or fhey go to the courts and file nbel suitsthat can vruly be a nuisance. And


• Corruption In Media

how ,about us? Many of us sometimes bel[ev'e tMt media. are beyond reproach and that self-crltklsm will only serve to erode some more ourcr,ed~btUty before our public. We just shrug our shoulders and tell ourselves libel suits are all part of the hazards of the trade. We' are.afterall, the invincible, powerful. rnedla ..

[t is th[s mmdset that has prevented us from fadng the problem squarely. We are comfurtable discussl;ng our sl 11 5 in fora and roundtable di scusslons like this but are hard put reechl ng aft rrn dedslon about what we ought to do collectively to. preserve our credibility and keep our dignity as an lnsthution ~ntact In this sense we are no different from members of Congress who, under severe crifclsrn for thelr performance ]n the past, have' banded together and defended each other for the sake of the'i:r institution.

Some of us think that in order for media to effectlvely exact accountabtllty from government and serve es ,an effeotl:ve check and balance, ]t must .cnnsilstently appea!i credible, Once that doak of credlbillty is rom. we lose moral ground and the right to- speak out and crltkize what is wrong, unfair and unjust. Without that power; we deprive our pubUcof preciouslnlormationand an abusive government \!VIiU become unstoppable.

Some of us' say we ought to think seriously about se]f-r,egullation before governmentlnrervenes and resorts to staturoryforrns ofre;glliation. But we have been taking ou:r own sweet time as ~f,our lives were not dktated upon by deadlines. Why the- complacency?

For one, because we' are not too comfortable with peer-critldsm, we are all the more uncomfortable with the idea of self-regulation. We cannot agr,ee among ourselves. We are not a homogenous group but rather one consistl ng .of jmJJlk1H sts belonging to d~ffer,entgenerat'iofls, shaped by different histories, norms. polltlcaland family backgrounds, The younger ones among us are sometimes caught in a tugof war with the senior ones over issues that dwelt on 'ethics and professlonalism. Our newsrooms are hierarchical and somettrnes autocrark, not at all reflective of the supposedly liberal views that we espouse. Many of us abide by an unspoken rule: do not challenge your seniors, but if you do, you must be prepared to, GO battle with some who have' over -slzed egos that prompt defensive reactions and 'eloquent defenses of errors and misjudgments. Those Who dare cross the ~ine and crltklze the warl ... of thel,!:' colleagues are in for a. harangue, if not slander.

Some of us believe 1t is best to leave the press alone, imperfections and all. Some professionals insist that it is the editors. wining to make tough decisions about coverage who. are, the key and that the mayhem is all part of the expression ofthe freedom that the press enjoys. On one extreme, there are "those who beJi~v'e that ar~y attempt tolneroduce order and sanity will curtail press freedom and Independence because it takes .away the passion and spontanelty of an editorial judgment, But editors are not [nvincible.

~ agree that ltls best for government tokeeplrs hands off media but med,iI. must take resporllsibUity' for its lapses and shortcom i ngs,

Discussion Papers of the National Roundtable Discussion III

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Some among us, howev'ell', have become too fired fighting tills battle. So marry attempts were made i I"!I the past to try to raise the Ie-vei] ofm.nsciotJiSness about the need to maintain pwofess~onaJ. and ,etlliOll standards, Codes of ethks were driftedl and disseminated; spedal ethics cornmittees were created to [nve.stlgate ethlcallapsesito defendthe ~nteli'es.ts of the readiling pub! lc, some nev\l'spapeilS appornntoo ombudsmen ,althoUJgj:J they wen~ consldered mere appendages and inconsequential t-o the ed]toriadprooess. Some repo:rtews .and editors wereeskedto resign due to CLQmpJaints.C1Qlmt.~€S5 WrlIm:r'eflcru; have been heilld to discuss media issues and problems, various organizat~.ons were formed. only to disintegrate ~ater; But by and marge" the battle' has not been won.

10' be sure. there have beef! incremmrtalgains and ~ruttl€': vktories. But more thana decade s.]nce an uprising· fh.catsup··c.......-..e ........ i -overturnedold wasofdoing ... · fu~ngs.·. m-··w--· -f- ~A[ch.. .,. , .. ~d ....

_ _ _ _ _ -t-~-\"Iy - - _._ . - - __ _y_ - - - __ . ~, any_ ays 0_ ml;Ata !~a,ve re~l'lio..l

Ut- .,-:OM' the ..• ~n:·ii1-t·· .. -·;·-·. ·W···. earted bvwhaths - ·-:m~Am.~"~I_ fforts tc introduce . ~ .'. e.;;M;;O, . e" '.. . ey 81:_ ... 0 worse. ea '._. 1.1;'1 ... :a:. _ .ave see _ . o.:~ .. <.e U .. JI!,~~e e~ tV! '~~O.1n rU\.1 uce rel'Urms,

some ,of our celleagues have chosen 110 keep' d~stamce and remain mereobservers, wm'il the:]r actlvlsm duUed. the task ,ofroliltinuing~iNlt th€"y had started. faJI~s on the shoulders of those still fi red up byideam~sm. d_!ld a. strong sense of [m lsslon,

for so long as small srepsforward are b€'ing made, there is reason to believe 1tt1,at b.igger strides can be taken in thefutuse, And I would ~!,ke to beI[ev·e that is wtry weare here ~ gathe:li:n,g farr the nth time" with the nth pesmutatlon of stid: .. eilolderns in media. We aJle here because we be~,ieve[hat some.tt!ing ought and G\IIl. be' done.

Setting Goals, Targets

Giventhe ,eomplexityoF the problemand the various competillrns interests and views in the media, we can set w~ry modest goalsfor a. start. This ga.thering ls.fn itself, a. start because it b~ings media stakeholders together. But obviolliSlythe peopte in th]s room alone cannot move '[h]:ngs forward so allow me to propose a few things fOil your cOn1l,s[deratiOIl:

~ . There ~s it needto construct.an upda!tedand c:urrefl:t pli,oB:ie of the Fl llpl no, journalist and to do an envi,rQnment scam. of PhH]ppline media today .. Are ornd assumpdons .~ for example, young journalists being ldeallsticand being less prone to corruptlon, orr low pay being a maj::or reason for corrupdon ~ still a.c.cur:ate? What are the values that jOUlmaUsts today hold dear? What arethelr vlews on the role of media? \NtIatare tile problerns that face ediito:D'S. reporters, sitawon managers,. and media. proprietors? How did they hilfld~e these problems and why did they fai;~1 or succeed? Which interest grolrups influence thelr dedslons and vvhy? We must ~earn i!JS much as we can about our c-ommunity and document our discoveries and our fllind~ngs so we do not re;]nvent tllile whee] everyso often, Updellted emp]rical data canlncrease the chances of success o~ Wth.~t~ver plan o~ action is adopted, likewise add to the literature on the Ph~Upp[ne merl]a" and. contribute to rnedla I.iterac;y. We will understand ourselves more as much as we cam. helpou r publ lc understandus better

2. We must buUd consensus ~mong key players in the :m.~:l:lstr'eMl media. thr,ough a. series of oons:ulta[~ons, dialogues, discussions or wllilatev,erernse you May wish t-o ·caU. We


II Couuptlon In Media :

need to agw,~ in our ~m,€J~lt of our p:Ji"of"ession's problems, to set tile barest minimum common goa~lsa:n1d targets. iIld. agree on rdeoS.We must make the gatek.eepers o~tili1e news not OI1~ see the need, but acruallywal1t, to do sornetblng because without their support" nothing will move, Att'h:e same time, the threads of fa.dional.ism that run acrossme media. fa.bric must be add ressed, Th,isis the tedlousand d ifficdt part .~ brmglng about a convergence - and thereare no short cuts tor:ile process. SldpP]rlg ]t would render all other efforts useless. ~y news ,oligal1iza:tiio:ns wwU not tolerate being ta~ked down to, much less being d~:ctated upon 0:1" ordered dI!I"olind. by outsiders 0:1" external groups. They must be pawinstaJdngly persuaded to participate. Whw~je we know we cannot convlnceall to be lnvolved, we can tllY to pullln most or a. substantial number of journalists lnto the dlscusslons .. We must taI(e advantage of~"e momentum created by the recent sklsmlshes between the current admi n~sttaiID]O:nl and mlooi.a.

3. We shouldwiden the dlide of media. stakeholders. We have to bo[~ beyondthe newsroornsandme board roems and begin to draw into the reform effort not only big busl ness, but .ailllSO· newspaper dealers. pornWca~ parnes, publ lc retadons prarttl;tioners, poIUical.scientisi5,. academeend non-government o:rg:amizaiWons. The more diverse the sta]<Jeho~ders· are,fhie more dynarnictili1"e process ,oou~d be. At the same tlme, ~nvollving more stakeholders could, provide renewed lmpetusand fresh perspective: to iiW][reooy jaded. media. p:radltione!f'S. It will be a case of the m:ed~a.interacting more vmgoil'ously with its public ..

4. We' must have tile funds to fueloper.atl1ons otherwise we. wn~ be inefFocijM':=. Newspaper arid other mooi.a o~gar:liza:tiornls could be one source oW funds but oo]l:1g totaHy deperu:lent on them CQu~d be problematlc since most papers &lie' already cash-strapped, We thelieforeneed to ideinti~an1dl tap other sources offunds,

AU four could constitute the-goals we could set for the short- to meduen-termand they could adu~lly be done smmultaneously .. The Center for Media. freedom .aJ_nd Responsib]~ilty could ad ~ as ~t has br this semwnall .-. as convenor and coordinator. ~ would ~~~(;e to stress tharl: reach ing out and ]rl'\/o!lfv~ng the mainstream p!.~ayersin vartous newspapers, radio .3i!Il1d IV stations - in essenee.jhe woridng media - is the ~)(ey to tile efbl1. Some media olJ,ffitsffield representatives who are not dedsion..:m:a~(;er5 and who awe unable to determineand dlrectedltorlal prlontles, ~th:outthe parl]opatio!l of a(i~lia! deoSJ]on..:makers, goons w~U be min]mal and predous time wasted.

A. gIl"OUP' of former .M.an~ma TImes eclUors[ilbrm:er ed]toHn~chwef M,a]ouMangatn:as. former mews editor GI€irnda. G~oil1']a~ and myse'~ij is adu~~bI worldng 0]1] the first prapoosalw]fh In~tial coordi natlon with. Shei~a CorOlnel of PCI~ andthe Ateneo Center for Sodal riO I icy.. We Me curlient.ly in the pro cess of sourcing: fu nds For the media envlronment scan and aJJe tarrgeting the th~rrl quarte-r of next year for the completion of[~le prolecr. Working on the flrst proposal" we foresee. could help br~ngaJooUit a degree <c"r consensus arnongmedla practltioners WhOwHl~I~1 be reached throughfhe da:ta-gathedng Ol.r research process.


Discussion Papers of the National Roundtable Discussion •

Data gathering will be done not only through illteIVi,ews, but aliso through focused group discussions, conferences and SUNeyS. But iU1he crltkal follow-throughand thelnvofvernent ot more stakeholders will have to be taken up by a different group, perhaps an ad hoc committee consisting of eminent persons in the media, business {includ[ng PRs and advertisers), legal, academic and non-government communltles,

The long-term oblectlve r would Uke to propose is the creation of'a multi-sectoral press council.

Pollclng Ourselves

What is a Press CouncU to begin with? It]s a body designed to exact accountability 110m news o:rganilzati,ons without haling them to court. How does it do that? By giving dtlzens who feel violated or aggrteved by a news sto.ry or even the conduct of a. rnedle practitloner some recourse other than the legal system, A. well funcdonlU1lS oouncl I could, in fact, dramattcally take a load off cou rt dockets and the heat off newsrooms,

On the one hand. it upholds proresslonalism, responsible reporting andedlting, end provides practitioners the means to explain to their public how and why they assert their freedom to inquire and report on certain issues. On the other hood. ]t also encourages t1he readlng public to become more demanding and exacting consumers ,of the news who will not tolerate substandard reportage and c-onduct.

ln J 965,. the publisher-members of the Philippine Press Institute (pro, headed by Joaqujn "Ch]no" Roces and Juan F. Mercado as executive director; established our v'ery 'first Press Council. Set up a year after the PP[ was created, the council was preferred to government control in the wake of public 'outra;ge a,gai nsr sensattonallzedcrlme and. sex stories. A panel of six that i ncl uded two-former Supreme Court just]ces, the dean ,of the Universizy ofthe Phmlippines ~nstU.1Ut'e of Mass Communication. and three media practttloners, issued warnings that sa.w print in newspapers. The declaration of rnartlal law In ~ 9'12, however, caused the PPI and the' council to cease operations .. 8

Former PPI executive dkector Aike Villadolid wrote that in m:id-1987, 11 pubUsher-editors resurrected the PPl with Roces as chair once ,again.9 Emerging from the shadows of a Marcos-style monitoring council, journalists then did not welcome outsider lnterventton so that the press had to find an acceptable form of sellif-reg1U~ation. Th.,e PP[ discussed the 'idea of having an. ombudsmen ]n eve.ry paper, also called a readers' advocate, to be appo]nted by pobllsher-owners, By 1988, the PPJ had :inv]ted the 11 newspaper ombudsmen to form a press councll anew, wlth a member of the judktary then; Justice' Edgardo Paras, invited to become councilchair. The 1] ombudsmen were' members.

A complaint involving columnist and t~k-show host jlume Yap Daza however led to, 'the resignanon 'of Paras who. disagreed with th,€; vote of the' rest of the members" DaL1, according to Villadolid. had w,ri:tten ruout a woman senator who was ,havi.ng an ~'HU,cit i~o\l',e affalrwlth her driver; '" The .only women senators then, SantanlnaRasul and Letlcla Shahanl, complained before the Senate !e~hi,cs committee

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ill Corruption in Media

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and the Phllipplne Press Council and demanded an apology. Problems that arose as a result c,f unclear procedural gui delUnes led to the reslgnatlon of Paras. ~nvitatiolilS to become chal r of the press council were subsequently turned down by two csndldates who said that the resignation was proof that the Phlll ppi ne press was not ready for self-regulation.

Meanwhi~e, the Natlonal Press Club (NrC) trled to do tts share in pa]]cing the ranks of medta. In ~ 991 .for example, ,a. special ethics commtttee was, created to lnvestiigate then NrC director and dub manager Jesus. Antlporda, NrC president Antonio Antonio and vice president Bobby Capco in connection with acts having to do with murder suspect Rolita Go. VVh:i1e the cornrnlttee recommended the dism ]ssaJ of Anti porda and the-censure of two other Press CI u b officers, the N.PC Board sought only an apology. 10

Another documented case refers to six police reporters who were accused by their colleagues of hQ~d]ng shabu sesslons r]ght in the premises of ,a local pollee dlstrict. The NPC ethics committee conducted a series of hearings based. on a. complaint and "recommended the expulsion of two reporters who were later suspended by their own newspapers. "'11 Their editors grounded the other four who eluded expulsion .ow'ing to lnsurflclent evidence.

Of late, however; the NrC has remained largely a social dub, with some' [ournallsts opting to stay out of it. The club has also kept silent about thorny ethical breaches by the press, and like the PPJ. did not raise heU about the recent threats to press freedom. Because membership is voluntary, it has become ~a~g:ely ineffectIve asan organlzatlon that could be depended upon for self-regulation ..

Wn late 1993. the idea ofa press council was once again revived. The PP[ Board appointed a three-man study cornmlttee that recommended a single function for the coundk "to ensure a complainant his ri,ght to a published rep~y /' Vi~!,ado~k[ wrote. Th.€: same men who comorlsed the study committee alsoccnstltuted theoouncll - editor Gerry Gil and publishers Raul Locsm and Ermin Garda mr .. menalso associate to. the executive director. Operating on consensus. the coundl met every two weeks to dlscuss and decide on complaints lodged before it. lt had a secretariat, run by .an executive director, that screened all cornplalnts to' determ]ne iegit.]macy before these were elevated to the council proper.

The press council primer says that upon receiving a complaint, the secretariat sends a copy tothe newspaper concerned and requires a written reply within 11 hours. On the basis. of tile complaint and the reply; the secretariat decides whether or not to elevate the case to the council, If1Dhe newspaper fails to reply within 72 hours, the council members will autometlcally hear the case .in closed-door sessions foUowin,g set procedures.

In February 1996, Horencio Campomanes, then secretary-general of the International Chess Federation, sent a complaint-letter to. tile counCil about a pharo of Asian champs tn Singapore published by the Phnipp~ne Star. The photo. published on Dec, 26,1995, had Campomanes cropped out. He had written the Star previously but did not receive any reply; nor was bts lerter published .. Carnpomsnes and Star columnist Art Borjal were known to be rivals for the coveted chess post In his

Dlscusslon PapelS of the National Roundtable Discussion 1m

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complaint. Citrmlpom~nes asked who pressured whom arrndj by whose riight the cropplnghad been allowed. The case went through the! mill until the council decided ~n june 1997, or more then a year after the 'Qomplai nt W~ B~ed~ that the Star Wa5gu i Ity ofa protesslonal violation by ailltering :reallty "for 11:0 acceptable [reason, j'.~2: U then recommended that file Star correct ltselfand even threatened sanction, but this yi,e~ded nothing. Camporrranes eventua~j~yl]j~ed a. case before the C01U1:S and won.

ln another case again invdvingtfJe Star, Orendemand Asscdatesccrnplaned that a series O~ the mysrerious death ofoov<lJ officer PhUip Andrew Pestana p1Ub.i[iShed ~n Mardh. ~ 997 injured the reputation of the PhU]ppine Navy .. O:r~nldlatn said the reports were biased andinaccur:ate. The coundl however dlsrnlssed the complalntand ruled. that 1ttJ,~ Stu acted wiW1in the priv~~eg€ of its ,ed~toltal juc.igme!llt. The dedston was hooded, down in less than three months.

The c01JJrndl was rOCi~~ed in 'J998,.'VVifh ttJen Times ediror-in-chi,ef Mruou MangatJas.as e.x:ecutNe dlrector, ~t W~ tasked by the ff~, then a group, of 12 newspaper editors amd publishe.rs, to! propagate a new "Code o~ rworess.jon~ and Ettlical ConducJt" that it had just drawn up.. Be!~~eving that a selfregu~.atory bodY. wou~d beetfective ~:f it did not Hm~;t i,ffi~lf only to c:e]lsuri:ng ,ewri:ng jo~rnalists, the coundl also decided to give .awam"'d\s. of rew:gmjrtillal1 to desew~ng jouf:rn.Wistsin early 1998 and .organized fora on various issues. ~t has yet, however. to receive complelnts from the reading public and has been hobb~ed lately by attendance problems Besides the co1!.Jncl, inefreot]ve· newspaper ombudsmen Md the National Press Club, there have pr:ootiUcally been no other mechanisms for self-regulatffion wn the PhUippine press.

P.aradoxmcally" U appears that we Wtl:U need outstdersto help us forge aconsensus faster among ourselves. il"l:'!m-hapsit is t]m,€ to ~Iter the exclusive membefShwp seucture of the press eouncll, ill partlOJlar, and open it up to non-media people who care enough about the stare .afthe press, We canbegtn wThth~he print m,edma t-o meke the tasks more manag.eable ..

Posslble Mode~s

A curso~ loo~at more sllJccesslill OOLU1U::ils ln other CQul1ttiescou]d provide usfresh and. addltlonal insi~ts about Wflillt works,

Australia, for [nstance, estab[~wshed its own Press CQUI1d.~1 in ~ 976 to"he~p preservethe tradlttonal fm',eedom of the press ..•• and ensure that tile free press acts responsibly and eth]cally. 'To carny out its ~.atter function. U servesas a "forum to whwch a!lyonemay take a complaint cortcernlngthe press, "13 The 23,,"":year old council is funded by the newspaperand magazine industries, [tsalJ~horny rests 011 the '\N'i]~~ngness of publlshets and editors to respectthe Counci I' s views, toadhere vo.illntari Iy to e:ttlical standards and toadmtt m~sWii<es pubi]dY·." TI1.e council has 2:.~ members, represerw~ng tile pub~~st1ers, jiOUf:rru8lJillists and members of the pub.~wc, its chairperson notrnavhlS any d~fect .OO'HI latlon with the press.' 4

The Australian Press. Coundl encourages dtiz.ellS who have compi.a:irruts to first try to resolve the issue wiiith anedltoroe representative of the pub~i.Cittiol1l concerned. On~y after the issue remal IlLS

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lira Corruption in Media

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unresolved can it beforwarded to the ........ ,u r·I-I· W" ·"'·Ir~ reoulresthar ",.e· :o·'m· plalnt 'If- = ,- - = c"~ .... · .. ltl

_ .. "_". __ """" _ _ ... __ .. ""_ . _!C\.I '.' n '-'-' _, " . ~ W ,.H I '~~I . <= .. ""' .. ' .u In~ ,,,,,,e spea~I!Cj In WII Ing;~

and acoompan~:edby supportlng documents orevldence, ~fany. furtllermore, the counai~, does not hear a cornplalnt that is sub~ect to leg~ action or possi ble legal adJo!ll. unless a. walver of'the right to such act]on ls s]glled by the eomplalnent.

It ls the council's complaints committee [comistirrug of seven members of theeoundl, wUh, a major]ty o~ public members. [nclrliding the choor] that hears the case and makes a recommendation to the councf for firJ:a1 dec slon, But even before the comp.~ai.nt reaches thecomsnlttee level, it passes tbrough the counom secretartat that tries to mediate a settlement, Failing this, a.formal reply from the newspaper ms sought and forwarded to the complainant [f st'iU unsatisffied with the response. tile com plalnsnt can then re~r the case to the press eound I. In otherwords, there are \!Vhalt appear to be: sufficient ~:~er5 of rnedlatlon In the complatnr process.

The British tn.3tve the Br[~is.h Press Comp~ants Comm~ss~on (PCC)estab~ishedin 199'~ as a successor to. the Press Council cre-ated in .~ 953. The pee has 16 members. majority of~em laymen worn-king underan i ndependentchalr; The pt.int 'industlY appoints tile i ndependent c;rn~r whrn~e an independent Appointments Comrrusslen appoints the rest oftrilil,e memberseleher from~he prubnc 0[1" the press.

The PGe ~;s a semf-r,egu~atn:ng body "entirely independent ·of both the ]rndllstry andgovernmere, "1.5 lt receives andacts Oil oomp~aints based on breaches of the Code of Pr:act~(,e vvh lch is oo.llstarntty revi,ewed, When the pce upholds a .complaint~ttJe offending newspaper must and does publish tile decision,giv]ng ~t due promlnence, The commlsslon also publishes its-own deds:]ons.aJor)g with the upheld and rejected com plarnnts, and a note .of every complaint received. In 1993 ,tili1~e Brit.ish newspapers agreed to grant the comm lsslon the powerto ask a pubUsher~vvner toconslder disdp~in.ruy acnon where breaches of the etbks codeare considered q- - = .- r Ha-:-r: ~ - t, M if·, ~ .. d m - r, = .'l!J~1] en .. ,

_ . . _ _. ._ _ _ __ _ _ _ . ..,. __ __ 0.1 g oss 0 8 an _ 0_ e an _ _0 e p _ v ,5 eliS,

ln fad, are writing ]nto the[r contracts dind conditions ,of employment a requirement to ablde bytJhe code of etblcs,

The bul k of ~€ pees work. wsco:noornecl W]f~, "(:ancH~ation arid the info:rm,aji resolution of disputes, The rem:aill;nirng part of ltswork is concerned wlth formal adjudications whh::h :m,ay resultin the public censure of an editor, Both procedures work effective:ly because the enijjre indusmy supports the Code of Pr:act]ce,"'IQ The a:uthOirity of thecommlsslon de~rives ffomt:he "force of voluntary compliance throughout the ]rndusrny, the trust reposed lnlt ITy members of the general public and its ability to work in harmony with the courts." fl

Cbs er to home, Thailand tockall oftwo years to reach consensus on the rules that would govern Us own Press GQunci I.. TI1.e round I is tasked with €:MUri ng cornpllance with ethical. standards. dissemiMtirJig lts deosions to the pubUcjand provid[ng educat[onand academic tr~nwn8 for joumaJists. A committee of not more than 21 members - 14 or whom areiioumaiists and the rest, experts.from various protesslons ._ deddeson ttl€: complelnts brought before the coundl, Of the seven non]oumalist members, ·tvvo must be senior experts wlth extensive experience in jouma!J[sm but not working for any newspaper. like the oth,er ex~sting councils, the Thai Pm"ess Council has drawlI1 up detai~ed complaint procedure guidelim~s.


DIscussion Papers of the National Roundtable Discussion •

Longer W:Ji1 existence compared to, the Australian Press Councll, the ,Mlnnesota News Coundl (MNC) has been at work for 29 years now. Robert Shaw, ,Minneso~a Newspaper ,Association manager emeritus and foundh1S member of the MNC~ says "that if the manag]ng 'editor of the largest newspaper does not want a news council, 1t probably won't work. Why? Because most of the complaints are against the largest daily newspapers. For us, this means that the PhiUppine D'ai1y Inqu]rer, Abante, the lV\anila, Bulletin and the .PhlUppine Star must be actively involved in the creation of a Press CoundJ.

Says Shaw: "A major daiily carl easily kl II aoouncll sl mpJy by refusing to cooperate w~ th it Of through the benign neglect of mlnlmal or no, coverage, To do its work a coundl rnusr get the word out to the pu bl lc, . , . .lf .. ,.a person outside the press wants to start a councll and! does not consult the press during the formative stage, "that project, ~ belleve, ~s doomed.":"

Towards. An Effective Phlllpplne Press Council

Shaw suggests seven steps in starting a news coundland we may wish to consider these in the workshops. later.gfve and take some modi fi:cat]ons:


Crmte a core commlttee, \!VlIl[ch would! lndudea representasve - pre~rab~, d. managing editor - from the largest newspaper and a representative from the newspaper association [perhaps the Philippine Press lnstltute or the NatioM Press C!ub]. ]nv~te too the director of the broadcasters association lKapisanan ng mga Brodkasterng PiJipinas, alfuougt. we may wish to limit initial membership to print]. Other representatives may

- .

lndude business and industry, academia; law. "Five good peoplecan sni\l{€ the world.

Meet. Study. Learn all you can beforeyou go ahead,"

2 ..

Decide what kind of council you want Look at models. The' council must spread the word rather than just wait fo.Joomp]aints to be brought to ~ts attention. [We m[ght also wish to consider what type of cound~ w]U be accepted by the rnainstreem media and be able to make m.eaningful and timely 'interventjons. The ,c.oundl, should have suffident clout in theIndustry to make its censure prindpIDe stand on liirm ground, for instance. it must beable to get' newspapers to agree to pubUsh its dedsions, even if their own employees are involved. Or the council should have the resources to pub!.i:Sffil its. own :report and decisions, buying newspaper space if necessary, We must strateglze, taking ~nto consideranon prev.aUing media mlndsets. Llkewlse, we might wtshto consider adding an educat~on function to the council that win benefit not only journalists but also tile pubUc at large. For instance, tile coundl m'ight want 'to popularize the code of ethics through chunks ,of inforrnation aired over radio or simply raise awareness about the Constltudonal provlsion on freedom offhe press.]



Seruect the members of your fullcoundl, no more than 17: eight from Ute public. eight from the med[a~ and ,a d~a[rma!l1.. .A Supreme Court justice could be the chalr; He

, .

merely presides and does not vote. Judges are useful because they exude authority ~


• ,Corruption in Media

know how to run a. hearing. and command prestige. Other members should be we~& known for thel r interest in publ icaffa:irs. The concept otrepresenratton should not be .eIi. foremostconcern because members. who do not decide based on merits will only create a council that is a "Babel of'actitViists.'" [Because owners, advertisers, PRs and medla handlers ]n our context are ma:]or p~iayers, we might wish to specify their membership. Often, media handlers and PRs are sources of corruption, owners are susceptible to pollttcel and economic pressures, and advertisements are the liR=b~OQd of most, lf notal]; newspapers.]

4.. Organize. Elect officers to the executive comrmtree who wll.1 be hands-on members.

A person wlth business acumen on this. committee is an "absolute necessity." Hire a director wah stature in the media" appoint a complaints committee, compose arttdes and bylaws and set up an office.

S. Raise funds and manage the finances, E:xdude governme:nt Put ever-Yth~ng on hold untU, money is in the bank .. Managing: a council is a ndHime job.

6. Wort, QUit your complaint procedure with the fo:~lowing matn requlrements: the complainant must sign a. waiver of llbehthe complalnant must relate to what a news organization has done and not what j,t has not done; good-faith effort must have been exerted to re-solve the 'issue' with the news medium; the process must nave deadlines.

7. Mal<.e announcements, calla press conference.

Trash the Councll?

Th.e cynics among us win li.I<.eny say non-journalists are not qualified to judge our misconduct or our ethics. But aren't the baste precepts of good ]ourn~ism .- truth, fairness, balance, conflict of interest - ~y to understand and appredate?

Others would say the council woeld pose an unnecessary burden on the press, which is"at this point, already under siege from Estrada.' s heavy-banded tacdcs ot compelllngacqulescence from media. On the contrary, the President and his men can be directed to go strarnght to th'e council and ai r the]]' cornplalnts instead of malcing dl red phone calls to newspaper and other media offlces.

Still others would jrn;[st the council. does not have a mandate to judge practicing joumallsts, The mandate will come from practitioners themselves who see [he importance of self-regulation. The COnstitution is dear about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Critidsm and review of press performance by peers and other media. stakeholders ls an exercise and expression of that freedom too.

And yes. libel, Lawyers and their clients who dedde not tofilecomp:]aints with the ,GounaU could dte council, decisions to strengthen their libel cases .i\gainst journalists, others could argue. But the

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Discussion Papers of the National Noundtable Discussion II

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dedslons could be used both ways. Because the work of the coundl creates precedent. lavvyers could aillso cite dedsions to defend journalists. :Reportersruld edtors, who wrlte and report responslbly should have nofhing to tear as the possibility of libel suits !being filed had been there even before the creation of a. council. Besides, with a cnuncU in place, how many indtvDiduails with complaints ag:aiinst the press, wiu bother to file cases before the courts when these cam ta1~e years and (lost slims of money?

Shaw of the Minnesota, News Coundl WT,ote: "A council can never be inHLded on the news media, nor should it be. The news. media must want lt."

~f we. are ready and we want it badly. ~et's go ,ahead and do ft. If not. we must be wUUl'1g to face the consequences of our per,enn~a'1 unpreparedness .. ~

!:. Corruption in Media


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I Earl W~rren Castfllo:, "The EcononTlltcs otlou FrJaiiS'"m-A Reality Check," Phlllppine/oorna/Ism .1?f'vjti'Waam.1.'liry~Man:.hl997}. ~. 9~ ZL

:l: Based on the ~ bon .Databank monthlycom.pl.ltationrs. or the daL~y c'ost of livnngFnr a family of six. lbon computatlons were, In tuml, based on National. Statistics Office diata ..

~ h'.k7yjii§or~ntSjdeTS knov"'lect8ell.ble~ooU!t thel r salaries and beli1lefi~ provided the' figures.

4 Chay Florentlno-Hof lena, J\!E»:s h1'.5a!e(Queron Oty.: Phmppin~ ~tlit~r for ~ nves[~tive [ou mslism and the Center for Media Freedom illiild RespoMI bility, 1998).

5 Doris Gro3loor. Denis Mc.Qu.iLi I, snd Pippa Ncrrls (edsl, "Politi~1 Communh:ath:m in <I. Der!'ilocracy," in Jhe .Rbi/tics or ~HIS, ]he AkH5ofFO!)fil;;;.~·(W,jIJSh~ngton, D.L 'Congressional Quarterty, 1998), Z.

6 Sheila Coronel, "The Triumph of mus']on," in i Mi(gtlZine; September ](;)98. 1 Hon~~n<!i •. ~H5k1f£l!e, 56.

S.CuUed from "A BriefHiswryof rhH~ppil!ie lflressCounclLs (~96()--90}. ~ a f,J<lpf:r written by A~k:e ColetViUadolid for the Gel'lte.rl'O~ Med la heedom and Respon:s~btMy. and from ~ J\I\oni.tmt08 <11. Free Press-lih"e Caseofthe Phi:1 i.plOines, '. writ~en by Sheila Coronel for a ~ 994, seminar on Media Monitors if] Asid held in Thailand"

'" Vill.:\t:k;l~id, ~ A BriefH~$toI)iOf Ph'i UppJne' Press Cou tlICiis. ~

IOHlofi.lenJa, Ne,~tbr .5aJe:, 66.

I L Corone~, Mo:ni~or~~8aFree Press"

Il Based on Campomanes case records <I!t the PhilippineP:ress In$tiW~e.

13 Takenfium the Australian Press CouJ1.6~ Y!o'"ebsite, http://W"W'N,.~:we500o'U.n,dLolg~alljpcsit.e/ <1pc.htrnl. 141b:id,

15 ~b>eli rin!.:!er, '! Human Rlght:s and the British System of Self-Regulad~on, ~ a paper pub~ishoo by ~he University of Hong Kong ,loiJrna~~sm and M~d~a Studies on its website. htbp:/lV!.i\.!!tW.hl.(u,.h[qmstUidtesjSection l_l.htm.



IS Rdberl: Shaw, "How to Start a News COlJnClL ~