You are on page 1of 46
The Asia Foundation Journalists’ Safery: Involving Media Owners Copyright * 2010 By the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility ‘This monograph is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The ‘contents are the responsibility of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, or The Asia Foundation, ISBN 978-971-93724-8-6 All rights reserved. No part of this monograph may be reproduced in any form. or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a revi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS A grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through The Asia Foundation made this publication possible. Melinda Quintos de Jesus and Luis V. Teodoro edited this monograph. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility staff members Kathryn Roja G. Raymundo, Melanie Y. Pinlac, Martha A. Teodoro, Rupert Francis D. Mangilit, Hector Bryant L, Macale, and Alaysa Tagumpay E. Escandor provided research, initial reports, and other editorial support. Photos by Lito Ocampo. Cover and layout design by Design Plus. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION . More than the bottom line Private ownership of medi 10 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON MEDIA SAFETY 2010 oeccscccsssscsssssessesseesessneeresseeseeeee 15 The role of national associations ......sesssseereereeseesees 16 Landscape of impurity ...sseeesecsseecesseecentenenneersnneereenensesas 18 Legal awareness wausensievenessecsn-sssascesssesssasepessanecsseseeremeerseeee, LP Safety principles ........ccccsssetesesssssesesesaseecceernnneecesennneeenss 20 Danger 2Omes map .-rssssssceecseessnescnreoneessneeanessneesseuaresanenen Safety communication system Impact of the discussions Coordinating actions . MEDIA DEFENSE AND SAFETY ...0.:sccsessessneessteeneeranee 35 THE VISAYAS EXPERIENCE......sesseessesonre “Peanehal” cities szcscccisccosintavaennenntenieanee Legal harassment . Closure... Engagement Professionalism as protection . A. Strong Press COMMUTIILY ..-.ssecsseceseeeseseeneteeeseseeseeesees AL "THE MINDANAO EXPERIENGE ws.ccsssscscssssseesseassscansusssses 45 Asctarches cara tlie sees isscs teccessaa tesigtevonvasaseeaitencesnes 46 Protocols anid trainin pS ssessccccsscesssscsscernsveceruspsstossecsnevescne 47 Ganitlont siiticiiaaa neta derma: hahaniutieien mone: 40 Legal defense.....cssesccsssssvsseensesessseses National effort, Other effort: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONSG.............51 MATRIX ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP...... Government-owned and -controlled media...... Members of national media associations .....:.seseseeonee 56 Philippine mass media and their Owners .........00:--se0ee 57 CMFR DATABASE ON THE KILLING OF JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA WORKERS IN THE PHILIPPINES SINCE 1986 .. a 69 THE PHILIPPINE JOURNALIST'S CODE OF ETHICS . 3, ee IMPUNITY: It took 18 years from the fall of the Marcos dictatorship for the issue of journalists’ safety to become a central concern for the national media rrr linia Introduction INTRODUCTION More than the bottom line THE SAFETY of journalists and media workers has been an issue in the Philippines since the restoration of the institutions and fundamentals of liberal democracy, including free expression and press freedom, in 1986, when the 21-year-old government of Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by the civilian-military mutiny known as EDSA 1. Although the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMER) had started a database on killings in 1991, it took 18 years from the fall of the Marcos dictatorship for the issue of journalists safety to become a central concern for the mational media community. In 2004, work-related killings spiked to seven. But for the first time, a witness to a killing was willing to testify, and the prospect of prosecuting the murder of broadcaster Edgar Damalerio encouraged the creation of a network of media organizations and press freedom advocacy groups in a national campaign against impunity. The same network established the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists Inc. (FFFJ) which focused on providing legal and other assistance to besieged journalists and the families of the slain, among other aims. The dismantling of the Marcos government and Corazon Aquino's assuming the presidency was followed within two months by the killing of Reuters correspondent Willy Vicoy. Vicoy was Press Freedom Protection and Journalists’ Safety: A Media Community's Responsibility killed while working in a conflict zone. By the end of Aquino's six year term in 1992, 21 journalists had been killed in the line of duty. CMFR's study of the cases established that the killings were perpetrated by various groups and with varying motives. The murders were a result in part of the unleashing of violent forces following the end of military control, poor law enforcement, and judicial corruption and delays. None of the cases had ever been taken to court. The killings continued during the term (1992-1998) of Aquino's successor Fidel V. Ramos, although the number was less, at 11. The short-lived administration of Joseph Estrada was no exception, though "only" six journalists were killed between 1998 and 2001, when Estrada was removed from office by the popular uprising known as EDSA 2. Estrada was succeeded by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who not only served the rest of Estrada’s six-year term from 2001 to 2004; she also managed to remain in power after the 2004 elections, which she claims to have won, until 2010. This turn of events made Arroyo the longest serving President of the Philippines since Marcos. In addition to over a thousand political activists killed, a record 79 journalists and media workers were also slain in the nine years of the Arroyo watch, including 32 in the Ampatuan (Maguindanao) Massacre of 2009, The end of Arroyo's term and the beginning of that of the current President, Benigno Aquino IIL, in July, 2010, did not end the killing of journalists. Radio broadcaster Miguel Belen was shot by an assailant riding tandem on a motorcycle on July 9. Belen survived the attack tnut died July 31: ‘The record number of political activists and journalists killed during the nine years when Arroyo was in power has been explained a Introduction as a consequence of both government policy (the killing of activists was part of the anti-insurgency policy) as well as indifference. But in the case of journalists the killings also occurred in the context of the Arroyo government's anti-press and anti-media initiatives, which included the filing of numerous libel suits, threats to withdraw network franchises and to file charges of inciting to sedition against some media organizations, and the inclusion of journalists’ groups in the military’s dreaded Orders of Battle, which in effect authorize the neutralization of the members of the groups listed. Among the initiatives media organizations took in 2003, when they recognized the need to do something about the killing of journalists, was the founding by CMFR, the Center for Community Journalism and Development, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP, Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Philippine News, and the Philippine Press Institute (PPT) of the FFFJ. These groups, along with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), had been conducting safety and security training. FFFJ had also identified media ethics as a necessary component of journalist protection as good practice earns strong community support and protection. Since then the campaign against the culture of impunity that has encouraged the continuing killing of journalists and media workers has been a key element of the advocacies of a number of journalists’ and media advocacy groups. KBP and PPI, as organizations, represent the owners of broadcast and print news organizations, respectively. But beyond this institutional involvement, the owners of large media corporations limit their protective measures only to their employees and some of these measures were sometimes inadequate, especially, Press Freedom Protection and Journalists" Safety: A Media Community's Responsibility for those working as correspondents and stringers. Most of the owners of community news organizations cannot afford to provide even minimal protection. CMFR found that few newsrooms even conduct basic safety measures. Private ownership of media The development of the Philippine press, including radio and television, had always been in the hands of private owners. But the efforts of media advocacy and journalists’ groups have not been supplemented or echoed by the corporations that own broadcast networks and newspapers. And yet the private ownership of the Philippine media has been an important factor in the way journalists and media workers cover and comment on events. Philippine media are not only privately owned; the corporations that own them are also part of conglomerates with interests other than broadcasting or publishing, In most cases these conglomerates also have political interests, given the reality of state regulation over commercial enterprises in the Philippines. But some media organizations have direct political links in terms of their publishers’ being themselves political players and even candidates for various offices including the Presidency. It’s a pattern established during the U.S. colonial period (1900-1946), when political parties went into publishing as a means of defending themselves against their political rivals as well as an instrument in advancing their political interests. Eventually, business interests also went into publishing, and expanded into broadcasting after the Second World War. The pattern has held till the present. The economic interests of media owners have ranged from real estate to telecommunications Introduction to the hotel business, fast food franchises to shopping malls, airlines and shipping to public utilities. Inevitably the defense and advancement of these interests have helped shape media reporting, commentary, and analysis. Although not all owners intervene in the daily operations of their newspaper or broadcast network, editors, and other decision makers are nevertheless well aware of owner interests, and therefore, their probable preferences in the coverage of an event or issue that’s likely to have an impact on the business and/or political concerns of media owners. The system of media ownership has made the public service that the media are, privately owned and functioning for the defense and enhancement of private interests, in which the bottom line, or profitability, particularly in the broadcast networks, has been shaping editorial policy. The bottom line is at the root of such media problems as bias and lack of fairness, sensationalism, and the drive for exclusives, which at times have put journalists in danger. In one instance, a broadcaster's search for an exclusive in behalf of boosting her network's ratings, for example, led to her and her camera crew's being kidnapped by the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group. On the other hand, the broadcast organizations’ focus on exclusivity has also led to airing stories which were later found to be false. In the August 23 hostage-taking incident, the same competitive environment led to one error after another which contributed to its bloody outcome (eight hostages were killed). But ordinary day-to-day reporting has also put journalists in danger, particularly in environments where responsible journalism compels journalists to report corruption, bad governance, and criminal activity, as was the case with some 90 percent of those journalists killed in the Philippines since 1986. 10 oT Press Freedom Protection and Journalists’ Satety: A Media Community's Responsibility Most of the owners of the media have nevertheless been remarkably aloof to the imperative of assuring the safety and security of the staffs of their broadcast networks and newspapers. This must change. The owners of the media must recognize that the safety of those who assure them the profits that keep them in business, and on whose skills depend the continued existence of radio and TV networks as well as newspapers and online news sites, should be their concern as it has been that of individual practitioners as well as journalists’ and media advocacy groups. This recognition can and should take specific forms, among them providing with appropriate equipment and insurance those journalists in dangerous areas and those who consent to cover hazardous beats, making legal assistance available to journalists in trouble, and holding safety training regularly, among others. While providing journalists in hazardous beats or assignments insurance, is among the precautions some media corporations have taken, this practice must be standardized across the profession, and must be supplemented by other measures. Those measures and others are detailed in this monograph, which also includes the recommendations to owners that the Cebu Citizens Press Council has prepared so they can contribute to assuring the safety of journalists. Ethical and professional compliance, establishing journalist networks, and gaining the respect of the communities, this monograph also points out, are still among the approaches necessary to put a stop to the continuing killing of journalists and Introduction media workers in the Philippines, These have been the staple of the training provided by journalist and media advocacy groups for years, But to these must be added the media owners’ assuming greater responsibility for the safety of journalists and media workers as well. Press freedom and journalists’ safety require the PURO M eS se eC Mena but particularly that of the owners of media Roundtable Discussion On Media Satety 2010 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON MEDIA SAFETY 2010 THE CENTER for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMEFR) held a roundtable discussion on “Media Safety: Campaign and Election Period 2010” last March 5 in Makati City to address the need for safety measures of journalists covering campaign and elections. The start of the campaign in February had raised threat levels against journalists in a number of areas in the Philippines. The purpose of the discussion was to promote awareness by the press community of the safety mechanisms and means that can be adapted for the greater protection of journalists and media workers. CMFR organized thiseventinc cooperation andin partnership with the network of news organizations and media associations of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), with grants from the Open Society Foundation Media Program and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through The Asia Foundation (TAF) Theculture of violence constitutesacontinuingthreatnotonly against journalists. Periods of political tension, such as campaigns and elections, raise levels of media activity. As the political story unfolds, it invites press attention and coverage. As tensions increase, how the press reports the claims and counterclaims of contending political forces becomes a critical factor in how the public perceives one side and the other. Journalists and media workers become the targets of threats and attacks, even of assassinations. CMFR prepared an agenda that would serve to consolidate the response of media to heightened threats and attacks. 15 Press Freedom Protection and Journalists’ Safety: A Media Community's Responsibility CMEFR recognizes that press freedom protection and journalists’ safety requires the involvement of the entire media community, but particularly that of the owners of media organizations. Several media-oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have focused on safety training. And quite a number of journalists have attended these exercises. But it is the media owners and their appointed managers who have a special responsibility to establish internal and community-based systems that enhance the security of their workers. The sessions of the day’s programs identified safety and protection strategies. Resource persons shared information with media owners during the roundtable discussion. The RTD allowed them and other members of the press community to exchange views on the feasibility of adopting measures used in other places to assist besieged journalists and prevent attacks and threats against those covering the campaign and elections. The role of national associations To insure the participation of media owners in print and broadcast, CMFR invited the current board members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP, Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), which represent the two largest national associations of media owners and their appointed representatives. There were 32 participants from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao including the staff of CMFR and the presenters. Members of the PPI board of officers and trustees who came to the meeting included: Isagani Yambot (Philippine Daily Inquirer); Vergel Santos (BusinessWorld); Fr. Jonathan Domingo OMI 46 Roundtable Discussion On Media Safety 2010 (Mindanao Cross); Eden Estopace (The Philippine Star), representing Antonio Katigbak; Jose Pavia (Mabuhay), Marlon Purificacion (The Journal Group of Publications), representing Augusto Villanueva; Juan Mercado (Press Foundation of Asia); Alban Quirino (Makiling Journal); and Dalmacio Grafil (Leyte Samar Daily Express). The members of the KBP board of directors and officers who attended the discussion were: Ruperto Nicdao Jr. (Manila Broadcasting Company); Herman Basbaiio (Bombo Radyo Philippines); Lucky Paul Taruc (Radio Corporation of the Philippines), representing Francis Cardona; Erwin Galang (GV Broadcasting System/Mediascape Inc.); Rey Hulog (KBP executive director); and Joselito Yabut (Primax Broadcasting System). ‘The members of the boards of the PPI and the KBP are elected each year. PPI has 70 member organizations, KBP’s member organizations include 143 television stations and 604 AM and FM broadcast stations. CMEFR invited Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) who is in charge of the International Federation of Journalists- NUJP Media Safety Office. She is also a member of the NUJP board. Paraan shared how her ‘organization prepares media practitioners who cover dangerous assignments. CMFR included her in the program so she could inform the group what kind of safety training the NUJP will be organizing for the election season, as some of NUJP members belong to the organizations represented by KBP and PPI. Other participants included representatives of various news media organizations and members of the community press from GMA-7, TV5, Sun.Star Cebu, and Cebu Daily News. 7