Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cagayan de Oro Press Club marks milestones for 55th Anniversary


The Cagayan de Oro Press Club, Inc. (COPC) turns 55 today. One of the oldest in the country, it is also one of the few with a truly professional organization in the sense that it has a working board of directors, assets which allow it to undertake projects and employ a full-time staff, albeit on a small scale, and it is a respected member of civil society which plays an active role in the city and the region's affairs.

Today's celebration will be particularly significant because of a number of firsts the COPC has accomplished with today's anniversary, particularly in relation to its training module on Responsible and Independent Journalism.

This is a program undertaken over two years ago under the administration of past president Herbie Gomez with financial and technical assistance from the Australian government to professionalize the local media, particularly COPC members, and provide them with the tools, knowledge, skills and support needed to fight corruption in the city and the region. Its ultimate goal is to set up a local counterpart to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

First, this is the first time the COPC has undertaken such a training with a local educational institution, which in our case is the South East Asian Rural Social Leadership Institute, better known to locals as Searsolin, a division of the College of Agriculture of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan).

Searsolin is a Catholic, Jesuit, Filipino and Asian institution. It is dedicated to the formation of socially-committed and competent leaders committed to poverty alleviation and holistic human development within the context of diverse cultural and religious traditions in Asia, Pacific and Africa. It aspires to attain a just social order where respect for human dignity, deference of various religious beliefs, equitable distribution of wealth and care for the bounty of the earth prevail. The training programs are geared towards understanding poverty, what creates and perpetuates it, and acquiring skills necessary to alleviate it and benefit the poor.

It's also the first time the COPC has worked together with Searsolin to train international students. During the second of our four-part program, we had Ismail Abid Aziz of Malaysia join our first batch of trainees who are mostly from Misamis Oriental's Provincial Communicators Association (Procoma) headed by Cedric Dayta of Luga-it, and now we had our friends from Indo-China and India whom we shall mention here for posterity's sake: Fr. Michael Raj from India, Nguyen Van Hoang and Nguyen Thi Hay Yen of Vietnam, Francis Cympanel and Theresa Min Min Myat of Myanmar (formerly Burma), Meng Chhay of Cambodia and Phouva Manipakon of Laos (I hope I did not mix up your countries!)

In behalf of the participants and training staff of our first batch, may I extend our thanks and appreciation to the Searsolin staff under the able management of Director Dr. Anselmo "Boy" B. Mercado, Ed.D. for their hospitality and expertise which helped make our first training a memorable training experience. We also wish to cite Training Officer Liza Gonzales and Lito Tagalog from the Library whose invaluable assistance and support were crucial in the COPC leanings from this 'first time.' Daghang Salamat!

May I also take this occasion to salute past president Herbie Gomez (sa way pabor-pabor) for his drive and vision in bringing to fruition this local version of the PCIJ. I know you sometimes lose heart when people don't perform as expected and obstacles seem to rise up on every occasion but this is a good thing we've done here and you should be proud you were instrumental in bringing it to life. Maybe JACNet wil have its own building someday which will house its operations and we can call it the Herbie Gomez Center for Investigative Journalism. Puede na bisan dili posthumous ha?

In addition to our training module, we've also revived our Journalists Against Corruption Network (JACNet) initiative, re-organizing the JACNet Editorial Board and bringing our JACNet Website back up in cyberspace with the help of my fellow director Comrade Ben Balce. Earlier this week, the Board approved the business plan which shall hopefully set this particular component of our project on the road to self-sufficiency, long-term stability and sustainability.

Kudos too is in order for Director Terry Betonio for successfully reviving the COPC Newsletter, which we shall soon set on the same road of self-sustenance with a similar business plan.

However, much remains to be done. The financial planning and execution of the COPC needs a lot of hard work to set it straight, and a long-term business plan has yet to be formulated. This, together with the ongoing membership revamp, will be the pillars upon which the foundation of the COPC's success in the long run would be anchored upon. With Director Ruffy Magbanua and Joey Nacalaban taking care of business at this end, members have a lot of confidence we shall prevail.

Our COPC Code of Ethics will also need to be updated. Following the mandate of the Ethics Committee as spelled out in our charter, we have researched the Codes of Ethics of respectable media aggrupations in the country, as well as those without in the United States, Japan and Australia, and have come out with five key provisions which are not included in our present Code of Ethics. This we shall do during our next general assembly this December.

Not the least, may I also urge all COPC members in behalf of the Board to accomplish their personal data sheet in the office. This data will not only serve to provide you with an updated press card but even more important, be the basis for approval of a personal life insurance policy which considering the state of journalists in the country today, is a very welcome initiative.

Happy Anniversary to All! As the famous song by the Carpenters goes, "We've only just begun…"

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In Search of a Responsible Press

May 4, 2006

DAVAO CITY -- After all these years, it comes down to this—rummaging through files in search of ideas and opinions to share. Call it a suppressed desire to mentor the young, but when it comes to the writing craft, I'd fish out archived prose anytime to share to others, if only I had enough of them. Well, happily, here's one: a somewhat personal testament to the working press, delivered last year before the Rotary Club of Waling-Waling.

I am pleased to say to you that this isn't the first time I've met with the Rotary. The more recent one was last December, when the NGO I represented then, the Mindanao Center for Peace and Development, collaborated with the Rotary Club of East Davao.

The MCPD was on its fourth year of giving awards to Mindanao journalists. We were recognizing those who wrote stories about conflict in Mindanao, but these stories were written not to sensationalize the war but to inspire others to work for peace. The Rotary Club of East Davao was an important supporter of that initiative, along with our other partners, the Philippine Information Agency and the ANFLO Group of Companies.

The reason I'm telling you this is that I'd like to acknowledge the role of civic organizations in improving the quality of community journalism. The state of the local press, as you most probably know, leaves much to be desired. Before we can even talk about responsible journalism, we must look at how the press goes about its business, and how it comports itself. And sadly, for an institution whose rights and freedoms are protected by no less than the Constitution, the press is fraught with many weaknesses and even excesses.

Competent, qualified reporters and editors are hard to come by. Radio and TV anchormen, not to mention some columnists, continue to moonlight as PR agents of politicians and businessmen. And because of this basic flaw in the industry, we read stories without depth, listen to broadcast commentaries that glorify or slander an official, and endure television segments on the accomplishments of politicians passed off as legitimate news.

This is not the press that we, the public, deserve. Yet finding fault is one thing; venturing into the root causes is quite another—which leads us to ask why, for such a noble profession, media practitioners allow themselves to be less than what's expected of them.

Largely, the answer lies in economics. Community reporters, especially the radio anchormen, are among the poorest paid employees. And so long as they are marginalized, they will continue to seek other sources of income, even if these do not sit well with the ethics and standards of journalism. Partly, too, the answer lies in some of the owners of media establishments, who may not always be filled with enough civic sense, or idealism—to inspire young reporters to do the job right despite the low pay.
To be sure, journalism isn't an easy job. Responsible journalists must be well read, inquisitive to a fault, and very hard working. Above all, they must be able to write fairly well, with an eye for detail and a commitment to the facts. Journalists must be beholden to absolutely no one, not to mayors and congressmen, not to big businessmen, not to rebel leaders. This fierce independence is what defines the mettle of the journalist.

Which is, by most standards, a tough act to follow. For even if reporters were paid reasonably, and even if some of the publishers, editors, and station managers had the good sense to instill some high purpose in the newsroom, the demands of the trade would still be daunting—if not dangerous.

In our city alone, social issues cry out for attention and concerted response. The killing of our minors. The persistence of illegal drugs and child prostitution. The disturbing state of our watersheds, Sex in the Internet. Corruption in high places.

And how must the true journalist respond to these—and a host of many other problems—without risking life and limb? It can't be done. There is really no way a journalist can have the best of both worlds, simply because seeking out the truth and asking the right questions can have the direst consequences.

But, as the saying goes, that's par for the course. Which is why, all the more, the media needs the full support of the community.

Support, in fact, may have been slow in coming, but steady. Only recently, the MCPD teamed up with The British Council in organizing a workshop for the Davao media. For six days at the Eden Mountain Resort, both neophyte and veteran reporters exchanged views about their work, interacted with their British counterparts, and resolved to address the dilemmas they faced when covering the news.

Small steps, these may be. And time may be running out, considering how rapidly our society is changing. With over 30 million cell phone subscribers nationwide, people tend to believe texted rumors more than our newspaper headlines.

But there is no other alternative but to hope. If we believe in our capacities to transcend ourselves, then we must have faith in the capacity of our journalists to exceed our expectations. For only when we understand their limitations and potentials, and only when we begin to work with them can we fully appreciate their indispensable role as the true watchdogs of our community?


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

JACnet's back online


THE Journalists Against Corruption Network (Jacnet) website is back online! The URL is featuring Allan Mediante's "Lord of the Flies", the first ever investigative story approved by the JACNet Editorial Board for publication way back in 2004.

Jacnet was originally conceived to be the "virtual newspaper" for investigative stories of the Journalists Against Corruption Network (Jacnet). The original site received financial and technical assistance from the Phil. Australian Governance Facility (PAGF) project but failed to sustain itself after it was hit with a couple of shutdowns by local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) hosting the site. As a result, all the materials collated at both sites were lost and the project languished in the doldrums.

Early this year, the new Board of Directors took another look at the project and appointed yours truly to head the committee to see if the project could be resuscitated. With materials provided by past president Herbie Gomez, the remaining hard copy of the Jacnet materials were painstakingly encoded back into the computer by my kids Miguel and Leon at our residence during their free time.

Next, I recruited newly installed director Ben Balce to remake the Jacnet site which was originally designed and constructed by COPC member Ruel Pelone. The site is still under construction and more materials are lined up for inclusion.

With the new site up and running, the Board will consider in its next meeting to reorganize the Jacnet editorial board. Ben and I have already significed to COPC Pres. Uriel Quilinguing and the Board of Directors our willingness to continue serving as the Board representatives in the Jacnet Editorial Board, at the same time acting as its Online Management Team.

The PAGF project report recognizes the efforts of Ruel as the the web developer and first administrator of the Jacnet website. It says "He was particularly effective, not only in constructing the website, but working closely with the website subcommittee of Jacnet. He was open to suggestions and at the same time maintained the design and structural integrity of the site.

One pleasing side-effect of the training and Mr. Pelone's management of the process is that a number of the training participants have started to develop their own sites. He was happy to support them in this."

Jacnet also previously extended an invitation to Sangga Kagayanon to host the SG website on the Jacnet website until they are able to go 'independent'. The invitation was accepted and the project funded the additional costs for developing the site and for the additional domain name . This was done to preserve the independence of the organization's identity. The resuscitation of the Sangga website will also be taken up during our next board meeting to complete the original foundation for Jacnet.

Good governance principles were used as a guide in all the considerations that led to the formation, structure and rules for JACnet. The key considerations in organizing the Editorial Board were to ensure an editorially mature and legally aware Board to guide JACnet; ensure quality stories are produced without putting the COPC at unreasonable risk of legal action, and at the same time, to ensure that JACnet is editorially free from any editorial or other inappropriate pressures from the COPC Board or from outside.

There is a separation of powers between the COPC Board of Directors and the Jacnet Editorial Board. Legal guidelines and protocols are in the process of being drafted by the Project lawyers to minimize the possible legal risks top the COPC as well as the Editorial Board and the contributing journalists.

The COPC Board of Directors has been mandated to automatically set aside a budget for Jacnet at the start of their office, even if the new Jacnet Editorial Board members have not been elected yet.

The Editorial Board will also administer the budget to take care of the Website.
Income generating activities will be pursued by COPC to sustain the grants for investigating stories. This will be done through the Business and Marketing Plan.
Jacnet is governed by a seven-member Editorial Board. The roles of the Editorial Board have been defined and documented with the assistance of the legal advisors. This was deemed necessary in the light of the Jacnet commitment to fund and encourage publication of investigative stories, especially against corruption, on their own website.
The Editorial Board members take an oath of commitment to uphold the COPC Code of Ethics. It reviews and approves story proposals based on set criteria. The Board meets as the need arises – regular meetings, review and approval of story proposals, monitoring the progress of an investigative story, and review and approval of stories for publishing.
Board members are bound by oath to keep any information gained from the investigative stories confidential until Jacnet approves the stories for release. The members take their oath of commitment before the COPC Board of Directors.
The Editorial Board appoints the members of the Online Management Team for the Jacnet website. As of the moment, Director Ben Balce and myself are also serving in the capacity.
The Editorial Board is accountable to the COPC General Assembly. Its members are appointed by the COPC Board of Directors each year, three months after the COPC' elections.
The Editorial Board appointments will be based on the following criteria:
Four senior journalists – three to represent each of the print, radio and television media, one to be a senior journalist either from print, radio and television; Two COPC Directors to be the COPC Board's representatives in the Jacnet Editorial Board; A lawyer who may or may not be a COPC member, and
The COPC President may sit in the Jacnet Editorial Board but shall have no voting powers
Criteria for membership
PRINT JOURNALIST – Regular journalist of a newspaper, whether employed or not, as long as he/she is a regular columnist/ contributor; at least five (5) years experience in print media; must be a member of the COPC.
RADIO JOURNALIST –Regular radio broadcaster, whether news editor, reporter or commentator; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
TV JOURNALIST –Regular TV broadcaster, whether news editor, reporter or newscaster; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
TWO (2) REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COPC BOARD OF DIRECTORS –Appointed by the COPC President or the Board of Directors.
LAWYER –Must have an understanding and knowledge of media and journalism and its dynamics; does not necessarily have an experience in media practice; may or may not be a COPC member.
JOURNALIST –May be from the print, radio or TV industry; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
COPC PRESIDENT –Must be the elected incumbent President. The Press Club President is an immediate member of the Editorial Board. The President is an ex-officio and will not exercise any voting powers in the Editorial Board.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


By Allan M. Mediante
July 2, 2004
Eating Under
a Mosquito Net

DALWANGAN village is a suburb of Malaybalay City in Bukidnon province, and has been home to some 2,000 families, mostly lumads belonging to the Bukidnon tribe. One of them, Ondo Mambalamban said that some years back he had high hopes that most of his children will settle near his house and raise their own families. The village is an ideal place where the cool breeze wafts the sweet scent of plants and flowers giving a balmy atmosphere all day long.
But that was long ago, Ondo lamented. “I missed those days when Dalwangan exuded comfort and sweet scent of the mountain breeze that blows all day long. My family, then, always wake-up each morning with inspiring smile as we meet the glow of the sun rising above the mountains of Malaybalay. What a beautiful day, we always exclaim!
Nowadays, when we wake up, my children cover their noses with cloth, and I immediately light and puff a cigarette to ward-off the foul odor of pig wastes and chicken manure that invade our senses. The day starts with curses against the offensive smell that now pervades the atmosphere. The worst thing comes when we start preparing for our meals. As we place our viand of dried fish on the table, a horde of flies enter our house and that signals the start of more cursing from our house and the whole neighborhood. To be able to eat with out being bothered by the flies, we place a mosquito net over the dining table to cover us and the food,” Ondo said with rancor in his eyes.
When asked on who should be blamed for such an unfortunate situation, Ondo readily replies: the Lord of the Flies!
But what does he mean by the lord of flies? And he explains: “They are those who allowed and approved the mushrooming of piggery and poultry farms in our barangay. What is sad is the fact that these establishments which triggered the presence of the flies have been built where it shouldn’t be, and are not complying with the health and sanitation requirements imposed by government authorities,” Ondo stressed, this time with anger and scorn in his eyes.
He said his married children have long left the place and settled somewhere else because they fear the present condition of their barangay would jeopardize the health of the children.

Death of a River
Lolong slides down a steep, mud-choked trail that slice across the belly of the hill in Kalasungay that leads to the Sawaga River. It is the river that runs through Kalasungay and other barangays towards Malaybalay City proper.
Lolong, has been through this daily chore of going to the river each day since childhood, to take a bath and go fishing sometimes.
But its different now, he says. “When one takes a bath at the Sawaga River expect him to go to a doctor the following day for chances are he will complain of skin itchiness, and contract severe skin infection. There are no more fishes to be fished. That was long ago when we still catch some fishes here. But all we have now are the smell of pollution, of fecal matters and chemicals that seep into the river from nearby piggery and poultry farms,” he lamented to this writer.
What is worse is that that river is one of the major source for potable water for Malaybalay City residents in the past years. Now the river has become a dangerous source of water-borne diseases. Again the culprits are the “Lord of the Flies,” who allowed piggery and poultry farms built near the river. When heavy rains come, the wastes and chemicals from the septic tanks of piggery and poultry farms spill out into the river. “Thus, what we have now is a very polluted river,” Lolong claims.
Ondo and Lolong’s stories are just samples of the numerous silent complaints that pervade the communities in Bukidnon Province.
The LGU- DENR connection
"The real culprits are the officials and employees of the government, particularly the local government unit and the DENR, operating behind the scenes, and who encourage businessmen to enter into this illegal activity," says Vic Abroguena, the action officer of Bukidnon Crusade Against Crime and Corruption.
Abroguena stressed that before a permit to build an industrial or agri-business plant or establishment is issued, an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR has to be issued to the applicant.
The ECC permit, in turn, is only granted after the applicant complies with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements as prescribed in the promulgated guidelines of Section 3 (b) of Presidential Decree 1121 and 1586, according to documents sourced out by this writer from the DENR.

An EIA requirement includes a provision that delineates, for example, that piggery or poultry farm should be not less than one (1) kilometer away from a “Built-up” area – a residential or commercial vicinity. The ECC provision also states that: “…a strip of land from both banks of a river shall be belineated and planted with trees for environmental protection…” This includes all kinds of agri-business operations.
Other provisions state: “That regular and proper maintenance of pollution control equipment and facilities shall be effected at all times to attain maximum efficiency. That solid wastes generated shall be collected effectively and disposed off properly. That any valid complaint on air/odor, water and noise pollution arising from project operation may be a cause for the cancellation of the ECC.
That the proponent shall be held liable for any damage to life and property resulting from project implementation and operation and shall pay just and reasonable compensation to aggrieved parties. That should the operation result to serious environmental damage, the ECC certificate shall be automatically cancelled. “
“Sadly, these has not been properly imposed and acted upon by the DENR,” according to Abroguena.
The Bukidnon Crusade Against Crime and Corruption (BCACC), which is being chaired by a Catholic priest Fr. Venancio Balansag Jr., also charged that a fund that is required to be put up by project proponents to ensure environmental monitoring of all projects is until now unaccounted for, amounting to millions of pesos.
“But corruption really starts from the local government,” said Abroguena. An example, he said, is when a certain member of the local city council demanded money from a poultry project proponent for the approval of his proposed site. The project, he said, was not immediately given a go signal for an EIA because it is located less than a kilometer from a residential area. The project was also opposed by a religious order occupying the Carmelite Monastery in barangay Kalasungay, Malaybalay City. The proponent even went as far as enlisting the help of the bishop but to no avail because the site has not met the requirement provided by law, and the bishop advised the proponent to abide with what the law says.
Yet there are several poultry and piggery farm sites which are situated less than a kilometer from a built-up area, that have been approved before. These, according to BCACC were approved due to ‘under- the-table’ negotiation, with corruption money changing hands. The procedure shows that before a project site is acted upon, the LGU’s Locational Clearance Officer should make an ocular inspection before he recommends the approval to the Council’s Land Use Committee, chaired by a councilor. Lobby money sometimes run to 100,000 pesos or more according to an insider of an LGU who requested anonymity.
The approval of these piggeries and poultries took place when the 1-kilometer ordinance was amended and the requirement was reduced to less than a kilometer.
Even with complaints from the residents, no action was taken by the DENR. No cancellation of an ECC ever took place. “Dalwangan residents, for one, have complained to BCACC that a piggery owned by a certain Pastor has been emitting foul odor from wastes of pigs ever since. The local folks said the foul smell pervades their homes all day long, so that even while taking their meals they suffer from the obnoxious odor. They have blamed the owner of the piggery for not doing something when the piggery’s septic tank and wastes lagoon overflow and the nearby creek becomes its depository.

Another piggery site complained is reportedly owned by one William Go, owner of Tablon Oil firm on Cagayan de Oro have bought a piggery at New Ilocos purok in barangay Dalwangan. The people residing near the said piggery have long complained that even when they are attending church services they are inconvenienced by the piggery’s foul smell. And even when they eat their meals the foul smell of pig manure continue to destroy their appetite.

The local folks also complained that the septic tank of said piggery overflows when rains come and hurtles down the Gantungan Falls and nearby pinetrees.
“Nothing has been done about it even if the Gantungan Falls is being developed as a tourist spot by the DENR,” a local official said. “The situation has reached the ears of incumbent provincial governor Jose Zubiri who ordered immediate action against the culprits, yet until now nothing has been done,” the barangay official claimed.
The same situation is true in Kalasungay where some piggeries and poultries improperly dispose their wastes which find its way into the Sawaga River.
Where is the fund for ECC policy implementation?
A DENR list obtained by this writer showed close to a thousand proponents have been granted ECCs in Bukidnon province alone. Its grave impact on the environment of the province has not been properly monitored nor has there been a proper assessment ever made nor reported.
The BCACC charged that there is no transparency on how the Environmental Monitoring Fund and the Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF) are being disbursed or used by the DENR. The said funds comes from contributions of industrial and agri-business plant owners which amount from P10,000 to P50,000 each. Big firms, such as Del Monte and Crystal Sugar Milling for example, contribute to as much as P300,000 each year.
As an ECC requirement, each proponent is ordered to create an Environmental Unit headed by a Pollution Control Officer (PCO) supervised by the Environmental Monitoring Board (EMB) of the DENR. The EGF fund is is used to cover expenses for monitoring, immediate rehabilitation and/or indemnification of damages and other related concerns. Although the EMB is not directly accountable of the funds, the disbursement of the funds is being supervised by the DENR’s EMB.
“Now, there is no clear explanation and accounting of how these funds are being used. In Bukidnon province alone, the accumulated funds contributed by big industries would amount to millions of pesos annually. It is being managed by the Guardians of Earth whose members are the PCOs of proponents, but the disbursements need the approval of the EMB. And yet rampant violations of ECC provisions have been left unchecked. We believe the said fund has become only a milking cow of the DENR,” Abroguena said.
According to Abroguenia, another area of corruption can be gleaned from the absence of penalties being imposed on erring firms, or if the errant firm paid the penalty of P50,000 for each ECC violation, there is no accounting of where these money is or how is it being spent, “clearly to the detriment of the local communities who are now victims of environmental pollution.”
The BCACC also bared that notable violations which each carry a P50,000 penalty are left unchecked suchas: for piggeries – 1. Waste Water Disposal System; 2. System of prevention of mitigating odor; 3. Requirement to plant trees to minimize foul odor; 4. None compliance by some firms to create its Environmental Unit; 5. Absence of public information dissemination program on the project, and (violations of other provisions of the ECC mentioned earlier in this article).
At P50,000 each of these violations by many of the close to a thousand firms in Bukidnon alone, millions of pesos could have been used to check and rehabilitate the damages brought about by pollution from these erring firms. But where is the money now?, asked Abroguena.
Only the “Lords of the Flies” know, according to Ondo and Lolong.

The Story Behind the Story
"A few months back before I wrote the article - Lords of the Flies," I was attending a wedding at barangay Dalwangan, when I stumbled upon the idea of writing this article which deals with pollution.
After the wedding ceremony, I was invited to the house of the bride, and as one of the wedding sponsors, were seated at the table for the banquet.
Suddenly a horde of flies swarmed on the tables where food was being served. To my chagrin, the presence of the flies destroyed my appetite. I was not able to swallow a single spoonful of the delicious food served because the flies were all over, even with the initiative of some helpers trying to drive away the flies with big wooden fans fitted with paper tussles.
I talked with some of the residents and asked them if that was always the situation when food is served whether inside or outside houses. And they said yes.
They then intimated that some of the families eat inside a mosquito net so that flies cannot pester them while eating.
But then some of the folks, and even the young have grown accustomed to such atmosphere, of which I can only shake my head with disgust, thinking of the germs that their bodies absorbed, and the horrible diseases which may come with the food contaminated by the flies from nearby poultries and piggeries.
It was then that I started writing about it, in an effort to make authorities and the community alike to show concerned and perhaps arrive at solutions to the problem.
The first article came out on the online publication of JacNet - an organization of Journalists Against Corruption which had a joint project with the Cagayan de Oro Press Club. I was then an officer of the club.

Jacnet also helped me foot expenses in coming out with the article."


HOME (Jacnet)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Responsible and independent journalism

April 24, 2006

THAT’S what we call the 12-part training module that we in the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) are now implementing in partnership with Xavier University’s South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (Searsolin).

Last April 1st, our second batch of trainees successfully completed the second part of the 12-part course which was developed with technical assistance from the AusAID-funded Philippines-Australia Governance Facility (PAGF). This international standard module on "Responsible and Independent Journalism" was initiated by the COPC to train journalists in fighting corruption, especially in government and media.

The project was started during the tenure of past COPC president Herbie Gomez in response to the sensationalism, arrogance, inaccuracy and unethical behavior of some media institutions and media practitioners which has been eroding public confidence in the press, primarily as a result of corruption in government, the private sector and the media itself.

The Training Module aims to: 1) Promote the understanding of the role of media in civil society; and 2) enhance the investigative journalistic skills, including research and reportage of freelance journalists and those in government, non-government organizations, as well as campus journalists to better equip them to perform the tasks of their profession, especially in reporting corruption and development issues.

Upon completion of the module, the trainees are expected to be able to write and publish/broadcast high quality reports to empower the public take an informed and public role in public dialog on issues/concerns that affect their lives, and be able to hold their leaders accountable for their actions.

Due to the length of the 44-session, 132 hour training module, it is being offered in four parts of six days each. Participants will be cloistered in Searsolin to maximize their access to learning facilities and tools, as well as immerse them in a milieu undisturbed by daily routines that could adversely affect their focus and assimilation.

The third module has been scheduled for June 19-24, 2006 and will include the following topics: Investigative Reporting, and Regional and Global Development Issues.

This early, the COPC and Searsolin are already inviting participants especially those who would benefit most from this particular module such as media affiliated journalists from locally based print and broadcast institutions; communication officers from cause-oriented and advocacy groups like Heritage Conservation Advocates, Task Force Macalajar; Mindanao Peaceweavers, Bishops-Ulama Forum; and especially those who wish to acquire or hone their investigative reportage on regional and global development issues such as poverty and income distribution, population and responsible parenthood, globalization and free trade, and most especially graft and corruption.

Inquiries and early registrants can call or fax Searsonlin at any of the following numbers : (88) 858-8062; (8822) 72-40-96 or 72-29-94 or email: You may also visit the COPC office at the 2nd floor, Press Club Bldg., A. Velez cor. A. Luna sts., Cagayan de Oro City or call/fax us at tel. (8822) 72-47-79.

On behalf of the participants and training staff of the second batch, may I extend our thanks and appreciation to the Searsolin staff under the able management of Director Dr. Anselmo "Boy" B. Mercado, Ed.D. for their hospitality and expertise which helped make our first two trainings a success. We wish to especially cite Training Officer Liza Gonzales and Lito from the Library. Daghang Salamat!

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Sunday, December 16, 2001

Promoting High Standards for Local Media

December 15, 2001

CAGAYAN de Oro City – One of the oldest press clubs in the country is re-thinking its role even as local journalists drafted a code of ethics for their 50-year-old news media organization.

A team of city-based journalists, together with an Australian media specialist, drafted a code of ethics that the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) hopes would strengthen the club and local journalism community.

The code will enable the COPC to more effectively promote professionalism among local journalists and give the club ‘‘teeth’’ against erring news media practitioners, said Allan Mediante, COPC president. He said the code seeks to encourage journalists to commit themselves to ‘‘honesty, fairness, independence and respect for the rights of others, as well as to high standards of professionalism in their work.’’

‘‘It’s something like the 10 Commandments for local journalists,’’ said former press club president Greg Borja.

The drafting of the code is part of an approximately P11-million program funded by the Australian government through the Philippines-Australia Governance Facility (PAGF). The one-year program is aimed at enhancing the values and honing the skills of local journalists.

COPC corporate secretary Jasper Uy said the Australian-backed program has two phases: the first phase entails what COPC calls “house-cleaning” while the second involves skills training for journalists.

‘‘We want to see a revitalized press club commissioning and funding research and investigative journalism work in the future,’’ he said.

Uy said the press club also plans to produce a manual for local journalists next year, acquire needed equipment, develop in-house trainers, and promote the manual, together with the approved code of ethics, to journalists in neighboring cities and provinces.

With former Australia-based broadcast journalist Judi Cooper, the proposed code was drafted by the club’s ethics committee and Project Management Team (PMT), a group created by the club’s board last year to oversee the implementation of the Australian-funded program.

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