Turn crises into opportunities

Anthony Chua

The year 2008 is about to end. It has been one that many would want to leave behind and forget. Day after day, countries have been announcing that they are in a recession. Even the mighty United States and Japan, the two largest economies, became powerless victims of the global crisis that was expected to worsen further next year. And, sad to say, despite all the feel-good publicities of the Philippine government about the ability of our economy to withstand the brunt, still we cannot spare ourselves from the crisis.

In fact, even before Wall Street nosedived, we have been affected by crises of gargantuan proportions. The skyrocketing price of fuel and rice in the first half of the year had already aggravated poverty in the Philippines. Mix that with political circus and social unrest and we have a country with a bleak prospect about its future.

Yet despite all these morose developments in 2008, Filipinos still managed to prove to the world that we can weather crises with style. Pinoys have been represented by notable achievers that waved the Philippine flag in every victory they achieved. Manny Pacquiao won thrice this year, the last of which has propelled him towards the status of boxing legends. Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda, who were both discovered on YouTube in earlier years, has been wowing the world with their breathtaking voices. The Filipino movie Himala, directed by the late Ishmael Bernal and starred by Nora Aunor, bested the way more popular classics such as The Seven Samurais of Japan and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of China by winning the CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of all Time. They, among many others, have shown the world what Filipinos are really made of.

Also, many countries have been opening their doors to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are known for their dedication, industry, versatility and talent. These qualities have made them one of the most sought after migrant workers. Being such, there are now Filipinos in almost every corner of the world.

Filipino workers are not only imported, but, thanks to business process outsourcing (BPO), the Philippines has been flocked by foreigners because of the nation’s capacity to deliver cheap yet quality services.

No one can undo the past. And no matter how we resent it, we have no other option but to move on forward, whether we like it or not. We have to leave 2008 behind and welcome 2009 with one thing in mind: we CAN turn crises into opportunities. We have scores of kababayans who have already done that despite crises in the past. Now, it is our turn in 2009.


Iloilo reporter manhandled inside police station

A reporter of GMA 7 in Iloilo City was manhandled inside a police
station Sunday morning by one of the parties involved in a traffic
accident she had been covering in Jaro District.

Charlene Belvis, 24, suffered scratches and bruises after she was
attacked by Andrea Gorriceta around 3:55 a.m.

Gorriceta was caught on tape slapping the reporter’s head while they
were about to enter the station. Minutes later, she was also shown
pulling and dragging Belvis by the hair, causing the reporter to hit
her head on the floor.
In a radio interview, Gorriceta claimed she had repeatedly asked
Belvis and her crew not to take footage. She was apparently irked when
the crew persisted and continued shooting.

The television crew located Gorriceta’s car along Jalandoni Street in
Jaro District and followed it to the police station. Belvis said they
were already taking footage of Gorriceta and the car from the accident
site to the station.

IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office


Press freedom in the Philippines remains in peril, as the unabated
killing of journalists and other attacks against the press continue.

On Dec. 9 (Tuesday), the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ)
will provide a comprehensive update on these killings and other
attacks, including the state of the case against the killers of
Sultan Kudarat journalist Marlene Esperat, who wrote about alleged
corruption at the Department of Agriculture.

FFFJ will also provide an update on the case of Davao journalist Alex
Adonis, who remains imprisoned despite having been pardoned for an
earlier libel case and the recent dismissal of the second one.
Prospero Nograles Jr., who currently serves as Speaker of the House
of Representatives, sued Adonis for libel in 2001 for a report he did
that year. A second suit for the same alleged offense has been
dropped just recently.

The event will be held at 10 AM at Annabel’s Restaurant (194 Tomas
Morato Ave. cor. Scout Delgado, Quezon City). Lunch will be served.

To confirm attendance/coverage , please contact Lara or Carol of the
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) at the following
numbers telephone numbers: 894-1326/894- 1314/840- 0903/840- 0889
(telefax). You can also email CMFR at staff@cmfr-phil. org.

The FFFJ, established in 2003 to address the rampant killing of
journalists, organized the event with support from the New York-based
Committee to Protect Journalists and the Open Society Institute. CMFR
is a founding member of the FFFJ and serves as its secretariat.

Tango before Cha-cha

Anthony Chua

The Filipinos have seen two “people power” revolution that ousted two of our notorious presidents towards international disgrace. The first was in 1986 when dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos crumbled as the influential who’s who in the business, civil, political, religious, and other sectors mingled with the common and lowly “masa” in swathing Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) that culminated to his eviction. The despot began to rule with absolute power as he declared the Philippines under the state of martial law in 1972. But after 14 years, after Filipinos can no longer tolerate Marcos’ abusive and corrupt leadership, a revolution sparked that sent him flying to Hawaii and ascended Corazon Aquino into presidency.

The second one dethroned the Philippines most popular president by yet another EDSA revolt. Former movie icon and champion of the masses Joseph “Erap” Estrada was inaugurated as Philippine president in an overwhelming landslide vote. Yet his popularity was no license to exculpate him from overthrowing him from Malacañang by sheer power of the Filipino populace.

Two presidents with power and influence toppled down by power of the populace. This is democracy pushed to the extent, the Philippine style. And if the incumbent president is unwary on her decisions, she might suffer the same fate.

Filipinos are very willing to embrace change, which includes the articles in Constitution that was ratified after the country broke loose from 14 years of dictatorship. Perhaps this is the aspect of political awareness that we are most matured at. We are tolerant to moves and machinations made by our politicians, unless they blatantly infringe our freedom and rights, and until the time we are so fed up that we can no longer refrain ourselves from crying, “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!”

It is a given fact that we have to adapt our laws and our Constitution to the changing times. Sometimes we must go with the flow to be competitive in the international arena. Filipinos are very aware and keen about this.

But not now!

Not in a time when every Filipino considers any move by the administration that tinkers with the Constitution suggests a looming extension of term of elected political officials. Not in a time when rather than mapping out ways to safeguard the country from the worsening global economic condition our politicians are too fixated on lobbying for their political interests. And not in a time when we are too distrustful of our leaders that every word they speak are tinged with doubt and suspicion.

Amending the Constitution is a very risky move. It may push up the country towards progress or pull it down towards economic, political, and social chaos. The best move politicians should do right now is to wait for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down gracefully before amending the Charter, unless her allies at the House of Representatives want to end Arroyo’s term in disgrace. It would be wise for the Arroyo administration to sacrifice first on tackling on more crucial, urgent problems such as the threatening economic slowdown or impending layoffs of overseas Filipino workers than to lobby for Charter change.

They should dance tango first before doing Cha-cha.

Balancing news or limiting press freedom?

In coordination with
Media 203 (Media Ethics) Class, UP College of Mass Communication


Balancing news
or limiting press freedom?

A discussion on the Right of Reply Bill
and its implication on Press Freedom

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 8, 2008
9:00 am – 12:00 nn
College of Mass Communication Auditorium
University of the Philippines – Diliman

For inquiries, call 4117768 / 09299505190
Email: nujphil@gmail.com

Ani 34 Book Launch


Philippines Most Dangerous Country in Asia-Pacific for Radio Broadcasters, Says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity with its colleagues and the press freedom community of the Philippines in demanding an explanation from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her government’s lack of protection for journalists after another radio commentator was murdered on December 2.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, Leo Luna Mila, 35, a commentator for Radyo Natin, was shot dead by unknown gunmen at 7pm as he arrived at the radio station in Barangay Poblacion in San Roque town, Northern Samar, in the central Philippines.

Known for his hard-hitting political commentaries, Mila is the seventh journalist killed in 2008, and the 62nd to be murdered under Arroyo’s seven year administration. The death toll for journalists is the worst under any administration in the Philippines’ history, including the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Of the journalists killed in the past year, five are radio broadcasters, the NUJP reports.

Another Radyo Natin journalist Arecio Padrigao was shot dead in Misamis Oriental by two motorcycle-riding assailants on November 17.
While welcoming reports from the NUJP that a taskforce established by Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor had identified and charged two suspects for Padrigao’s murder, the IFJ strongly urges all law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to act with the same urgency in the case of Mila.

“It is with great despair that we report the loss of another courageous journalist in the Philippines at the hands of murderers,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The failure of Arroyo’s Government to show true resolve in protecting journalists in the Philippines is a disservice not only to the media as a pillar of democracy but to the general public whose right to information these journalists defend.”

The IFJ joins the NUJP in calling on President Arroyo to acknowledge the unprecedented number of murders of journalists under her administration and to order the implementation of all measures to prevent further such tragedies.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide