STATEMENT OF THE OROQUIETA CITY PRESS CLUB ON THE RECENT KILLING OF BROADCASTER ERNIE ROLLIN

We wish to convey our deepest sympathy and condolence to the bereaved family of Ernesto “Ka Ernie” Rollin. The whole community of media practitioners in Oroquieta City and Misamis Occidental is one with you in the search for justice to his untimely death.

While we understand the utmost risk involved in the nature of our profession, we strongly condemn the brutal and treacherous murder of our fellow journalist who earned his living through his journalistic practice. In this regard, we call on the police to fast track its investigation into the case and pave the way for immediate justice to Ka Ernie and his family. Likewise, we call on the people to be vigilant in monitoring the conduct and any development pertaining to the investigation currently being undertaken by the authorities.

As a full-time radio commentator, Ka Ernie must have earned the ire from traditional politicians in Misamis Occidental for his fierce attacks and commentaries on corruption issues involving them. Irregardless of his political affiliation and personal belief, he deserves the rights every journalist in the country should enjoy. Telling the truth to the public no matter how dismal it may seem to the public official involved remains a noble principle of every media practitioner. Besides, it is the public’s right to know every detail concerning the affairs of any government body and the performance of every elected government official. Killing a journalist cannot kill the truth nor can conceal the official’s misdoings from the public’s eye. In contrast, it only further shows the lack of moral authority to the part of the official.

We understand that the lack of economic security, low income, and political violence have forced several media practitioners into several corrupt practices to include the familiar term of “envelopmental journalism”, among others. These practices then easily make them frontline targets of political violence. But in Ka Ernie and all other media deaths, there is absolutely no moral and rational justification for murder. Now, Ka Ernie has become a part of the long-list of victims of impunity against journalists in the Philippines. While justice remains elusive for Ka Ernie and the rest of our fallen journalists, the national government still falls short of providing protection and long-term solution to the issue of media killings. The lack of concrete actions, delay in investigative and judicial proceedings contributes much to the culture of media killings. The lack of seriousness and sincerity to the part of the police in the pursuit of investigations further denies the media community right to speedy justice. The Oroquieta City Press Club joins hand with other media groups in the country for this common call for an end to media killings.

We at the Oroquieta Press Club reiterate our call for a swift and impartial investigation that will eventually lead towards the delivery of justice to Ka Ernie’s family and the media community as well.

Stop the Killings! Justice to Ka Ernie!

(Sgd)
Paul Pastrano Gangoso
President, Oroquieta City Press Club

Mayor denies threatening reporter-columnist

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A tabloid reporter-columnist said the mayor of Lumban town, Laguna province, threatened him last 22 February 2009. Laguna is about 104 kms. southeast of Manila. The mayor has denied making the threat.

People’s Tonight reporter and columnist Paul Gutierrez claimed that Lumban mayor Wilfredo Paraiso called him on his mobile phone at around 11:41 a.m. (local time) to say that something bad could happen to him if he goes to Lumban.

But in a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 23 February, Paraiso denied threatening Gutierrez and said the reporter might have gotten the wrong impression because he had raised his voice while talking to him. Paraiso said he merely complained about the Gutierrez’s quoting out of context his reaction to protest actions over a land dispute.

“I got angry at him (Gutierrez), but I never threatened him,” Paraiso said in Filipino. The mayor also denied shouting expletives at Gutierrez over the phone.

Paraiso’s call came a few minutes after Gutierrez had interviewed him by phone. He asked the mayor what the local government was doing in preparation for the demolition of some houses in the villages of Bagong Silang and Salac which a court order issued last 5 February had mandated. Gutierrez later shared Paraiso’s statement with protesting residents.

The land dispute began in the 1980s and is still in court, said lawyer Lief Opiña, the affected residents’ legal counsel.

Gutierrez gave residents the impression that he was not doing anything to address the problem, Paraiso said. The mayor got irked because Gutierrez allegedly misquoted him. But Gutierrez said he only told the residents what Paraiso had told him over the phone.

According to a 23 February 2009 People’s Tonight front-page report, the
mayor allegedly told Gutierrez: “(w)ala na akong magagawa kasi may court order (I cannot do anything because of the court order)…unless there is an intervention… but we are exerting all efforts…we could also provide financial assistance (to the affected residents).”

Gutierrez said he had already reported the alleged threat to the police at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna on the same day it happened. He also said he would file a formal complaint against Paraiso with the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

‘Terrorism’ of the media slammed; journalists unite vs. Right of Reply Bill

Journalists today denounced the Right of Reply Bill (RORB) as an “act of terrorism against the media” and encouraged
the media and the Filipino people to resist the threat to democracy and constitutionally-enshrined rights posed by the
proposed legislation.

Underscoring the urgency of collective action against the RORB, news executives, publishers, editors, and producers
from major broadcast, online and print media, and journalists’ organizations aired their respective positions on the RORB in
a press conference organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

The RORB, passed by the Senate last year and due to be passed anytime by the House of Representatives, requires
media outfits to air the replies of subjects of news articles of broadcasts. It imposes hefty fines, imprisonment, and closure
of media outfits for those who fail to comply.

Atty. Neri Colmenares, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, explained that the RORB is “inherently defective,” as it violates Art. III Sec. 4 of the 1987 Constitution (“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”) and several principles of criminal law.

He cited the vague provision of the bill mandating the publication or broadcast of the replies of all persons who “are criticized by innuendo, suggestion, or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life.” “The elements of the crime are not clear. Who decides what is ‘innuendo, suggestion, or rumor’ or ‘lapse in behavior’?” Colmenares said.

Businessworld Editor Vergel O Santos said the bill “is a terrorist assault on press freedom.”

Jessica Soho, of the GMA News and Public Affairs, agreed and said that she cannot personally and professionally understand why congress has to legsislate the media’s obligation when it is basic in news writing and it is what we are practicing now- to ensure fair and balanced reporting.

In a statement read by GMA 7 Eyewitness Host, Howie Severino, declared that “A fear of right-to-reply claims would create a chilling effect among editors and news managers at a time when media must be at its most fearless, enterprising, and thorough.”

ABS-CBN Head for News Gathering, Charie Villa, said that the ABS-CBN will conduct discussions of RORB in their programs to drum up public interest on the issue. The ABS-CBN, Villa said, will oppose the bill.

Ed Lingao of ABC TV-5, said in a statement that the RORB is “tantamount to legislating editorial content and treatment.” It pointed out that right of reply legislation in European countries only mandates the publication of replies for news items that contain error of fact, as opposed to the wider scope of the RORB.

Journalists also expressed fear that with the upcoming 2010 elections, the passage of the RORB will mean the deluge of replies that would constitute free publicity for politicians running for office.

“The cost of compliance would be a flood of so-called ‘replies’ among which one can expect more than a fair amount of efforts at free and biased publicity, and at the cost of reporting on other issues of public interest,” said the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in a statement read by Luis V. Teodoro, its Deputy Executive Director.

The CMFR also pointed out that right of reply bills have been struck down as unconstitutional in the United States of America.

Jose Pavia, executive director of the Philippine Press Institute, meanwhile said that persons who feel aggrieved by the media have at their disposal other legal remedies such as the libel law and administrative complaints coursed through the Philippine Press Councils.
Nonoy Espina, vice-chairperson of NUJP, ended by saying that the RORB is “not only an attack on the right of journalists alone, but on the right of the Filipino people to the free flow of information.”

The NUJP also launched a “Unified Statement on the Right of Reply Bill,” which has already attracted the signatures of more than 100 journalists. All journalists present at the press conference vowed to undertake lobbying efforts and public education campaigns to convince the proponents of the bill, led by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Negros Rep. Monico Fuentebella, to withdraw sponsorship of the bill and to pressure other legislators to block its passage.

Others who attended the unity press conference are Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot, representatives from ABS-CBN Global, DWad, Inquirer. com and gmanews.tv.

In previous consultations, the KBP also registered its opposition to the bill, along with representatives from Business Mirror, RPN 9.

NUJP Statement on the death of Ernie Rollin, first media killing in 2009

The Philippine media have lost another of their own

At around 5:30 a.m. of Monday, February 23, 2009, Misamis Occidental broadcaster Ernie Rollin became the first journalist in the country murdered this year, the 99th since the supposed restoration of democratic institutions in 1986 and the 63rd since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001.

A report from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Ozamiz City said Rollin was parking his motorcycle at a gasoline station in Oroquieta City before commuting to work in Ozamiz City when two men on a motorcycle, their faces hidden by ski masks, drove up and shot him several times.

The report quoted Rollin’s partner, Ligaya, who was waiting for him to join her at a waiting shed, said she hear three gunshots and, when she looked at where the shots had come from, saw the broadcaster lying face down on the ground.

When Ligaya rushed over to help Rollin, one of the gunmen stopped her and pumped another bullet into the nape of the fallen journalist.

Colleagues said Rollin, who was in his mid-40s, was known for his hard hitting commentaries.

This, and the cold-blooded deliberation with which he was murdered, leave no doubt as to why he was singled out for the ultimate censorship – death.

The continued murder of journalists, the boldness with which these killings are carried out, and the failure to bring justice to all but a handful of these cases, belie government’s claims that we live in a
democracy.

A truly democratic government would move heaven and earth to make sure that these murders are solved and the perpetrators – both killers and masterminds – arrested, prosecuted, convicted and punished. A truly democratic government would move heaven and earth to ensure the free
exchange of information and opinion, without which a people can never be truly free to shape their individual and collective lives.

What we have is a government that has not only greeted the continued deaths of journalists with inaction and even apathy, but one that has, in fact, albeit vainly, tried to muzzle the free Philippine press.
There can be no greater irony than the timing of Rollin’s murder. He was killed on the 23rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power I uprising that supposedly restored the people’s basic freedoms including of expression. It is also the anniversary of the eve of the declaration of a state of national emergency, when the government attempted to muzzle the press wholesale, which the Philippine media successfully opposed.

It is to the credit of the independent Philippine media that these continued attacks have not deterred them from fulfilling their obligation to bring information to the people.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calls on our colleagues to stand firm and united in the face of these continuing threats.
Let us also band together and demand an accounting from government for its failure to fulfill its mandate to protect and defend our rights, not only as media, but as citizens.

Reference:
References:

Nestor P. Burgos
Chairperson

Nonoy Espina
Vice-Chairperson

Honored at last

Anthony Chua

Nagasaki and Hiroshima had already been bombed by atomic bombs some 64 years ago forcing Imperial Japan to surrender to the United States, but it still took the same number of years for our valiant lolos and lolas, who fought alongside Americans, to be honored finally as heroes of World War 2.

The Americans could not upbraid around 200,000 Filipino veterans for slacking during the peak moments of the war. They have fought with all their heart, mind and soul. And yet, after the dust of the war was settled, a year later, they suffered a painful blow as the US Congress passed the Rescission Act that voided Filipino veterans of their status as US veterans and denied them the benefits they were promised.

However all the anguish and bitterness was water under the bridge now as the remaining 18,000 venerable lolos and lolas would be rewarded for their bravery more than six decades ago as President Obama Feb 17 signed into law Stimulus Bill, a fraction of which has allotted for the compensation Filipino veterans worth $15,000 to US citizens and $9,000 to non-US citizens.

Change has indeed happened in American character, ideals, and morals as its first African-American president, himself a victim of ire and maltreatment of racism, gave justice to the honorable deeds of the remaining 18,000 Filipino veterans who almost spent their lifetime fighting for the recognition due them.

Say NO to the Right to Reply Bill (Signature Campaign)

UNIFIED STATEMENT ON RIGHT TO REPLY BILL
1. The Right to Reply Bill is an ill-conceived piece of legislation that violates two of the most cherished freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, those of the press and of expression.
2. It is both unfortunate and ironic that the principal authors of the bill in the two chambers of Congress ought to have known better, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. having earned his reputation as a champion of civil rights and Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella having been president of the Negros Press Club.
3. It is also clear, from the pronouncements of both lawmakers, that this bill is a product of the sorriest excuse for legislation – personal pique.
4. The House version of the bill, HB 3306, parrots the Senate’s SB2150 except it would have the reply run a day after receipt instead of the three days the Senate grants, and seeks to impose heftier fines and the absence of self-regulation (in the case of block-timers) and sunset clauses.
5. Both bills state that “all persons…who are accused directly or indirectly of committing, having committed or intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law, or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to charges or criticisms published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic devices.”
6. They also would mandate that these replies be “published or broadcast in the same space of the newspapers, magazine, newsletter or publication, or aired over the same program on radio, television, website or through any electronic device.”
7. The danger in the right to reply bill is that it would legislate what the media OUGHT to publish or air, while casting a chilling effect that could dissuade the more timorous from publishing or airing what they SHOULD.
8. The bills would free public officials, especially the corrupt – and they are legion – of accountability and give them carte blanche to force their lies on the suffering public.
9. As one article on the right to reply bill says, “It lumps together imputations of a crime with simple criticism ‘of any lapse in behavior in public or private life’ or what would otherwise be considered ‘fair comment.’ There is no judicial review. It does not differentiate direct and indirect criticism. It has been noted that under the proposed law a journalist does not even have to be in error to draw a right of reply claim.”
10. We would be the last to say that the Philippine media are without fault. Yes, we understand perfectly the frustration and anger of Pimentel and Puentevella over some media outlet’s refusal to air their sides on issues.
11. Alas, but we cannot allow the sins of the few to be an excuse for the wholesale muzzling of a free press and the suppression of free expression. To do so would to allow bad governance to triumph.
12. We call on Senator Pimentel and Representative Puentevella to withdraw their bills.
13. We urge the media and the people to close ranks against the passage of this bill, to challenge it before the Supreme Court if it is passed, and, if even that fails, to defy it by refusing to comply.
14. No less than our freedoms are at stake. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose.
February 9. 2009
Signed by:

1. Nestor Burgos, PDI
2. Nonoy Espina, inquirer.net
3. Sonny Fernandez, ABS-CBN Global
4. Rowena Paraan, PCIJ
5. Alwyn Alburo, GMA Network
6. Marlon Ramos, PDI
7. Dani Lucas, ABS CBN
8. Ilang-Ilang Quijano, Pinoy Weekly
9. May Rodriguez, Freelance
10. Julie Alipala, PDI
11. Cheryll Fiel, davaotoday.com
12. Jun Godoy, DXOC-Ozamis City
13. Arnell Ozaeta, Phil Star, DZMM
14. John Heredia, Filvision Alto Cable-Capiz
15. Desiree Caluza, PDI
16. Dabet Panelo, NUJP
17. Miriam Grace Go, Newsbreak
18. Sarah Katrina Maramag, College Editors Guild of the Philippines
19. Maurice Malanes, PDI
20. Jofelle Tesorio, ANN
21. Allen V. Estabillo, MindaNews
22. Jun Lopez, Malaya
23. Gerry Albert Corpuz, correspondent, Bulatlat.com and columnist, United Press International (UPI) Asia Online
24. Delfin T. Mallari Jr. PDI
25. Arlyn dela Cruz, NET-25/ Philippine Daily Inquirer
26. Rorie Fajardo, Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
27. Ronalyn V. Olea, Bulatlat
28. Jun Ariolo N. Aguirre, Hala Birada News Weekly
29. Rey Tamayo, Jr., NUJP, Good News Services
30. Alexander Martin Remollino, Bulatlat
31. Vijae Alquisola, College Editors Guild of the Philippines
32. Elmer James Bandol, cbcpnews.com
33. Ansbert Joaquin, PDI
34. Kathleen T. Okubo, Northern Media Information Network
35. Dino Balabo, Philippine Star, Pilipino Star Ngayon, Mabuhay, CLBW
36. Inday Espina-Varona, Philippine Graphic
37. Susan N Palmes- Mindanao Gold Star, Cagayan de Oro
38. MALU CADELINA MANAR, Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, Kidapawan City, NUJP-Kidapawan City chapter
39. Rizaldy Jose GMA-Network
40. Danilo Arao, Bulatlat.com, Pinoy Weekly
41. Rey Tamayo, Jr., NUJP, Magandang Balita
42. Joey Aguilar, Punto Central Luzon/gmanews.tv
43. Marlon Alexander Luistro, GMA 7
44. Danny Esatacio, Balita
45. Jason Vallecer, Eyewatch
46. Olan Mape, Manila Star/ LD Chronicles
47. Bert Abrigo, GMA News
48. Francia Malabanan, GMANews.Tv
49. Ryan D. Rosauro, NUJP-Ozamis City
50. Ire Jo V.C. Laurente, Journal Group-Mindoro
51. Frencie L. Carreon, The PhilSouth Angle
52. Ederic Eder, Tinig.com
53. Reil Briones- Bandilyo/ Kiss FM
54. Candace T. Giron, Freelance Journalist
55. Maricar Cinco, PDI
56. Nanette L. Guadalquiver, The Visayan Daily Star, BusinessWorld
57. Renz Belda DZRH/ DWAW Batangas
58. Angel Ayala, Bicol Media/Radio Natin Sorsogon/NUJP Sorsogon
59. Dodong Solis, RMN/DXDC Davao
60. Lalaine Marcos Jimenea, publisher of Eastern Visayas Mail (EV Mail) and Eastern Samar Reporter and http://www.evmailnews.com
61. Joyce Panares, Manila Standard Today
62. Abigail T. Bengwayan, Northern Dispatch
63. Cesar S. Ramirez,The Philippine STAR
64. Genivi Factao, Business Insight (Malaya)
65. Trina Federis, College Editors Guild of the Philippines
66. Thony Arcenal – PolicefilesTonite,DZME1530Khz, CLMA

67. Voltaire Domingo, NPPA Images – Manila
68. P.James M. Tremedal, http://www.mpilgrim.tk / http://www.pag-enews.tk
69. Sonia M. Capio, DWNE 900 kHz
70. Joey E. Tamunda, GV-AM 792Khz, Balitalakayan – Central Luzon
71. Mark Anthony N. Manuel, Manila Bulletin
72. Edwin G. Espejo, Freelance Journalist
73. Jess Malabanan, CL Daily/Bandera/Reuters/abs-cbn.com
74. Jinky Jorgio, Freelance Journalist/local coordinator BBC
75. Tonette T. Orejas, PDI correspondent
76. Dino Balabo, Philippine Star
77. Ariel D. Borlongan, Bigwas, Jaryo Alisto
78. Elina M. Velasco-Ramo, Northern Dispatch
79. El Interino, bulatlat.com/asianpress.net
80. Ryan D. Rosauro, PDI

81. Darwin Wally T. Wee, NUJP ZamBaSulTa chapter, BusinessWorld
82. Hazel S. Alvarez, ABS CBN-Bacolod
83. Butch Gunio, Central Luzon Business Week
84. Arturo Boquiren, Northern Dispatch Weekly and The Weekly Junction
85. Aquiles Z. Zonio/PDI Correspondent (Socsargen)
86. International Federation of Journalists-Asia Pacific
87. Alliance, A Journalists Association in Australia
88. Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez, Correspondent, Philippine Daily Inquirer
89. Federico D. Pascual Jr., Philippine Star, ManilaMail.com
90. Vergel Santos, Business World
91. Joe Pavia, Philippine Press Institute
92. Luis Teodoro, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
93. Jessica Soho, GMA News and Public Affairs
94. Howie Severino, GMA News and Public Affairs
95. Ed Lingao, ABC TV-5
96. Charie Villa, ABS CBN News
97. Isagani Yambot, Philippine Daily Inquirer
98. Sandra Aguinaldo, GMA Network
99. Mark Merueñas, gmanews.tv
100. Billy Begas, Bandera
101. Antonio Gabriel, ABC TV-5
102. Ramir Padua,
103. Manuel Tupas,
104. Danny Santos, Sunshine Radio DZAR
105. Rorie Fajardo, CCJD / Phil Human Rights Reporting Project
106. Erika Tapalla, inquirer.net
107. Sherrie Ann Torres, ABC TV-5
108. Amor Barbo Docado, ABS CBN Global
109. Ferlina Mangcal, ABS CBN Global
110. Roy Gersalia, PDI, Sorsogon Newsweek
111. Artemio Dumlao, Philippine Star
112. Ruben Alabastro, Philippine Daily Inquirer
113. Tony Bergonia, Philippine Daily Inquirer
114. Leti Boniol, Philippine Daily Inquirer
115. Sandra P. Sesdoyro, Philippine Daily Inquirer
116. Richard R. Gappi, NUJP-Rizal
117. M.A. Kit Bagaipo, PDI, Bohol Chronicle, dyRD-AM
118. Francis Allan L. Angelo, executive editor, The Daily Guardian (Iloilo) http://www.thedailyguardian.com
119. Raffy Beltran, ABS CBN Global
120. Jeffrey M. Tupas, Philippine Daily Inquirer
121. Germelina Lacorte, Correspondent, Philippine Daily Inquirer
122. Rene Acosta, Business Mirror

Warrant against suspects in journalist’s slay lifted

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A judge in General Santos City lifted last 12 February 2009 the warrant of arrest he himself had issued against the alleged killers of radio broadcaster Dennis Cuesta. General Santos is approximately 1,049 kms southeast of Manila.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 36 judge Isaac Alvero Moran revoked the 3 February 2009 warrant of arrest issued against Police Inspector Redempto “Boy” Acharon and several other suspects in the killing of Cuesta after the General Santos RTC Executive Judge ordered the case to “be included in the regular raffling of cases…and to be considered as a newly filed case.”

Moran in his 12 February order said that “…the probable cause order and warrant of arrest issued on 3 February must of necessity end up in smoke as the legal basis of its issuance has been virtually stripped. Consequentially, said Order and Warrant are hereby RECALLED, LIFTED and SET-ASIDE to pave way for Hon. Panambulan M. Mimbisa, presiding Judge of RTC-37, to make his own finical and evangelical (sic) findings therein.” Mimbisa has yet to decide if a warrant against Acharon should be issued.

RTC Executive Judge Oscar Noel Jr. ordered on 11 February 2009 that the case be re-raffled “to give peace of mind to the concerned party” acting on the “Very Urgent Motion to Recall Case Raffled to Branch 35 (sic)” filed by Acharon’s lawyer Rogelio Garcia last 10 February.

Gloria Cuesta, wife of the slain broadcaster, told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility that she was shocked by the lifting of the arrest warrant against Acharon. “It was unfair…. Are they trying to delay justice by recalling the warrant of arrest?” Cuesta said in Filipino.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in Davao said in a statement that “some colleagues…had predicted that this development would happen.”

“That their prediction has been accurate makes us fear the Cuesta murder may end up like the majority of other cases of our slain colleagues,” NUJP added.

Only in two cases since 2001 have there been convictions against the alleged gunmen—in the killing of Pagadian journalist Edgar Damalerio and of Sultan Kudarat journalist Marlene Esperat. No mastermind has been convicted.

An unidentified gunman on a motorcycle shot Cuesta on 4 August 2008 along a national highway near a shopping mall in General Santos City. Cuesta, program director and anchor at the local station of Radio Mindanao Network, was on his way home from an outreach program. Cuesta sustained wounds in the head and near the spinal column after being shot five times with a .45 caliber pistol. Cuesta died five days (9 August 2008) after the attack.

Cuesta was the second RMN broadcaster killed in 2008. Martin Roxas, program director of dyVR-RMN in Roxas City, died on 7 August 2008 after a gunman shot him a few kilometers away from the station.

Thirty-nine journalists/ media practitioners have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 2001, more than half of the total number of work-related killings since 1986.