Election season in the Philippines is often described by many to be akin to a circus. With all the colorful campaign paraphernalia, the flamboyant attire of candidates and supporters going about earning the confidence of voters, and all the lively exchanges between political bets on the media, one can easily gather an assessment of vibrant atmosphere the country and its people often find themselves every three years.
While it is difficult to find fault on which group is responsible for the sad state that politics, particularly the elections, have become in the country, how it is now perceived by the average Filipino, as being rowdy, full of hypocrisy, and even as a source of amusement, is shaped by how it is seen on television, reported on the radio and written on the newspapers. Continue reading →
The Increased Synergy of Two Platforms in the 2016 Elections
Internet connection speeds in the Philippines remain one of the slowest in Asia. This limitation however has not stopped Filipinos from using the web and maximizing their use of the applications and service available online.
In the recently concluded 2016 national and local elections, social media platforms were again used by candidates, political parties and interests groups with political, social and economic agenda. The intensity of use however significantly differed from the two previous electoral exercises. Continue reading →
A member of the police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) prepares for processing the scene of the Maguindanao Massacre in November 2009. Photo from Japan Times.
Growing up with a journalist father has always given me an idea of how risky the profession has been, particularly in the regional or local areas, where political and commercial interests hold sway over how journalists conduct themselves.
Despite those interests, I have also seen my father pursuing stories which he viewed to be necessary for the public good and for the creation of a more just and equitable society. And it was by his example that when I eventually went into journalism where dedication to ferreting out the truth and exerting efforts to balance stories became important aspects in the conduct of the profession.
Still my idealism then, when I went into the profession, was tempered by the reality that journalists in the country can easily be killed. And no amount of beautiful epithets or eulogies can bring back the lives of journalists murdered because of their devotion to revealing the truth. Continue reading →
Although they were held hostage briefly, (Merceditas Hasinon’s) story stands out among the thousands of narratives this eight day standoff has spawned because of what the policeman and the MNLF guerrilla did: the combatants who talked “walang armas-armas” demonstrated that civilian hostages need not be collateral damage in war, that in life-and-death situations, dialogue can save lives. – Carolyn Arguillas, MindaNews
For those who are not familiar with what’s happened there, a renegade group from the former Moro National Liberation Army has occupied some areas of the city by force. And they have held several hostages over the past week.
The Moro National Liberation Front used to be one, if not the biggest secessionist group in the Philippines, fighting for independence of Mindanao and advancement of Muslim rights. They would later sign a peace deal with the government, ending almost three decades of armed struggle.
In recent days, several hostages have escaped or were surrendered by the rebels to government forces. This story from MindaNews, is a narrative of how a guerrilla fighter and a policeman, momentarily put their weapons down, and discussed the release of hostages.
Makes you feel good that there are still a few people, both in the government and the secessionist group, who believe that civilian lives should not be endangered by the their armed confrontation.
In the Philippines, the new Cybercrime Prevention Law contains provisions which may act as a prior restraint to freedom of speech. It also provides that law enforcement agencies can place an online account on “surveillance” for suspected violations of the law even without a court order – a clear violation of the standards of due process supposedly observed in democratic societies. The court order is only required when they have enough evidence against the owner of that account.
While the law is also intended against cybersex, identity theft and child-pornography, the provisions on online libel (inserted by a controversial Senator) became a flash point for journalists, bloggers, lawyers and free speech advocates. The odd part though was that the law was signed with the ambiguous and contentious provisions which were only pointed out by Filipinos online.
And oh, according to the lone Senator who opposed the law, even a “like” on a Facebook update or post may make you liable to online libel. So, yeah, be careful with what you “like” on Facebook, retweet on Twitter or even reblog on Tumblr.
“The passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act also suggests among other possibilities that both Congress and Mr. Aquino have chosen to ignore the 2011 declaration of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) that the Philippine libel law is excessive because it penalizes violators with imprisonment, contrary to the human rights protocols to which the Philippines is a signatory, and therefore must at least be reviewed towards decriminalizing libel. Either that, or the authors of the bills, and Mr. Aquino himself, are unfamiliar with both the UNHRC declaration, as well as with the long-standing demand to decriminalize libel in order to put an end to the use of the libel law to intimidate and silence journalists. Apparently there is little hope that libel will ever be decriminalized, RA 10175 having in effect further strengthened it by widening its application.
Since the law has been published already in the Official Gazette, we will be just counting the days until the law is used to silence citizen journalists and even professional media practitioners. And the law can even be used to cover their personal social media accounts where they might post their thoughts on a public servant’s performance.
“First step in solving any problem, is recognizing there is one.” – Will McAvoy
Short as this line maybe, but it has stuck with me since I first watched The Newsroom. And although I might be watching the season finale in a few hours, I think this line will stay with me long after the series’s first season is done.
I must be honest though, I was not among those who waited for the season premier. And this was due to the words of critics who were not impressed with the first episode. But I decided to watch it anyway and that’s where I got hooked.
I’ve had my share of Sorkin films and series since then. A Few Good Men inspired me (partly) to go into law school. I tried to watch the West Wing as much as I could. And of course, Charlie Wilson’s War will always be my quick recommendation to someone who’s still in the dark as to how the American government saved and nourished Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Newsroom is Sorkin’s indictment of the prevailing state of journalism or the lack of it. In the series he tried attacking how the newsrooms succumbed to the pressure exerted by ratings wars, management intrusions, and bastardization of editorial independence. He also tried to differentiate between journalism and journalism.