Journ Classroom

November 29, 2007

Trillanes, Lim aftermath: journalists arrested

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 10:32 pm

Not since the darkest days of martial law some 25 years ago have so many media people been arrested in one single swoop and hauled off to prison, treated as though they were ordinary criminals.

The scene at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City after the surrender of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim–ellentordesillas.jpgpolice shoving reporters, photographers and network production staff into buses that would take them to police headquarters in Bicutan–showed the Arroyo government at its most repressive. In full view of television cameras, on primetime live, police and military officials showed neither recognition of nor respect for the ideal of a free press.

Members of the PNP’s Special Action Forces bound the hands of the production staff of ABS-CBN and tried clamping handcuffs on the rest, among them Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya and DJ Yap of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The Inquirer reports that some 50 members of the media were arrested. (The photo at left was taken by Ellen shortly after Lim and Trillanes walked out of the Makati courtroom during a hearing today. The photo appears in Ellen’s blog and is being used here with permission.)

While all this was happening, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was in the ABS-CBN studios being interviewed by Anchor Ted Failon, the interview serving as annotation to the scene that was unfolding. Teodoro spoke in a calm voice, in contrast to the urgency with which Failon and his co-anchor Korina Sanchez were reporting on the journalists’ arrests. After first disclaiming any involvement in the Peninsula affair which was a police operation, Teodoro nevertheless spoke about the arrests as though rounding up journalists was the most natural thing in the world.

The arrests were made, he said, simply “to determine the identities” of the media people. “Certain Magdalo people will pose as so and so,” Teodoro said, referring to the band of rebel soldiers who are the co-accused and supporters of Trillanes and Lim. He talked about the Magdalo as having evil designs and that the police were merely doing their jobs by rounding up the press to sniff out the impostors.

If military and police suspect Magdalo soldiers of trying to pass themselves off as reporters, that’s because it is military SOP to try to blend with the media. They do it all the time. If journalists can be embedded among soldiers during military operations, so can soldiers embed themselves among journalists. (more…)

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June 21, 2007

Journalist jailed

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 4:54 pm

(Jofelle Tesorio was released around 7 pm, after Judge Maria Theresa Yadao signed the order releasing Tesorio from the Camp Karingal, Quezon City jail.)

How ironic that a day after President Gloria Arroyo asked media to rally to her side, another Filipino journalist is hauled off to jail.

(more…)

June 7, 2007

Filipino Delivers Harvard Law School Commencement Address

Filed under: News — Luz Rimban @ 12:13 pm

Daly City, California–I picked up a copy of the Filipino weekly publication Philippine News and was pleasantly surprised to read in its front-page story that a Filipino will be delivering the commencement address at the Harvard Law School graduation tomorrow, June 7.

That Filipino is Oscar Barcelona Tan, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law Class of 2005. Tan is an associate of the ACCRA Law Office in Manila who went on study leave to pursue his Master of Laws degree at Harvard.

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May 15, 2007

Philippine Elections as Classroom – 2

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 6:07 pm

If Philippine elections were a classroom and electoral fraud the previous days’ lesson, then the people and civil society groups listened and learned. The media didn’t. The people and civil society got it. The media didn’t (some, at least).

The one central issue in the 2007 elections is the unresolved cheating of the past. Those who are looking for or dredging up other issues are unlikely to find any that will stick, or that will draw people’s attention and interest. The one thing that mattered to Filipinos was the systematic, wholesale cheating that took place in 2004—evidence of which came in the form of the “Hello, Garci” recordings—which remains unpunished to this day.

And yet how come (some in) the media didn’t get it? Was it fear? Vested interest? Bias? A misreading of the situation?

Friends and I were talking about this while we were in Davao last month. Ellen noted how (some) media organizations had failed to highlight “Hello, Garci” as an election issue, and how they seemed all too willing to let administration candidates off the hook, specially those who deliberately ignored the “Hello, Garci” question. Bon said that one TV network’s election special focused on issues like jobs, housing, health care, and the like, which were more suited to elections for president (or maybe local executives) rather than elections for the national legislature where each candidate is expected to have his or her own advocacy, not to mention knowledge of law-making.

(more…)

April 29, 2007

The War on Journalism

Filed under: News — Luz Rimban @ 12:10 am

The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) has released its annual report World Press Freedom Review in which it describes 2006 as “the most savage and brutal year in the modern history of the media.” IPI has listed a casualty count of 100 journalists killed. Nearly half the death toll, 46 journalists, were killed in Iraq alone. The other countries considered deadly for journalists are Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, and Sri Lanka.

It is tragic that in Iraq and elsewhere, while journalists are covering the war on terrorism, they themselves are combatants in a war to protect press freedom, which is coming under attack in various parts of the world.

American investigative reporter David Kaplan writes about this in his Bad Guys Blog. Kaplan is the chief investigative correspondent of US News and World Reports.

April 21, 2007

Rizal Yuyitung, 1922-2007

Filed under: News — Luz Rimban @ 11:30 pm

My friend and colleague Yvonne Chua sent me a text from Hanoi asking me to pass on to Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrad de Quiros and other Filipino journalists the message that Rizal Yuyitung had passed away in Toronto, Canada on April 19.

Rizal Yuyitung is one of two brothers, the older one being Quintin, who published and managed the Chinese Commercial News (CCN), the leading Chinese daily in the Philippines prior to the declaration of Martial Law. The brothers experienced the iron fist of state repression in the 1960s and became symbols of press freedom under attack.

The book The Case of the Yuyitung Brothers: Philippine Press Freedom Under Siege (2000), compiled and edited by Rizal Yuyitung had a foreword written by former Senate President Jovito Salonga. Here is an excerpt:

….in 1962, at the start of the (Diosdado) Macapagal Administration, the two brothers and the CCN staff were arrested and detained by the military due to the “publication from 1949 to 1962 of news items and articles which are (1) favorable to the Communist cause in general, (2) derogatory to the government of the Republic of the Philippines and (3) intended to influence the local Chinese community to be sympathetic with the Communist regime in Red China.” I can only think of a few narrow-minded officers in the military establishment during Macapagal’s time who would conceive of such high-faluting nonsense.

The brothers were later released but the case, and the threat of deportation, remained hanging over their heads. It was to be revived years later by President Ferdinand Marcos, during the time that was marked by student unrest and daily rallies, with the bloodiest taking place in the last days of January into February 1970, the period that would later be called the First Quarter Storm.

“The local newspapers reported these events, and the Chinese Commercial News did so, with admirable objectivity and fairness,” wrote Salonga. But the Marcos government, like the Macapagal administration before it, literally saw red.

yuyitung.jpg

In the same book, the Yuyitung brothers’ lawyer at that time (now Senator) Joker Arroyo, narrated what happened to them in 1970:

So one fine day in March 1970, immigration agents swooped down on Quintin and Rizal and arrested them with the plan to summarily deport them as undesirable aliens.

Their offense? Publishing in their paper, the CCN, news about conditions in the communist mainland. But CCN did not invent any news. What they published were news reports from the international wire services namely, Associated Press, Reuters, Agence-France Press, and United Press International….

… Since the charges could not stick, the Yuyitung brothers, under false pretenses, were lured in the dead of night out of their house by immgration agents, forcibly brought to Basa Air Base and turned over to the Philippine military authorities. They were forcibly put on board a Philippine Air Force plane, which whisked them off to Taipeh and were turned over to the Taiwan Garrison Command. It was kidnapping plain and simple perpetrated by conspiracy of two governments. So sudden and lightning was the kidnapping that they did not even have toothbrush or any toiletries with them.

…. Question: Quintin and Rizal, who were both born and lived all their lives in the Philippines, had never been to Taiwan. True they remained Chinese citizens, but how could the Taiwan Garrison Command try them for what they allegedly committed, not in Taiwan but in the Philippines?

…. After the kangaroo trial, the military court sentenced Quintin to two years and Rizal to three years of reformatory education.

Years later, in 1972, when Marcos declared Martial Law, the military again swooped down on CCN in the wave of arrests of journalists and Marcos opponents. They arrested Veronica Yuyitung, painter and wife of Rizal Yuyitung.

Forty-five years since the Yuyitung brothers were first arrested, the country is back under the rule of a Macapagal, and the press is still under attack. Forty-five years later, Filipinos would do well to remember the words of Quintin Yuyitung, spoken in 1973 after he was released:

Public officials should not be sensitive to criticism and exposure of the press as such is the only means with which the people can help the government correct errors and suppress abuses. The press is only the extension of the people’s thinking. The suppression of the press is tantamount to the right of the people to think and of the opportunity to help the government discover the truth. The other function of the press is to inform. If the people are not properly informed, how could they think properly? What freedom do we have left if we are not even allowed to think?

After their incarceration in Taiwan, the brothers moved to North America, Quintin to the United States and Rizal to Canada. Quintin Yuyitung died years ago and although Rizal’s demise the other day, as one friend said, signals the passing of an era, a new generation of like-minded journalists has taken their place.

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