The Philippine Senate today

Snollygoster definition

The Senate is so full of itself. Look at it’s reaction to some members’ named as “dogs of Malacanang” in one blog article (who knows, the writer might be from among them?). Explosive. But look at it’s reaction to Senator Sotto’s remark to Presidential appointee DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo as “na-ano lang”. Silence. Look at Senator Hontiveros response to DOJ’s Secretary Aguirre’s alleged plot against her. Privileged speech. But look at it’s reaction to members’ broadcasted grilling of private citizens. Like the big bad wolf. Look at it’s reaction to Senator Trillanes’ having an alleged mistress at AMLC. Amused. But look at it’s reaction to Senator de Lima’s leaked sex tapes. Righteous.

It’s talk redounds to me, myself, my agenda, my image, my political future, my business interests, my political legacy to my family who’d take over one day. It’s really not about the country, the people, the good of Filipinos. Why are they even there?

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“Owners” of Mindanao

Odd that, while countries such as UK and Australia have rallied their support behind the Moro people’s quest for self-determination, Filipino leaders from here have not shown the same active enthusiasm. Why? What is difficult with giving your own kin the freedom that you are fully enjoying? This country needs to take a hard look at why; therein lies the key to why this part of the country is constrained from attaining its potential.

​Christian Filipino legislators in the bicameral US civil administration played a hitherto unacknowledged role in pushing for the colonisation of Mindanao, as part of the Philippines, by proposing a series of Assembly bills (between 1907 to 1913) aimed at establishing migrant farming colonies on Mindanao. This legislative process was fuelled by anger over the unequal power relations between the Filipino-dominated Assembly and the American-dominated Commission, as well as rivalry between resident Christian Filipino leaders versus the American military government, business interests and some Muslim datus in Mindanao itself for control over its land and resources. Focusing on the motives and intentions of the bills’ drafters, this study concludes that despite it being a Spanish legacy, the Christian Filipino elite’s territorial map — emphasising the integrity of a nation comprising Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao — provided the basis for their claim of Philippine sovereignty over Mindanao.

Upholding Filipino nationhood: The debate over Mindanao in the Philippine Legislature, 1907–1913, Journal of Southeast Asiam Studies, National University of Singapore, Volume 44 Issue 2, Nobutaka Suzuki

To build or not to build: City parking at Burnham Park

Baguio City is back to two of it’s more contentious topics- parking and Burnham Park. The long term solution to this, given that the City’s land area is non-expandable unless the mountains around it are bulldozed (I say this because it’s actually started for inappropriate residential and commercial projects and I don’t know if some people have just totally gone mental) is usage of economic tools to manage vehicular traffic within the CBD in particular and car ownership in general. There has been no initiative from City Hall toward this, despite persistent recommendations from local architects and planners, which is why parking has grown and grown and grown into this monstruous problem now.

In the short- and mid-term, parking buildings could be considered which as prerequisiite should’ve undergone environmental impact assessments. Anybody who’s done an EIA would know that risks posed by construction of a parking building in Burnham Park include:

  1. Cultural – loss of heritage (mana) for the City’s present and future generations, as in, ano na lang ang mamanahin ng mga anak natin at ang kanilang mga anak? a graveyard of parking buildings?;
  2. Environmental – during the 1991 7.6 earthquake and aftershocks, those of us who were trapped in the CBD and spent the night (or, days) at the Park know, from experience, that the ground there is water underneath; increased pollution from incrrased vehicular traffic in and out the Park; increased heat island effect as a result of pollution and conversion of green space; accelerated loss of biodiversity as a result of pollution and habitat disturbance; decreased capacity of the Park to provide ecosystem services eg. air filtration, protection from solar rays, carbon absorption, climate regulation;
  3. Socio-Economic – loss of space for the City’s civic activities (eg. jogging, morning exercises especially among senior citizens, strolling instead of in malls thus benefitting from fresh air and natural Vitamin D) that promote health and wellbeing in the population; loss of green space offering to tourists and visitors (they don’t come to this mountain City in order to drool over a parking building but rather for the zen effect of mountain foliage and cool weather that are fast becoming a thing of the past by the way);
  4. Etc.

Such an assessment, together with cost-benefit analysis, will provide scientifically-correct data and information on which to base decision as to whether project risks can be mitigated or the entire project scrapped.

Let’s say City officials take the road oft-travelled which is, to go on ahead and put up, without being informed by an EIA, the parking building right in the Park. Common sense will still say the project has got be done in a way that it  will “continuously compensate” for the losses, hardships, and inconveniences it brings to the community. What are some of these compensations?

One, design. The reason why City folks (and others in the country) are protesting such a project is because of how ‘parking building’ has been normally imagined by Filipino builders: a massive concrete box and nothing else. Walang ka-arte-arte. The word now in building design is ‘green’ as in integration of carbon minimizing aspects of the naturally beautiful natural environment into built spaces.

Parking area design

Green building design

Green building design

And, since the City is the residence of choice of artists, the building could be a mount for their works (which by the way should be regularly maintained and, resouces permitting, changed periodically. One of the City’s bad habits, which it needs to change, is inaugurating a work of art in the public space and then completely forgetting about it until bugs have eaten it away and there’s nothing to see, or a passerby had to be hospitalized after the rotting thing fell on his head).

Green building facade design

Two, as talk show host Boy Abunda always reminds his audiences, be kind. This in today’s design sciences means, buildings are mindful of the needs of people, both their residents and visitors. An unkind building is one which has not for instance a single bench for children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities, or the suddenly ill to sit or rest while, say, waiting for the elevator to come up or down from the 100th floor.

Once, at a posh department store, at the ground-level parking area, I saw a man, maybe 50s, shopping bags of women’s brands to his side, sitting on a narrow bench just outside the mall doors. He was apparently waiting for his partner who I guessed, if she’s female, was still deliberating on a thousand choices of shoes. He looked spent and close to imploding. That area of the mall was hot but I had a feeling his state of being was more due to discomfort. Where he was waiting wasn’t exactly heaven and if he was inside his car, well, these days everybody’s saving on gas, and if he waited inside the mall he had to do it at a cafe or restaurant which meant he had to buy, again. 

Green building interior design

A kind building has thought ahead about it’s users and visitors and purposefully integrated human needs into it’s entire space (versus throwing in a bench or two on afterthought). My point, basically, is for buildings or technology to cater ultimately to humans (people) and not to things. When planners, decisionmakers, and builders use this as their guiding principle there’s no reason for most people to protest or suffer from effects of mindless decisions.

Something beautiful

Displaced persons Marawi City
photo via Philippine Inquirer

We are all trying to change
what we fear into something beautiful

Peace is, ultimately, that ‘something beautiful’. Toward that, interim initiatives like rehabilitation and redevelopment of destroyed homelands need to be done. Another, repatriation of displaced persons and refugees. Yet another, preparing the displaced, psychologically, mentally, and economically, for their eventual return. And, on a continuing timeframe, respect for differences extremely difficult or impossible to change in oneself more so in others (eg. gender, race, religion, history) and not forgetting that at the bottom of it all we all belong to the same specie. The framework for human relationships then is one that should seek to promote collective resilience not to hasten destruction of the specie.

Home is where it all begins

In the 23 September 2017 episode of The Bottomline, one of the three male guests, Chair of International Studies of DLSU, gave this response to the host Boy Abunda’s query on why martial law appeal to many people,

People are looking for order… and a simple explanation to complicated issues hounding the country, and these they find in him (the President)

True. Just go at a street crossing. There are still plenty of people who, despite the red light, cross the street, arrogantly and defiantly too; despite the zebra crossing in school areas, do not slow down. Media as well, it persists on violating citizens’ rights to privacy and fair trial despite feedback provided them. And so on. Deviants only stop whenever police are present and go back to doing what they like when authorities aren’t around physically.

Martial law in this context is intended to correct persistent law breaking until such time deviants become law abiding, or law and order in deviant communities restored. It is after all the State’s duty to preserve law and order for it’s citizenry. However, since it’s real-world human communities, it is difficult, if not impossible to actually isolate x from y a relatively easy task in laboratory experiments. In the real world of humans, there is always spillover effects on the innocent or law abiding population. To make operations easier, therefore, the starting point is at zero ie. everyone is suspect. This is when martial law becomes problematic. Everyone starts blaming the implementer. But really the ones to blame, if pinpointing must be done, are the deviants, those without thought or care for the effects of their actions on others, the bad-influencers. Who was it who pushed the State to it’s limits (of tolerance, patience) in the first place? There were personalities who wanted the throne on the pretext of change. But was there ever a legitimate leader who gave up the throne to an usurper? You defend it like you naturally would your house from attackers. One could become ruthless doing this, naturally, angered by the attackers’ daring. Pasensya na lang kung ikaw ay naisama sa mga inaakalang kalaban. This is the context of Marcos’ martial law. I hope we won’t let history repeat itself again, and I say this to personalities who are wanting the throne in the pretext of democracy or righting human rights violations.

The Philippines is still relatively more tolerant, more free in the UN sense of the word than it’s Southeast Asian neighbors. Go to Malaysia, Indonesia, or Brunei- outsiders are bound to respect certain Muslim rules (here, we scoff at such rules confident Catholic ones are the only rules). Go to Singapore, traffic law breakers are fined without fail. Outside the region, go to the US or UK, zoning rules are taken seriously. Internally, Metro Manila is relatively more free, more secure, with more infrastructures, goods, and services than many cities, towns, and villages in Mindanao and rebel-infested parts of Visayas and tribal communities of Northern Luzon. But people in the Metro take to the streets as if they’re the most naapi sa lahat. When they yell No To Impunity, where do they mean? whose community, city, town, or village are they referring to? in whose behalf are they saying it? Moro Muslims? Mangyans? Ibanags? Ilocanos? themselves, in the Metro? How Metro-centric even in protest.

I suggest that in order for the Metro’s protesters to know the difference they go immerse themselves for two years in, say, Maguindanao, Masbate, Kalinga, Abra, or in the hinterlands of Zambales. Then afterward tell us how to go about doing rights and freedom. My point is, let’s stop protesting about ideals and instead start doing, faithfully, in our own neighborhoods and villages the change that we want to see. Talk to your Barangay LGU about making your village more child-friendly and gender aware. Organize your village youth group into making a journey within themselves and with other youth, dialoguing toward a purpose-driven life. Conduct adult literacy classes in your neighborhood. Educate transport groups in your barangay on customer service. Help the elderly with their grocery bags. Organize a single-parents club. Attend and speak up in barangay meetings (show rather than tell this ought to be the norm). Make neighborhoods and villages happy, safe, and secure, that media won’t have anything “newsworthy” to report anymore.

Eleanor roosevelt quote human rights

CCTVs and broadcast media

​Twenty years ago, on 19 April 1995, a disaffected veteran named Timothy McVeigh drove a Ryder truck stuffed with explosives into downtown Oklahoma City and destroyed a federal office building, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and maiming hundreds of others. That much we know.

We also know that, within 90 minutes of the bombing, McVeigh was pulled over near the Kansas border and arrested, alone, at the wheel of a glaringly improbable getaway car, an ancient, spluttering rust bucket of a Mercury sedan with no licence plates, which made him a sitting duck for any passing highway patrolman.

How could such a callous, carefully planned attack have come to such an incongruously slapdash end? After a vast investigation headed by the FBI , three trials mounted against McVeigh and his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, and an avalanche of court documents, there is still no definitive answer to that question.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Oklahoma City bombing – by far the most destructive act perpetrated by a home-grown assailant against fellow Americans – is not how much we’ve learned over the past 20 years but rather how much we still do not know.

Oklahoma City bombing: 20 years later, key questions remain unanswered, Andrew Gumbel, The Guardian

Another equally-riveting incident but closer to home was that captured on CCTV footage in 2014 of the artist Vhong Navarro mauled by a certain Cedric Lee and companion after Navarro raped the actress Deniece Cornejo, well, that’s according to media reports at the time. It repeatedly televised the footage and speculated on it like ten thousand judges speaking at the same time long before the trial had even started. In fact, analysis by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility shows it was a field day for media companies,

Air time vhong navarro case by cmfrTurns out, those statements about that particular footage were misleading (there was or were other footages that media didn’t include in it’s broadcast, one of which of Cornejo and Lee kissing after they had brought Navarro to the police station). And so, just two days ago, the DOJ decided for the acquittal of Navarro.

What these imply is that, judgement made on criminal or illegal acts is not made basing solely on CCTV evidence; much more information is needed in order for a crime to be attributed beyond reasonable doubt on the accused.

One is the required authentication of CCTV recordings in order for these to be admitted as evidence (in court). The authentication procedure is provided for in the Rules on Electronic Evidence of Republic Act 8792 (E-Commerce Act of 2000),

(Section 1, Rule 11) [a]udio, photographic and video evidence of events, acts or transactions shall be admissible provided it shall be shown, presented or displayed to the court and shall be identified, explained or authenticated by the person who made the recording or by some other person competent to testify on the accuracy thereof.

(Section 31) access to an electronic file or an electronic signature of an electronic data message or electronic document shall only be authorized and enforced in favor of the individual or entity having a legal right to the possession or the use of the plaintext, electronic signature, or file and solely for the authorized purposes.

Also, as posted earlier, the Broadcast Code of the Philippines has provisions for the handling of similar material,

Sec. 4. NEWS SOURCES

4.b. Only news that can be attributed to a source shall be aired. When a source cannot be identified by name, the reason for this should be made clear in the news report.

4.d. News sources must be clearly identified, except when confidentiality of the source was a condition for giving the information.

4.c. Information provided by confidential sources may be aired only if it is in the public interest to do so.

4.e. Before airing information provided by a confidential source, an effort should first be made to look for a source who can be identified or who can corrobotate the information provided by the confidential source.

4.f. Rumors or gossips shall not be aired in the guise of news. Using terms like “anonymous source”, ” confidential source”, or “unknown source” shall not justify the airing of rumors and gossips especially in news programs.

Sec. 7. UNCONVENTIONAL NEWS GATHERING AND REPORTING

7.a. In the most extreme circumstances, when information being sought is vitally important to public interest or necessary to prevent profound harm, the use of hidden cameras or microphones and other similar techniques of news gathering and reporting may be resorted to. Before resorting to such techniques, conventional methods must first be exhausted. In all cases, the use of such techniques must conform to the law.

7.b. When material obtained through such techniques are broadcast, this must be presented fairly, factually, and in the proper context. The right to privacy must be observed and harm to the innocent avoided.

7.d. When materials that have been obtained through unconventional techniques are received from third parties, their broadcast must conform with the relevant provisions under this section.

Other relevant legal provisions include,

  1. The Data Privacy Act of 2012, protecting citizens from the misuse of data for profit;
  2. The Anti-Wiretapping Act of 1969, deeming it unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties, to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device;
  3. Executive Order No. 2 of 2016 on the freedom of information

SECTION 3 . Access to information . Every Filipino shall have access to information, official records, public records and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development.

SECTION 4 . Exception . Access to information shall be denied when the information falls under any of the exceptions enshrined in the Constitution, existing law or jurisprudence (ie. Bill of Rights, Revised Penal Code, E-Commerce Act, Data Privacy Act, Anti-Wiretapping Act)*terms in parentheses, mine

These relative to media’s practice of broadcasting CCTV footages begs the question, are the footages authenticated? If not, then the public has been, or is being fed with unverified recordings. The public, at least those who passively believe what they see and hear a hundred and one percent, are made complicit in the perpetuation of speculations presented as news. Take the case of Vhong Navarro. (Or, the camera footages shown the past two days of the President’s partner Honeylet Avancena. The first was a teaser of some sort, the report containing no other details just that she’s in NYC “attending the UNGA”. The second one, shown on the following day, was a bit more detailed ie. she’s on a personal trip to attend First Lady Melania Trump upon the latter’s invitation and that expenses are on Avancena. What do media outfits want to convey by this? By broadcasting the footage ahead of the basic who, what, why, where, and how, the reporters came off as mere paparazzi stalking a celebrity, in effect, degrading themselves and their profession and missing the opportunity to promote the capacity of a Filipino woman to discuss global or regional issues with other women leaders of the world). The news coverage, based entirely on one footage, and despite Navarro’s subsequent acquittal had inadvertently planted the seed of doubt in the mind of many a Filipino. That’s irreparable damage to name and reputation not to mention emotional trauma and the resulting ill effects on the body, loss of potential income (as a result of potential employers shying away), and the slow-but-sure birthing of a mindless bully public. Imagine this being done through the screen on a daily basis, just because.

Broadcast media companies should take a serious look at their business model – how is their kind of journalism different from actions of human rights violators that they report hard about, how is it not peddling moral panic and an influence to impunity and toward establishment of a Surveillance State as a result of it’s indiscriminate use, in effect, promotion, of recordings of citizens to summarily sentence them without fair trial – and revamp it. Media holds a very important role in building a stable State, nation building, and development. It should hold itself up to the standards of that role. 

Conduct unbecoming of the fourth estate

A Penn State fraternity pledge died after stumbling and falling several times with toxic levels of alcohol in his body and suffered for hours with severe injuries while his friends failed to summon help, authorities said Friday in announcing criminal charges against the fraternity and 18 of its members.

A grand jury investigation, aided by security camera footage from the Beta Theta Pi chapter house, found that fraternity members resisted getting help for 19-year-old Timothy Piazza before his death in February. The grand jury said their actions in some cases may have worsened his injuries.

Eight of the fraternity brothers and the chapter itself were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Other charges include aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing.

The grand jury said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the Feb. 2 ceremony at which Piazza, a sophomore engineering student, and 13 others accepted pledge bids. The pledges were pressured to run a gantlet of drinking stations that required them to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.

The cameras recorded Piazza drinking vodka and beer at around 9:20 p.m. and an hour later needing help to walk, staggering and hunched over, from an area near the basement stairs to a couch. He’s later shown trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then “severely staggering drunkenly toward the basement steps” at about 10:45 p.m., the grand jury report said.

He was subsequently found at the bottom of the steps after apparently falling face-first. Four brothers carried his limp body back upstairs, where some poured liquid on him and one slapped him in the face, the jury said. Fraternity members put a backpack containing textbooks on him so Piazza, lying on his back, would not suffocate on his own vomit, the jury wrote.

When a brother insisted Piazza needed medical help, he was confronted and shoved into a wall, the report said. When the same brother insisted again that Piazza required help, he was told others were biology and kinesiology majors so his opinion wasn’t as valuable as theirs, the jury said.

Piazza tried to get up around 3:20 a.m. but fell backward and hit his head on the wood floor, the report said. He fell onto a stone floor at 5 a.m. and was last caught on video after 7 a.m. He was discovered in the basement at about 10 a.m.

“Timothy was lying on his back with his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air,” jurors wrote. “His chest was bare, his breathing heavy and he had blood on his face.”

During the next 40 minutes, fraternity brothers shook him, tried to prop him up, covered him with a blanket, wiped his face and attempted to dress him before one finally called 911, the jury said.

Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.

Another Hazing DEATH at a University Fraternity House…

Did Horacio Castillo III face a similar turn of events before his death? Did he die from heart attack due primarily to alcohol intoxication compounded by organ stress and shock after the first initiation beating? Did his family’s connections for instance to politicians such as Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri a factor for a more violent initiation relative to other pledges with no “connections of interest”? Is John Paul Solano actually a sympathizer to Castillo’s plight during the initiation?

Such queries about the crime, and more, depending on where our collective imagination carries us, point to the fact that what the rest of us could do is speculate. In this, broadcast media has the comparative advantage. At their worst, they are like starved crazed dogs, that, unlike snakes, attack in a frenzy shredding their food to unrecognizable pieces. Men and women of the law are able, at least, at court to contain their fangs within the procedural rules of law. Broadcast media still foam at the mouth even after having done it’s job reporting the necessary and publicly-legitimate facts. They go on and on, in a forever-mode of mad rampage. After what, no one is sure anymore, because, for sure, it’s not to set people free from the untruth. As what Congress’ new terms of reference implies from the televised series of it’s wasteful and illegal questioning of private individuals who are mere collateral damage in the doings of elected officials and civil servants, broadcast media outlets are the judge and jury in their own public trials, lasting all five minutes of air time, of a person’s or an organization’s reputation, usually, “persons and organizations of interest”, long before pertinent facts have been established and even after verdict has been handed by proper authorities, which provoke the viewing or listening public to hysteria or mob behavior toward the exposed person or organization.

Toward the have-nots of Philippine society, it entitles itself to adversarial questioning as for instance, say, in a corner of a police precinct in front of everybody in the world most of whom don’t know the person, the camera is placed intrusively close to the accused person’s face while asking in loaded words, “pinatay mo si xxx? saan mo tinapon yung kutsilyong ginamit mo? naka-droga ka nung ginawa mo? naka-inom ka nung nag-amok ka?” In another corner of another precinct, the camera is placed at the same distance, this time, to the victim’s while capturing the wailing screams, the snoggle trickling down the nostrils, the shock of unkempt hair, the blanked-out hollow eyes, the cries to their God and whoever else should or could help them, while persisting on the victim for a response to “ano ang nararamdaman nyo ngayon?” On the street, it walks over to the person sleeping on the wayside, the camera closing up onto the face after it did the same on the body while asking in behalf of the audience “pano ka napunta dito?” Yet, it restrains itself when in front of the top 10% of Philippine society. It does not, for instance, walk straight into the offices of the Zobel-Ayalas onto the plump leather chairs and bring the camera on their faces to ask them point blank, “ano ang ginawa nyo sa isang daang pamilyang naapektuhan sa redevelopment project ninyo?” Rather, they make an appointment and are mindful of the rights of the Zobel-Ayalas that they could be liable to violate. 

Same with it’s one-sided reporting of and narrow commentaries on the crackdown on illegal drugs. Rallying all it’s resources – air time, investigations, and human resource – behind the street killings of the poor especially young so-called drug handlers and users serve to deflect public attention away from the other crucial side of the issue: the supply network. Throwing images of young innocents’ mutilated dead bodies 24/7 onto audiences’ laps inadvertently call up latent human emotions- my god, what’s happening to the world? Next the world knows, there’s a lynch mob on the street, the statements on the placards a far cry from the crowd’s level of sophistication, which of course broadcast media don’t fail to plaster on the screen accompanying the coverage with doomsday music. On the other hand, when the haves or in-the-know do come out to help authorities shed light on a wrongdoing, speaking like the Don and Dona they are in their own high-society brand of Taglish, their own community heavily censure them “we don’t do that” and even media don’t know what to do with their kind. Think the late Princess Diana trying to spill to the public her royal life behind the camera.

And, from among, say, 5,000 cases of street killings of young people across the country in a day, why the choice of that one from, say, Tondo? And how is that one representative of the 4,999 other killings? From among 10,000 cases of domestic abuse across the country in a day, why the choice of that one from, say, Caloocan? And how is that one representative of the 9,999 other abuses? And so on and so forth. Broadcast media’s silence on that vital piece of information which it should’ve divulged to the public is like serving broth to a customer which he paid for in full, but really it’s spit-infested. That’s fraud.

What about, recently, giving air time to the exiled head of the Communist rebels here, but not to families whose villages are raided and/or occupied by the rebels and whose loved ones were recruited, abducted, or killed by the rebels, and businesses who were forced by the armed group to provide them regular financial support? What about their voices in the midst of this modern day-irrelevant ideological push?

How would communities respect broadcasters who call themselves journalists who spend most of their day at the golf course with their big wig “friends”, have all the time to watch beauty contests from the front row, or enjoy free food on their advertisers’ accounts, and then go write or report about injustices done to the people? Actors at least have a more disciplined approach to their scripts and getting into their screen characters.

What are the ethical standards governing the country’s broadcast media? Below are some provisions in the Broadcast Code of the Philippines 2007 by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) whose members are liable to follow:

PREAMBLE
WE BELIEVE

THAT broadcasting, because of its immediate and lasting impact on the public, demands of its practitioners a high sense of responsibility, morality, fairness and honesty at all times.

THAT broadcasting has an obligation to uphold the properties and customs of civilized society, maintain the respect of the rights and sensitivities of all people, preserve the honor and the sanctity of the family and home, protect the sacredness of individual dignity, and promote national unity.

Article 1. NEWS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Sec. 1. OBJECTIVE

News and public affairs programs shall aim primarily to inform the public on important current events and issues rather than merely to entertain. (Admonitory)

Sec. 3. FAIRNESS AND OBJECTIVITY

3.c. Side comments expressing personal opinions while a news item is being reported or delivered are prohibited to prevent the listener from mistaking opinion for news. (Serious)

3.d. When presented as part of a news program, editorials or commentaries must be identified as such and presented as distinct from news reports. (S)

Sec. 4. NEWS SOURCES

4.b. Only news that can be attributed to a source shall be aired. When a source cannot be identified by name, the reason for this should be made clear in the news report. (Grave)

4.c. News sources must be clearly identified, except when confidentiality of the source was a condition for giving the information. (S)

4.d. Information provided by confidential sources may be aired only if it is in the public interest to do so. (G)

4.e. Before airing information provided by a confidential source, an effort should first be made to look for a source who can be identified or who can corroborate the information provided by the confidential source. (S)

4.h. Rumors or gossips shall not be aired in the guise of news. Using terms like “anonymous source”, “confidential source” or “unknown source” shall not justify the airing of rumors and gossips especially in news programs. (G)

Sec. 7. UNCONVENTIONAL NEWS GATHERING AND REPORTING

7a. In the most extreme circumstances, when information being sought is vitally important to public interest or necessary to prevent profound harm, the use of hidden cameras or microphones and other similar techniques of news gathering and reporting may be resorted to. Before resorting to such techniques, conventional methods must first be exhausted. In all cases, the use of such techniques must conform to the law. (G)

7b. When material obtained through such techniques are broadcast, this must be presented fairly, factually and in the proper context. The right to privacy must be observed and harm to the innocent avoided. (G)

7d. When materials that have been obtained through unconventional techniques are received from third parties, their broadcast must conform with the relevant provisions under this section. (G)

Sec. 9. SENSATIONALISM

9.b. Morbid, violent, sensational or alarming details not essential to a factual report are prohibited. (S)

9.c. The presentation of news and commentaries must not be done in a way that would create unnecessary panic or alarm. (G)

Article 3. COVERAGE INVOLVING CHILDREN

Sec. 1. The child’s dignity must be respected at all times. The child should not be demeaned or his/her innocence be exploited. (G)

Sec. 2. The personal circumstance of the child that will tend to sensationalize his/her life must be avoided. (G)

Sec. 3. There should be a conscious effort to avoid sensationalizing, stereotyping, prejudging or exploiting children with disabilities or children belonging to minority or indigenous groups. (G)

Sec. 4. The right to privacy of children must always be respected. Since undue publicity or wrong labeling can cause harm to them, children who are victims of abuse or in conflict with the law shall not be identified, directly or indirectly. Any information that might cause them to be identified shall not be aired. (G)

Sec. 5. Surprise and unplanned (“ambush”) interviews of children are prohibited. (S)

Sec. 6. Child victims, child suspects, children accused of a crime, children arrested or detained on suspicion of wrong-doing, and children that are undergoing trial shall be protected from further suffering emotional distress or trauma; they shall be interviewed only upon the consent of their parent or legal guardian, unless the parent or guardian is the accused. The interview shall be conducted only with the authority and supervision of qualified lawyers, psychologists, or social workers responsible for their welfare. (S)

Sec. 7. Children should not be required, coerced or bribed to recall and narrate traumatic experiences, demonstrate horrific acts, or describe them in graphic details. (S)

Article 4. PERSONAL ATTACKS

Sec. 1. Personal attacks, that is, attacks on the honesty, integrity, or personal qualities of an identified person, institution or group1, on matters that have no bearing on the public interest are prohibited. (G)

Sec. 2. Programs intended to malign, unfairly criticize or attack a person, natural or juridical, are prohibited. (G)

Sec. 4. When personal attacks against any person, institution or group are aired, that person, institution or group shall be given a fair opportunity to reply immediately in the same program, if possible, or at the earliest opportunity. If not, the opportunity to reply should be given in any other program under similar conditions. (G)

Article 6. CRIME AND CRISIS SITUATIONS

Sec. 1. The coverage of crimes in progress or crisis situations, such as hostage-taking or kidnapping, shall consider the safety and security of human lives above the right of the public to information. If it is necessary in avoiding injury or loss of life, the station should consider delaying its airing.

Sec. 2. The coverage of crime and crisis situations shall not provide vital information, or offer comfort or support to the perpetrator. Due to the danger posed to human life in such situations, it shall be assumed that the perpetrator has access to the broadcast of the station.

Sec. 3. While the incident is going on, the station shall desist from showing or reporting the strategies, plans, and tactics employed by the authorities to resolve the situation—including the positioning of forces, deployment of machine and equipment, or any other information that might jeopardize their operations or put lives in danger.

Sec. 5. Anchors, reporters, or other station personnel shall not act as negotiators or interfere in any way in negotiations conducted by the authorities. If asked to assist in the negotiations, they shall first notify station management and carefully weigh how their participation will affect their journalistic balance before getting involved.

Sec. 7. The legal injunction to preserve evidence in a crime scene should always be kept in mind. When the incident is resolved, the coverage crew shall follow the lead of the authorities in the preservation of evidence, taking care not to move, alter, or destroy anything that might be used as evidence.

Sec. 8. The station should always be aware of the following provision in their legislative franchise: “The President of the Philippines, in times of rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order may temporarily take over and operate the stations of the grantee, temporarily suspend the operation of any station in the interest of public safety, security, and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any department of the government upon due compensation to the grantee for the use of the said stations during the period when they shall be so operated.”

Sec. 9. When interviewing family members and relatives, friends, or associates of the perpetrator, care shall be taken to avoid provoking the perpetrator, interfering with the negotiations, or hindering the peaceful resolution of the situation.

Sec. 10. The tone and demeanor of the coverage should not aggravate the situation. Anchors and reporters must always keep in mind that lives are in danger and could be placed at greater risk by the way they report.

Sec. 11. A coverage should avoid inflicting undue shock or [and] pain to families and loved ones of victims of crimes, crisis situations, or of disasters, accidents, and other tragedies. (S)

Sec. 12. Unless there is justification for doing so, the identity of victims of crimes or crisis situations in progress or the names of fatalities shall not be announced until

their next of kin have been notified, the situation resolved or their names have been released by the authorities. (S)

Sec. 13. Images that are gruesome, revolting, shocking, obscene, scandalous, or extremely disturbing or offensive, shall not be shown or described in graphic detail. When such images suddenly occur during a coverage, the station shall cut them off the air.

Sec. 14. Persons who are taken into custody by authorities as victims or for allegedly committing private crimes (such as indecency or lasciviousness), shall not be identified, directly or indirectly — unless a formal complaint has already been filed against them. They shall not be subjected to undue shame and humiliation, such as showing them in indecent or vulgar acts and poses. (S)

Article 7. INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

Sec.1. The right to privacy of individuals shall be respected. Intrusion into purely private or personal matters which have no bearing on the public interest is prohibited. (G)

Sec.2. Persons affected by tragedy or grief shall be treated with sensitivity, respect and discretion; they should be allowed to suffer their grief in private. (S)

Sec.3. News coverage must not violate nor interfere with an individual’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. (S)

Sec.4. Care and sound discretion should be exercised in disclosing the identities of persons, by face or by name, so as not to harm their or their families’ reputation and safety. Proper labeling of a person as a “suspect,” “alleged perpetrator,” “accused,” or “convict(ed),” is required. (S)

Sec.5. The broadcast of material showing arrested or detained persons being physically assaulted or verbally abused in a manner that demeans or humiliates them is prohibited. (S)

Sec. 6. No broadcast personnel involved in the coverage of arrested or detained persons shall encourage or exhort the commission of violence against the arrested person or detainee. (S)

Article 10. CALLS OR MESSAGES

Sec..4 Letters, phone calls, e-mails, text messages and the like from unidentified sources or from sources who refuse to be identified shall not be aired. Materials from letters, phone calls, e-mails, text messages and the like when aired must be in accordance withthe provisions of this Code and shall be the responsibility of the station. (S)

Article 20. CULTURE AND TRADITION

Sec.5. Broadcasters must acquaint themselves with the culture, mores, traditions, needs and other characteristics of the locality and its people to best serve the community. (A)

Article 21. RESPECT FOR LAW AND ORDER

Sec. 1. Broadcast facilities shall not be used or allowed to be used for advocating the overthrow of government by force or violence.(G)

Sec. 2. The broadcast of materials which tend to incite treason, rebellion, sedition or create civil disorder or disturbance is prohibited. (G)

Article 24. CRIME AND VIOLENCE

Sec.1. Crime and violence and other acts of wrong-doing or injustice shall not be presented as good or attractive or beyond retribution, correction or reform. (G)

Sec.3. Violence shall not be encouraged and horror shall be minimized. Morbid and gory details are prohibited.(G)

Sec.5. Details of a crime or the re-enactment of a crime shall not be presented in such a way that will teach or encourage the audience how to commit it. (G)

Article 27. ON-AIR LANGUAGE

Sec. 2. Language tending to incite violence, sedition or rebellion is prohibited. (G)

Article 29. QUALIFICATION OF ON-AIR/PROGRAM PERSONS

Sec. 1. Persons who are allowed to handle programs shall have adequate knowledge and competence for the job to insure the integrity and credibility of the broadcast media. (S)

Sec. 2. Program persons shall adhere to the basic principles and ethical standards of journalism, including those provided in this Code. (S)

PART II IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS

Article 1. Complaints of violations of this Code shall be handled by the KBP Standards Authority which shall hear and rule on such complaints in accordance with duly established rules of procedure.

It’s all there, what research and evaluation studies of broadcast media, the more discerning members of the public, and even the President talk about when they say the press has gone rogue. Furthermore, the press retaliates at persons who are providing them truthful feedback. If it comes from the President, they challenge him alleging he’s going politics on them, that he has plans to gag them, that his ultimate motive is martial law, the elimination of the right to free speech, and once that’s done, he’d let in gold bar-birthing citizens from Titan to rule. Dear broadcast media, it’s not personalities who are out to get you. It’s the quality standards of your own profession and industry.

A reckoning

Zero-based budgeting is a management practice that was introduced and popularized by Peter Pyhrr in the 1970s.

Most budgeting processes – especially in large firms – are based on questions of whether a particular department or function will get more or less money than they did the previous year.

Managers will use last year as a baseline and argue for where they think they should get more, or haggle with their boss and the finance department if they’re told they’ll get less.

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) asks everyone to start afresh each budget period, and so managers must build up all of their costs for the next period and submit that as their budget. It can help finance teams and the managers they work with take a fresh and comprehensive look at how funds are used and reallocate resources to the most profitable activities.

Indeed, US presidential hopeful and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina suggests the US administration adopt ZBB .

Myth #2: ZBB budget cycles are excruciatingly long

The truth: ZBB is fundamentally designed to force managers to think hard about how to fund every function or every program within his or her control, and then document, analyze, and prioritize which ones will get funding and which ones will not.

So ZBB should take significantly longer than the traditional approach. But not according to CEB data: the average traditional budget cycle time is 69 working days, and ZBB is just marginally longer at 74 working days.

Myth #3: ZBB is a budgeting approach

The truth: ZBB is a more of a mindset than a process. Companies that are best at managing ZBB set a strong tone from the top that this is a shift in strategy versus an introduction of a new process. A zero-based mentality must permeate the day-to-day conversations that finance teams have with business partners, and that business partners have amongst themselves.

3 Myths of Zero-Based Budgeting, Gartner Inc.

Congress may have unwittingly introduced ZBB in government budgeting, starting with the CHR, ERC, and NCIP, with PHP1,000 each. This is consistent with the past administration’s financial reform of performance-based incentives among goverment employees: poor or no performance, no incentive. It’s just fair. Plus, ZBB does away with politically-motivated “priority lists”.

With CHR, one can see that, in going over it’s functions, it’s work on the following, for example, has not translated into significant change:

  1. Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities;
  2. Establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights;
  3. Recommend to Congress effective measures to promote human rights and to provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families.

The state of jails all over the country will break anyone’s heart. They are no place for humans. What has CHR been doing to facilitate change in this? We don’t see any third party reports.

National broadcast media have been indiscriminately showing to the public, practically anyone with a TV and internet connection, video recordings of CCTVs to bone up their news about who they report as crimimals. This is illegal, the very basis of anti-CCTV arguments because it intrudes on the right to privacy and protection from judgment without proper and fair trial. What is even more disturbing is how were they given access to the recordings, and why did owners of the CCTV system in the Metro think they’re doing the public a good turn by giving access to citizens’ data to third parties? But, above all, despite these disturbing practices there has been no word, admonition to the media companies, from CHR.

And, instead of joining members of Congress in hurling accusations left and right which they have no intention of following up in court, inadvertently revealing that the accusations are only meant to rile up public sentiments, the public has not heard news about CHR recommending, in a non-combative stance, effective policy measures to promote human rights in the country as a result of research it regularly undertakes.

I’ve read CHR reports for Philippines, publicly available on the UN site, and most in them are motherhood statements that are too-associated with campaigns pushed by personalities. came by it’s 2016 report in which there’s this statement

The government generally respected the privacy of its citizens, although leaders of communist and leftist organizations and rural-based NGOs alleged routine surveillance and harassment.

My god. We’re not a communist country so of course groups that are a threat to a republic will be routinely surveilled. What does CHR want? For this nation to give up a hard-earned republic? CHR people need to remember that for every right acted on, a corresponding right is withheld. By protecting the right of communist groups to take to the streets, you deprive the right of democracy-loving citizens of security. Where does CHR stand, with the voice of communism or of democracy? In any case, I was looking for a human rights-based analysis in the reports. Let’s take the right to basic education. The quality standards of this right include, quality, access, and availability.  How is the quality of teaching, learning materials, school infrastructures, and the like? To what extent are school-aged children have access to schools? To what extent are schools available to school-aged children? To what extent is DepEd allocating resources to uphold these standards?

As to IEC on human rights, they don’t show up unless invited (meaning,     expenses are paid for by the inviting party). This says so much about who their clientele are. What about the masses, the poor communities whose rights have long been overlooked and/or stepped upon? There have been no initiatives from CHR, for example, of launching a caravan of human rights educators and counselors traveling the entire year to every nook and corner unreached by electricity, television, radio, or telephone. If this will take them to rebel or guerilla lairs, well and good because these communities need to have a good shakeup around human rights issues. Christian missionaries, private citizens, were brave enough to take the road less travelled in order to educate communities not even government has reached. This should inspire CHR- to make it their mission to educate each and every Filipino on their human rights. But, none.

Same with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). In 2005, ADB released it’s Sector Assistance Program Evaluation of ADB Assistance to Philippines Power Sector report from which the following risk assessment is lifted:

Fast forward to 12 years, now, the state of power facilities and supply lag behind ASEAN member-countries. The sector remain controlled by just a few the reason they are incentivized to dictate the price. And what has ERC done about this?

Lastly, what is this PHP1Billion budget the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) wants from taxpayers? The Philippines is probably among the countries populated with multiple ethnic minorities. Cordillerans probably have a better deal, with each ethnic group having it’s own territorial land where they basically could practice their own unique culture and governance practices. Still fundamental issues common to IPs remain: titling, poverty, recognition of their language, beliefs, and practices, ownership to indigenous inventions eg. farming technology, seeds propagation, medicines, art, music, lierature. Of the latter, NCIP could have assisted the IP communities set up a kind of community savings from royalties received from use of patented inventions. But, none. Little is known about the IPs in this country and they remain misunderstood and hidden. If not for a private individual who popularized “carrot man” many Filipinos would’ve remained ignorant of the “normal” features of “carrot people”.

So, yes, PHP1,000…until these agencies come up with the one critical thing they will do this year and show results for. 

A problem of community

People are noticing and commenting — from the Public Attorney’s Office in media statements to a broadcast journalist who interviewed me during the wake for Carl Angelo Arnaiz in Filipino: “Have you noticed that both Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz’s mothers were OFWs (overseas Filipino workers)? Maybe we shouldn’t have mothers leaving to work overseas?”

The next day at the university, a dean at UP discussed the same issue with me, but expanded her concerns to include some of our students with serious mental health issues and she observed in all the cases she mentioned that the mothers were working overseas.

When mothers leave by Michael L. Tan, Philippine Inquirer

Indeed, the problem is not the mothers (or, women) leaving for work abroad, because with the masses the choice is often the devil or the deep blue sea ie. get a job that will at least provide basic needs for the family and where else is that but abroad, or stay and live without dignity like a sewer rat consequentially setting in motion a slow onset trauma among family members, but rather it is the lack of decent work right here, in the town or municipality and city the mothers or any jobseeker for that matter reside in, not 2,000 miles away, in the “big city” ie. Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao.

Today, the big news on TV is New Zealand opening it’s doors to 5,000 foreign workers, and to show how bright the beckoning light is from the land of Lord of the Rings, it was reported that a driver there stands to receive PHP150,000 monthly and an opportunity to bring in the family after a year. That figure here is in the range offered to senior executives, if not the head of office. This inequality begs the question, why couldn’t employers here pay the same fair price for the same skilled service rendered? Must Filipinos, women or men, mothers or fathers, leave their families years on end just so to receive what they deserve as workers? And we complain about human rights violations!

In Baguio City, a highly-urbanized city, classified ads are the most depressing section to look at. Week after week, for years, jobseekers who are mostly graduates of the several recognized universities here, will go nowhere with their future with “online English tutors”, “call center agents”, “frontdesk clerks”, “sales clerk”, “domestic helpers for Hongkong and Taiwan”, and the like. If it’s like this here, what about the provincial towns? Eh, putang ina talaga. 

It is worse for men especially the unskilled, skilled but with no or limited demand for it, or those wanting to get a new skill. There’s TESDA, but if they’re from the masses, even the agency’s “minimal fee” is beyond their reach. So, in comes the women. With the women, they can fall back on DH or domestic helper that, abroad, more or less, rakes in PHP30,000 monthly. Compare that to at most PHP5,000 here (for same job, same skills set). Saan ka pa? But with the jobless men, thank you traditional views about gender, there’s no such thing as a male DH. Would guys go into it though?

In biology, there’s a topic on symbiotic relationships, one of which, commensalism, comes near to defining the relationship between the jobless frustrated male at home and the financially fulfilled focused female abroad. Commensalism is a type of relationship in which one benefits and the other is neither benefited or harmed. In other words, wala lang. The male who’s left at home is, obviously, the one benefitting. You’d think because he is, he’d happily take on the role of mother to the children. But the arc of the female OFW story doesn’t end happily ever after, for many. Men who are left behind, in the long term, oftentimes, become neglectful of their households including the children. Apparently, they’re taking a longer time coming to terms with their new role in the family.

It takes a village to raise a child.  Spouses left behind by their partners who need to work abroad are in need of their communities’ support. But, what is community to today’s Filipinos? The answer is easy. The image that we are seeing now in government, national and local, reflects our new community: lying, cheating, power play, betrayal, looking the other way, one-uppance, laziness, planning for the next bright move, always looking out for mine, mine, and mine. Gone, particularly in urban communities, is the mindset of looking out for each other. No wonder the children are growing up on their own.

Bayanihan as the term suggests is about building community. The behavior shouldn’t be manifested only during disasters. It should be an intuitive act- for instance, a women’s or mothers group may want to go cook a whole day’s set of meals, say, on father’s or mother’s day, for that household whose mother/wife is abroad working. Or, the therapist in the neighborhood to volunteer some time to go visit households that have one spouse abroad in order to listen. Most of the time, people just need someone to listen, without judgment, to their inner selves, and after that, we’re OK and ready to face the world. This reminds me- once, I hugged my oh-so-tall son on the street, before sending him back (as he isn’t living with me). I haven’t seen him for the longest time and I missed him. I heard from a passer-by, surprisingly, a child, commenting that it’s very, very bad to have a relationship with a much younger guy di ba mommy? To which the mommy said, yes indeed it’s evil blah blah blah. Bayanihan can also be about not going into wholesale judgment about a person until you know all the facts.

Community is not built arguing about it in courtrooms or lecturing about it in the classrooms. We know most everything about it anyway. We just have to do. The Catholic Church (instead of joining in the rah-rah-rah which mostly rings hollow anyway) has a key role in inculcating this in Catholics through it’s Basic Ecclesial Communities. In the barangays, there’s the day care for young children, which, by the way, needs major upgrade in infrastructure and service. There’s also the barangay health center for psychosocial needs of families, which is also in need of overhaul. These, and several more, are facilities being paid for by taxpayers and to be taken advantage of therefore.