PPI facilitates LGBTQ Congress in Bicol

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In an unprecedented effort, and for the first time in its long history of conceptualizing and conducting training programs for its members and the media in general, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), also known as the national association of newspapers since 1964, will help facilitate the first congress of the LGBTQ community on December 1 in Legazpi City.

The PPI has been tapped by local organizer Kusog Bikolandia to help facilitate its landmark event that will cater to and be attended by members of the LGBT sector. Titled "“Engaging LGBTQ for Community-Building and in Nation-Building Through Narratives” will put to the fore the challenges and interests of the vulnerable community in terms of knowing their legal rights, access to health services, and portrayal in media.

Around 300 participants from the LGBT community all over Bicol Region invited by Kusog Bikolandia, are expected to attend the first congress to address various issues surrounding LGBT. "It's high time we convene them and give them a venue to raise their concerns that our leaders should take cognizance of," said Noel De Luna, founder and chairman of Kusog Bikolandia.

Kusog Bikolandia is a new breed of regional political party formed in Bicol by businessmen and former government officials as an alternative political party that seeks new and young leaders in the region. "In this congress of the so-called marginalized and highly vulnerable sector and community, various issues and challenges confronting them will be put to the fore, whereby giving them a platform to express their sentiments and aspirations for themselves and the country," De Luna said.

KB also aims to champion genuine social equality, where every Bicolano shall be given access to the same basic needs: quality health services, education, livelihood, emergency assistance, pension and shelter (HELPS).

The PPI believes that being tapped to help conduct this initiative is well withing its mandate and flagship of "building better communities". "I see this as a stepping stone to coming up with guidelines on reporting on the LGBT which we actually don't have yet. We need to be inclusive. To write about them is even necessary to erase age-old problems of discrimination and perceived bad portrayal," said Ariel Sebellino, PPI executive director.

He further added that there was a discussion years ago about coming up with a training program for this kind of reporting. "Hopefully the local organizers will find it necessary to partner with the PPI for a media training to be able to craft the guidelines, adding to what we already have on children and women."

Culminating the one-day congress is a workshop that will require the participants to write and present recommendations and programs that will benefit them. Resource persons will be from the Department of Health, Department of Justice, LGU, and media. ###

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Visayas media on federalism: there must be strong public awareness

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Journalists from the Visayas recognized the challenges they face when it comes to informing the public about the proposed federalism by President Rodrigo Duterte because of the insufficient information they are getting from the government on it.

In a seminar-workshop in Cebu City, the participants from various regions in the Visayas called on the government to have a strong public engagement and information campaign if it seriously wants federalism in public consciousness.
The journalists who attended the last leg of the seminar-workshop on Understanding Federalism in the Philippine Context  conducted by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) with support from Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) and in partnership with the Pimentel Institute of Local Governance (PILG) last November 12-13, admitted that they have limited information about federalism.

Wala akong masyadong maisulat about federalism. Uninformed media is an uninformed public. Kaya kung wala kaming nalalaman paano kaya ang publiko?” said Rachel Arnaiz, a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Northern Samar.

While it is the role of the journalists to make any topic such as federalism interesting for the readers, it is imperative for the  government, especially the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to strengthen its efforts for massive information dissemination up to the grassroots.

They challenged President Duterte to take a definitive stand and endorse a draft on federalism which he thinks will be good  for the country.  "Every provision in the draft charter that he is supposed to endorse matters a lot to every citizen in this country," said Jon Amio from Iloilo-based Panay News.
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The participants proposed that every barangay must conduct a forum on federalism and not sugarcoat the pros and cons of various issues surrounding it in order for the public to have an informed vote during the plebiscite.

They noted that the seminar provided them the basic concepts on federalism that included decentralization of powers, judicial structures, equalization of funds, and taxation, to name a few.

Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process  highlighted the importance of knowledge of the journalists on federalism as are duty-bound to inform the public on national affairs and matters involving governance.

“If you are a real journalist, you go for the truth. If what you are quoting is accurate but your interviewee is not telling the truth, kaya may responsibility din tayo na alamin ang katotohanan,” Dureza said. “You also have to check the other side as much as possible. Yung expertise natin is something we have to work on.” Dureza.

PPI executive director Ariel Sebellino emphasized again that PPI is in no way promoting or campaigning against federalism.  "This is our way of educating our colleagues on the matter.  We find it important to bring this matter to the public since there are already efforts to disseminate information about this," he said.

The PPI, PILG, and HSF will conduct a short version of the program for the academic and communications sectors on December 10 at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in cooperation with the Philippines Communication Society (PCS).

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National effort to address safety of journalists in the Philippines off to good start

From left to right: Ramon Tuazon, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication; Luis Teodoro, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility; Red Batario, Center for Community Journalism and Development; Melinda Quintos De Jesus, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility; Asec. Lila Ramos Shahani, Philippine National Commission for UNESCO; Lars Bestle, International Media Support (IMS); Henriette Borg Reindholdt, IMS; His Excellency Jan Top Christensen, Ambassador of Denmark to the Philippines; Enrico Stampelli, Head of Development Cooperation Section, EU Delegation to the Philippines; Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya, IMS; Helle Wahlberg, IMS; Nonoy Espina National Union of Journalists of the Philippines; Rowena Paraan, ABS-CBN Corporation; Ariel Sebellino, Philippine Press Institute; Usec. Severo Catura, Presidential Human Rights Committee; Usec. Joel Egco, Presidential Task Force on Media Security

The first national multi-stakeholder consultation on the crafting of a Philippine plan of action on journalist safety took place in Manila on 7 November where civil society, government officials, media and academia gathered to improve the safety of journalists in the Philippines.

The meeting saw active participation of more than 80 representatives from 48 civil society, research agencies, media organizations and government institutions, indicating broad support for solving the challenge of safety of journalists.

“This meeting provided us with an opportunity to break down walls between our respective sectors – between civil society organizations, media and government – toward working together on a joint Philippine plan of action on the safety of journalists,” said Ramon Tuazon, president of the Asian Institute of Journalism Communication (AIJC), which organized the meeting with International Media Support (IMS).

The need for a joint national effort is underscored by the Philippines’recent ranking as fifth in the 2018 Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since 1986, 157 work-related journalist deaths have been recorded by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), and there are constant reports of cyber bullying, online hacking, and verbal threats. Moreover, a climate of impunity for crimes against journalists exists despite both government and civil society initiatives to address the situation.

“What makes journalism such a dangerous profession in a country like ours, with our long history of relatively stable--if not always democratic--governance, facing a few comparatively minor attempts at sustained insurrection, is impunity,” said Lila Ramos Shahani, secretary general of the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO in her opening address.

“Our justice system remains perpetually clogged with pending cases. Indeed, impunity arguably remains the greatest challenge in fighting for a free and pluralist media landscape in the Philippines,” Ramos Shahani said.

The meeting was an opportunity to have an overview of the many individual initiatives taking place to address the safety of journalists across the country within areas such as advocacy and policymaking, monitoring and reporting journalist violations, building the safety skills of journalists, and mapping existing research and data on journalist safety in the Philippines.

“It is these single initiatives that now must come together to complement another to form a holistic approach in the shape of a national Philippine action plan. And they should address not only protection, but also prevention and prosecution,” said Lars Bestle, IMS head of department for Asia.

From left to right: Ramon Tuazon, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication; Luis Teodoro, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility; Red Batario, Center for Community Journalism and Development; Melinda Quintos De Jesus, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility; Asec. Lila Ramos Shahani, Philippine National Commission for UNESCO; Lars Bestle, International Media Support (IMS); Henriette Borg Reindholdt, IMS; His Excellency Jan Top Christensen, Ambassador of Denmark to the Philippines; Enrico Stampelli, Head of Development Cooperation Section, EU Delegation to the Philippines; Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya, IMS; Helle Wahlberg, IMS; Nonoy Espina National Union of Journalists of the Philippines; Rowena Paraan, ABS-CBN Corporation; Ariel Sebellino, Philippine Press Institute; Usec. Severo Catura, Presidential Human Rights Committee; Usec. Joel Egco, Presidential Task Force on Media Security

In 2017, IMS released a global study Defending Journalism on best practices of national safety mechanisms in seven countries. Among other issues, the study emphasizes that the real impact of a national safety mechanism relies on the commitment of a broad coalition of media stakeholders from across sectors, from national and international civil society organizations to media and government.

Such commitment was demonstrated at the Philippine plan of action consultation meeting on 7 November, according to several participants who commended the positive attitudes displayed by fellow participants from government, law enforcement and media and press freedom organizations.

“I believe this meeting was important for both the career officers of the law and journalists who attended, as they were exposed to one another in a new and different setting and listened to one another’s perspectives,” said Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of CMFR, also speaking as a representative of the Journalist Safety Advisory Group (JSAG) that advises the national safety plan process.

“On a daily basis, interaction between these two groups is adversarial. This meeting allowed both parties to [show] a positive attitude toward working together to improve the safety of journalists and will thus ease the way of developing partnerships as the process moves forward. Now, however, the most important thing will be to ensure proper follow-up of the consultations by all those involved,” de Jesus said.

Jay C. De Castro, legal consultant of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), was also of the opinion that the meeting had great value in bringing together media stakeholders.

“It was helpful to share information and to receive suggestions on how we can boost our efforts in PTFoMS, for example with a hotline for journalists. This joint process will be an opportunity to strengthen the work already being done by PTFoMS. I hope that we can meet again soon with all stakeholders to thresh out a joint plan of action on the safety of journalists,” he added.

Plans for driving the process forward in developing the envisioned “Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists (PPASJ)” are already in the pipeline. Regional consultations with media stakeholders across the country will take place over the next 12 months in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The aim is for all consultations to feed into a draft plan of action on safety which will be presented at the second national consultation towards the end of 2019 for enrichment and validation.

The Philippine Plan of Action would be the first of its kind in ASEAN.

The multi-stakeholder consultation meeting was organized by AIJC and IMS.

For more information on the Philippine journalist safety action plan consultation process, email safeguardingpressfreedom@gmail.com and visit www.mediasupport.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: screenshot

 

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