Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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CCPC drafts media safety manual

March 31st, 2009 · No Comments

CCPC drafting manual to promote media safety
Council also resists bills seeking to legislate right of reply

TO HELP promote awareness of safety among practicing journalists, the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) has started collating standards and guidelines which will be the core of a handbook.

It will differ from other handbooks already available because it will stress on areas of concern about news safety in the Cebu environment.

CCPC held its first quarterly meeting this year at the MBF Cebu Press Center (its 14th en banc membership gathering since CCPC’s revival in 2005).

Members and guests who are experts in their fields went over situations arising from coverage of (1) landslides, typhoons, and disasters; (2) strikes, protests, demonstrations, riots, and other civil disturbances; and (3) police raids, military coups, and other operations involving armed conflict.

They also discussed problems of (4) coping with physical injuries or deaths and the emotional stress arising from said coverages, as well as (5) dealing with death threats and other threats of physical harm made on journalists.

Guests

Among the guests who shared their views were Regional Disaster Coordinating Council 7 operations officer Neil Sanchez, Commission on Human Rights 7 director Alejandro Alonso, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation head Herminio Cortes, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 police community relations officer PSupt. Noel Gillamac and PRO 7 Regional Operations and Plans Division chief Police Senior Supt. Louie Oppus.

Also giving their inputs were National Bureau of Investigation 7 director Medardo de Lemos, University of San Carlos psychology professor Dr. Fredrick Boholst, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command public information officer Maj. Christopher Tampus.

Trainor

Karlon Rama, a director of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network International and a news safety trainor, led the discussion with Ruphil Bańoc of the Cebu Media Legal Aid (Cemla) as moderator.

Cherry Ann Lim, assistant to CCPC executive director Pachico Seares, said inputs from the discussion as well as separate materials from other sources, will be included in the handbook.

Aside from the hard copy that will be produced, the handbook will be posted at the CCPC website at www.cebucitizenspresscouncil.org, Lim said.

Right to reply

During the meeting, Lim also updated the members on the council’s efforts to resist attempts by legislators to pass House Bill 3306.

The bill would force media outlets to grant the right of reply to people aggrieved by stories written or aired about them, under pain of fine or imprisonment.

As early as December 2007, the CCPC, along with Cemla, had already drafted arguments and a resolution against the proposed measure, which it sent to the members of both Houses of Congress.

Despite its efforts, the Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 2150, was passed in June 2008.

Earlier this year, with more media groups voicing their opposition to the measure, the CCPC again sent both its arguments against the bill and its resolution to legislators last Feb. 26.

Access Denied

On the matter of the difficulty of journalists in getting information from news sources, which was the subject of the CCPC-produced documentary “Access Denied: Journalists’ Lament, News Sources’ Plea,” Lim said discussions on the issue have gone beyond the CCPC meetings and been brought to the academe.

Copies of the film were distributed to schools in Cebu and Manila, and students have weighed in on the issues raised in the film.  Their comments will form part of the database for researches on this subject.

Among their comments were the following:

•    The Tańada-sponsored House bill on the right to information was passed on third reading in May 2008. It is public- and journalist-friendly.  It is the Senate version of the bill that has not made much progress. But the committee on mass media and public information is now chaired by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who reportedly wants to champion the bill.

•    If journalists are accused of not getting the facts right, then it is because they do not have the kind of access to information that the Constitution guarantees.

•    But the media and the public should also respect the restrictions on getting data (if reasonable) and follow the proper procedures in gathering these data.

•    Whether there are hindrances or not, it’s the journalists’ choice to strive to get the information or not.

•    We also feel for the news sources, who have been bombarded by media practitioners’ “scheming tactics” of getting the news.

•    The public should be given the right to information because the media might be subjective.

•    The right to information helps instill integrity in public servants.

The CCPC is now working to distribute two other documentaries, “Covering Priests: Clearing the Air, Bridging the Gap” and “Killing Journalists: The Cebu Experience.”


Members present at the CCPC’s 14th quarterly meeting
on March 26, 2009:

Sabino Dapat
Jonathan Capanas
Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas
Mario King
Jose Rafael Ferreros
Mayette Tabada
Mia Embalzado
Carlo Dugaduga
Leo Lastimosa
John Rey Saavedra
Eileen Mangubat
Divine Ngujo
Pachico Seares
Roger Vallena

Tags: Articles and Papers on Media Issues