Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NUJP seeks better working conditions for journalists

 MALOLOS CITY—The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urged for better working conditions of journalists and media workers in the country.

This came as Rowena Paraan, presented a paper entitled “In defense of journalism and media workers’ rights” at the recently concluded Philippine Press Institute National Press Forum (PPI-NPF) held at the New World Hotel in Makati City.

The said paper is directed not only to journalists, but to publishers and editors.

According to Paraan, journalists and media workers especially those in the provinces are underpaid and overworked.

“Many of those working in community media – both in newspapers and radio stations – have no idea that there is such a thing called minimum wage, or that the minimum wage law is supposed to apply to them as well, not just to the factory and office workers that are subjects of their news reports,” she said.

The same journalists have also the “willingness to multi-task,” which is also shared by reporters based in Metro Manila.

Paraan said, “in Manila, many reporters not only have to write the news – real time, mind you, for the online version and a longer piece for the primetime broadcast or tomorrow’s print version.

They also have to take photos and videos, and, yes, tweet. The latter is ‘encouraged’, meaning it is not required but if you fail to do it, it shows up in your evaluation form. “

Going to the provinces, Paraan vividly described the life of a journalist.

She said, “in the provinces, the reporter is not just a reporter. He is also a marketing person, sometimes, even the circulation staff. Sa praktika, anong itsura nito? Pagkatapos mag-interview ng reporter tungkol sa kung anong palagay ni mayor o ni negosyante tungkol sa anumang bagay para sa isusulat na balita, magtatanong naman siya kung pwede maglagay si mayor o si negosyante ng ad sa kanyang dyaryo o radyo.

Even a freshman journalism student would know what is wrong with this picture (I hope). Paano ka ngayon magsusulat o gagawa ng kritikal na balita o komentaryo kung ang ipapakain mo sa anak mo ay nakasalalay sa mismong tao na minsan (o madalas) ay kailangan mong batikusin?”

“And how many journalists in the provinces are paid by community publications,” Paraan asked.

“Sa maraming sitwasyon, ang tanging kita ng reporter ay 10 hanggang 20 porsyentong komisyon mula sa mga ads na nakukuha niya. In fact, I have heard several times that it is convenient to have the reporters – or those whose bylines are prominently displayed –  to secure advertising contracts.”

She said that not too many journalists complain of the said condition, and stressed that it leads to conflict of interest.

Then, there are also those that work as correspondents and stringers for national and international news organizations who usually earn more when disasters strike, when fighting between rebels and government troops erupt and when crimes occur.

However, Paraan said, “Oh wait. Not just any crime. There has to be five or 10 victims, and the more gruesome the crime, the greater the chance of being published. Because they are paid by the number and length of articles published, tragedies are welcome in the sense that they are an opportunity to earn a few bucks.”

Paraan said that there is nothing wrong with stringing for international organizations like the Cable News Network (CNN), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Al Jazeera, Financial Times, New York Times and other major networks.

But in the Philippines, the practice is different.

She said, “dito sa Pilipinas, tingnan natin paano ang karaniwang kalakaran. Karaniwang sakop ng isang correspondent ang kanyang probinsya at mga katabing probinsya. Kapag may nangyari, pinupuntahan niya agad, ginagawan ng istorya at ipinapadala sa editor.

Gumagastos sa pamasahe, cellphone load, pagkain at internet. Kung minsan ginagamit ng kanyang dyaryo ang kanyang istorya, kung minsan hindi.

Kahit pa ginastusan niya ito, walang kasigurahan na mailalabas o maibabalik sa kanya ang ginastos. At kung lumabas man at mabayaran siya, ang kita madalas ay kulang pa para mabawi ang lahat ng nagastos.”

She noted, “Yes, correspondents are at the mercy of editors. Take note that there is usually no contract between the correspondent and news organization. If there is one, it often explicitly denies an employer-employee relationship. Because having one means being entitled to all the benefits that a regular worker should have.”

Paraan said the sorry state of provincial news correspondents in the country lies in the fact that except for “one newspaper whose correspondents are mostly regulars, and one that has four or five, the rest have no correspondents with regular employment status.”

Worst, said correspondents even bring pasalubong to their editors when they come to Manila.

She also hit news organization’s demand for exclusivity of news from their correspondents as unfair when there is no certainty that it will be published.

“It is true not all stories can be accommodated due to space or airtime limitations or the type of news may not be what the news organization needs. But at the very least, he should be able to offer the unused or rejected stories to other media houses. The demand to report exclusively for a news outlet precludes this option,” she said.

According to Paraan, newsroom policies “actually prime journalists to commit ethical breaches.” Dino Balabo

Sunday, June 16, 2013

30 houses damaged in Marilao factory blast

MALOLOS CITY—At least 30 houses were damaged in an explosion at a factory in Marilao town early Wednesday morning.

No one was reported injured but residents reported trauma suffered by children, most are still have to see a doctor.

The Provincial Fire Marshall of Bulacan started yesterday morning a thorough investigation following statements from the Marilao Fire station that there is no need for an investigation claiming the explosion was caused by lightning.

Other issues that still to be resolved by investigators is to determine what kind of chemical contained in the tank that exploded inside the compound of the WT Treat Chemical Corporation located at Barangay Loma De Gato in Marilao town.

BFP records showed that the tank contained hydrogen peroxide, but journalists who saw to tank said it was marked “sulfuric acid” which some residents also claimed.

Rufino Concepcion, a village councilman said no less than 30 houses were damaged in the blast.

In a telephone interview, Concepcion said he was asleep when the explosion occurred.

He said it was so loud that it woke him and his wife, while it opened their steel window.

Concepcion’s house did not suffer damages, but others suffered especially the one owned by Julia Abiertas, a 75-year old widow.

Located less than 100 meters from ground zero, Abiertas’ house suffered the most damage.

Not only that, her three grandchildren living with her suffered trauma, not to mention that Abiertas herself said in a telephone interview that she is suffering from dizziness  since the explosion.

Like Concepcion, Abiertas was also sleep when the explosion occurred, but her grandchildren, especially youngest one was still awake.

She said that her five year grandchild was eating when the explosion rocked their house.

“He thought we were bombed that why until now he keeps yelling “help,” said Abiertas in vernacular.

As this developed, Fire Superintendent Romeo Rillo, the fire marshal of Bulacan went to the blast site yesterday morning following statement of local fire department that they will no longer investigate.

This made Rillo furious noting at least 30 houses were damaged.

He also vowed to discipline the firemen who made the statement.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ochoa to lead Barasoain freedom rites

MALOLOS CITY—Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., is set to lead the 115th Independence Day celebrations at the historic Barasoain Church here on Wednesday.

This came as Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario declined the invitation of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

The theme for this year’s Independence Day celebration will focus on “Ambagan Tungo sa Malawakang Kaunlaran.”

Neth Jimenez, curator of the Barasoain Museum here, said that everything is ready for Wednesday’s celebrations.

He said that hundreds of Bulakenyos led by local elected officials along with teachers from different schools are expected to participate in the annual celebrations.

Last year, President Benigno Aquino III led the 114th Independence Day celebration here. He will lead the same at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila on Wednesday.

Jimenez said that as guest speaker Ochoa is expected to highlight the importance of the One Bulacan Program Rapid Industrialization and Development (PRIDE) which he help engineered.

One Bulacan PRIDE is a mechanism that will push development projects in the province.

In includes seven strategies namely: construction of facilities for education and technology, establishment of showroom for jewelry industry in the province, construction of a food terminal, construction of mineral processing zone, conversion of the towns of Plaridel,Pulilan, and Baliwag into highly urbanized district, establishment of tourism economic zones, and satellite government center in the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad in eastern Bulacan.

Earlier, Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado said that plans for One Bulacan PRIDE will replicate the industrialization program implemented in Shenzhen in Southern China.

Shenzhen is one of the most successful economic zones in the world that developed at an unprecedented rate.

Alvarado said that Shenzhen is a small fishing village in 1983, but today it is a sprawling and high technology manufacturing service city.

Its population grew from 351,000 in 1982 to 14,500,000 in 2012.

Alvarado added that as special economic zone established in 1979, Shenzhen is a brain child of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

It is now home to more than 6,000 design companies with over 60,000 employees.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado issued over the weekend marching orders to the Bulacan police to stop the spate of killings in the province. 
The killings which started before the May 13 polls left at least six persons including two village chairmen, a businessman and his wife.

“We cannot allow the killings to go unpunished,” Alvarado said in an interview, adding that he orders to Senior Supt. Joel Orduna, acting provincial police director, to undertake “immediate and definitive action.”

The governor said that the killings appeared to have a pattern. The village chair from San Miguel town was killed days before the elections, while in Balagtas town, Ernesto Ventura, the village chief of Barangay Santol, was shot to death earlier this week.Both cases involved assailants on board motorcycles.

“The pattern is clear, the suspects are riding in tandem,” he said.

Similar pattern is reported in the killing of a businessman and his wife in Malolos City on Monday afternoon.

Based on reports, the victims had just withdrawn more than a million pesos from a bank when they were ambushed at the Blas Ople Road here on their way home to Hagonoy town.

According to Alvarado, the police are looking at the “possible connection” in the cases.

He said that the suspects in an earlier killing in Meycauayan City were nabbed in the province of Laguna.

“The Bulacan Provincial Police Office are also looking at the modus operandi including the robberyand murder case in Calumpit,” Alvarado said.

When asked if he is planning to relieve local police officers for negligence of duty, the governor said that the election ban prohibition is still active.

“Even if we wanted to relieve some officers, there is still the election ban,” he said, but stressed that “criminals cannot be bolder than our law enforcers.”

Earlier this week, a teenager from Baliwag town was beaten up by suspected drug addicts in Plaridel town.

The boy died four days later from severe head injuries.