Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 UP Gawad Plaridel call for nominations

The U.P. College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) is now accepting
nominations for the annual U.P. GAWAD PLARIDEL which recognizes Filipino media
practitioners who have excelled in any of the media (print, radio, film, television, and
new media) and have performed with the highest level of professional integrity in the
interest of public service.

 For 2014, the tenth U.P. Gawad Plaridel will be given to an outstanding
TRANSMEDIA practitioner (one who excels in at least two (2) media platforms, e.g.,
television & radio, print & online, film & television, etc.).

 The award is named after Marcelo H. del Pilar (nom de plume, Plaridel), the
selfless propagandist whose stewardship of the reformist newspaper La Solidaridad
helped crystallize nationalist sentiments and ignite libertarian ideas in the 1890s. Like
Plaridel, the recipient must believe in the vision of a Philippine society that is egalitarian,
participative and progressive; and in media that are socially responsible, critical and
vigilant, liberative and transformative, and free and independent.

 Eligible for the awards are all living Filipino individuals who have excelled in at
least two (2) media platforms. Aside from their probity and integrity, these media
practitioners must have produced a body of work that is marked by excellence and
social relevance and must have achievements recognized nationally and/or
Individuals and institutions may nominate potential recipients. Institutions
include media corporations, professional media associations, media advocacy groups,
educational institutions, cultural foundations and NGOs. Previous nominees may still be
considered for this year’s award. All current full-time faculty and staff of the UP CMC are
disqualified from the nomination.

 Deadline for nomination is on 31 March 2014. The recipient of the U.P. Gawad
Plaridel will be announced in May.

 The U.P. GAWAD PLARIDEL is given every July in commemoration of del Pilar’s
death anniversary. The awardee will receive the U.P. Gawad Plaridel trophy (designed
by National Artist Napoleon Abueva) and will deliver the Plaridel Lecture addressing
issues relevant to the state and practice of Philippine media. The recipient will have a
place of honor at all ceremonies and functions of the College. The awardee’s
photograph will be hung at the UP Gawad Plaridel Gallery in the College main lobby.

 Nomination forms and award guidelines are available at the U.P. CMC Website
( and at the UP CMC Office of Extension and External
Relations (UP CMC-OEER). Interested parties may call (02) 981-8500 loc. 2668 for details.# 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Media, netizens to mark EDSA with ‘Black Tuesday’ protest

Media groups plan coordinated protests over the Supreme Court’s Cybercrime Act ruling

MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS, netizens, and civil society groups will commemorate the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolt today, February 25, with a coordinated online protest against a recent Supreme Court ruling affirming the constitutionality of online libel.

The “Black Tuesday” protest was agreed on during a roundtable discussion held by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other media and online organizations that had questioned the constitutionality of Republic Act 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The groups say Tuesday’s protest highlights the “regression” of both press freedom and freedom of expression since press freedom was restored after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos on February 25, 1986.

The protest also comes exactly a week after the Supreme Court ruled on R.A. 10175.

The High Court had ruled that the online libel provision in R.A. 10175 is constitutional, over the objections of at least 15 media and civil society groups questioning the law.

While the court recognized online libel, it however said that the crime only covers the original authors or producers of the libelous material, and does not cover those who receive, share, or respond to the material.

In addition, the court also struck down other questionable provisions in the law, such as the “takedown” provision which would have allowed the Justice Department to restrict access to digital materials in question even without a warrant, and the provision that would have allowed law enforcers to collect real-time traffic data.

While the media groups welcomed the removal of these provisions, they said the SC decision effectively expanded the coverage of the crime of libel into the digital domain.

Media organizations and civil society groups have been pushing for the decriminalization of the crime of libel, contained in Section 353 of the Revised Penal Code.

The Cybercrime Act expressly provides that this crime is also covered in the digital domain, and elevated the punishment for online libel by one degree.

The Philippines is one of few countries in the world that still considers libel a crime punishable with imprisonment. In addition, Philippine libel is unique in that an allegedly libelous material is presumed to be tainted with malice unless otherwise proven by the accused.

The groups that attended the roundtable discussion, which include the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the NUJP, and several bloggers and online organizations, decided to draft a pooled editorial for publication or broadcast both online and offline on Tuesday.

The editorial would express dismay over the decision of the Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of online libel, and push for the decriminalization of libel itself as defined by the Revised Penal Code.

As well, the groups are asking the Supreme Court to release the full text of Tuesday’s decision on R.A. 10175, as many points of the decision remain vague or unclear. The full decision is also needed for the groups to decide on how to appeal the Supreme Court ruling.

The groups also agreed to a coordinated campaign against the ruling on online libel on BlackTuesday. Details of the campaign are still being hammered out.

The groups also noted how Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling appeared to backtrack on earlier pronouncements by the Tribunal on libel.

In 2008, then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Puno issued a circular to all trial judges urging them to impose fines rather than prison sentences on those found guilty of libel.

While the circular does not carry the weight of an en banc decision, the issuance had a noticeable effect on many courts that year, said NUJP Chair Rowena Paraan.

Paraan said that as a result of the circular, no journalist was sent to jail for libel on that year.

“The ruling (last Tuesday) was a step back. It was already very libertarian,” Paraan said.

Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, said it is wrong for officials to justify the new restrictions by saying that citizens who do not commit crimes have nothing to fear.

Earlier, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the court ruling was not a curtailment of freedom of the press.

“If you know you speak the truth, why be worried about libel,” the President was quoted in media reports as saying.

“This should not be about a theorem of fear, but a theorem of rights,” Mangahas said.

“May sense sila na if you pass restrictive laws, then everybody will behave.”
Juned Sonido, a local blogger, said the online libel provisions will only drive expression “underground.” Sonido said this is unfortunate especially now that citizens are learning to express and engage with government, both online and offline.

“This sets back freedom of expression by 20 years,” Sonido said. “It sets the discussions that are online back, at a time when citizens are already going online to engage the government.”

Sonido pointed out that this would even make it more problematic for the government, as knowledgeable netizens know how to hide their identities when they post online. “So who would they sue then? This sets back freedom of expression by 20 years.”

The groups also agreed to harness the growing opposition to the online provision of the Cybercrime Act in order to redefine and decriminalize libel itself. For this, the media groups warned netizens of the “false dichotomy” that libel only applies to journalists.

The groups asked netizens to help in the campaign to make the public understand the full impact of the Cybercrime law, not just on journalists, but on ordinary users of the internet.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ka Blas:The barefoot boy from Hagonoy

A special non-working holiday is declared for the province of Bulacan on Monday, February 3, 2014 as the province mark the 87th birthday of the late statesman Blas F.Ople.

A former senator of the republic, Ka Blas as he is reverently called died on December 14, 2003 while his way to Bahrain for a diplomatic mission as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Much has been written about Ka Blas, but younger people today do not know much about him.

Below is a brief biography of Ka Blas posted on the Blas F.Ople Policy Center website. Please read.

Blas Fajardo Ople graduated valedictorian from elementary school. He was so poor that he had to deliver his first public speech as valedictorian wearing leather shoes borrowed from a rich uncle. The shoes were too small for his feet and these hurt. This and other incidents involving this precocious child of humble beginnings shaped his character.

During the War, he was a first lieutenant at sixteen years old, assigned to the Del Pillar Regiment, Bulacan Military Area. He fought in Northern Luzon and participated in the August 1945 Battle of langan which resulted in the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army on Luzon Island.

Looking back, the Filipino statesman described the war as a defining moment in his life. “The war tested my character, and I was happy this happened. It would color my views of public service for the rest of my life.”

Unable to finish his four-year college course due to the demands of a growing family, the man known as Ka Blas worked as a deskman and columnist of Daily Mirror until he was recruited by Ramon Magsaysay to join the Magsaysay-for-President Movement. He served as technical assistant on labor and agrarian affairs.

At 40, he was labor secretary of President Ferdinand Marcos, a post he held for seventeen years – in 1967 to 1971, and in 1972 to early 1986. In 1975, he became the first Filipino president of the International Labor Organization. He delivered his acceptance speech in the Filipino language.

Ople was tapped by President Corazon C. Aquino to help frame the 1987 Constitution. He was elected senator for the first time in 1992 and reelected for a second term in 1998. He was Senate President from June 29, 1999 to April 12, 2000. He was DFA Secretary from July 2002 to December 14, 2003.

In an interview with Philippine Graphic on February 18, 2022, Ople, who was still a senator, was asked to describe his biggest achievements. He replied: “I am the author of the Labor Code of the Philippines which up to this time protects the rights of workers. I also launched the overseas employment program, which created jobs for seven million Filipinos and transformed the lives of millions of families in the Philippines by giving them disposable income over and above subsistence. And of course, in the Senate, I have facilitated our interaction with the rest of the world through the approval of more than 50 bilateral and international treaties or conversions. These have linked us to the economic dynamism of the world and in particular of East Asia where we belong.”

Ka Blas died in the service of his country on December 14, 2003 while enroute to Bahrain on diplomatic mission as the country’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs.