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Staying Safe and Keeping Alive: The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Guide
his safety and security information is aimed at local journalists who may find themselves in harm’s way because of the daily work they do. Society owes them a huge debt of gratitude –for without them there is no holding people to account; no chance of rule of law rooting and no serious prospect of this country developing into a fully functioning and democratic state.
In the harm’s way: Journalists especially those covering sensitive issues such as corruption in their communities find themselves at risk because of the daily work they do. RUBY THURSDAY MORE
We dedicate this guide to the memory of the 32 media colleagues who were among those killed and hurriedly buried on November 23, 2009 on their way to cover a simple filing of electoral candidacy of a member of a political clan in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. We also remember investigative journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat, whose cold-blooded murder on March 24, 2005 in front of her children in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, painfully underscored the risks journalists face while doing their job to unearth and report irregularities. At the time of her death, Marlene was investigating corrupt practices at the agriculture department in Central Mindanao, where she used to work as resident ombudsman.
This guide is equally dedicated to all surviving local heroes who still go about their daily work regardless of the many challenges and dangers. With it goes our hope that some of the basic pointers here will provide people some small degree of protection. May you all stay safe, responsible and caring --for the sake of your families, your communities and for society at large.
Stay In Charge of Your Safety: You Decide
On all issues of safety and security, there is only one person who can decide what you should do – you. If you are seriously worried about a story or assignment, the advice is simple: Don’t do it. Nobody has the right to make you do anything you are not comfortable with. If you are a freelancer, you may find yourself taking greater risks in order to earn a living. Whatever your circumstances, be careful. As the saying goes: ‘No story is ever worth your life.’
Before starting on any problematic assignment or trip, you should undertake a risk assessment. If you are a seasoned journalist working in a difficult area, you should be doing this already. If you are just starting out as a reporter, ask somebody with more experience to help out. If your newsroom doesn’t yet have a policy on requiring risk assessments for problematic stories, speak to your editor and make one up. A risk assessment should be written down and submitted to your editor –but remember it is for your protection not his. The very act of preparing an assessment, however brief, will force you to think ahead and plan accordingly. As leading international security consultants AKE put it: “Risk cannot be eliminated, but it can be assessed and accounted for.”
A basic risk assessment should address the following concerns:
What kind of research or training do I need to undertake to be better prepared?
Is there any expertise I do not have but can draw upon?
Is there a greater danger in the pursuit or the actual publication of the story?
Is the risk from a known or unknown source?
Is the risk likely to be applicable only to me personally –or might it also include risk to my colleagues and family?
Does the risk have a definitive timeframe –or is it open-ended?
Do the potential risks outweigh the gains in getting the story?
Will my employer support me or my family if I am injured or worse?
In starting to consider the possible dangers, you already have the basis of a strategy of how to avoid them.
Whenever working as part of a reporting team, you must make sure everybody is aware of the risks and is participating freely and without pressure. Although you need to nominate a team leader, all members must be given an equal voice when it comes to safety and security. Remember again; nobody can order you to do anything you are not comfortable with.
Know Your Beat Backwards
You probably became a reporter because you have an inquiring mind; are good at finding out things; like talking to people and because you seldom take ‘no’ for an answer. These same traits that can get you into trouble may also benefit you in time of risk. As a journalist, it is your job to be constantly up to speed with regard to local political, economic and social conditions. If your work also takes you to neighbouring provinces or regions, you need to be fully aware of conditions there too. Not only will it make your reporting more accurate and informed, it will also improve your safety and security.
Given their over-arching influence, all journalists should keep up with political developments, irrespective if they are political reporters or not. But be honest with yourself and fill in any blanks in your knowledge by talking to friends and colleagues. Devise a simple ‘who’s who?’ and ‘what’s what?’ of the local political scene that is available to everyone in the office. Keep it ‘on-line’ on computer so it is easy to update when circumstances change. Include pictures wherever possible.
Politicians like to talk – especially about themselves – so arrange informal get-togethers where the movers and shakers come along to move and shake with you. If you work in the capital, you should obviously know all about the workings of local government units, of city mayors, governors, congressmen and other ranking officials. This includes knowing about ministers, their spokespeople and advisers. If you work out in remote areas countryside, you should also know as much as you can about the regional leaders and their own relationship with the government – and too the police and military. Which is the stronger? Knowing the centers of power is of critical importance, as you never know when being on name terms with the governor or local police may come in handy. Of course, not all power is formalized and you may well find yourself dealing on occasions with people who are hugely influential but remain private individuals.
If you are going to doorstep a potentially hostile figure, you should always go prepared with the names and contact numbers of people who can intervene on your behalf in case of trouble. Consider taking a colleague and never rush in cases like these and don’t be afraid or ashamed to back out if things don’t seem right or secure.
Police, Militia and the Military
Political contacts are easily made given they typically relish the idea of promoting themselves. It takes longer to cultivate sources in the police, militia and the military. While they are more regimented and controlled than political parties, a good journalist will still be able to cultivate such people. Even where these groups are agents of repressive regimes, you may still find sources within them who are prepared to help you for ethical reasons. As well as feeding you regular background information, sources can act as early warning agents and emergency contacts. Except when they are dedicated press officers or senior commanders, these people will seldom be speaking to you with official permission, so don’t forget they might be at risk themselves in speaking with you.
Your job is only to investigate and expose wrong-doing in the public interest. Unless you are a bona fide defense journalist of some seniority, you should be very wary of seeking information relating to national security. In times of crisis or civil unrest, the distinction as to what actually constitutes ‘national security’ may become a little blurry. It is important to always be clear in your own mind about what information you are seeking and why.
You should never offer money to sources in the police, militia or military in exchange for information. As well as being ethically wrong, in most countries it is strictly illegal. Doing so will also beg the question why the contact is providing you information in the first place. Spies often pretend to be professional journalists and use them as cover –and it is in your best interest to make absolutely sure you are never mistaken for one.
Health professionals cannot protect you, but they can help save your life. Wherever you are, make sure you know where to go in case of a medical emergency. Always have the phone numbers and addresses of hospitals and clinics close to hand.
Civil Society and Human Rights Groups
As a professional journalist working in a problematic area, you should already have a good range of names and numbers of NGO groups in your contact book. These sources will often be your first point of call when investigating a story.
It is particularly important in cultivating and keeping links up with human rights advocacy groups and lawyers who can be called upon if need be. Civil society groups are generally mutually supportive and together comprise an informal network that can reach even the most isolated of areas. These groups also usually have good contacts with embassies and the wider international community.
Be sure to know your way around. Keep all relevant maps available in the office and work out alternative routes to and from the places you regularly visit in case you ever think you are being followed. Whenever travelling out into an unstable region, you should plan your route in advance and check it with a reliable and updated source. When events are fast moving, you should remember that what might have been the case yesterday may not necessarily be so today. In areas where guerrillas are active, you should plan to have completed your journey and be off the road by 4 p.m. or even earlier. Be alert for visual clues: for example, during the wars of South East Asia, it was a rule that the absence of children playing in the streets was a sure sign of nearby fighting.
Be aware of the things you cannot change that might have an effect on how others see you: A man turning up on a story at a women’s refuge will get a very different response to a woman. Likewise a woman in the locker room of an all-male sports team will probably emerge with some different quotes. Neither will necessarily be better, but your gender radically changes the attitude and approach of the people you are interviewing. In some cultures the sight of a woman journalist will be a surprise.
Use your age – or lack of it – to your advantage. Some older people take the view that young people haven’t the experience to interview them and don’t take the meeting seriously.
Your name and appearance may well identify your ethnic, tribal or religious identity. If you are covering an inter-ethnic conflict, the fact you are a consummate media professional may not be of great help if a person you want to interview associates you with an opposing force. In such a case, you should minimize the risk by building up trust from a position of safety first. You must be able to gain his or her confidence by establishing that you are a journalist and nothing more. Similarly, if you are trying to find out sensitive information relating that might help prove somebody is corrupt or breaking the law, you need to give your source the confidence you can be trusted and will not put them in harm’s way through irresponsible behavior. Remember, the more professional you are, the more you can help ensure your own safety.
Practical Things You Can Do To Prepare Yourself Better
All journalists should learn first aid so you can help yourself and others in an emergency. There will be organizations in your area, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross which run courses or will be prepared to put on sessions for a group of journalists. Knowing what to do in an emergency could make all the difference to a casualty who needs treatment in that crucial period before the emergency services take over. For very good reason, the majority of hostile environment courses run by the top international security companies devote a large part of their time teaching first aid skills.
It is important to keep up with all your inoculations and keep a basic medical kit close to hand. You should also write down any allergies that might affect a person’s treatment. Take a water bottle with a proper filtration system in order to keep a clean supply of water. If you are travelling far, find out if there are any diseases prevalent in the area you are visiting. For instance, mosquitoes only thrive in a lowland area so if you are visiting from higher ground you could become susceptible to malaria.
One reporter famously said he became a journalist because he didn’t want to do a job where he had to “wear a tie or run around”. We’ll look at appropriate dress elsewhere but it’s not true that you might not have to run around. Be prepared to hike in hostile terrain where vehicles can’t travel; jump over walls and in extreme circumstances; and run for your life.
If you don’t think you are fit enough, do something about it, like teaming up with others for some simple exercise like playing soccer or basketball. If you are not in to team sports, adjust your lifestyle to include light running, brisk walking or any other physical exercise that leaves you a little breathless. Remember, physical fitness also increases your capacity to stay mentally alert.
Languages and Photo Etiquette
If the people you are interviewing speak another language, try learning a few words and apologize for having to use an interpreter. Being polite and patient will help put your subject at ease and can help calm a tense situation.
If you are having trouble in communicating, make sure that everybody clearly understands that you are a journalist and are there to listen and bare witness. Show them your credentials and explain who you are working for. If you feel the situation is tense, use sign language to check it is okay to take photographs and use your best judgement in deciding when to stop filming. The same applies to when you might be forced to hand over your film. Try to keep it as best you can –but remember that no picture or piece of footage is worth risking serious injury or worse.
If you are heading up a mountain to interview a rebel leader in his hideout you would put on decent footwear and something to protect you from the rain and cold. Likewise, an appointment with an elected politician in his city center office will call for something less rugged and a bit more formal. The key is always to make the people you talk to feel relaxed and comfortable talking to you. Your clothes should not attract attention –and should be easily adaptable to the circumstances. Always avoid wearing any kind of military-style clothing unless you are temporarily attached to a military unit and have been instructed to by the commander. Even then, remember that nobody can order you to do anything you feel uncomfortable with. If somebody is asking you to put on military gear, you should see it as a clear signal that the soldiers you are with are already combat ready.
In insecure areas, you should devise a concealed area, such as a money belt, where you keep a spare ID and some cash. You should also carry a ‘dummy’ wallet you can hand over without losing anything too valuable.
Carry picture ID with you at all times – and the more official-looking the better. Your national identity card or driving license will confirm who you are and a “PRESS” card will confer more status upon you. If you are not a member of any journalist union which provides one, you should carry a press card issued by your own media organization. These are easily made and laminated and should come complete with a photograph and contact numbers of your media group. This will allow any official to quickly validate your identity with a phone call if need be.
You should have your ID ready at all times. Avoid rummaging in a wallet or purse. This can look like you are digging out cash for a bribe or even looking for a gun. Having your ID in your top pocket to whip out quickly will also help your confidence in getting through a check point or past a security guard to see a minister.
Before you travel to a region, find out if you need to cover other documents. A letter from a central government official can work wonders when you pitch up in some far flung part of the empire as can a note from the local police chief. Similarly, any piece of correspondence from the local embassy of a country which is on very good terms with your own government may well help you talk you way out of a tense situation.
If you are able to cover a conflict in your country between sides who themselves issue their own press accreditation, make sure you do not end up showing the wrong one at a checkpoint. If it happens, be open and honest about the mistake. You are a journalist trying to report honestly and objectively about the conflict by speaking to all sides in order that people are better informed.
Never pretend to be anyone other than yourself. There’s no need to reveal yourself as a journalist if you are passively observing something – but do so if an official comes up and demands to know what you are doing. Where there is civil unrest on the streets, make sure that even from afar, you look like a journalist and not a participant.
A cheap camera around your neck and a photographer’s vest should mark you out from the rest of the crowd. So too will the word PRESS written in large letters on the back of your vest.
Even if you are jostled and detained unfairly by the authorities while trying to cover unrest, be careful not to lose your temper or resist arrest. While the police might subsequently apologize and release you, the chances are they won’t if you have fought back.
Never solicit or take money from anyone: If you solicit money or people think they can influence you through a ‘gift’ of money it will dramatically impact on your safety –not to mention open you to charges of corruption. In so doing, you will also put your professional colleagues in jeopardy and the practise of journalism in the Philippines into disrepute.
You may work in an office with others, or you may operate out of your bedroom. Whatever your circumstances there are some basic security measures you should follow.
Burglary With their array of easily disposable electronic equipment, offices are a natural target for thieves. They will take anything that looks like it can be sold, so cover items when you are out of the office and lock away portable items (laptops, digital camera etc) when not in use. Invest in a computer security system or bolt them to the desk.
Have a sturdy locking system for both windows and doors and tell your neighbors if you are going to be away for some time. If the office on or near the ground floor, put bars on the windows:
The burglars who make off with your computers don’t know the copy for your three-part undercover investigation is stored in the hard drive. So you’ve not only lost your equipment – your story’s gone too. Back up everything regularly using removable media like flashcards or CDs. You may also be targeted by people you are investigating or people working on their behalf. A password system will make it that much harder for them to access your data.
Have a proper system to greet visitors both in the office and at home – especially if you are working on a sensitive story at the time. If it doesn’t appear too rude, keep the door locked and only admit someone you know or are expecting. Be suspicious if people arrive without an appointment, but try not to discourage callers. In the office or at home, think about having a peep hole cut into the front door so you can see who is on the outside before letting them in. Too many journalists in the Philippines have been shot after answering their front door to gunmen. Think very carefully before opening the door to an unidentified voice.
Cell phones are very easy to monitor. It only takes an inexpensive scanner and a rudimentary knowledge to eavesdrop on cell phones. Setting up a phone-tap on a land-line is much more difficult and takes specialist knowledge and equipment. Therefore if you’re worried that your calls might be monitored, use a land-line and try to vary the line you use – public telephone boxes do have their uses.
You should also program emergency numbers into your phones and learn how to use the phone in the dark and with both hands. If things do get a bit hairy on assignment you can make a call on your mobile from your pocket and leave the line open for others to listen to.
Don’t call from a hotel room; the call can be traced leaving you vulnerable.
Special forces and intelligence operatives are both extensively trained in anti-surveillance techniques. You don’t need to be James Bond or Jason Bourne, but keeping alert at all times may save your life. Always be aware of the things and people around you. If you are working on a very sensitive story, your thinking and behavior should reflect that. Always vary your routine: If you think you are being followed or watched do something about it. Run, if need be. If you are on the street and in a public place and think your life may be in danger, don’t be ‘shy’ of making a terrific noise, shout and point in the direction of the threat. It could very well scare them away.
Driving and Vehicles
No story is worth your life: The Maguindanao massacre, where 32 of the victims were journalists, catapulted the Philippines as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists to work. ROMY ELUSFA
The stark facts are that journalists are far more likely to be killed or injured while in a vehicle than in all the other dangers put together. Bad driving, defective vehicles, poor driving conditions and just plain old bad luck all conspire against the unprepared journalist. Case in point was the death of three ABC 5 crew on their way home from coverage of the Mayon Volcano in August 2006 after their car collided with a passenger bus in Camarines Sur.
Behind the wheel
Don’t drive yourself unless you are familiar with the vehicle and accustomed to the terrain. Even a different part of town can hold its own dangers; you can take a wrong turn and end up in a no-go area. If you are in your own vehicle keep the doors locked at all times and be especially vigilant when you are stopped in heavy traffic or at traffic lights.
If you see something unusual up ahead do not stop. It could be a trap set by abductors or you might find yourself embroiled in a wrangle over blame. If you are involved in an accident, check for any injuries and administer first aid if necessary. Call the emergency services or police (if there are any available) and avoid any discussion about blame or responsibility. Always be wary that you may be set up as an abduction or robbery target.
You don’t need to be a mechanic to see if the vehicle is sound. Look carefully at the tires – a blow-out is the most common cause of accidents – and make sure there is a spare. If the windscreen is cracked and the bodywork dented see if there’s a chance of switching vehicles.
Check with the driver that there is plenty of fuel, oil and water plus a toolkit for running repairs.
Don’t travel in anything that might be mistaken for a military vehicle, like a Jeep with camouflage markings, and watch out for vehicles that have a connection with particular factions, such as the Nissan pick-ups much favored by the Taleban in Afghanistan.
Sometimes splodging ‘PRESS’ all over your vehicle will lead to a cheerful wave through the checkpoint; but on another occasion it will lead you straight into trouble. It’s another judgment call you have to make.
Keep together if there is more than one vehicle in your party. This makes you look less vulnerable and there’s also someone on hand if trouble strikes. However, resist the temptation to race, cut up other drivers or just generally show off. All are potentially fatal.
But as we all very sadly know after the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, convoys can give a false sense of security. Convoys of journalists are often lines of cars travelling in the same direction with a vague feeling there is safety in numbers. Make sure you have your own map and a good idea of where you are going and where you have come from. Keep close so you can see each other and have a radio or telephone link between cars.
Every time you step into a taxi all the above advice flies out of the window. You don’t know the driver, have no idea how well-maintained the vehicle is and whether you are the No 1 priority. But little things could be done: Make sure you send through mobile text basic details of the taxi such as the plate number and the name and contact numbers of the taxi line to any of your relative, editor or any trusted colleague.
Checkpoints and roadblocks
The road is blocked and an armed guard approaches your vehicle; you should always assume the worst and adopt the defensive checkpoint procedure.
Checkpoints cause journalists a lot of trouble mainly because you just don’t know who is manning the roadblock – regular militia or rebels? Them or us?
If you see a roadblock in sufficient time, stop some distance away to assess the threat. You may decide to carefully turn back, but don’t draw attention to yourself by roaring away in a dramatic u-turn.
If you’re asked to get out of the vehicle don’t carry anything except your ID and any other papers. Be aware that the men (it’s usually men) manning the checkpoint may be tired, on drugs, disinterested in your welfare or eager to show off. Be aware to that in some instances, like in Central Mindanao, government soldiers tasked to man checkpoints are usually neophytes who just obey orders from their superiors and have not a slight idea at all in dealing with journalists.
Always be polite, don’t panic and don’t engage in chit-chat or take pictures. The main aim is to get through as quickly as possible.
Riots and Civil Disorder
Riots, civil unrest and demonstrations are dangerous and unpredictable. A frightened and angry gathering can often lead to violence with previously mild-mannered people spurred on by the safety of a crowd.
As with a many journalistic assignments make sure you cover the story and don’t end up being the story. Do your homework and find out what has happened before at similar events and watch out for revenge attacks or secondary incidents that may happen away from the main event.
It is very frightening to be held against your will. No amount of prior education will prepare you for the ordeal, but there are some things you can do to help yourself survive capture:
Keep positive and try not to show the captors too many emotions.
Develop a relationship that will make it difficult for the captors to be nasty to you. Talk about family – especially young and old relatives who depend on you – and show any pictures you have.
Don’t be difficult and do what you are told.
Stress your role as a neutral journalist and how you could be a force to get their story out.
Make reasonable requests, such as washing facilities or better food, and keep the demands coming so the captors are always on their toes.
Beware of having your hopes raised the promise of release. It could be part of their strategy.
Only consider escape if you feel your life is in imminent danger or you see an obvious lapse in security. You may be weaker than you think after some time in captivity so don’t set yourself unreasonable physical tasks such as scaling walls or running for long distances.
The Worst That Can Happen
Attack, ambush and abduction: Journalists are abducted and held hostage in sufficient numbers so make it important to devise a strategy to prevent you and your colleagues becoming the next victims.
The captors may want you for a variety of reasons such as money – you may work for an organization that is perceived to be wealthy enough to pay up to get you released, and publicity – you could be held captive until the kidnappers’ demands are met.
Abductors usually take the easiest target, and they are likely to have done their homework looking out for predictable patterns.
So leave home and work at different times every day and travel by different routes and methods.
If you are in a compound or guest house check out the security procedures. If you are unhappy with the arrangements make your concerns known or move.
Robbery: You don’t need to be a journalist on assignment to be the victim of robbery, but some sections of the rogue community see journalists as a “soft touch” as they are often unprepared and can be carrying money or expensive equipment.
Don’t have targets for theft such as cameras, laptop computers or expensive watches obviously on show. Keep cameras under your clothes and your computers hidden inside a vehicle.
Bribery and corruption: If you work in a post-conflict or transitional nation you will live with bribery and corruption every day. Many professionals in the so-called civilized world have no idea what an all-pervading effect corruption has in every aspect of life in developing countries.
Handing over a few cigarettes or chewing gum as a sweetener to get past a checkpoint or to fix up an interview is generally how the world goes around, but giving officials money to get a visa or a permit to travel takes you into a different area.
Basic Security Awareness Strategy
Plan ahead and retain control to achieve good coverage at minimal risk.
Try to work as a team and stick together.
Avoid getting caught in the middle of a crowd.
Get in an overview position to see the event, but make sure there is more than one escape route.
Look in advance and work out your ‘exit strategy’. Try to find out the exit strategies for the demonstrators and security forces.
Be careful with cameras as security forces think combatants play up to them. Police may also demand your pictures and the participants may worry that you’ll hand them over for identification.
Avoid helmets and facemasks as they give anonymity to security forces and rioters alike.
Take a day-long survival kit of food, water, clothes, first aid.
Have prearranged meeting places.
Carry Press ID, but don’t necessarily have it on show.
Carry mobile phone with emergency numbers programmed in it.
Carry goggles to protect from tear gas.
Cover your skin with long clothes.
Conflict zones: Any sort of conflict is very messy. Forget thinking you will be given any special protection that you may think you’ll be afforded as a journalist. You will probably be among some frightened, disordered and often disorderly soldiers who don’t want to be there and don’t want you there either. You must give yourself the best chance of coming out in one piece.
Never carry a weapon, you’ll be identified as a player in the theatre of war. Steer clear of other journalists who have weapons and don’t fool around with firearms – even in the name of research.
Ask about the weapons that are being used. Learn to listen for incoming and outgoing fire.
Know what landmines and other weaponry looks like. Don’t poke at things or pick them up.
Avoid shiny objects and take care with camera lenses – they could be mistaken for guns.
Wear any protection you are given. Body armour, helmets, gas masks etc could save your life.
Do not be blasé, gung-ho, over-enthusiastic, belligerent or disobedient.
Teaming up with the military is a good way to get to the front line. You will, however, only get to see what they want to show you (like the embedded reporters in the Gulf War) and can even become targeted as the enemy. Talk it over with your editor before throwing in your lot with a military escort.
Wrongly arrested and fitted up: This is, unfortunately, a common tactic to try to silence journalists. Stay calm, inform who you are working for and ask them to get you some legal representation.
Threat of legal action: Another bully boy tactic. Know your legal position, especially with regard to libel and defamation, and engage expert help as soon as possible.
Report fairly: Keep alert, stay safe and good luck.
Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
End-of-Project Survey – Your Opinions So Far
Thursday, 07 July 2011
While the first of our two end-of project surveys has just been posted, the results coming in already make for some very interesting reading. This survey largely centers on which direction you think the fight for greater transparency and accountability is headed in the Philippines and what you think is currently present, necessary or missing in thinking, plans and action. READ MORE
The People’s Budget – It’s Up To us to Really Make It So
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Senate Bill 2186 or the People's Participation in Budget Deliberations Act is a very welcome move in the fight against corruption and graft and the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project was lucky enough to see it first a few weeks ago and be tapped for our own opinions on it. READ MORE
Truth Telling as We Remember the Lessons from EDSA
Monday, 21 February 2011
Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza’s message to the public at the Valentine’s Day forum where she was key speaker was very timely given we are just days away from marking the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and ushered in democracy. READ MORE
The Public Watch
Saturday, 19 February 2011
It is encouraging to see the Senate Conference Room on February 18 filled with students, nuns, socialites, activists, CSO workers and other concerned citizens who are all wanting to follow the continuing Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on alleged corruption within the Armed Forces of the Philippines. READ MORE
Thursday, 03 February 2011
We have a true ‘soldier’ in the form of anti-corruption fighter Heidi Mendoza –we just need to encourage more people like her to step forward and join her army. READ MORE
In the National – Not Personal Interest
Wednesday, 02 February 2011
‘Basic fair play, decency, good manners and right conduct.’ These words appeared in a well-argued column yesterday by William M. Esposo, the self-styled Chair-wrecker from the Philippine Star. READ MORE
Poor Budgeting, Too Many Contingency, and Special Purpose Funds and ‘Savings’ – All A Recipe For Corruption
Tuesday, 01 February 2011
Without commenting on who is charging what about whom in the AFP right now, it is not difficult to see how pabaon (send-off money) scandals can so easily happen. Blue Ribbon Committee hearings and politicians talk incessantly about slush-funds - and they seem to feature in every high level case of alleged corruption: But as yet, we don’t seem to link the ubiquitous slush funds with the ubiquitous and hugely discretionary contingency and special purpose funds (and dare we say it again, the PDAF/Pork Barrel Allocations) which are written into national budgets and approved by legislative committees year after year.” READ MORE
Officials Ignoring DILG Orders to Stop Personalizing Public Projects
Friday, 21 January 2011
A public-spirited citizen from Samar has just sent us in a series of photos and a complaint that government officials there appear to be in clear breach of a circular from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) banning the use of “names or initials and/or images or pictures of government officials in billboards and signages of government programs and projects.” READ MORE
The Good and Bad News from TI’s 2010 Global Corruption Barometer
Sadly the Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the Truth Commission comes as no surprise. We put ‘sadly’ not for the reasons that some might think – that many claim the Court to be biased against the Aquino government. It is ‘sad’ because it was perfectly clear back in May that any attempt to set up a commission which would only look at the alleged misdeeds of the Arroyo administration was a very poorly judged one. It suggested the move was much more about politics than it was about addressing the root of the problem of corruption in the Philippines. READ MORE
University Budget Cuts – Fact or Fiction and the Media’s Mission To Explain
29 November 2010
Opinion is critical and freedom of expression an inalienable (natural) right. Too is the right to information and often we assume they are the same thing. Yet information is essentially data and fact. Unfortunately, too much reporting the world over is poorly rooted in fact and too heavily in opinion and hearsay. READ MORE
Open Budget, Open Government
29 November 2010
Government officials, members of civil society organization workers, academic experts, business people and international development agencies met on Saturday November 20 in Pasig City to sign an agreement in a bid to make government budgets more open. READ MORE
Transparency in Government Contracts to Big Business and Consultancies
22 November 2010
“We are beginning to learn who works where, what departments spend and who are the big business recipients of taxpayers’ money,” journalists from the UK Guardian wrote last Friday in response to the latest release of financial details by the British Government. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 10th budget reporting training in Bohol June 30
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 10th training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 30 at the JJ’s Seafood Village in Tagbilaran City in Bohol. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 9th budget transparency reporting training in Kidapawan City June 6
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 9th training on advanced and anti-corruption reporting dubbed as “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 6 at Boylyn Pension Plaza in Kidapawan City. The training was made possible with the financial assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the technical assistance of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). READ MORE
PPTRP holds 8th budget reporting training in Pampanga June 3
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 8th training on advanced and anti-corruption reporting dubbed as “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on June 3 at the Social Action Center of Pampanga in San Fernando City, Pampanga. READ MORE
PPTRP-supported Local Transparency Groups Share Experiences in Reporting, Fighting Corruption
Three local transparency reporting groups which the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) supported and helped establish gathered on June 3 in Bohol to share experiences in building transparency and accountability in their respective communities. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 7th budget reporting training in Davao City May 27
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its seventh training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on May 27 at the Ateneo De Davao in Davao City. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 6th budget transparency reporting in Dipolog City May 23
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its 6th training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on May 23 at the Top Plaza Hotel in Dipolog City. READ MORE
PPTRP meets with editors and columnists May 18 to discuss media coverage of public corruption
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project met with editors and columnists of selected national and international media organizations May 18 in Manila to discuss current media behavior and thinking in relation to public corruption and transparency. READ MORE
Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the former CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation who later disclosed explosive information on the anomalous USD 329 million NBN-ZTE deal that nearly brought down the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shared his views May 9 with the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project on continuing the fight against corruption and for genuine transparency under the new administration. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 5th budget reporting training in Ozamiz City April 26
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project held its fifth training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on April 26 at the Naomi’s Botanical Gardens in Ozamiz City. READ MORE
PPTRP holds 4th training on budget reporting in CDO April 2
The Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP) held its fourth training on advanced transparency and anti-corruption reporting called “Numeracy for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations and Citizens” on April 2 in Cagayan de Oro City. READ MORE
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