The Al-Barka Basilan Incident

“Tayo nag-initiate, ng encounter. Tayo nalagasan ng ganoon karami. Automatic ang tanong, pinaghandaan natin ang operation, bakit ganito ang resulta?…ang pagkakamali, nasa tao. Pero ang paulit-ulit na pagkakamali, kasalanan na iyon. Hindi natin pwedeng pabayaan na magkaroon ng pagkakataon na maging paulit-ulit ito. Kung may mali, depekto sa sistema, ayusin na natin ito. Kung sa training, kung saanman. Hanapin kung saan ang sanhi bakit nagkaroon ng disaster. Ayusin ang mga problema.”

That was President Aquino III speaking, during a press conference he gave on Monday afternoon, where he reiterated that there will be no “all-out-war” against the MILF.

He had earlier refused to answer what lessons were learned about the Basilan encounter, simply saying there is “an ongoing investigation” that “will decide lives, careers and perhaps even criminal liabilities of (the) people involved.”

What was he talking about?

The initial findings – THE INVESTIGATION IS STILL GOING ON – as reported in the command conference with the President and the AFP’s top brass last Friday, was that the soldiers who died shouldn’t have been sent there in the first place. They died because they were sent there unprepared and without planning, so much so that they were practically sent there to die. But that’s me talking, generalizing.

Here are the findings, according to a printed report shown to me: Continue reading

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House of Representatives to pass Right of Reply bill tonight?

On June 3, 2009, the House of Representatives adjourned without passing the Right of Reply Bill.
Word is that the House of Representatives will approve the Right of Reply bill tonight, June 3, in a marathon session that will last into the wee hours of the morning. Those who are against it, protest while you still can. Meanwhile, I am reposting the Foreign Correspondent’s Association of the Philippines’ (FOCAP) position on the issue.

FOCAP Statement on Right of Reply Bill

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) strongly opposes the Right of Reply Bill being deliberated in Congress and calls on legislators to withdraw support for the measure. Continue reading

Philippine journalist on military’s Order of Battle

Carlos Conde, who writes for the New York Times, just found out that he is on the military’s list of order of battle. He is the only journalist on the list. At least one person on the list has since been killed.
This is not the first time that a reporter has been included in the military’s order of battle. Several years back, a defense reporter was surprised to see her picture among those plastered in front of a military camp, which displayed pictures of those “wanted” by the military.
Recently Cheche Lazaro, one of the most respected journalist in the Philippines, had to post bail so as not to be arrested for the crime of taping her conversation with a government official. I have not heard the tapes, of course, but the reports say that Cheche wanted to get the official’s side on a story she was doing, about the public teachers’ complaints that they were not being given their retirement money in full. She taped the official’s refusal to comment on the story, and was accused of violating the anti-wiretapping law. Here is Caloy’s statement in full. Continue reading

Fajardo: No survivors in heli crash

Statement of Deputy Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo: The Bell 412 Heli Tail Nr:1946 piloted by Maj. Sacatani and Capt. Alegata with its passengers, namely Bgen. Carlos Clet, Usec Malou Frostrum, Director Pearl Bandayanon, Usec Joe Capadocia, PSG Demy Reno, has been located in Mt. Panatoan, north of Mt. Pulag. There are no survivors. Continue reading

Missing heli found: three dead, burned beyond recognition

**update: Malacanang confirms there were no survivors in the crash.**

The missing helicopter was found in Tinoc town in Ifugao province on Wednesday, with three bodies burned beyond recognition. The report on the casualties differ, but mainly because the official line is only three are dead so far. There are reports that two more bodies have been found, one inside the helicopter and another outside, but Malacanang said they were still verifying this.
“The official count is three,” said Ifugao governor Teddy Baguilat. He said he had heard reports that two more were found, but he did not have additional details. It is feared, however, that there are no survivors. Continue reading

Right of Reply forum

Former UP CMC dean Luis Teodoro and Atty. Harry Roque

CenterLaw, the Open Society and the UP Journalism Club held a forum on the Right of Reply Bill Tuesday morning at the UP College of Mass Communication. Short notes on the forum, to add to the ongoing discussion about the Right of Reply Bill. Continue reading

The Right of Reply Bill

On its face, the Right of Reply bill legalizes a right already recognized in practice by every self-respecting, ethical journalist: the individual’s right to air his/her side of the story. (Click here for both the House and Senate versions of the bill).
This is nothing but fairness, which is at the heart of every good journalistic piece. But not every journalist is fair, and not all stories are fair, say those who espouse and support the Right of Reply Bill.
But there are other problems with the bill, regardless of whether or not media is fair. Continue reading