Peasants to demand fast tracking of assistance for storm-ravaged coconut farms

By Julius D. Mariveles

PEASANTS in beetle costumes will dump coconut trunks outside the office of the Philippine Coconut Authority tomorrow, September 3, 2014 in Quezon City to dramatize their complaints over the delay in the rehabilitation of coconut farms damaged by storms, among them Typhoon Yolanda, last year.

“They have not yet received any assistance from the PCA after successive typhoons that left them jobless, homeless, and starving,” Task Force Mapalad deputy coordinator Lanie Factor said.

IMAGE from http://termirepel.com/

IMAGE from http://termirepel.com/

Factor said that despite the P2.8 billion fund released several months ago to the PCA for the rehabilitation of coconut farms hardest hit by Yolanda, these coconut lands remain idle. Coco farmers have yet to receive a single centavo from the PCA, Factor added.

The effect of the storms have been made worse by pests such as coconut leaf beetles and rhino beetles, known as uwang in the local language, some of which have grown as big as cigarette packs.

Rhino beetles are damaging to coconut trees and other palms in the South Pacific and other coconut-growing countries. It is described as an accidental introduction into Samoa from Sri Lanka in 1909. For more details on rhino beetles, see this research.

Armando Jarilla, TFM national coordinator, told the PCIJ that the PCA rehabilitation plans consist of four -components: clearing of debris, fertilization, re-planting, and inter-cropping.

“The plan looks good but the problem is implementation,” he said.

He pointed out, for instance, that in the clearing operations phase, the PCA recalled the chainsaws for cutting down coconut trees since “the plan has yet to be studied again,” Jarilla said quoting officials of the PCA.

There is no supply of fertilizers, on the other hand, while re-planting has been halted because there is no no cash yet for the “cash-for-work program for farmers who have been telling me that there is work but they were told that there is no cash yet.”

Seedlings for inter-cropping, meanwhile, have not yet reached the ground and “we have seen seedlings just stocked at the PCA office,” he added.

Data from the PCA showed that there are at least 3.2 million hectares of land planted to coconut from 1990 to 2005, the highest hectareage in the Bicol region with more than 400,000 hectares. For the full list click here.

TFM added that around 100 farmers from the provinces of Quezon, Batangas, Leyte, Samar, and Davao Oriental under the Coalition of Coconut Farmers in the Philippines are expected to join the picket that would start around 10 a.m. at the PCA Central Office at Elliptical Road in Quezon City.

Investigative Journalism: Defining the Craft

Reblogged from the Global Journalism Investigative Network website

While definitions of investigative reporting vary, among professional journalism groups there is broad agreement of its major components: systematic, in-depth, and original research and reporting, often involving the unearthing of secrets. Others note that its practice often involves heavy use of public records and data, with a focus on social justice and accountability.

Story-Based Inquiry, an investigative journalism handbook published by UNESCO, defines it thus: “Investigative journalism involves exposing to the public matters that are concealed–either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding. It requires using both secret and open sources and documents.” The Dutch-Flemish investigative journalism group VVOJ defines investigative reporting simply as “critical and in-depth journalism.”

Some journalists, in fact, claim that all reporting is investigative reporting. There is some truth to this—investigative techniques are used widely by beat journalists on deadline as well as by “I-team” members with weeks to work on a story. But investigative journalism is broader than this–it is a set of methodologies that are a craft, and it can take years to master. A look at stories that win top awards for investigative journalism attests to the high standards of research and reporting that the profession aspires to: in-depth inquiries that painstakingly track looted public funds, abuse of power, environmental degradation, health scandals, and more.

Sometimes called enterprise, in-depth, or project reporting, investigative journalism should not be confused with what has been dubbed “leak journalism”–quick-hit scoops gained by the leaking of documents or tips, typically by those in political power. Indeed, in emerging democracies, the definition can be rather vague, and stories are often labeled investigative reporting simply if they are critical or involve leaked records. Stories that focus on crime or corruption, analysis, or even outright opinion pieces may similarly be mislabeled as investigative reporting.

Veteran trainers note that the best investigative journalism employs a careful methodology, with heavy reliance on primary sources, forming and testing a hypothesis, and rigorous fact-checking. The dictionary definition of “investigation” is “systematic inquiry,” which typically cannot be done in a day or two; a thorough inquiry requires time. Others point to the field’s key role in pioneering new techniques, as in its embrace of computers in the 1990s for data analysis and visualization. “Investigative reporting is important because it teaches new techniques, new ways of doing things,” observed Brant Houston, the Knight Chair of Journalism at the University of Illinois, who served for years as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. “Those techniques blend down into everyday reporting. So you’re raising the bar for the entire profession.”


CIMA ReportExcerpted from Global Investigative Journalism: Strategies for Support, David E. Kaplan, Center for International Media Assistance, 2013. Kaplan is executive director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, an association of more than 100 nonprofit groups in 45 countries that work to support investigative reporting.

A PETITION that seeks to lower the income tax for Filipinos was launched recently on the online platform change.org.

Initiated by LowerTaxPH, it is titled “Lower Income Tax Rates In the Philippines, Now Na!” and is addressed to President Benigno S. Aquino III, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. It has been signed by more than 4,700 petitioners as of September 2, 2014.

http://moneypolitics.pcij.org/2013/12/37-countries/

http://www.talkmoneyblog.co.uk/

“The existing income tax rates in the Philippines is INJUSTICE (emphasis by petitioner) to the honest taxpayer. Pinoys are paying the highest income tax rates across ASEAN yet we see our taxes being stolen by Napoles-like shenanigans and in cahoots with evil, thick-faced, no-good government officials.”

It added that the while Filipinos are paying the highest income tax in Southeast Asia, “the taxpayer does not get high returns in terms government services which are mostly targeted for social beneficiaries.”

The petition also added that the existing income tax rates in the Philippines is “unfair” because the middle-class pay the same rate as billionaires. The rates are also “outdated by almost two decades” since it was last updated in 1997 without provision for peso devaluation “making the rate irrelevant to inflation and today’s value of money.”

“No wonder our countrymen risk their lives and family life by working abroad just to make ends meet, because staying means not only getting underpaid but deducted one-third of salary due to soaring high income tax,” the petition added.

Filipino worker earning P500,000 annually, (32%), Vietnamese worker earning equivalent of P500,000 (20%), Cambodian worker earning equivalent of P500,000 (12%), Malaysian worker earning equivalent of P500,000 (11%),

Thai worker earning equivalent of P500,000 (10%), Singaporean earning equivalent of P500,000, (2%), Bruneian worker earning equivalent of P500,000 (no taxes).

Last year, PCIJ’s MoneyPolitics focused on the personal income tax. How much is the highest and what is the breakdown? Click here for a link to our Data A Day “What is the highest personal income tax rate in the Philippines?

You can also click on this link to view more data on income tax across the world on tradingeconomics.com.

The Philippines has also signed agreements with 37 countries in the world that prevent double taxation for Filipino workers in these nations. What are these countries? You can click on this link to “37″ on our MoneyPolitics website.

INDEPENDENT media organizations in Southeast Asia on Tuesday urged the government of Indonesia to immediately release two French journalists who had been arrested and jailed in Papua province on Aug. 6, 2014 or for nearly a month now.

In a statement, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) decried the continued detention by the Indonesias police of journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat.

The two were filming undercover a documentary on the restive region of Papua for the French-German TV network Arte. They are now in their fourth week of detention.

Indonesian authorities have charged Dandois and Bourrat for allegedly misusing their visas citing that they entered Indonesia with tourist visas but conducted journalism work in Papua.

Foreign journalists covering the conflict in Papua are routinely barred from entering by the Indonesian government.

SEAPA said that according to the police, Dandois, a veteran video documentary maker, was arrested in Wamena with three members of an “armed criminal gang”, government’s euphemism for the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). There is yet no information on how Bourrat, a videographer, was arrested, SEAPA said.

The authorities had also seized the video footage, audio recordings, and phones of the two journalists.

Papua’s provincial police have accused the two of supporting the separatists, saying “we can prove that they are not journalists.” They will reportedly face up to five years in prison and pay US$42,000 in fine.

Both journalists are now detained at the Jayapura immigration office, SEAPA said. Foreign journalists who are caught entering Papua are usually deported immediately.

“We view both the detention of Dandois and Bourat and the ongoing ban on foreign journalists in Papua as blatant violations of Indonesia’s own Press Law (U.U. 40, 1999),” SEAPA said.

The extended detention of Dandois and Bourrat without any clear legal proceedings is illegal, SEAPA stressed. “Indonesia’s authorities must make clear what charges the duo are facing and must also justify their continued detention.”

According to SEAPA. “it is important for the government of Indonesia to use the Press Law in handling the case, as it protects freedom of the press in the country, guarantees against censorship, prohibitions and restrictions of the media, and its right to access information.”

Bourrat and Dandois are established journalists who were working as members of the media at the time of their arrest. “Journalists must not be restricted from covering conflict and other sensitive topics, which is a valid ground for refusing to inform government of their mission,” SEAPA saod.

In using the visa issue as a ground for the duo’s detention, SEAPA said, “it is impractical, and more importantly, potentially restrictive for governments to require journalists visas for visiting journalists.”

SEAPA voiced support for the the letter that the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) sent on Aug, 11, 2014 to the Indonesian Press Council confirming that the detained journalists were working for recognized and reputable French media.

AJI had also requested the Indonesian Press Council to do its best to secure the release and drop the charges against both journalists.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, AJI, the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information of Indonesia (ISAI), and the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) are founding members of SEAPA.

INDEPENDENT media organizations in Southeast Asia on Tuesday urged the government of Indonesia to immediately release two French journalists who had been arrested and jailed in Papua province on Aug. 6, 2014 or for nearly a month now.

In a statement, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) decried the continued detention by the Indonesias police of journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat.

The two were filming undercover a documentary on the restive region of Papua for the French-German TV network Arte. They are now in their fourth week of detention.

Indonesian authorities have charged Dandois and Bourrat for allegedly misusing their visas citing that they entered Indonesia with tourist visas but conducted journalism work in Papua.

Foreign journalists covering the conflict in Papua are routinely barred from entering by the Indonesian government.

SEAPA said that according to the police, Dandois, a veteran video documentary maker, was arrested in Wamena with three members of an “armed criminal gang”, government’s euphemism for the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). There is yet no information on how Bourrat, a videographer, was arrested, SEAPA said.

The authorities had also seized the video footage, audio recordings, and phones of the two journalists.

Papua’s provincial police have accused the two of supporting the separatists, saying “we can prove that they are not journalists.” They will reportedly face up to five years in prison and pay US$42,000 in fine.

Both journalists are now detained at the Jayapura immigration office, SEAPA said. Foreign journalists who are caught entering Papua are usually deported immediately.

“We view both the detention of Dandois and Bourat and the ongoing ban on foreign journalists in Papua as blatant violations of Indonesia’s own Press Law (U.U. 40, 1999),” SEAPA said.

The extended detention of Dandois and Bourrat without any clear legal proceedings is illegal, SEAPA stressed. “Indonesia’s authorities must make clear what charges the duo are facing and must also justify their continued detention.”

According to SEAPA. “it is important for the government of Indonesia to use the Press Law in handling the case, as it protects freedom of the press in the country, guarantees against censorship, prohibitions and restrictions of the media, and its right to access information.”

Bourrat and Dandois are established journalists who were working as members of the media at the time of their arrest. “Journalists must not be restricted from covering conflict and other sensitive topics, which is a valid ground for refusing to inform government of their mission,” SEAPA saod.

In using the visa issue as a ground for the duo’s detention, SEAPA said, “it is impractical, and more importantly, potentially restrictive for governments to require journalists visas for visiting journalists.”

SEAPA voiced support for the the letter that the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) sent on Aug, 11, 2014 to the Indonesian Press Council confirming that the detained journalists were working for recognized and reputable French media.

AJI had also requested the Indonesian Press Council to do its best to secure the release and drop the charges against both journalists.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, AJI, the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information of Indonesia (ISAI), and the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) are founding members of SEAPA.

COMMUNITY journalism in Bulacan has lost one of its brightest and dedicated journalists.

Dino Balabo— of Mabuhay Newspaper, Mabuhay Newspaper-Bulacan, Punto Central Luzon Newspaper, Business Week, Philippine Star and Radyo Bulacan – succumbed to a cardiac arrest early Monday morning, September 1.

In an emailed statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) grieves at the passing of “another pillar of Philippine journalism.”

DINO BALABO | Photo from NUJP website

DINO BALABO | Photo from NUJP website

“He was the unassuming, always smiling, hardworking other half of another giant of journalism, the late Joe Pavia. Yet, notwithstanding his busy professional life, he also chose to share his expertise and love of the profession with succeeding generations as an educator at the Bulacan State University,” the statement added.

The NUJP also said that Balabo’s passing “is a great loss to the NUJP, to Philippine community journalism, and to the continuing struggle for genuine press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.”

“As we pursue our dreams of a truly free Philippine press, you and your example will always serve as in inspiration, Kasamang Dino,” NUJP added in its statement.

Below is the full text of the statement.

On the passing of esteemed community journalist Dino Balabo

Philippine journalism has lost another pillar.

Dino Balabo — of Mabuhay Newspaper, Mabuhay Newspaper-Bulacan, Punto Central Luzon Newspaper, Business Week, Philippine Star and Radyo Bulacan — is a great loss to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, to Philippine community journalism, and to the continuing struggle for genuine press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

He was the unassuming, always smiling, hardworking other half of another giant of journalism, the late Joe Pavia. Yet, notwithstanding his busy professional life, he also chose to share his expertise and love of the profession with succeeding generations as an educator at the Bulacan State College.

To his family, the Bulacan journalism community, and to the people of Bulacan who he unselfishly served, the NUJP extends our deepest sympathies.

As we pursue our dreams of a truly free Philippine press, you and your example will always serve as in inspiration, Kasamang Dino.

MABUHAY KA!

For reference:
Rowena Paraan
Chairperson

THIS video short produced by PCIJ’s Julius D. Mariveles is a summary of the public lecture of journalist Hu Shuli during the Ramon Magsaysay Festival Month Lectures-Dialogue series conducted at the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.

Joining Hu during the panel discussion were Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility; PCIJ’s Ed Lingao who has covered conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mindanao; and Professor Randy David. Moderating the session was PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas.