What is the Uncovering Asia conference?

UNCOVERING ASIA is the first Asian investigative journalism conference. The event will bring together top investigative reporters, data journalists, and media law and security experts from across Asia and around the world in Manila on November 22-24, 2014.

The conference is hosted by the Global Investigative Journalism Network, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, with additional support from the Open Society Foundations and more than a half-dozen co-sponsors.

The conference will also mark two important occasions: a special reception honoring the 25th anniversary of the pioneering Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and a candlelight assembly to commemorate the UN-designated International Day to End Impunity on Nov. 23.

It will be held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria Hotel, Pasig City.

For attendees based outside the Philippines, please register with GIJN here.

For attendees based in the Philippines, click the image below to download the registration form.

Registration Form

 

 

VICE PRESIDENT Jejomar C. Binay has launched his march to the presidency, with 17 months yet to go before the May 2016 elections. The wannabe-president has, in fact, taken the first step that six former presidents had all done to push their ride to power — switch political parties. What follows is a guest article from the academic team of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center
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POLITICAL PARTY SWITCHING: IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES
By Prof. Ronald U. Mendoza, Jan Fredrick Cruz, and David Yap II

VICE PRESIDENT Jejomar Binay has been candid about his dissatisfaction with his old party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). VP Binay, the figurehead of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), noted how some of his PDP-Laban party-mates ran under the administration ticket in the 2013 elections. He criticized PDP-Laban for vague leadership and factionalism.

It was not surprising, then, that the VP bolted from PDP-Laban and declared that he would form his own party in early 2014. And by late September 2014, Binay’s new party absorbed the name UNA, and it might as well, as the new party appears set on collecting well-known politicians from different political parties.

The list includes Gwen Garcia, district representative from Cebu (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD Party); Sherwin Gatchalian, district representative from Valenzuela (NPC Party); Jonvic Remulla, Cavite governor (Nacionalista Party); and Mike Rama, Cebu City Mayor (formerly Liberal Party until 2012, switching to UNA thereafter).

Senator JV Ejercito, (PMP); Manny Pacquiao, district representative from Saranggani (PDP-Laban); and Faustino Dy III, Isabela governor (NPC) have also thrown their support behind the VP.

History replete with party switching leaders

Party switching by VP Binay and colleagues follows a fairly consistent trend for many Philippine leaders. The very first incidence of major party switching happened during the early decades of the Republic, when politicians such as Manuel Roxas and Elpidio Quirino led a disgruntled faction of the Nacionalista Party to a new political party, the Liberal Party, in the 1940s.

In fact, nearly half of the former Presidents were party switchers:

* Ramon Magsaysay, the Liberal-affiliated Defense Secretary of then President Elpidio Quirino, who switched to Nacionalista to thwart his old boss’s re-election bid;

* Ferdinand Marcos, who switched from Liberal to Nacionalista in response to an unkept promise by Diosdado Macapagal to serve just one full term;

* Fidel V. Ramos, who formed the Partido Lakas ng Tao (People Power)-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas-NUCD) when he failed to get the presidential nomination of LDP in 1992;

* Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who was elected as senator under the Nacionalista banner in 1987, switched to Liberal Party when he assumed his Senatorial office, then later left the Liberals in 1991 to start the populist Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (Power of the Filipino Masses), and then also ran later as Vice Presidential candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition; and finally,

* Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was a member of LDP as a Senator, formed the Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (Ally of the Filipino Citizen) or Kampi in 1997, ran as Vice Presidential candidate of Lakas-NUCD in 1998, and once served as honorary chairperson of the Liberal Party.

Philippines stands out again, internationally

Nevertheless, political party switching is not an “only in the Philippines” phenomenon. It is routinely observed across diverse democracies such as Thailand, Ecuador, New Zealand, Hungary, Ukraine, Turkey, South Africa, and even Japan as notable examples.

Depending on the context, party switching could be viewed in a very negative light as evidenced by the various ways the phenomenon has been described: political turncoatism, political migration, floor-crossing (especially in parliamentary democracies), waka (canoe) hopping (New Zealand), camisetazo (“changing shirts” in Latin American countries), political butterflies, chaleco politics, and the Filipino idiom balimbing.

(Balimbing is the domestic name of the carambola fruit that appears to have many sides or faces. The term has since taken on a derogatory meaning for politicians, implying a lack of loyalty to one’s party-mates.)

While some party switching by some politicians can be seen as a pragmatic reality in most democracies, excessive party switching by many politicians is often considered a troubling sign of a weak party based democracy.

The question then would be: Is party switching in the Philippines more intensive when compared to other developing democracies?

To arrive at an answer, we tried to complement the earlier literature in this area by developing and analyzing a novel dataset on party switching, which covers the Philippine House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.

In our dataset, 2001 serves as the reference year for determining the original party for lower house legislators in the first instance. The political party of each legislator was identified from data obtained from the Commission on Elections, primarily the certificates of candidacy and election returns, thus capturing the change in party of the legislator between these filings.

And similar to our earlier AIM Policy Center research that found the share of dynasties in the Philippine Congress is much higher than in other developing democracies, our most recent study also suggests that our Congress exhibits a higher degree of party switching relative to other democracies

Dynasties and party switching

Access to more detailed information on party switching patterns allows us to empirically assess the linkage between party switching and other patterns in our democracy, including dynastic politics.

An excessive number of dynasties and more intensive party switching are often cited malfunctions in the Philippine political system, yet they have never been linked by any empirical evidence before. In theory, and as elaborated earlier, the lack of strong political parties is part and parcel of the personality-centered politics that tends to dominate Philippine elections.

And the most dominant feature of personality-centered politics is often associated with the rise of dynastic clans. Thus family allegiances rather than party- and policy- focused allegiances tend to dominate the landscape of Philippine politics.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that political dynasties possess long-lived political careers, in part because they engage in extensive party switching (notably defecting to the party of the winning candidate for the Presidency).

This practice could be compounded by Presidential candidates who actively seek alliances with dynastic clans in key vote-rich regions, in order to garner stronger political and financial support. In the literature, these practices are considered part of the broader pattern of personality-based politics that hollows out the party-based system (Quimpo 2008).

The data suggest that dynastic legislators have increasingly dominated the group of party switchers in Congress. The number has increased from 22 in 2004 to 80 in 2013—or from roughly 45% of the total number of party switchers in 2004 to almost 80% by 2013.

It is interesting to note that the majority of party switchers are now comprised of what Mendoza, et al. (2013) refer to as “fat dynasties” — politically dynastic legislators who have relatives in other elected positions at the same time of their incumbency. Put differently, these are dynasties often with multiple family members encumbering elected offices at the same time.

These fat dynasties are expected to muster even greater political clout when compared to “thin” dynasties (those dynastic clans that field merely one family member at a time) and non-dynastic politicians, largely because they have control over far larger shares of public resources and the state apparatus.

The political dominance of some of the “fattest” dynasties (e.g. those with large numbers of family members in office) also potentially provide a much stronger political base in some of the Philippine regions where these patterns have become more pronounced.

This appears to provide initial evidence of a possible link between two major dysfunctions in the Philippine democratic politics — political dynasties that have begun to dominate the political landscape at the local and national levels and excessive party switching that is deemed by analysts to render political parties inutile in developing and advancing coherent policy platforms on social and economic development.

A nation led by turncoats?

As noted by Prof. Julio Teehankee (2014), most political parties in the Philippines have become dysfunctional so that party switching has become a routine phenomenon, notably prior to Presidential elections (and also immediately after, once the victor is declared).

Due to strong personality-based politics, it is also not uncommon for aspiring Presidentiables to set up their own political party, attracting the bulk of the necessary political machinery through party switching rather than party building. Many leaders from virtually all levels of the Philippine government (national, regional and local) are also prolific party switchers.

These patterns raise serious questions about the accountability of the nation’s leaders. If party switching is pervasive in the Philippines, what is its impact on the stability of policy agendas?

What are the possible factors associated with increased party switching, notably from a regional perspective? Are poorer regions associated with more party switchers, due to the need for pragmatic relations with whoever holds central authority?

And finally, is there still such a thing as an “informed voter”, if the majority of politicians do not adhere to or care to develop clear political and policy platforms anyway?

* This article draws from a similarly titled study of the AIM Policy Center. For fully elaborated details on the methodology and literature on party switching, please refer to: Mendoza, RU, JF Cruz and D Yap, “Political Party Switching: It’s More Fun in the Philippines. Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Working Paper No. 14-019 or at SSRN. The views expressed in this article and in that study do not necessarily reflect those of the Asian Institute of Management. Questions and comments could be addressed to: POLICYCENTER@AIM.EDU.

Selected References:
Lirio, Charmaine. “Presidents and political parties.” (accessed August 1, 2014).
Mendoza, Ronald U., Edsel L. Beja, Victor S. Venida, and David B. Yap II. “Political Dynasties and Poverty: Resolving the ‘Chicken or the Egg’ Question,” AIM Working Paper Series No. 13-017, Asian Institute of Management, Philippines, 2013.
Quimpo, Nathan Gilbert. “Contested Democracy: An Alternative Interpretation of Philippine Politics.” In Contested Democracy and the Left in the Philippines After Marcos, 21-53. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2008.
Teehankee, Julio. “Binay’s new party and chaleco politics.” Rappler, March 16, 2014.

CEBU CITY — Going back to the basic tenets of good reporting, abiding by ethical standards, maintaining independence, and working hard are essential in upholding press freedom and serving the community.

These were the insights shared by a panel of Cebu journalists and a blogger during the “Honoring Responsible Journalism” forum held in St. Theresa’s College in Cebu City last Sept. 26. The forum was part of a series of activities to celebrate Cebu Press Freedom Week, which kicked off five days earlier, on Sept. 21.

Ador Mayol of Cebu Daily News, Linette Ramos of Sun.Star Cebu, Allan Domingo of GMA Network, Astra Logarta of radio DYHP, and blogger Nancy Cudis of nancycudis.com made up the panel. With journalism students and teachers as their audience, the panelists shared their takes on a range of issues confronting those determined to practice responsible journalism today.

The panel members were all two-time awardees of the Globe Cebu Media Excellence Awards. PCIJ served as judge for the Investigative Story of the Year category, which was introduced for the first time this year, the awards’ third year.

PCIJ Multimedia Director Julius Mariveles acted as moderator at the forum.

PCIJ Training Director Che de los Reyes, in her opening speech, set the tone for the discussions when she brought up the challenges that journalists in the country have to contend with, such as media killings, and physical and verbal threats and intimidation.

“Journalists operate in a culture of fear, terrible working conditions, lack of job security, less than humane pay, libel, cyberlibel, the continued absence of a freedom of information law, and shorter audience attention spans,” De los Reyes said.

“Bbeing responsible is inherent to the practice of good journalism,” she said, and “good journalism operates within a framework of values and the standards of accuracy and fairness.”

Sun.Star’s Ramos later said that practicing responsible journalism necessitates going back to the basic values of good reporting. These values include being accurate, seeking the truth, being free from biases, and always checking the facts numerous times, she said.

Blogger Cudis, who started out as a print reporter before venturing into blogging, for her part shared that the values of accuracy, fairness, and verification — things that she learned during her stint in mainstream media — remained as her guiding posts in her blog.

GMA’s Domingo meanwhile observed that there is a lack of in-depth reporting in media today, resulting in news reports dominated by “talking heads.” He highlighted the need for journalists to go beyond the obvious — to go to the “soul” of the story.

Finding the soul of the story, however, precludes that a reporter is present at the scene of the story as it happens, said Logarta of DYHP. “You have to be disciplined enough to be there,” she said.

Cudis also advised the students to go the extra mile when trying to get all the necessary sides to a story. “Just because you cannot contact a source doesn’t mean you will give up,” she said. “You need to find other ways.”

Ramos, though, observed that making news sources understand the journalist’s job remains a challenge. For instance, while covering relief efforts in the aftermath of Yolanda, Ramos discovered that the reality on ground contradicted the accounts of government relief workers that there were no problems with storage and transport of relief goods. When her report came out, Ramos recounted, the relief workers became angry at her for “criticizing” them.

“Our role is to remind them that our job is to tell a story that can improve the lives of the people,” and “not necessarily to criticize,” said Ramos. This is even as she advised the audience to “get to know” their sources and “build rapport” while avoiding getting “too close” with them. Said Ramos: “When you have earned their trust, they will be the ones who will give you good stories; your job will become easier.”

Radio reporter Logarta agreed. “Signal to your news sources that they cannot just use you, that you are independent,” she said. Logarta also highlighted the importance of “separating commentary from news.”

Logarta, who said she originally went into radio reporting with the sole purpose of being a courtside reporter of basketball, added, “Maintaining one’s credibility and that of one’s media outfit will result in more listeners.”

The panel members also maintained that the exercise of press freedom cannot be separate from fulfilling the responsibilities attached to it.

“Responsible journalism can topple down presidents,” Domingo said, “but journalists should not forget that the exercise of press freedom comes with great responsibility.”

Cudis, for her part, said the principles of responsible journalism should also apply in blogging. “Opinion is nothing without facts — facts that are true, accurate, and verified,” she said. According to Cudis, it is it ironic that there are bloggers around the world who are “clamoring for freedom of speech” yet “they do not feel responsible for the things they write.”

Such practices by some bloggers — copying press releases directly on their blogs for instance — affect the entire blogging community, Cudis said.

The members of the panel then highlighted the importance of self-regulation to maintain independence.

“There are so many temptations in the field,” Mayol said. “You will certainly get offers of favor from politicians.” He revealed that he himself has received offers of cash from sources who wanted him to make them “look good.”

This is why, he said, “media self-regulation is very important.”

Indeed, maintaining media independence is one of the pillars of press freedom. And self-regulation, said Ramos, plays a key role in it. “We should police our ranks and make sure that we do our job responsibly,” she stressed.

One way to do it, said Domingo, is to put in place “regulations and ethical standards in our media outlets.”

In the end, the panel agreed that the ultimate goal of doing responsible journalism is to inspire readers to care about their community. This, the panelists said, would be their way of “giving back to the community.”

“The feeling of being able to contribute something to the community is irreplaceable,” said Mayol. “It’s something that cannot be bought by money.”

“Isn’t it if you care for someone, you want to give her the best?” he asked. Mayol then pointed out, “We care for the community. We don’t want to settle for mediocrity. We try to give them the best — our best stories.”

DESPITE big and grave allegations of kickbacks he supposedly pocketed from contracts awarded by Makati City where he served as mayor until Vice President Jejomar C. Binay remains the candidate to beat in the May 2016 presidential elections.

Or at least that is the freeze-frame picture as of the latest nationwide Ulat ng Bayan survey conducted by the creditable Pulse Asia Research, Inc. from Sept. 8 to 14, 2014.

The pollster said Binay continued to lead the presidential race with 31 percent of 1,200 respondents choosing him as their candidate. This is thrice more than the 10 percent to 13 score that four other individuals reported to be pining for the position, including the ruling Liberal Party’s frontrunner Manuel A. Roxas II.

Nine other supposed presidential hopefuls snared much lower scores.

Nearly one in three of the respondents listed Binay as their preferred candidate,

Roxas, Interior and Local Government secretary, got support from only 13 percent of the respondents.

On third slot is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, 11 percent, followed by impeached president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, 10 percent, and Senator Grace Poe, 10 percent, Pulse Asia reported.

The other public figures included in the pollster’s latest electoral probe each registered a negligible voter preference score of at most 5 percent. Only 2 percent of the respondents did not express support for any of the personalities.

Poe, however, emerged as the top choice for vice president, with 31 percent of respondents listing her as choice. She was followed by Senators Francis Escdero, 19 percent; Alan Peter Cayetano, 9 percent; Antonio Trillanes IV, 7 percent; and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., 6 percent.

Pulse Asia noted that In the first half of September 2014, the news headlines were dominated by, among other developments, “the ongoing Senate investigation into the reported overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, with witnesses claiming, among other things, that the bidding for the said project was rigged to favor Hillmarc’s Construction Corporation and that Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay received kickbacks from various Makati City projects while serving as its local chief executive.”

At the same time, Albay Governor Joey Salceda proposed to impeach Vice- Binay due to the charges of corruption raised against him, but this was “rejected by politicians allied with and critical of the current national administration.”

Other issues that hogged the headlines during the period were the decision of the House of Representatives to junk three impeachment complaints against President Benigno S. Aquino III, and the suspension for 90 days of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as a result of the suspension order that the Sandiganbayan had issued against Enrile in July 2014.

In addition, the period also saw calls for the resignation of Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima amid “the increasing number of crimes involving policemen and President Aquino’s expression of trust in the beleaguered police official”; Binay’s statement that he would want Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company Chairperson Manuel V. Pangilinan to be his running mate in May 2016; and talks of a second term for Aquino.

As in previous Pulse Asia survey, the 1,200 respondents consisted of representative adults 18 years old and above. The survey has a ± 3 percent error margin at the 95 percent confidence level.

Pulse Asia undertakes Ulat ng Bayan surveys on its own without any party singularly commissioning the research effort.

September 29, 2014 · Posted in: General

‘Fake’ news gets investigative

When Comedy Meets Muckraking:
“Fake” News Gets Investigative

By David Kaplan

NOTE: CAN COMEDY and investigative reporting mix? David Kaplan of the Global Investigative Journalism Network discusses the “fake” TV news programs and asks: could this be the future of muckraking?

YOU’VE probably seen the spoof broadcasts of The Daily Show and similar “fake” TV news programs: the realistic sets, the bogus “live” shots from overseas hot spots, the absurd interviews. While steeped in wisecracks and satire, the shows have a hard political edge and often stir controversy. Increasingly, in the absence of serious news from the “real” news media, they also are getting into actual journalism, prompting one scholar to call the phenomenon “investigative comedy.”

The popularity of fake American TV news shows dates back to Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in the 1970s, when dubious anchors used comedy to lampoon public figures and joke about current events. The sketches reached their modern form with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who turned a backwater Comedy Central cable program into a political blockbuster starting in 1999. The Daily Show (whose motto is “The Best F#@king News Team Ever”) has, in turn, spun off two popular shows: The Colbert Report with Steven Colbert and, most recently, the HBO network’s Last Week Tonight, hosted by British comedian John Oliver. Both Colbert and Oliver are Daily Show alum.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON THE GIJN WEBSITE

September 24, 2014 · Posted in: Bangsamoro, Civil Society, General

VIDEO: What now for Mindanao?

WHILE Congress is currently deliberating on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), representatives from strategic government and business organizations gathered in Manila on September 23, 2014 to discuss the various development opportunities in the Bangsamoro.

Once approved by Congress, the Bangsamoro will include the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Initiated by the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), the forum intends to start the discussion of business prospects and development climate, in the areas covered under the Bangsamoro, simultaneous with the deliberations in Congress.

“Realizing that sustainable development is a catalyst to achieving lasting peace in the Philippines, most specifically in Mindanao, there is a need to raise awareness and knowledge about opportunities that will promote economic advancement in the Bangsamoro,” Abhoud Syed Lingga of IBS told PCIJ.

The forum was also organized in partnership with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, the Asia Foundation, ARMM Regional Board of Investments, the Mindanao People’s Causus, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the United Youth for Peace, and the Women’s Peace Table.

This video short produced by PCIJ’s Cong B. Corrales, summarizes the key points raised by speakers and resource persons during the Tuesday forum held in Makati City, Philippines.

 

 

HALF THE WORLD or nearly six billion people will have Internet access in the next three years. Two years hence by 2019, up to 7.8 billion people would be online.

Yet still, that is just half the story. Up to 80 percent of the citizens of the 48 poorest nations of the world have been left behind by the Internet express.

This is the mixed prognosis of the United Nations’ Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which launched over the weekend a new report with country-by-country data on the state of broadband access worldwide.

How PHL scored:

The Philippines ranked No. 110 out of 190 nations in terms of fixed (wired) broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants of only 2.2 as of 2013.

Mobile broadband penetration per 100,000 population was rated at a higher 20.3 percent of all Filipinos, landing the Philippines at No. 79 out of 130 countries where this service was available.

In the league of developing nations, the Philippine was listed No. 57 out of 132 nations) with 22,2 percent of households using the Internet.

Overall, Internet user penetration (or percentage of individuals using the Internet) in the country was recorded at 37 percent, landing the Philippines at No. 106 in the list of 191 nations.

The UN report said that “over 50 percent of the global population will have Internet access” in the next 36 months, “with mobile broadband over smartphones and tablets now the fastest growing technology in human history.”

The Commission’s 2014 State of Broadband report was released in New York at the 10th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development on Sept. 21.

The report reveals that “more than 40 percent of the world’s people are already online, with the number of Internet users rising from 2.3 billion in 2013 to 2.9 billion by the end of this year.”

“Over 2.3 billion people will access mobile broadband by end-2014, climbing steeply to a predicted 7.6 billion within the next five years,” the report said. “There are now over three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions.”

In total, the Commission said, “there are now 77 countries where over 50 percent of the population is online, up from 70 in 2013.”

The top 10 countries for Internet use are all located in Europe, with Iceland ranked first in the world with 96.5% of people online.

The Republic of Korea continues to have the world’s highest household broadband penetration at over 98 percent, up from 97 percent last year, it said.

Monaco now surpasses last year’s champion, Switzerland, as the world leader in fixed broadband penetration, at over 44 percent of the population.

Four economies (Monaco, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands) have achieved Internet penetration rate in excess of 40 percent, up from just one (Switzerland) in 2013, the report said.

The US ranks 19th globally in terms of number of people online, ahead of other OECD countries like Germany (20th) and Australia (21st), but behind the United Kingdom (12th), Japan (15th) and Canada (16th). The US has slid from 20th to 24th place for fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, just behind Japan but ahead of Macao (China) and Estonia.

But the sad flip-side to this report is this: many others in the world’s least developed nations remain offline and unconnected.

The lowest levels of Internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with Internet available to less than 2% of the population in Ethiopia (1.9%), Niger (1.7%), Sierra Leone (1.7%), Guinea (1.6%), Somalia (1.5%), Burundi (1.3%), Eritrea (0.9%) and South Sudan (no data available). The list of the ten least-connected nations also includes Myanmar (1.2%) and Timor Leste (1.1%).

“As we look towards the post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is imperative that we not forget those who are being left behind,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Broadband uptake is accelerating, but it is unacceptable that 90 percent of people in the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected,” he said.

“With broadband Internet now universally recognized as a vital tool for social and economic development, we need to make connectively a key development priority, particularly in the world’s poorest nations. Connectivity is not a luxury for the rich — rather, it is the most powerful tool mankind has ever had at its disposal to bridge development gaps in areas like health, education, environmental management and gender empowerment,” Touré said.

“Despite the phenomenal growth of the Internet, despite its many benefits, there are still too many people who remain unconnected in the world’s developing countries,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Providing Internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere, will take determined policy leadership and investment. As we focus on infrastructure and access, we must also promote the rights skills and diversity of content, to allow women and men to participate in building and participating in knowledge societies,” she added.

“As the new State of Broadband report shows, ICTs are making a significant contribution to social development, economic development and environmental protection, the three pillars that will underpin the post-2015 international development agenda and move us towards a more sustainable world,” Bokova said.

According to the Commission, “the popularity of broadband-enabled social media applications continues to soar, with 1.9 billion people now active on social networks.”

Produced annually by the Broadband Commission, The State of Broadband is a unique global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the 54 members of the Broadband Commission.

The UN Broadband Commission says its “community” is composed of “a select group of top CEOs and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development who offer diverse perspectives on why broadband matters to drive its deployment around the world and shape the global agenda.”

“It is this multi-stakeholder approach combining perspectives from both policy and industry that makes the Commission’s advocacy work unique, through a fresh approach to UN and business engagement,” the Commission web page stated. “Indeed, one of the Commission’s key strengths lies in forging consensus between its business partners and policy members in developing a joint approach promoting broadband for public benefit, whilst satisfying minimum commercial incentives.”

Civil society, development experts weigh in on prospects for the people of Mindanao, after winning the peace

By Julius D. Mariveles

It is the region that exports gold and caviar. It is also here where the lives of some people are like those in the least developed countries of Congo and Zimbabwe in Africa.

And as hopes continue to run high for the passage and signing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, those desiring peace must now answer the question: What should happen after the guns fall silent?

Academics, civil society organizations, and development experts weighed in on this issue during a forum on opportunities for development and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro held in Makati City today, Tuesday, September 23.

“The momentum for peace is building up… development and progress will come on its heels,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said in a statement read by Undersecretary Jose Lorena.

PARTICIPANTS sign up for the forum on development opportunities and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro | Photo by Cong B. Corrales

PARTICIPANTS sign up for the forum on development opportunities and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro | Photo by Cong B. Corrales

Deles, who heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was optimistic that the partnership between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has “blossomed into a partnership and the possibility of peace (in Mindanao) excites our neighbors.”

“There are endless opportunities for development,” she added.

The forum was held as the Philippine Senate started its deliberations also today on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that shall be the legal framework for the Bangsamoro that will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro is envisioned to cover the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan. The drafting of the BBL followed the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels.

Poverty and the resulting hunger are the gut issues that must be addressed in the Bangsamoro areas, Fermin D. Adriano, senior policy advisor of the World Bank State and Peace-Building Fund told the PCIJ.

Adriano, who is also project and World Bank lead consultant for the projects in Bangsamoro, delivered a talk titled “Development opportunities in the Philippines with the signing of the CAB: More, less, or no impact?”

He said that the share of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the gross regional domestic product is a negligible 0.8 percent .

IMG_1645

Four of 10 persons in the Philippines are located in Mindanao, many of them concentrated in the ARMM areas. Too, seven of 10 people in ARMM are poor, twice more than the poverty incidence in the entire country.

Adriano cited a big drop in the education index in the three provinces of ARMM between 1997 and 2000. The largest losers are the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, and Zamboanga Del Norte. “There is practically stangation within the ARMM areas,” he said.

In fact, according to Maria Lourdes D. Lim, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority, the 2012 to 2013 Human Development Report showed that the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) levels were reported in nine areas in Mindanao, three of them provinces in the ARMM – Sulu, Maguindanao, and Tawi-Tawi.

Sulu has the lowest HDI of .266, “comparable to the least developed African countries like Congo and Zimbabwe,” Lim added.

The HDI is defined “as a measure of a countery’s average achievements in three basic aspets of human development: longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge is measured by a combination of the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratio; and standard of living by GDP per capita (PPP US$).”

DRAFT Bangsamoro Basic Law

International advisor Sam Chittick, on the other hand, said fast political transition in conflict areas can lead to “local elite capture.” He pointed out that, “development alone does not reduce conflict and it can actually exacerbate conflict.”

Chittick, who has worked in conflict areas around the world, spoke for the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities, a joint United Nations-World Bank project in support of the Mindanao peace process.

He also posed questions that must be answered as development efforts kick in and if the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be approved by the government. these include: What changes will the average Mindaoan want from the Bangsamoro? What difference will it make in their lives?

“The focus should be on potential opportunities and not recipes,” Chittick said.

The forum was organized by the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies in partnership with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, The Asia Foundation, ARMM Regional Board of Investments, Mindanao People’s Caucus, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, United Youth for Peace and Development, Women’s Peace Table.

Check out our blog tomorrow for more stories on the opportunities for development and the Bangsamoro.