December 12, 2009 · Posted in: General
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is conducting 12 training seminars for local and national journalists from print, broadcast, and the web. The seminars deal with how to cover the May 2010 automated elections, and how to probe into the election finances of secretive candidates. The PCIJ is part of the 2010 Pera at Pulitika Network set up by media and civil society groups in cooperation with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Beginning December 11, Friday, PCIJ trainors will be holding their fifth training seminar for 20 journalists at the Oxford Hotel in the former Clark airbase in Pampanga. This is a live training blog of the seminar
Day 2 December 12 2009
Seminar participants talk about new discoveries/realizations after their first day of the seminar.
Ding Cervantes, Philippine Star
Amado Belmonte, Blogwatch.ph
Dine Racoma, Philippine Online Chronicles
Campaign Finance in the Philippines
The issue of campaign finance is one of the most important yet least discussed by media, in part because of the complexities involved and the difficulty in getting candidates to disclose their real campaign finances. Yet the pesos and cents of a campaign can at times have greater impact on a candidate, his campaign, and his chances of winning, than his platform, his popularity, or his performance. More importantly, campaign finance issues are likely to influence a candidate long after he has won his seat in office.
Atty Luie Guia of Libertas briefs journalist-participants in the intricacies of investigating campaign finance.
Atty. Guia explains that voters and media should demand transparency from candidates on their campaign expenses. In fact, Atty. Guia says, campaign finance should be made into a campaign issue, in the same way that we expect candidates to address issues such as poverty, corruption, and the environment.
Atty Guia explains that the ideal is for as many voters to make donations to their candidates, within the limits set by the law. This way, a candidate avoids becoming beholden to just one or a few campaign contributors who may try to cash in their chips once the candidate is already in power. This was seen in the way US President Barack Obama managed his campaign finances by tapping heavily the smaller contributors.
Curiously, the law prohibits the use of state resources 45 days before and 30 days after an election. Atty. Guia says he wonders if this means that incumbent officials running for reelection are therefore allowed to use public funds for their campaign provided it is done 45 days before the elections.
For the afternoon session, the PCIJ invited political and campaign strategist Angelito Banayo. Lito Banayo figured in the campaigns of several presidential and senatorial candidates in the last two years, both in the background and in front of the cameras.
Mr. Banayo spoke at first of the different ways that local electoral campaigns have been conducted, including how some local officials buy votes.
Interestingly, cheating in some relatively urban areas have begun to copy models in the remote parts of the country like Mindanao.
Also, very interestingly, Mr. Banayo says that the importance of paid political television ads has already “outstripped” the importance of free news coverage in delivering a candidate’s platform, image, or message to the public.
Mr. Banayo says any campaign strategist worth his salt looks at his candidates as a product that he has to sell to the market, which in this case is the voting public. And, for this to be effective, any campaign strategist has to know very well his product, as well as his market.
Mr Banayo also pointed out that big funders do not necessarily pour money into a candidate because of political conviction. For this reason, among others, no funder ever pours any money into the campaign of a vice presidential candidate.
What does this mean to the leading Presidential candidates, who have already developed their main marketing points that they are already selling in the market. Can Noynoy, whose main issue is “integrity”, convince the voter that his integrity will result in “better economic prospects, jobs, and livelihood.” Likewise, can Manny Villar sell the idea that he holds the key to the question of employment and livelihood and getting people out of poverty.
IFES visits the seminar
PCIJ’s training seminars on covering automated elections and uncovering campaign finance were made possible through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, or IFES. The foundation’s deputy chief of party, Mr. Juhani Grossmann, dropped by for a few minutes to talk to the seminar participants about some of the pressing election issues that may need more attention from journalists.
Breaking out of the Mold
The Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Ms. Malou Mangahas, tackles the journalism part of the seminar. For her first talk, Ms. Mangahas discusses the need to break out of the mold of typical election reporting and inject more context and perspective in reporting the electoral exercise.
Ms. Mangahas talks about what’s wrong with election coverages
Ms. Mangahas discusses some tips on investigative reporting.