Malou Mangahas receives the JOY Award (photo from JOY website)
MALOU MANGAHAS, Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and host of GMANewsTV’s Investigative Documentaries program, was one of three journalists named Journalist of the Year (JOY) by the Metrobank Foundation Wednesday night.
Mangahas is joined by columnist and radio commentator Jarius Bondoc and GMA television reporter and anchor Jiggy Manicad in receiving the award. The award is given out by the Metrobank Foundation with the Probe Media Foundation in recognition of excellence in Philippine journalism “across all media platforms-television, radio, print, and online.”
This is the first time the JOY award is being given out by the Metrobank Foundation. In 2001, PCIJ founding Executive Director Sheila Coronel was named one of three awardees of the Metrobank’s Search for Outstanding Journalists (SOJ), the precursor of the JOY awards.
In her acceptance speech, Mangahas noted the stark ironies of the profession that make it more difficult for journalists to do their jobs. Journalists, Mangahas said enjoy freedom of the press in one of the freest countries in Asia; yet, they also live in fear in a country that consistently remains as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
Also, Mangahas noted how many journalists wish they could report more good news just to break away from the daily barrage of bad news.
“Minsan manghihina ang loob mo sa dami ng problema,” Mangahas said. “Minsan aasa ka na maganda at masaya ang balita para maiba naman.”
“We live in both freedom and fear. We have such a rambunctious press, but one that is so tortured by a trail of 170 media murders since 1986,” Mangahas added.
Yet another irony is the freedom of speech that Filipinos enjoy, without “the freedom to know,” Mangahas said. One of the entries submitted by Mangahas to the JOY awards was an episode of Investigative Documentaries on the need for a Freedom of Information (FOI) law. Civil society and media organizations, including the PCIJ, have been pushing for the passage of an FOI law to make government more transparent and accountable.
However, Congress has sat on FOI proposals for more than two decades now, citing concerns that media would abuse the proposed law. More recently, President Benigno S. Aquino III had initially expressed support for the FOI when he was still campaigning for the presidency in 2010. Signals from Malacanang now, however, indicate that the President is not comfortable with an FOI law. In fact, administration legislators have cited the mixed signals from Malacanang as the main reason why Congress has failed to pass an FOI law under the PNoy administration.
“We have freedom of speech but not freedom to know, or even an FOI law as yet,” Mangahas said.
Mangahas committed to continue to work for the truth and tell stories that are engaging, compelling, and relevant. “I think our work is never done, our stories never finished. I propose we all continue to write this history together of our nation and our search for greater freedom and progress,” she said.
The JOY award honors Filipino journalists whose excellent storytelling “has contributed to positive social change and in building the nation.”
The three awardees received a special medallion and a cash prize from the Metrobank Foundation. As well, the awardees will take part in a fellowship program where they will be asked to share their experience and expertise to other journalists and journalism students through a series of lectures all over the country.