Broadsheet journalists can't monopolize Liberty of the Press


Broadsheet journalists can't 
monopolize Liberty of the Press

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, May 3, 2012, I post my letter to an elder journalist who forsakes tabloid journalists.

The letter is as follows.

Dear Sir Andy,

Let me be frank but with due respect to my elder to whom I looked up to when I was younger 20 years than today. 

I tell you that many of your facts upon which you base your opinions are false.

Nevertheless, it is not fair to call the Club now as having no luster when the members now are only a product of what their olds did, and when there are hundreds of lifetime members like you who are sufficient in number but not coming out of your shelves to cause change to come to the NPC. (I use the definite article "the" before the acronym NPC to stress that there is only one press club, the NPC. All else are but a vain attempt to repeat the mistakes of old.)

These are some of the hard facts:

1.  The leaders of those days took loans from Security Bank, Philippine National Bank, the forerunner of the Development Bank of the Philippines, and later the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS);

2.  The leaders of those days did not even pay a single centavo from the first to the last creditor;

3. Examining the history of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 38690, the certificate of ownership in the name of the National Press Club of the Philippines, it appears that the later loan was used only to pay for the first, until the debts ballooned in the hands of the GSIS;

4. These are substantial evidence to say that the journalists those days when membership were limited only to the elite broadsheets and excluded from broadcasters were themselves corrupt;

5.  Then the leaders of old did not pay for the real property taxes, compelling the City Hall of Manila to auction off the more than 4,000-square-meter lot of the NPC on April 14, 1974;

6.  To protect its loan interests, the GSIS managed to learn of the auction and it bought the property;

7.  The leaders of those olden days (not golden days) did not redeem the property during the one-year period of grace, paving the way for the GSIS to consolidate ownership over the land and buildings;

8.  The non-redemption dates fell during the term of the president preceding Sir Neal Cruz's term but there has been no evidence of any move from his administration to save the property;

9. Thanks to the grace of Ferdinand E. Marcos, who used his awesome legislative power during the non-existence of the national assembly or the interim batansang pambansa to legislate Letter of Instructions No. 500 on January 28, 1977, ordering the GSIS to give back to the NPC half of the property where the NPC Bldg. stands and get the other half where the PLDT Bldg. stands as payments for all the financial exposures of the GSIS;

10. There is no showing that Sir Neal Cruz or his administration in 1978 ever attempted to implement LOI No. 500, which he could have done to get half of the Club's property;

11.  In 2007, the GSIS sued to evict the NPC from its own house, the NPC Bldg., on the contention that it owned the property as proven by the new certificate of titles, TCT Nos. 265235 and 265236;

12. We lost the fight before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 22, but we won on appeal at the RTC of Manila, Branch 19, won at the Court of Appeals, and are now fighting off the appeal of the GSIS, which mean that it is the young ones you loath at as "tabloid" journalists who are the ones recovering the NPC property from the misdeeds of yesterday;

13.  Tabloids are newspapers, too, and no broadsheet paper has the monopoly of press freedom, which, in fact, is a sacred right granted not only to the journalists but to all Filipinos as proclaimed in Section 4, Article III of the Constitution;

14.  As to whether the young members now of our beloved NPC are not acceptable to you because they are "tabloid reporters", I do not know how to justify your argument that "tabloiders" who usually write in Tagalog news, Visayan news, Hiligaynon news, Ilocano news, Bicolano news, Waray news or whatever are outcasts if we talk of qualifications to be members therein when there is no such thing in its Constitution and By-Laws or when doing so would violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution; and

15.  I know that you know Sir Andy that we can make a presumption that majority of the journalists are bribe takers or extortionists; the difference lies in how these are done, which, in the case of broadsheet journalists, are in a smarter and more presentable manner by the use of coat and tie although they know that a pig no matter the lipstick is still a pig.

       So that instead of writing about ills when you are not even sure of your facts and yet pursuing opinions that will naturally end up incorrect, why not come to the Club and vote to cause a change?

       The lie that you told is not the truth you proclaimed. A lie can never survive.

       Can we change the NPC by just mouthing out disgusts?

       No, we cannot.

       Remember that freedom is not given by the oppressors, it is fought for by the oppressed.  A right is only for those who fight for it. 

       Good image for the Press Club is not gotten by lip-servicing, it is given by fighting for it.

       So, let us then see each other on the election day on May 6 and let us get our act together.


Berteni "Toto" Cataluña Causing
Former news editor, People's Journal Tonight
Former managing editor, Kabayan
Currently editor-in-chief of fledgling Dyaryo Magdalo


A surreal scene

Posted by & filed under Opinion.
It’s World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, May 3 and the National Press Club will hold its elections on May 6.
The scene at the Press Club on Sunday will be surreal as it has been the past decade. It would seem to the outside observer that the NPC elections mirror the vibrancy of press freedom in this country. Yet, the Philippines is listed as one of the most dangerous places in the world for working journalists. Justice still has to be served in the Maguindanao massacre which included 32 journalists, the murder of Doc Jerry Ortega in Palawan and other assassinations of the working press.
While the six major dailies can still feel safe because they are Manila-based, their false sense of security was shattered the other day when Inquirer columnist and University of the Philippines professor Randy David’s house was strafed by still unidentified gunmen. David, who lives within the UP compound, initially thought it was a case of mistaken identity until witnesses said the van-riding gunmen even returned to wait for people to come out of the gate. It was then David realized he was the real target. What was it he wrote to incur someone’s ire?
The atmosphere at the Press Club on Sunday will be festive. There will be the usual banners/ streamers and leaflets proclaiming the virtues of this and that candidate. The NPC election, however, is but a mirror image of the flawed political process of the country’s local and national elections.
Some NPC candidates are funded by politicians and businessmen. Win or lose, these candidates who are mostly running for “the funds of it” will come out richer from collected donations .
One particular candidate for NPC president with questionable qualifications is Percy Lapid, who press club insiders concede is the probable winner. Lapid writes a murky column in a tabloid and is a block time radio commentator who gets away with maligning decent people with impunity because we have a moribund Press Council and a useless Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas who should be policing media ranks.
Lapid’s credentials? Sixteen libel cases still pending for which he is out on bail. If elected and then found guilty by the court, the NPC would have a convicted criminal as president.
Freelance journalist Alex Allan sums it up: “Percy Lapid’s election is a foregone conclusion because of simple arithmetic. There are no longer any newsmen belonging to the respected national dailies who are members of the press club. He is being put up by a group of radio block timers and tabloid reporters who sewed up the membership a few years ago by registering every Tom, Dick and Juan in the NPC with funds collected from corrupt customs and immigration officials and the country’s top smugglers.”
It’s practically rigged because the well-funded candidate pays for the registration of many provincial correspondents who make up the majority of the NPC roster. In some instances, the billeting of a big group of correspondents from the provinces are paid for by the moneyed candidate, courtesy of his businessman or politician patron.
How can the responsible sector of the press recapture the NPC from the clutches of the entrenched group? We can’t, no matter how we shake up the poisoned tree. The usual suspects will prevail and then take their oath before the President of the Republic, through the Office of the Press Secretary. Why do elected NPC officials want to take their oath before the President when the press traditionally should have an adversarial role vis-a-vis government? The reason is to give legitimacy to a flawed election process..
The alternative is to organize a parallel press club composed of publishers, editors, and reputable columnists. So it will not look like an elite club, reporters can be members but their application for membership should be subject to screening and vetting by a publisher-editorial board. If the reporter is eligible, the newspaper which the applicant is affiliated with should pay for his membership so as not to add to his financial burden. Hopefully, such a press club could then regain the respect of the public.
Such a club was tried by Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz and the late Adrian Cristobal and Max Soliven. But somehow, Samahang Plaridel, the alternate press club, was a work in progress that seemed to have stalled.
(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/May/02)

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