CMFR’s Executive Director
MELINDA QUINTOS DE JESUS gathered resources and colleagues from different sectors to establish CMFR. As a working journalist herself, Ms. de Jesus was among the women journalists who wrote critically of the Marcos regime as a columnist in the Bulletin Today. She wrote on the excesses of the regime, cases of disappearances and warrantless arrests and detention, and killings of activists during latter years of Marcos administration. In 1983, she, along with other critical women writers, was eased out of her post as a columnist and moved to become deputy editor and columnist of the newsmagazine Veritas Newsweekly, which was on the forefront of the “alternative press,” a clutch of publications which provided news that the Marcos dictatorship suppressed. She became its editor in chief in late 1986 until its closure in 1988. She wrote her column for a number of Manila dailies (Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Evening News, Isyu) and worked as a commentator for both radio and television talk shows.
In 1989, she organized CMFR where she continues to work as executive director. As executive director, Ms. de Jesus conceptualized the institutional framework and design of CMFR’s core programs: media monitoring to promote professional values in the practice of the press as well as press freedom protection. She is the publisher of the annual journalism review Media Times.
She has developed training programs on media and the justice system, human rights reporting, peace journalism, coverage of the marginalized sectors (women and children, LGBT, indigenous peoples), and other emerging issues in the news agenda. She continues to develop initiatives, such as the media literacy project. She has been a speaker, panelist, and resource person at international conferences and meetings. She has also served as consultant for journalism projects, including media-oriented networks.
Ms. De Jesus has served several terms as a member of the Council of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) Council and the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy (WMD). She is a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and the Philippine-based Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ).
She was journalist-in-residence at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a fellow of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy based at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University.
Ms. De Jesus received the Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Fellowship for Professional Development in 2000 in recognition of her efforts to strengthen Philippine democracy by promoting higher standards of media responsibility and professionalism.
Board of Trustees
CMFR is governed by a charter and a Board of Trustees. The current members are the following:
- Melinda Quintos de Jesus;
- Luis V. Teodoro is a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communication, where he was dean for two terms (1994-2000). Prior to 1994 he was chair of its Journalism Department. He currently writes a column for BusinessWorld. He is one of three contributors to CMFR’s In Media Res blog. He also wrote columns for several broadsheets including BusinessMirror, Manila Standard Today, Today, and The Manila Times. He was also a columnist for the National Midweek magazine and the news website abs-cbnNews.com;
- Maria Isabel G. Ongpin is President of Museum Foundation of the Philippines and Director of Friendly Care Foundation;
- Tina Monzon Palma is a leading news anchor in the television industry with wide experience in news and public affairs having worked in leading TV stations in Manila;
- Vergel O. Santos, media critic, is the publisher and editorial board chairman of the BusinessWorld. He has served as editor of The Manila Times when it was first revived after Martial Law. He also worked as director of the Philippine News Agency;
- Carlos H. Conde is the Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Conde has worked as a journalist for 20 years, nearly half of that time as the freelance correspondent in Manila for The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune; and
- Lorna Kalaw-Tirol is a freelance writer-editor. She was the editor of the PJR Reports from December 2004 to August 2005. She was also the reader’s advocate/Ombudsman of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for three years.
CMFR’s current officers are:
Vergel O. Santos – Chairman of the Board
Tina Monzon Palma – President
Maria Isabel G. Ongpin – Treasurer
Lorna Kalaw-Tirol – Corporate Secretary
Leaders of the press community and CSOs in the Philippines who served in the Board previously include:
Dr. Jose Abueva (Kalayaan College)
Dr. Lydia Balatbat-Echauz (Far Eastern University)
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., J.D. (Ateneo de Manila University)
Mr. Santiago Dumlao Jr. (PHINMA Group)
Atty. Fulgencio Factoran Jr. (Gaia South Inc.)
Paulynn Paredes Sicam (Journalist)