17th JVOAEJ: And the winners are…

By Hector Bryant L. Macale

IN-DEPTH journalism has now become part and parcel of Philippine journalism.

On its 17th year, the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ) gave an unprecedented number of awards to journalists for investigative and explanatory reports.

The awards program, attended by almost 400 participants (the biggest audience turnout in the JVOAEJ’s history), was held last June 29 in Makati City.

“Not all journalists want to be in-depth reporters,” Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), told the audience at the Jaime V. Ongpin Journalism Seminar that preceded the awards rites. De Jesus acted as the moderator of the seminar, which was held for the 10th time.

Explaining that journalism cannot be complete with just a day-to-day reporting on what’s happening in the beats and that television and radio are getting faster in relaying information, De Jesus said that “print journalism has to show the way in terms of providing more time given to the stories and creating these niche reports that would give more information and promote greater understanding in the public audience.”

The winning articles showed that through in-depth research, extensive interviews, and corroboration of multiple sources, the press can provide the public with comprehensive information and understanding about crucial as well as complex issues. In fact, as De Jesus pointed out in her welcome remarks, the JVOAEJ is an annual event to celebrate journalists whose qualities of work “measure up to the standards of the best international reportage.”

Newspapers BusinessMirror and the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) won the top awards for their stories published in 2005.

As administrator of the awards since its launching in 1990, CMFR introduced this year the division of all entries into two groups: those printed in daily newspapers and those in non-daily publications. Thus, there were two sets of first, second, and third prizes for the investigative and explanatory categories.

The first prize winners of the daily and non-daily divisions in the investigative and the explanatory categories each received a cash prize of P70,000 and a plaque.

Inquirer  and PCIJ dominate investigative category
The first prize of the daily division of the investigative category went to “Tracing the Trail of the Tape” by Fe Zamora and Gerry Lirio of the Inquirer. Published on Sept. 17 and 18, 2005, Zamora and Lirio’s work was cited for “getting at the root of a wiretap conspiracy which blew open an electoral scandal so serious as to raise questions about the moral authority of a sitting president.”

The Inquirer series, which looked at the origins of the infamous “Hello, Garci” tapes that had sparked the worst crisis to hit the Arroyo administration, was lauded for its “persistent research and purposeful reporting” and for helping the public understand the reason for the troubles besetting the presidency.

In the non-daily division of the same category, the first prize went to “Running on Taxpayers’ Money” by PCIJ’s Luz Rimban published in the organization’s i Report magazine in September of last year. The article, which focused on how President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ran for president in 2004 using state funds, was cited “for exposing, through adept harnessing of facts and figures, testimonies and documents, the manipulation of disbursements to finance the 2004 presidential campaign with public money.”

CMFR, in consultation with the Canadian Embassy, awarded the Marshall McLuhan Prize to Inquirer’s Zamora. The Marshall McLuhan Prize, given for the 10th time, is a travel study tour of Canada for the first prize winner of the investigative category.

Rimban also took the third prize of the investigative category’s non-daily division for her article, “Major Players Elude Government’s Anti-logging Drive in Aurora.” The article was published in BusinessWorld, Cebu Daily News, Malaya, Inquirer, and Sun.Star Daily from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2005.

For also winning the third prize, Rimban took home a cash prize of P20,000 and a plaque.

“CAP: From Pre-need’s Poster Boy to Whipping Boy” by Daxim L. Lucas and Elizabeth L. Sanchez published in the Inquirer on Sept. 19 and 21, 2005 won second prize in the daily division. In the non-daily division, “Cheats Inc.” by Miriam Grace A. Go of Newsbreak won second prize. For wining second prize, Go received a cash prize of P40,000 and a plaque. Lucas and Sanchez received the same.

The third prize winner in the daily division of the investigative category went to “Border Dispute Leaves Dumagats in a Quandary” by Fritz Dacpano, published in The Manila Times on April 25 and 26, 2005. Dacpano is a student at the Manila Times School of Journalism. For winning the third prize, Dacpano received a cash prize of P20,000 and a plaque.

BusinessMirror  and PCIJ top explanatory category
In the daily division of the explanatory category, Business-Mirror, Manila’s newest broadsheet, took the first prize for its report, “Confrontation to Cooperation: Labor-Manage-ment Relations Evolve in Globalization Era,” written by Dave Llorito and published on Nov. 2, 2005.  PCIJ took the top prize in the non-daily division with “Focus on Filipino Youth: Perils of Generation Sex” by Cheryl Chan published in i Report’s September 2005 issue.

Llorito, however, is no stranger to the awards, having been a finalist in 2004 for his July 2003 article, “Land Row Grips Los Baños Science, Technology Agencies” for the Times where he previously worked.

Llorito’s winning report for 2006 was honored for “awakening the working man to the issues of globalization, examining its negative impact on unionism and presenting options that will help both labor and management to deal with change and cope with its challenge.” Chan’s report, on the other hand, won first prize in the non-daily division of the explanatory category because it called attention to “the negative impact of sexual liberation on young people and their lifestyle” and shed light “on evolving environments and current practices that tend to promote moral deviances and sexual diseases, endangering (the youth’s) health and their future.”

CMFR, in consultation with the Australian Embassy, decided that the Ambassador’s Award, a travel grant to Australia, would go to Llorito. This was the fourth time that the Australian Embassy gave an Ambassador’s Award in the JVOAEJ.

“Electronic Ears Listen with Bugs and Taps” by Fil V. Elefante, published in the Times on June 27-29, 2005 won second prize in the daily division while “Mama Can’t Eat” by Vinia M. Datinguinoo of PCIJ, published in the January-March 2005 issue of   i Report, took the second prize in the non-daily division.

These winners each received a cash prize of P40,000 and a plaque.

The third prize winners in the explanatory category (non-daily division) are “The Economics of Corruption” written by D’Laarni A. Ortiz, Larissa Josephine C. Villa, Roulee Jane F. Calayag, and Ehden Llave-Pelaez and edited by Noel G. Reyes which was published in BusinessWorld on July 19, 2005 (daily division) and “Bataan Nuke Power Plant: Still Unused, Still Paying For It” by Lidy Nacpil and Mae Buena-ventura published in Philippine Graphic on March 14, 2005.

The third prize winners in both divisions received a cash prize of P20,000 and a plaque.

The awards began in 1990 to honor the late Jaime V. Ongpin, who was secretary of finance during the Aquino administra-tion. A press freedom advocate, Ongpin was involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and was instru-mental in harnessing public support for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

This year, the JVOAEJ was sponsored by The Asia Foundation with support from the United States Agency for International Development.

Finalists in the 17th Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism (JVOAEJ)

Investigative Category

— Daily Division
“Bailout Costs Too Much for Deposit Insurer”
Norman P. Aquino
Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2005

“Palawan’s Gas Pains”
Jofelle P. Tesorio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Jan. 13, 2005

— Non-Daily Division
“So Young and So Trapo”
Avigail Olarte
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Published in i Report
September 2005

“Guns and Gold”
Gemma B. Bagayaua
Dec. 5, 19, 2005 and Jan. 30, 2006

“For Land and Wages: Half a Century of Peasant Struggle
at Hacienda Luisita”
Dabet Castañeda
Published in Philippine Graphic on Jan. 3-10, 17, 2005

Explanatory Category

— Daily Division
“Philippine Economic Progress Since 1988:
The ‘Good Old Days’”
John Mangun
Dec. 1-3, 2005

“Graduating Class:  Education, Labor Mismatch”
Norman P. Aquino
March 10, 2005
Non-Daily Division

“Mutants on Your Plate”
Alan C. Robles
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Published in i Report
Jan.-March 2005

“Broken Promises”
Lala Rimando, Cathy Rose Garcia and Elena Torrijos
Jan. 31, 2005

“Trained to Care”
Avigail Olarte
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Published in i Report
Jan.-March 2005

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