Unfollowed, Underreported Stories
BECAUSE THE media tend to focus on issues and events that break from day to day, news threads in developing stories that are worth exploring can unintentionally be pushed to the sidelines. CMFR hopes the media won't let slip the following aspects of public interest issues that need further examination.
The proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 have hardly gained media attention since the technical working group (TWG) first met last May 21. Some newspapers did report that on June 25, the International Commission of Jurists urged the TWG and the House Committees on Public Order and Safety and National Defense and Security to reconsider some of the proposed amendments. The proposed changes include what critics say is too broad a definition of terrorism, and provisions mandating excessive penalties. Only a few media organizations reported the story.
Trumpeted as the “most ambitious infrastructure program in the history of the country,” the Duterte administration’s “Build Build Build” plans to construct the country’s first subway system in Metro Manila and a mass transit railway in Mindanao, among others. But the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has underspent the program budget. COA’s 2017 audit found that of the PHP610.933 billion budget, DPWH spent only PHP222.661 billion or 33.6%. In a report on the subject, online news site Rappler said that PHP73 billion worth of infrastructure projects had either been delayed, suspended, terminated, or unimplemented. Independent tracking by media of such high priority government projects would certainly help citizens to better understand what's really happening.
Nine months since the fighting ended, the return of displaced families to Marawi is yet to happen because the rehabilitation of that city has been delayed. In a media briefing on July 12, Task Force Bangon Marawi said that the Bagong Marawi Consortium had failed to comply with technical, financial and legal requirements, resulting in the resetting of the scheduled rehab groundbreaking from July to August.
In an Inquirer report, Drieza Lininding, head of the Moro Consensus Group, was quoted as saying that the delay was a “disappointment,” but he also said that it is “a blessing in disguise, since the Duterte administration and Marawi residents still have the time and opportunity to sit down and discuss once again many issues surrounding the city’s recovery plan.”
A recent SWS survey also found that 80 percent, or 8 out of 10, residents of Marawi, are convinced that the quality of their lives has deteriorated. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy.
Media’s eagerness to cover the five-month siege in Marawi must segue into post-conflict reporting. The story of Marawi doesn’t end with the end of hostilities. It's a continuing one because of the large number of people involved, whose lives will never be the same again
Thousands of Manobo Lumad from the rural villages of Lianga, Suriago del Sur fled their homes Monday, July 16 following the military's encampment in their communities. The evacuees are staying in a gymnasium in Brgy. Diatagon in Linga, Surigao del Sur, as reported by DavaoToday.com.
It's the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army has been encamping in their communities, Kodao Productions reported. Interaksyon.com noted that “This comes barely a year after they returned to their homes from a similar exodus,” adding that most of those who evacuated has also been displaced from 2015 to 2016 following the killing of Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASCU), Kiwagan Datu Juvello Sinzo, and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV).
The Makabayan bloc filed a resolution on Wednesday, July 18, urging the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the reported human rights violations against the Lumad. But much of the media seems to have little interest in looking into a story that's certainly newsworthy.
Bloomberg reported on July 26 that two years since China pledged USD24 billion in investments in the Philippines, “barely any projects (have) materialized.”
The report said that “(President Rodrigo) Duterte has repeatedly touted China’s financial help as a key reason for pivoting away from the U.S. and Europe, which he says haven’t produced material gains for the Philippines. Yet while Beijing remains the Philippines largest trading partner, when it comes to foreign direct investment, China is outranked by Japan, the U.S., the Netherlands, South Korea and Singapore.” (“China hasn’t delivered on its $24 billion Philippines Promise”) it's a story Philippine media should be looking into.
Alternative media organizations and online news sites gave more prominence to the violent dispersal of a workers’ protest at the NutriAsia plant in Marilao, Bulacan on July 30 compared to their big broadcast and print counterparts.
Arrested were 19 students, journalists and protesters, with photos of the bloodied demonstrators making it online. The 19 were released on August 1.
Workers of the fast moving consumer goods manufacturer have been on strike since June 2, demanding their regularization, recognition of their union, and the rehiring of those dismissed illegally. On July 3, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered NutriAsia to regularize 80 workers of AsiaPro Multipurpose Cooperative, one of its contractors. Related to the labor contracting ("endo") issue, big media shouldn't be missing out on reporting these and similar developments.