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Eleksyon 2013

In face of shady election deals, media leaders issue covenant against corruption

January 22, 2013 8:42pm
Just prior to signing a historic covenant against media corruption, senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño, who is currently a congressman, vented his frustration.

"Before I used to be interviewed for free, now I'm being asked to pay," he told an audience of media leaders and political party representatives on Tuesday, without citing which news organizations were billing him. "They told me now that I'm running the rules are different."

"That's why we're doing this!" newspaper publisher Vergel Santos exclaimed. "We need to hear stories that will expose corruption in media. With this covenant, lines will be drawn."

After further discussion about "interview packages" and other shady deals that some media agencies offer candidates, the covenant was signed by a diverse group that included representatives of the three major TV networks and political parties Liberal Party, Nationalista, LDP, and the coalition UNA, who all pledged to "reject the corruption in media, in its varied forms, that has always marred Philippine elections."

The politicians vowed not to pay for media favors, while the journalists promised not to accept offers of payment for the same.

In addition, the signatories "commit ourselves to reporting instances of corruption in the media."

The covenant was the outcome of Media Nation 9 last November, an annual conference of media leaders convened by anti-corruption advocates from civil society led by Bart Guingona, Chito Salazar, and Vince Lazatin.

Among the other media signatories were Raul Pangalangan, publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Luchi Cruz-Valdes, top news executive at TV5; Ging Reyes, who heads news and current affairs at ABS-CBN; Howie Severino of GMA Network; and Marites Vitug of the news website Rappler.

Aside from Casiño, the politicians who signed included congressman Toby Tiangco, who is UNA's campaign manager; former senator Jun Magsaysay; former Senate President Ernesto Maceda; and former congressman Mike Romero. Magsaysay and Maceda are both senatorial candidates.

Maceda, 77, told the audience of his experiences with media corruption. He recalled "inheriting a media payroll of 300" when he was appointed executive secretary by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1969.

Investigative journalist Vitug, who has written ground-breaking books on corruption in the Supreme Court, hailed the covenant as "the first in contemporary media history," saying it was a "signal that media is opening itself up to public scrutiny."

The signatories recognized that the covenant was "just a single step in a larger process to root out corruption, itself a complex problem. But solutions begin with the acknowledgment and discussion of the problem."

The covenant will be circulated so it can be signed by other media professionals and politicians.

Among other actions the media leaders discussed was the creation of a website for exposing corruption in media.

"The coming elections provide an opportunity for this initial effort towards self-cleansing, and renewing our commitment to public service," the covenant continues.

"We believe that this Covenant will open the kind of public discourse that will lead to action against media corruption, and consequently repair the great damage it has done to our society," the statement concludes. Gian Geronimo/ DVM, GMA News

Text of the covenant:


COVENANT AGAINST MEDIA CORRUPTION 2013

We – representatives of political parties participating in the 2013 vote and media organizations covering it – confront a painful and persistent truth: Media corruption damages our society, especially during elections. We recognize that there are political candidates and media practitioners who uphold the highest ethical standards, but we also realize that the problem is real.

We have thus decided to come together to reject the corruption in media, in its varied forms, that has always marred Philippine elections.

In particular, the political signatories pledge not to engage in "envelopmental" journalism – the payment (or offer of payment) by political parties or candidates to journalists and other media practitioners and their principals for media favors. And the media signatories pledge not to tolerate the practice of "envelopmental" journalism, or to solicit payment from political candidates for media favors.

In sum, the parties and their candidates publicly commit that they will not offer journalists and other media practitioners and their principals any payment or form of compensation for favors; the media signatories also publicly commit that they will neither accept nor solicit any such payment or form of compensation for favors. This excludes exposure through legitimate advertising.

We further commit ourselves to reporting instances of corruption in the media: In the case of the news subjects/sources among us, to report these to the media; in the case of journalists, to report on these in our media.

We appeal to those who have not signed this Covenant to do so and thus live up to these promises because they are what the public expects and deserves from both government and media---two vital institutions that citizens must be able to trust.

This Covenant is just a single step in a larger process to root out corruption, itself a complex problem. But solutions begin with the acknowledgment and discussion of the problem.

The coming elections provide an opportunity for this initial effort towards self-cleansing, and renewing our commitment to public service.

We believe that this Covenant will open the kind of public discourse that will lead to action against media corruption, and consequently repair the great damage it has done to our society.



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