Media group urges probe into journalists in ‘pork scam’

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MEDIA groups are calling for an investigation on the alleged involvement of journalists in the pork barrel funds through the Agriculture department’s National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor).

Jerry Orcullo, president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC), said he wants the mediamen allegedly involved investigated for the accusation as he urged for the policing of ranks among the country’s media practitioners.

“I am not to condemn a fellow comrade in the media industry, but I urged that this should be deeply investigated as to the extent of the pork barrel scandal,” Orcullo said.


Orcullo added: “It seems to me that the anomaly has not spared any sector, including now our community — where supposedly we lead the advocacy of exposing corruption in all levels of government and sectors of society.”

He said that while the Philippine media is advancing anti-corruption exposés, it can’t be denied that the media have also its weaknesses.

“It’s hypocrisy in the highest form and order if we claim that we are clean and honest,” he added.

Orcullo said he is saddened by the deepening roots of the culture of corruption in society, but added that the media should not give the fight to make known to the public any wrongdoings committed by government officials.

Policing the ranks

“I urge that we close ranks and police ourselves and each other. With this tint in our face, we should all the more be more aggressive in carrying out our journalistic duties of exposing corruption and opposing it,” Orcullo said.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in an official statement released by its chair Rowena Paraan and posted on its social media site recently, said the group is concerned about the allegations of corruption in media but still withholding any comment “to allow those accused the opportunity to present their side as well as for the Inquirer to present more definitive evidence to back up the allegations raised.”

“Nevertheless, we acknowledge that probably, the most common criticism against the Philippine media have always had to do with the perceived lack of ethics and professionalism among journalists,” it said.

In fact, the group added, “some quarters have gone so far as to cite these shortcomings to explain, if not justify, why media killings persist, as if corruption deserved a death sentence.”

Not merely witch-hunt

In light of the accusations, NUJP thinks the time is ripe “the issue of ethics and professionalism – or the lack thereof – in the Philippine media is discussed openly and honestly, and, more importantly, addressed decisively.”

But should a venue for such discussion is provided, the group said any talks of ethics and professionalism “shall encompass all aspects of the media industry as a whole and not be limited only to weeding out individual offenders.”

NUJP maintained that, “for all its virtues and faults, the Philippine media is a reflection of the society from which it springs and which it claims to serve.”

For this, the group is encouraging not just merely a pointing of fingers against the accused but a more comprehensive discussion on the plight of the country’s journalists.

“We also fervently hope that the discourse on ethics does not descend into a mindless witch-hunt or be exploited by the enemies of a free and independent press to tarnish a profession that, for all its blemishes, still remains one of the Filipino citizens’ strongest defenses against those who habitually abuse their powers and privileges,” the group said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 26, 2014.

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