No to Fake News


NO TO FAKE NEWS. Criminology students do the thumb-down sign at the scholastic outreach program on "Let's Get Real on Fake News" at the Andres Bonifacio College in Dipolog City. They were among the 240 participants from 6 schools who attended the seminar organized by the Philippine Press Institite (PPI) with support from Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC). The final legs will be held in Bacolod and Dumaguete. (Photos by Kier Labrador of PPI)


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Ten conservation advocates receive 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Award

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes were recognized in an award ceremony in Manila, Philippines. (left to right) H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community; ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva; Mr. Eyad Samhan (Brunei Darussalam); Mr. Sophea Chhin (Cambodia); Mr. Alex Waisimon (Indonesia); Mr. Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham (Lao PDR); Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia); Dr. Maung Maung Kyi (Myanmar); Dr. Angel Alcala (Philippines); Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin (Singapore); Dr. Nonn Panitvong (Thailand); and Prof. Dang Huy Huynh (Viet Nam).
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes were recognized in an award ceremony in Manila, Philippines. (left to right) H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community; ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva; Mr. Eyad Samhan (Brunei Darussalam); Mr. Sophea Chhin (Cambodia); Mr. Alex Waisimon (Indonesia); Mr. Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham (Lao PDR); Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia); Dr. Maung Maung Kyi (Myanmar); Dr. Angel Alcala (Philippines); Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin (Singapore); Dr. Nonn Panitvong (Thailand); and Prof. Dang Huy Huynh (Viet Nam).

Ten biodiversity conservation advocates representing the grassroots, government, academic, and business sectors received the 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Award at a ceremony held in Manila, Philippines on 07 August 2017. The inaugural award forms part of the celebration of ASEAN’s Golden Anniversary.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is a program designed to recognize outstanding individuals from the ASEAN region who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries.

From an indigenous community leader who is protecting Papua’s forest to a national scientist who is championing coastal resources management, the inaugural ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes honors inspirational and valiant individuals who have risen to the challenge of helping curb biodiversity loss. Each of the heroes, in their own different ways, have made significant impact on biodiversity conservation in their respective communities, countries, and the region.

The 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are:

1. Mr. Eyad Samhan, Former Field Supervisor, Tasek Merimbun, Brunei Darussalam
For significant contributions to research on fauna and flora in Brunei and in the region

2. Mr. Sophea Chhin, Government Official, Department of Biodiversity, Cambodia
For sparking interest in wildlife research among Cambodians

3. Mr. Alex Waisimon, Conservation worker, Indonesia
For protecting Papua’s forests for future generations

4. Mr. Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham, President, Union Development Agricole Import-Export Public Company (UDA Farm), Lao PDR
For promoting environment-friendly agricultural production and protecting migratory species

5. Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Malaysia
For making a lasting impact on analysis and assessment of global biodiversity and ecosystem services

6. Dr. Maung Maung Kyi, Chairman, Rakhine Coastal Region Conservation Association, Myanmar
For effectively promoting community participation to conserve various habitats

7. Dr. Angel C. Alcala, Professor Emeritus, Silliman University, National Scientist, Philippines
For championing coastal resource management and terrestrial biodiversity conservation

8. Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin, Professorial Fellow and Director (Special Projects), Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore
For championing biodiversity outreach and education

9. Dr. Nonn Panitvong, Founder and Webmaster of Thailand Biodiversity Conservation Group, Director, NakornPhet Sugar Limited and other companies
For raising public awareness of biodiversity through taxonomy

10. Prof. Dang Huy Huynh, Vice Chair, Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment
For fostering the exchange of knowledge and solutions to conserve Viet Nam’s biodiversity

“At the heart of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025 is the commitment to lift the quality of life of its peoples through cooperative activities that are people oriented, people-centered, environmentally friendly, and geared towards the promotion of sustainable development. Today is a celebration – where we rejoice the achievement and recognition of these ten remarkable individuals. It is also a celebration for the peoples of ASEAN. The Heroes will bring to the peoples of ASEAN a better understanding, awareness and appreciation of the diverse values of biodiversity and underpin the willingness of individuals to make real changes and actions that will bring about a more sustainable future for all of us,” said H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva said, “We are honoring 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes who have dedicated their lives for the cause of biodiversity conservation. Under great sacrifice to themselves and their families, they have shown tenacity, perseverance and focus to protect our web of life. Our heroes have shown us clearly what love for self, what love for children and grandchildren and what love for one’s country is. It is embracing the cause of biodiversity conservation. ASEAN biodiversity which is the region’s life support system is still rich because of you,” he said. The ACB serves as awards secretariat.

Representing Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the search for the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes holds a special significance for the Philippines and the entire ASEAN region. “Without biodiversity, there will be no life, for biodiversity is life in itself. Without biodiversity in its myriad forms and inter-interdependence, we will not survive and prosper. Biodiversity feeds us, sustains healthy living, maintains a healthy and productive environment, helps nations develop and grow economically, promotes human development and well-being, and provides recreational facilities. In short, biodiversity is with us and around us, every moment, and in every breath we take,” he said.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is supported by the ASEAN Secretariat; the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs; the European Union through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project; and HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI).

Mr. Michael Bucki, EU Climate Change and Environment Counsellor to the ASEAN, expressed pride in supporting the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project. “We need a global vision and a political will at the highest level to halt biodiversity loss and I have no doubt that the ASEAN – EU partnership can reinforce that vision towards a common objective and interest. We also need biodiversity champions who are making outstanding efforts, always acting beyond their personal interest and often taking personal risks. They make a significant difference in our day to day life and more importantly they lead by example in order that each and every one can contribute ‘to make the planet great again’.”

Each ASEAN Biodiversity Hero received a cash prize worth USD 5,000, a special Heroes medal and trophy.

Apart from receiving the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Award, the 10 heroes also received the Hyundai Icon for Biodiversity Award, a special prize from HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI). “HFI opens a new leg in our journey of working and caring for Man and Planet as the Philippine automotive industry’s champion for biodiversity. We have covered substantial ground in our advocacy for education in environmental stewardship, but we know we can still do more to heed Mother Nature's desperate call for help. Partnering with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity is an important step towards expanding the scope and scale of our advocacy for social and environmental sustainability. I warmly congratulate this year’s ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes. With you in the spotlight as models for everyone to emulate, we can do more in broadening the awareness about biodiversity and in creating actionable measures toward its conservation,” Ms. Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, president of HFI, said.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes were selected by the ASEAN Member States. The nominating agencies considered the relevance of the nominees’ contributions to biodiversity conservation, the impact of these contributions to biodiversity conservation efforts in their respective countries and the region, the replicability of their actions, and the recognition they received in communities where they belong.

The heroes from the 10 ASEAN Member States will be known as the faces of biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN region. They will be invited to speak in forums, workshops, press conferences, and other relevant events to share their experiences in conserving biodiversity with the aim of inspiring others to do the same.

To know more about the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, log on to For questions, send an e-mail to

Notes to Editors:
For individual feature stories and photos of the 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Awardees, please visit:

Photo Credits: She Aguiba

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Let’s heal wounds of conflict — Dureza


ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza on Monday urged stakeholders to work on relationship building and healing the wounds and divisions brought about by armed conflict.

“I always say this before, and even now, I can build easily the [physical] structures destroyed by the [armed] conflict. I can also build the school buildings that were burned down. But building of the relationships, bringing back social cohesion, and mending the torn social fabric brought about the conflict takes time. The healing takes time,” Dureza said in his speech during the celebration of the country’s 119th Independence Day.

Dureza was in this city on Monday to represent President Rodrigo Duterte for the nationwide commemoration. He, along with Mayor Isabelle “Beng” Climaco-Salazar, hoisted the Philippine flag and laying of the wreaths at the iconic Plaza Rizal, fronting the City Hall.

Dureza emphasized the very important process of healing amid the crisis in Marawi and the continuing recovery of Zamboanga City following the 2013's siege.

“I see here in Zamboanga, the healing process has already started. And we can see the results. This is principally due to the leadership of Mayor Beng and the city officials in cooperation with the military, police, and members of the different sector, and most especially the civilians,” the presidential adviser said.

He noted that indications show that Zamboanga “is now moving forward. The city is already building torn relationships.”

Dureza emphasized that the healing process is one of the lessons that could help the current conflict besetting in Marawi.

The rehabilitation process “is not only to rebuild damaged physical structures in Marawi, but the most important task, which is not easy to do, is building back broken relationships and healing the wounds.”

“There is a strong need for social healing…and see to it that we don’t have a continuity of this conflict,” he said.

At the same time, Dureza reiterated the need to check “hatred and deep-seated biases” to advance the cause.

“When you say, ‘I’m going to help bring about peace’. I will ask you: are you at peace with yourself? Because if you have anxieties, angsts, and hatred, then you cannot radiate to others what you do not have. And that is the lesson that we should learn. Because you cannot give what you do not have,” he said.

Equally essential is the strong vigilance of the community to deny terror and extremist groups to set foot in their community.

“One vital measure is for the community to pass timely information to the authorities to prevent similar tragedies,” Dureza said, referring to the strong vigilance of the community in thwarting possible attack of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf Group in Bohol last April

Dureza said healing and rebuilding relationships are among the major thrusts of the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser (OPAPP), which is tasked to address the underlying causes of the armed conflict in the country.

At present, the OPAPP is working under the six-point peace and development roadmap of the Duterte administration.

The roadmap covers the implementation of the all the peace agreements the government had signed with the Moro fronts and the ongoing peace negations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In parallel, the peace roadmap also provides the needed socio-economic interventions to conflict-affected areas in the country.

“The road to peace is not paved. There are humps and bumps. What is important is that we all stay the course,” Dureza said.

Dureza encouraged the people of Zamboanga City to share stories and lessons from the siege, starting with those heroes who fought and died during the armed conflict.

“As we celebrate our 119 Independence Day celebration, we remember all our heroes in the past and also our present day heroes,” he added, referring to those security forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice to bring peace in the country. (end)

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Guidelines for Reporting Disasters and Other Emergencies

I believe

That disasters and emergencies are personal tragedies to the victims that no one else can ever comprehend;
That they are a source of grief and concern to the community; and
That they are trauma-filled experience for the reporters.

I believe reporters, shall:
As first responder:
Be aware of their safety and their surroundings upon first arriving at the scene;
Ensure that they are physically, emotionally, psychologically fit; and
Consider the ethical issues involved (being first on the scene and not lifting a hand to help may be regarded by the public as insensitivity; should you? If you can’t, what should you do instead?)

In preparing for the coverage:
Anticipate what might be needed i.e., emergency toolkit, before jump off;
Reporters and photographers should be aware of existing guidelines/laws on covering children, women, and special topics like bird flu and HIV/AIDS, and be sensitive to special concerns;
News organizations should orient their reporters before they are sent to cover emergencies;
Constant communication/tracking between reporters and gatekeepers (let the newsroom know what you’re wearing);

Be sensitive.

During coverage/interview:
Reporters must dress appropriately; in neutral colors;
Unless there is no other choice, never ride a military vehicle;
Should avoid disruption and interference in rescue and disaster response operations

(see above about first responder);
Introduce yourself properly;
Do not pass judgment on your interviewee;
Avoid intruding upon the grief of victims, but if circumstances force you to, then be sensitive;
If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, respect that and just leave a contact number just in case he/she would want to talk later. Never force anyone to talk when they are not ready, not resort to talking to children without getting the permission of their parents or guardians;

Make sure the person understands the terms of your interview. We as outsiders and the media may by just our mere presence, bring undeserved hope that will make the personal tragedy/loss even worse because we are not there for deliverance but to tell the story;
Be sensitive to the customs and culture of the affected community;
Employ as many sources as possible (government, NGO, first-person, etc/multisourcing);

Your emotional reaction, while tempered, should not be ignored. Be human and humane at all times;

Always give respect and dignity to the victims. This means knowing when to back off and stop your questioning and probing;

In a disaster or emergency, the worst sin is to talk too much. Listen, let the people tell their story. Never prod. Line of questioning should not be interrogative; be versatile;

Consult social workers in interviewing victims of disaster especially those who have experienced trauma.

Writing the story:
Always be accurate; use pertinent details to describe the victims, situations, and environment;

Provide context to your story through research and parallel interviews of experts outside the disaster scene;

Remember, your coverage will have an impact on your community. The trauma can become worse by the way     you treat a story and a person;

Do not sensationalize or exaggerate sufferings; should exercise utmost prudence in choice of language;
Editors should prudently exercise their discretionary powers in choosing photographs of the victims taking into  account the risk of unwanted exposure and the harm it may cause to the victims;

For community paper coverage of disasters where families are evacuated:

Inform public where the families are (specific evacuation sites and who the key persons are) and what their situations are for the information of relatives who may not know where to reach the victims;

Write to raise public awareness and mobilize public support;
Photos and graphics should not inflict more trauma on the victims or depict them in an undignified manner.

Reporters welfare:

Reporters should undergo debriefing after covering disasters and have a venue for them to talk it out of their system.
Reporters should be entitled to breaks after covering disasters.


Launched and approved by the PPI members
28th May 2008

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Guidelines in Reporting on Children


That children have the same dignity and rights as those of adults;
That children can be productive for themselves and for society;
That children need protection from all kinds of harm; and
That in reporting about children, their best interests come first.

I therefore shall:

STRIVE to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in my reporting;

CONSIDER its short-and-long-term implications on their welfare and rights;

REFRAIN from illustrating my reporting with photos or graphics that commodify, or sensationalize their plight;

AVOID using words that stigmatize or traumatize children;

PROTECT and RESPECT the diverse cultures of Filipino children;

AVOID discriminating against children on the bases of sex, gender and cultural identity, as well as ethnic and religious background;

SEEK, CONSIDER, and RESPECT the opinions of children, and promote their right to participate in decision-making on issues affecting them;

EXERCISE patience and sensitivity when interviewing children, using words or language they easily understand;

WRITE stories raising public awareness and mobilizing public support for their survival, development and protection, as well as their participation in creating an environment in which they are protected from information, data and images that promote sex, violence, discrimination, conflict, vices, and the use of illegal drugs and substances;

In cases of children who are victims of abuse, in conflict with the law, caught in armed conflicts and in other special circumstances, I shall:

OBSERVE the confidentiality of their names and other information that may lead to their identification to ensure their safety and privacy whether as victims, witnesses, or aggressors;

SECURE the consent of their guardian or custodian before interviewing them or taking their photographs;

REFRAIN from exploiting any of such cases for fund-raising and similarly-oriented activities; and

REMEMBER always that children in special situations are victims of circumstances. This is a challenge to me as a journalist and the general public to protect and empower them.

October 13, 2003
Launched and approved by the PPI Members

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Journalists’ Code of Ethics

  1. I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.
  2. I shall not violate confidential information on material given me in the exercise of my calling.
  3. I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.
  4. I shall refrain from writing reports which will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interests justifies it. At the same time, I shall write vigorously for public access to information, as provided for in the constitution.
  5. I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties; nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature which may cast doubt on my professional integrity.
  6. I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.
  7. I shall not in any manner ridicule, cast aspersions on or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.
  8. I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise. I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors, and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.
  9. I shall not take unfair advantage of a fellow journalist.
  10. I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the "conscience clause" when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.
  11. I shall comport myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.

Approved by the Philippines Press Institute, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, and the National Press Club in 1988.

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ASEAN@50: Beyond the Headlines

New 3

Today, at 50, ASEAN’s decades-long existence should prompt some earnest reflection on several fronts. How far has it gone in achieving its goals? How much of its multi-pronged vision for the 625 million-strong regional bloc is now undeniably a reality? Has it made a dent in the lives of its peoples, not just economically but also politically, socially, and culturally? To what extent is this being felt on the ground, if at all?

Questions abound in particular on the state of human rights and other thorny issues — the Rohingya crisis and South China Sea dispute easily jumping to the top of the list — hounding, and polarizing, parts of the region, and which are of such a scale they have drawn global attention. Is Southeast Asia, finally, a region where the only thing that sets its peoples apart is their geographical boundaries? (This, amid the march to regional integration.)

It goes without saying that ASEAN is not just about the much-ballyhooed, high-profile summits and similar events regularly attended by its leaders and other high-ranking officials. Yet, mention ASEAN to ordinary citizens of any one of its ten member countries, and what easily comes to mind? (One hopes it’s not the obligatory photo-ops showing our leaders clad in the traditional dress of their host country.) Do they pride themselves, collectively and individually, on being part of ASEAN, knowing quite well what it is all about and should mean for them? Can they, off the top of their heads, explain its role — and relevance — amid ASEAN’s diverse political systems as well as social, economic, and cultural settings?

And amid a flurry of acronyms (e.g., AEC, ASC, ASCC, AEM, AFTA, ATM, AMBDC, AFMM, AMEM, AMMin, etc. — indeed a veritable alphabet soup of abbreviations), how much does the average ASEAN citizen understand about specific ASEAN committees’ raison d’etre and the goings-on before, during, and after official meetings and dialogues, and why should he care?

These and myriad other, even more substantive, issues deserve a deeper look such as the challenges of regional integration, dubbed a milestone in ASEAN’s history.

Who better to explore the issues — including highly polarizing ones — that matter to ASEAN peoples — than the mass media? Who better to tell the stories that are aching to be told — stories that go beyond the headlines, cliches, and catchphrases — and that often get buried in the din of what is arguably superficial coverage of ASEAN — than the media? There is no gainsaying the fact that media are in a strategic (though not necessarily enviable) position — this, by dint of their time-honored function — to expand the breadth and depth of public discussions (to the extent that these are taking place) cannot be emphasized enough.

Interestingly enough, as ASEAN marks its golden anniversary on August 8, some decades-old and recently emergent issues and challenges are still lurking in the dark, waiting to be brought to light, as it were. Perhaps it is time Southeast Asia’s national and regional media, including community newspapers, took stock of the state of their coverage of the regional bloc — and rose to the challenge of shining a spotlight where it’s most needed, long after the latest ASEAN summit has been concluded or regional agreement signed — and long after the visual spectacles that often mark high-level regional meetings vanish from view.

While at it, the Philippines’ chairmanship this year of ASEAN comes at an interesting time, when the country is being hobbled by allegations of human rights violations spawned by President Rodrigo Duterte’s all-out war against drugs. The irony should not be lost on those of us who are familiar with the strong and firm position the Philippine government has taken in the past on specific issues such as when it actively pushed for the creation of a regional human rights body and led calls to strengthen the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in the face of perceived deficiencies in this vital instrument.

To date no ASEAN member state has publicly called out the Philippines for the culture of impunity that human rights advocates say the the country’s anti-drug campaign has engendered. Such a stance seems all of a piece with the region’s principle of non-interference in matters domestic.

To be sure public debate around complex and sensitive issues confronting ASEAN needs to be enhanced. Pointing out the role of the press in this regard would be belaboring the obvious, but it would also mean positing that the media, and all member states for that matter, are standing on common ground where fundamental freedoms are concerned. (Fifty years on, dissent is still frowned upon in parts of the region.)

Still and all, the Philippine Press Institute, on the occasion of its 21st National Press Forum, hopes to make a modest contribution to enhancing public dialogue on ASEAN, with the media at the forefront.


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