PCIJ leads Human Rights reporting workshop in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY – Several local media practitioners and student journalists from Bicol attended a workshop spearheaded by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) held at Proxy by The Oriental in Legazpi City, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

The seminar is themed, “Reporting on Human Rights, Rebuilding Communities through Human Rights Empowerment” which is a three-tiered training: provincial, regional and national workshops.

Rowena Paraan, PCIJ training director, gave an overview of the agency’s initiative project concerning human rights reporting.

“The Philippine press has to better understand the concepts of human rights,” Paraan said.

The provincial workshop level deals with basic human rights issues and challenges of journalists when covering human rights stories while regional and national levels will deal on major human rights concerns across geographical areas.

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Role of the Local Media

Stanley Palisada of ABS-CBN shared in the pre-recorded videos the fundamentals of human rights and the importance of human rights stories in the community.

“Defend the rights of the abused and make the abusers accountable…as you are a product of human rights, you must do everything in your power to promote and protect these rights…kapag nawalan ng boses ang midya, mawawalan din ng boses ang publiko,” Palisada said. 

Meanwhile, Rhaydz Barcia, News Correspondent of Rappler and Manila Times and one of the attendees put a pressing concern regarding the local media coverage on human rights violations.

“I’m always fighting what is right for everybody…ang midya dito, nagiging tahimik lang tayo…and we are allowing those people na propagating trolls and these public officials locally, they are peddlers of fake news dahil they are recognizing non-media practitioners without knowledge sa journalism,” Barcia said.

“Paano natin mabibigyan ng boses ito kung tayo mismo wala tayong pakialam sa mga kasamahan natin? Hinahayaan lang natin ‘yong mga local officials na nakikita nating nag-v-violate maging ang human rights issues.”

Common HR violations in Bicol

On the other hand, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region V Director Atty. Arlene Alangco tackled the international and national human rights framework, principles to guide journalists in effective reportage on human rights stories as well as the corresponding obligations of the government.

Atty. Alangco shares the common human rights violations in the Bicol region are violence against women and children (VAWC) and violations committed by Barangay officials and PNP.

Vince Casilihan from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) discussed the current situation of human rights violations in Bicol such as red-tagging, extrajudicial killings in the peasant sectors, privatization of government offices, illegal quarrying and mining and their adversarial effects.

Challenges in covering HR stories

The attending journalists also shared the challenges in covering human rights stories where most of them agreed that the fear of sources and inaccessibility are the most common ones they encounter.

“Ako minsan fearless ako…pero iyong ibang sources, they are fearful and ayaw nila magbigay ng kanilang narrative and hard to reach sources…minsan they will just choose to hide themselves. Another one is manipulation of data,” said Rose Olarte, Correspondent of CNN Philippines.

The participants also brought up the challenges of journalism interns during field work in the middle of discussion.

Attendees also defined protocols in human rights reporting in its last session. I via Nicole Frilles

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Photos: Job Baeza