(For COMMENTS, please click here)
December 17, 2012
Mr. Ricardo Caluen
President, Philippine Press Club Ontario
92 Carlton Street - Unit 802
Dear Mr. Caluen:
The undersigned are members of the Metro Toronto Filipino-Canadian community and others who value fairness, respect, charity, goodwill, unity, peace and harmony in our community.
We desire a community that honors achievement and inspires the younger generation to be the best they can be, a community whose members work together in unity to advance their common goals and self-interest.
We believe in the freedom of the press, which is an extension of every individual’s freedom of speech.
But we also believe in fair, honest, accurate and balanced reporting by media organizations and their personnel in order to avoid inflicting unnecessary or undue harm to a person’s reputation.
We particularly abhor media bullying such as the use of excessive, repetitive, sensational, abrasive, contemptuous, crass and mean-spirited articles which have no ostensible purpose other than to badger, harass and subject their objects to emotional distress.
We believe in what author and philosopher Nigel Warburton has said: “The media must x x x make an effort to provide socially responsible coverage that fosters the common good in their communities . . .”
We have an interest in maintaining a cohesive and vibrant community that works for the common good; as such, we shun articles, columns or postings that unduly discredit, humiliate and demean achievers and volunteers in our community.
We expect members of the media to exercise caution, sensitivity and restraint when characterizing people always mindful of the time-honored principle of an accused being held innocent until proven guilty.
Consistent with widely accepted journalistic standards, the media should only judge or criticize actions and arguments, and refrain from ad hominem attacks.
We are writing this letter to you because we are gravely concerned with the discord, disunity, turmoil and distress that have befallen our community of late.
This unwelcome development has been and is being spurred by a series of condescending and, quite possibly, even defamatory, articles and other writings published and circulated by one local newsprint organization, Balita, and its ally in cyberspace, The Filipino Web Channel also known as PhilVoiceNews, against certain members of our community.
We refer to Senator Jun Enverga and wife Rosemer who have been the main targets of the above-referred to media organizations and also Lilac Cana, a gifted Filipino artist and community volunteer who has been the pride of our community not only for her artistic talents but also for the honor that she has brought to our community in public appearances that have gained worldwide recognition.
The Philippine Press Club of Ontario’s Constitution and Bylaws express as one of its objectives embracing and advancing “ethical and professional journalism” and participating positively in activities that aim to “strengthen the social fabric”.
In March of this year, PPCO’s Board adopted a Code of Ethics for its members that, among other things, embraces the fundamental principle that persons accused of any wrong-doing are innocent until proven otherwise.
Listed below is a sampling of a series of articles penned by Balita columnists and reporters and published by Balita, which we find profoundly disturbing (copies attached for convenience).
Title of Article or Posting
Nov 30, 2012
Sep 29, 2012
Quo Vadis Senator? (T. Soriano)
Sep 29, 2012
The Great Escape, Filipino Version (R. Marquez)
Sep 19, 2012
Sep 17, 2012
Euphoria and Disappointment (R. Marquez)
Aug 31, 2012
Aug 14, 2012
The PIDC Fiasco: Who Rained on Norma’s Parade (T. Soriano)
Aug 02, 2012
Manny’s peace, war of Rosemer, etc. etc. (T. Soriano)
Jun 19, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors (R. Marquez)
Jun 03, 2012
In our view, the spate of abrasive articles repeatedly targeting the same individuals on essentially the same issues, when taken together, may constitute unethical, if not criminal, harassment by the media organizations involved, particularly when examined in the context of the facts already known to the media (for example, in reference to the Envergas, the initiation by PIDC in April 2012 of an internal audit of its finances intended to unravel the same truth that the writers are purportedly seeking).
In light of the audit alluded to, the subsequent articles targeting the Envergas are, in our opinion, misdirected and have no legitimate purpose except to annoy, harass and hold the above-named members of our community up to hatred, contempt and ridicule and to cause them substantial emotional distress.
We do not wish to speculate on the motives behind the articles.
Suffice for us to point out that the community’s trust in the press is being eroded, and each one of us now asks how and whether your organization can and will protect citizens – ordinary or in responsible positions – from media bullying.
Unless checked, anyone in the community is or can be a target of harassment by the media and we are taking a stand not only for ourselves but also for those who have chosen to remain silent.
Furthermore, we are asking if members of the media are committed to playing a positive role in the development of our community.
We bring this matter to your attention confident that PPCO will act resolutely to address the situation.
We have no malicious intent in bringing this complaint. We recognize the value of the media in effecting social change. In a true spirit of partnership, together we can achieve what is best for our community.
We hereby ask the Philippine Press Club of Ontario, under your leadership, to initiate a formal investigation and take whatever action deemed necessary, desirable or appropriate in the circumstances.
Please acknowledge receipt of this communication through any one of the signatories below and keep us posted on PPCO’s plan to address this complaint. We consider this a pressing matter and request that PPCO address and resolve this complaint within thirty days of the date of this letter.
Annette Simbulan (Dr.)
Chelly Silva (Dr.)
Fred Del Rosario
Karl Haab, President
New Conservatory of Music Ltd., Scarborough
Maria Bernardita Daco
cc. Members of the PPCO Board