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Philippines

#10: Placing a Value on Social Media

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Orginally published on January 19, 2011

Lately, there has been a great deal of debate about the $500 million investment by financial giant, Goldman Sachs, and a Russian investor in the social networking site Facebook.  Sachs justified their investment by saying the company is worth $50 billion dollars.  Many financial analysts think this high dollar amount is ludicrous and unjustifiable because Facebook has not yet generated a great deal of profit.  However, the question many people are debating, and have been debating for some time, is: what is the true value of social media?

Killed Bill: Freedom of Information in the Philippines

Antonio Lambino's picture

Global Voices, a website that aggregates news and information from an international community of bloggers, recently posted an obituary entitled “Philippines: Congress Fails to Pass Freedom of Information Bill.”  In my mind, this failed reform is but a lost battle in the larger war waged between patronage politics and good governance.  Winning the war entails much more than enacting a new law; it requires transforming the country’s political culture from one dominated by a web of patronage relationships to one characterized by transparency, accountability, and participation.

I was in Manila during the bill’s final days, and monitored the news with deep interest as a coalition of local and international advocates launched a public campaign in support of the bill’s ratification.  On May 24, 2010, ABS-CBNNews.com and the front page of The Philippine Star, an influential broadsheet, carried a piece entitled “World awaits RP’s (Republic of the Philippines) Freedom of Info Act” by veteran journalist Malou Mangahas.  Here’s a snippet:

“Today starts a series of mass actions by journalists, workers, students, professionals, business and church leaders, and civil society groups in their vigorous push for Congress to ratify the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.  But the world waits and watches, too.  More than just a Philippine story, the 14-year advocacy of Filipinos for Congress to enact the law has become a serious concern of freedom of information advocates, scholars, and members of parliament across the globe.”

Murder and Impunity

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The issues of journalism and a free press come to mind these days. With a significant number of journalists attacked in, among other countries, Russia, just in the past few months, we clearly see the dependence of the media system on the political environment in a country. Journalism training is the major form of media development - how to use new technologies, how to write a good feature, how to sniff out a corruption scandal - but is anyone thinking about what happens to reporters in countries where the rule of law is weak? This year alone, 16 journalists have been killed in the line of duty, as the Committee  to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports. Last year: 71. Since 1992, more than 800 journalists have been murdered as a direct consequence of their reporting. Iraq, the Philippines, Algeria, and Russia are the four deadliest countries for journalists.

The Road to Issue-Based Politics is Very, Very Short

Antonio Lambino's picture

Many years back, a reporter asked a respected senator running for reelection in the Philippines why he remained in the opposition when most members of congress had joined the president’s party.  The answer he gave was memorable: “I stay with the opposition because I believe our country’s party system needs to be strengthened.”

I’m not sure what he meant exactly, but I suspect it may have had something to do with the role of ideology in politics.  As we know, dominant political parties in the developing world are deeply deficient in formulating and advocating coherent policy positions.  There are, of course, notable examples of ideologically grounded parties that have risen to prominence in Argentina, India, and South Africa.  But these are relatively rare occurrences.

Cracking the Entrenched System of Corruption

Fumiko Nagano's picture

Last month, I had the pleasure to meet again with Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, during her visit to Washington. Sina and I first met Beyerle in Doha and were impressed by her research on civic campaigns to fight corruption; I had the chance to speak with her by phone in December and was happy to continue our conversation in person in February. Having examined a multitude of non-violent grassroots campaigns against corruption around the world for her own research (for those interested, here is the link to her research description), Beyerle shared with me not only numerous interesting cases for CommGAP to look into in our research, but also her observations about the factors that contribute to the success of civic efforts to fight corruption.

Transparency Delayed, Transparency Denied?

Antonio Lambino's picture

Is transparency delayed, transparency denied? How about when disasters, such typhoons or earthquakes, strike? Should transparency and citizen access to information as regards the disbursement of calamity funds be considered a priority? Or should transparency temporarily take a back seat during disasters with all efforts going into emergency response?

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"... Empowering people means more than just giving them elections. It means enlarging their contact with government, and habituating them to the direction of their own affairs. People empowerment, by direct participation in government or by indirect involvement through NGOs, was the surest means of making government mirror the aspirations of the many rather than merely advance the interests of the few. 

It is on the work of people empowerment that I now devote the greater portion of my time... to put in the hands of ordinary people the quite ordinary, but organized, means of effecting major changes in their lives. 

This was the force that toppled dictatorships and tore down the Berlin Wall. Can it be made to build up? In the past, the idea was to give the people just enough political power to make a mistake at the polls; in the future, the idea should be to empower them to decide meaningfully, and throw the full weight of their numbers behind their choice. "


                                                                            - H. E. Corazon C. Aquino, 1933-2009
                                                                              President Of The Phillipines, 1986-1992
                                                                              Fulbright Prize Ceremony
                                                                              U.S. Department of State
                                                                              Washington, D.C., October 11, 1996

Photo credit: Lilen Uy, featured on the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism website

Four Days with Asian Reform Managers

Antonio Lambino's picture

Close to 30 government officials from seven Asian countries* recently participated in CommGAP’s workshop on communication and governance reform.  Entitled People, Politics, and Change, the workshop was held in Manila, Philippines from April 20 to 23.  The participant pool included a few high level officials, both cabinet ministers and national parliamentarians.  Also in the group were governance specialists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the World Bank’s newly established regional governance hub in Bangkok.  Observers included representatives from the Asian Institute of Management and the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

Public Actors and Controversy: Keeping It Real

Antonio Lambino's picture

For the past few weeks, the Philippine media have been intensely focused on a controversy regarding a foreign loan meant to fund the creation of the National Broadband Network (NBN), a project envisioned to seamlessly link all government offices across the archipelago via the Internet.

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