PCIJ on ‘Oust-Duterte plot’:
Wrong report, on many counts

PCIJ Statement on The Manila Times‘s report on “Oust-Duterte plot”, 22 April 2019

The Manila Times’s “association matrix” and story about a supposed “oust-Duterte plot” that include journalists with the PCIJ are wrong on many points.

1.    PCIJ had absolutely not nor ever received any email from Ms. Ellen Tordesillas on the link to the so-called “narcolist video” of “Bikoy.” PCIJ has neither posted nor distributed any stories or commentaries on the “narcolist video” of “Bikoy.” The video was posted on YouTube from where the news media and citizens got to watch it. That is where the so-called “cybercrime experts” of the unnamed “highly placed source in the Office of the President” should look instead.

2.    The Manila Times story admits to a crime that may have been committed, and fundamental freedoms that may have been violated.It offers tacit admission that these “experts,” apparently working with the Office of the President, had invaded the privacy of the emails and correspondence of journalists now being singled out.

3.    For the record, the “matrix” had linked at least five persons to the PCIJ who are in fact no longer in PCIJ’s employ.Three of the five are personnel who had resigned from as far back as March 2018 to January 2019. Two others, OtsoDiretso candidate for senator Jose Manuel Diokno and Summit Media publisher Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng, had quit their posts in the PCIJ’s Board of Editors. Diokno resigned before the campaign period started.

4.    PCIJ, a non-stock, not-for-profit independent media organization, is funded in various ways: revenues from sale of publications and video, contributions from PCIJ patrons, interest income from an endowment fund that Ford Foundation gave in 2003, and grants for projects, from both local and foreign sources.

Foreign funding is not equivalent to foreign ownership of for-profit media. Truth be told, government agencies are the biggest recipients of foreign funding from the United States, Japan, China, Australia, and other multilateral and bilateral agencies.

For instance, since 2017, the state-run People’s Television (PTV-4) and the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) have received from China’s state-run media donations of digital radio and other broadcast equipment; brought to China a number of journalists and columnists, including those from The Manila Times, via a “professional exchange program”; started to re-broadcast China programs in Manila; and sent PCOO personnel to learn the Chinese language.

5.    Mr. Rigoberto Tiglao, a co-founder and the first treasurer of PCIJ, helped raise seed money for PCIJ’s operations initially from the Asia Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Mr. Tiglao himself wrote about his role in PCIJ’s funding in this article in Harvard’s Nieman Reports: The PCIJ has helped change Philippine journalism… It’s a success story of an NGO, non-governmental organization, committed to a specific cause and funded by both foreign and local development agencies.”

PCIJ has disclosed that it has received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy for the conduct of training seminar-workshops since 2014, in all such events. These seminars had drawn the participation of hundreds of reporters and editors from national and regional print, TV, radio, and online media agencies, including about a dozen from The Manila Times.

6.    As early as 2005, PCIJ had disclosed on numerous occasions its funding structure. Check out https://pcij.org/patron/

About the PCIJ: Who we are · Writing fellowships · Investigative reports · Be a PCIJ patron · Awards and Citations

“The PCIJ is funded in various ways. Funds come from revenues from the sale of publications and videos as well as contributions from PCIJ Patrons (who donate P3,000 to P10,000 each a year and get PCIJ products in return). The PCIJ also makes money by conducting journalism training in the Philippines and other countries.

“Revenue also comes from the proceeds of an Endowment Fund whose seed money was donated by the Ford Foundation (the rest was contributed by PCIJ revenues). That donation came with few conditions, only that the money be properly managed and used only to fund PCIJ operations.

“The remaining funds for our budget consist of grants for special projects.

“The PCIJ is unique — and not only because of its special focus on investigative reporting. No other media organization in the Philippines is funded in a similar way: a combination of grants, revenues, and contributions from individual supporters.

“Our funding structure allows us to be independent because we are beholden neither to media owners nor to advertisers, nor even to grant-giving organizations (the diversity of our funding base allows us to choose the projects we want to do with donors and to set our own terms with them). We are, however, accountable to our board and ultimately, to our readers.”

7. Finally, and most importantly: A free, independent, and critical press is a hallmark of democracy. A press beholden to the powers-that-be and shirks from its responsibility to fully inform the people on issues of grave public concern mocks its purpose for being.  – PCIJ, 22 April 2019