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Cebu News

"Corruption" in media: PJ dares Seares to public forum

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CEBU, Philippines – Third District Representative Pablo John Garcia has challenged former Sun Star Editor-in-Chief Pachico Seares to a "forum" to discuss whether or not the controversial documentary on the alleged corruption of media practitioners here in Cebu was fair.

In an email to Seares, Garcia said he counted "at least 16 instances" where the 25-minute video was unfair to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, the Capitol and "by necessary implication, the Capitol beat reporters."

The video documentary was released during the annual Press Freedom Week celebration last September.

"Let's not call it a debate. Let's just call it a forum," Garcia said.

Garcia, the brother of the governor, argued that since the video was shown "without opportunity on the part of the people therein implicated to respond," it is only fair that he and Seares tackle the issue in a forum.

"Being accountable comes with being free," Garcia said, echoing the motto of the Cebu Citizens Press Council where Seares sits as executive director.

Garcia said he is open to "any venue and any audience," but asked that the forum be held before November 8, the day Congress resumes session, or any date thereafter on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

He also said "it is only fair that the original audience during Press Freedom Week be invited."

In his popular blog, www.onion-skinned.com, Garcia claimed that Seares and the CCPC attempted to "pass off" an edited version of the video as the original. He was subsequently provided a second and different copy, which the CCPC claimed was the original.

In a separate statement, CCPC said its officers will meet this month to discuss the issue of fairness and other questions raised about the documentary "Corruption of Media: The Cebu Setting."

"CCPC assistant executive director Cherry Ann Lim earlier listed the differences between the two versions of the video, with the second version already with subtitles for portions said in Bisaya and inaudible statements and with one scene showing meal packs reduced by eight seconds (first version: 27 minutes, 40 seconds; second version: 27 minutes, 32 seconds)," the statement said.

"Both versions have been made available, we have nothing to hide," said Sun.Star Superbalita editor-in-chief and Sun.Star Cebu executive editor Michelle P. So, lead convenor (for Sun.Star) of this year's Cebu Press Freedom Week.

CCPC has also reportedly taken several steps, including meeting with leaders of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ), which agreed that the video be re-screened by CFBJ officers.

Officers of CFBJ reportedly watched the video again on September 29 at Baseline Restaurant, after which they reportedly discussed the issue using copies of the script provided to them earlier.

On October 6, the script of the video was posted on the CCPC website cebucitizenspresscouncil.org.

Last October 19, journalist-lawyers belonging to Cebu Media Legal Aid (Cemla) reportedly met at Mesa restaurant in Ayala Terraces to discuss whether or not the documentary was "libelous or otherwise legally offensive.

The CCPC is composed of six non-media members; two semi-media (academe) members; and five members from print and two from broadcast media. CCPC meets once every quarter; its meeting this month, the 21st since its revival, will be the last for the year. /JMO (FREEMAN)

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CEBU

CEBU CITIZENS PRESS COUNCIL

CEBU FEDERATION OF BEAT JOURNALISTS

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