“The Netherlands strongly condemns all actions that are not aligned with UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award. Might does not make right. International law does. And so that is what will guide us.”

 

This was emphasized by Her Excellency Marielle Geraedts, the Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, in her remarks during the event, “Amplifying the True Narrative: West Philippine Sea Public Briefing.” The briefing was organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Philippines on February 7, 2024 at Club Filipino, San Juan City.

 

During the event, AIJC and NOW Group Chairman Mel Velarde shared the story behind his acquisition of the Murillo Velarde 1734 Map, which played a crucial role in the Philippines’ landmark victory at The Hague, where the country asserted its rights to Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

 

Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio delivered a keynote lecture on the Philippine island territories in the West Philippine Sea, while Commodore Jay Tristan Tarriela, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard, presented a report on the current threats and challenges in defending the country’s rights over these waters.

 

Journalists Mara Cepeda of The Straits Times and Chino Gaston of GMA Network, together with host/moderator Roby Alampay of International Media Support, discussed the role of the press in debunking false narratives and amplifying the truth as they report on tensions and rights violations in the West Philippine Sea.

 

At the end of the program, the Velarde family presented the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with an official replica of the Murillo Velarde 1734 Map.

 

Over 40 participants from the diplomatic community, including Ambassadors and various members of the diplomatic corps, as well as some representatives from the media, joined the public briefing.

“The primary person responsible for your safety is yourself.”

 

Journalist safety trainer JB Deveza emphasized this during the Davao City leg of the Capacity Building for Journalists in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) implemented by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and funded by the British Embassy Manila through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

The training program sought to equip journalists covering BARMM with knowledge and skills in protecting themselves from physical, legal, digital, psychosocial, and gender-based threats and attacks, and how to address disinformation through fact-checking as they carry out their work as media practitioners.

In Davao, 22 male and female journalists from Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City, South Cotabato, and Marawi City participated in the training in February 2024.

The resource persons for the Davao leg were Kath Cortez of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Prof. Rufa Cagoco-Guiam of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Atty. Froebel Kan Balleque of the General Santos City LGU, Mr. Red Batario of the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Mr. JB Deveza of NUJP/Xavier University, Ms. Len Olea of NUJP, Ms. Rowena Paraan of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and Ms. Julie Alipala of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Kahit gaano kahirap iyong pinagdadaanan natin, gusto pa rin nating ma-surpass iyong mga problema.”

 

(No matter how difficult our situation may be, we still want to surpass our problems.)

 

Zamboanga City-based journalist Julie Alipala emphasized this during the session on psychosocial safety in the Zamboanga City leg of the Capacity Building for Journalists in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) implemented by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and funded by the British Embassy Manila through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

 

Twenty media practitioners—including journalists, a cameraperson, and newsroom heads—from the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi participated in the training.

 

During Alipala’s session, participants learned how to deal with crisis and traumatic stress through self-care, resilience, and mindfulness exercises.

 

The participants also gained knowledge and skills in protecting themselves from physical, legal, digital, and gender-based threats and attacks, and learned how to address disinformation through fact-checking as they carry out their work as media practitioners.

 

Other resource persons joining Alipala for the Zamboanga leg were Ms. Kath Cortez of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Prof. Rufa Cagoco-Guiam of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), Atty. Froebel Kan Balleque of the General Santos City LGU, Mr. Red Batario of the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Mr. Jes Aznar of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), Mr. JB Deveza of NUJP/Xavier University, Ms. Len Olea of NUJP, and Ms. Rowena Paraan of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

This April, 12 community-based journalists and campus journalists will participate in a Training of Trainers program covering basic legal issues, digital security, physical safety, psychosocial wellness, and gender-based safety. The training will be held in Baguio City.

At the end of the training, the participants will be capacitated to address these safety concerns and to replicate the safety training for journalists in community news outlets and schools.

The Community-Based Training of Trainers on the Safety of Journalists is implemented by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and funded by the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines.