In Context

The media's involvement in the Chiong case seemed unjust and biased to many observers. From the recorded re-enactment that demonized the seven young men on trial to news broadcasts that referred to Paco Larrañaga by various derogatory names, media responsibility became a point of contention for Larrañaga's domestic and international supporters.

In 2011, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism issued a proposal for a publication that would illustrate the Philippine media's sensational reporting on rape and would recommend ethical guidelines for journalists. The proposed publication would focus on the Chiong rape case, specifically, and would cite articles published in the media outlets that covered the case, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times and the tabloids Bulgar, Tempo and Abante.

In a July 2012 opinion piece on the GMA News website, blogger and essayist Katrina Stuart Santiago revisited the media's involvement in the Chiong case. She writes that "the media saw the bad boy stereotype and sold it to us as the truth behind, if not the premise of, this story of crime. Certainly this was the state of media in 1997, in a grand display of gross sensationalism and absolutely biased reportage that I'm sure any media personality would want to deny."

To date, much of the attention paid to media responsibility in the Philippines has focused on journalists charged with libel against politicians. For example, in 2005, five journalists in Cebu were charged for publishing stories about a mayor's alleged involvement in a bank robbery of nearly 100 million pesos. In 2012, a forum was organized by the Cebu Citizens-Press Council in recognition of World Press Freedom Day. Gabriel T. Ingles, associate justice at the Philippine Court of Appeals, supported Justice Vicente Mendoza's idea of distinguishing between political and private libel.

In June 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines third in its impunity index, which calculates unsolved media killings as a percentage of each country's population. In a 2005 report on a study of freedom of expression and the media in the Philippines and six other Asian countries, Article 19, an international human rights organization that defends and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide, pointed to "the failure of the Philippine mass media to provide citizens with balanced and objective information they need on matters such as their own rights."

Caption: A trial scene from Give Up Tomorrow
Credit: Alex Badayos

» Article 19. "Freedom of Expression and the Media in the Philippines."
» Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility. "Cebu Journalists Face Libel Suit."
» GMA News. "The Refusal to Give Up Today."
» Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. "Reporting on Rape."
» Solidarity Philippines Australia Network. "Statement on Press Freedom in the Philippines."
» SunStar Cebu. "Forum Discusses Libel in Media."