Bulatlat.com wins in Red Cross humanitarian reporting

“Their stories and images illustrated the heavy toll of conflicts on civilians – with some looking through the eyes of children who are the more vulnerable in these situations. All the finalists showed that reporting on conflict need not be sensationalized or focused only on the conflict or on the peace negotiations.” – Pascal Mauchle, ICRC head of delegation to the Philippines

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Bulatlat.com won the third place for online and video category for this year’s Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting held at Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila, Aug. 27.

“We thank the International Committee of the Red Cross for recognizing our efforts in bringing to the fore the issues of human rights violations and the International Humanitarian Law,” Ronalyn V. Olea, reporter of Bulatlat.com, said.

Olea added that, “We dedicate the awards to the victims, especially the children, who are most vulnerable in times of conflict.”

This year is the second time that the ICRC, together with its partner organizations such as the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network, International News Safety Institute, Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines, Rotary Club of Manila and the Philippine Red Cross, held the award that aims to recognize reports that focuses on the promotion of international humanitarian law. This is also the second time that Bulatlat.com won in the online category.

There were 25 finalists that competed in five categories: video, photo, print, online and audio. There were also 19 judges that looked into the entries based on the following criteria: evidence of research (30 percent), sourcing (20 percent), coherence (20 percent), style and presentation (15 percent) and conflict-sensitive reporting (15 percent).

Bulatlat.com won third place in the online category for the report titled, “Child rights violations under Aquino government increasing,” written by Anne Marxze Umil and was published on Oct. 30, 2012.

The alternative media outfit also won third place in the video category for the short documentary titled, “Killings unabated under Aquino,” produced by Olea and posted on Bulatlat.com on June 4, 2012.

Another report titled, “Mining-ravaged Mindanao folk deliver ‘closure orders’ to mining TNCs, Chamber of Mines,” written by Marya Salamat and was published on Dec. 5, 2012, was also one of the finalists for the online category.

Below are the winners per category:

Video
1st Place – “Batang Halau” by Eleazar del Rosario (GMA)
2nd Place – “Bakwit” by Karen Davila and Karen Namora (ABS-CBN)
3rd Place – “Killings unabated under Aquino” by Ronalyn V. Olea (Bulatlat.com)

Photo
1st Place – “Child in red blanket” by Jeoffrey Maitem (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
2nd Place – “Bakwit” by Ruby Thursday More (Mindanews)
3rd Place – “Clash on Good Friday” by Erwin Mascariñas (Mindanews)

Online
1st Place – “The Tampakan Project: Battle over Southeast Asia��s largest copper-gold reserve” by Bong Sarmiento (Mindanews)
2nd Place – “Anti-Cellophil struggle: A continuing source of inspiration to IPs” by Desiree Caluza (Vera Files)
3rd Place – “Child Rights violations under Aquino government increasing” by Anne Marxze Umil (Bulatlat.com)

Print
1st Place – “Strides into the future” by Stella Estremera (Sunstar Davao)
2nd Place – “Women take lead in bringing peace” by Julie Alipala (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
3rd Place – “Bangsamoro stirs feelings of Christians, Muslims” by Celerina del Mundo (Daily Manila Shimbun)

Audio
1st Place – “Tudok Firiz: Meketefu” by Malu Cadelina Manar (DxND Radyo Bida)
2nd Place – “Mga bakwit: TNT sa Maguindanao” also by Manar
3rd Place – “Mga residente sa Maco na-trauma sa gyera” by Ruel Dagsangan (DxDN Radyo Ukay)

Impact of armed conflict on children highlighted

In a statement, the ICRC said the winners of this year’s award highlighted the plight of children caught in armed conflict areas. “Batang Halau,” for one, which bagged the first place for the video category, documented the stories of “stateless” children born in Sabah to Filipino parents.

“Their stories and images illustrated the heavy toll of conflicts on civilians – with some looking through the eyes of children who are the more vulnerable in these situations. All the finalists showed that reporting on conflict need not be sensationalized or focused only on the conflict or on the peace negotiations,” Pascal Mauchle, ICRC head of delegation to the Philippines, said.

Del Rosario, the producer of “Batang Halau,” told Bulatlat.com he had a hard time pitching the story to his mother network, saying that they had to factor in the safety of the crew, budget for filming the documentary and if it would rate.

He added that most reports focus on the parents, who escaped the hard life and the trauma brought about by the armed conflict in Mindanao. They sailed to Sabah hoping to find better livelihood and away from war. Their children, however, being “stateless” do not have birth certificates and, as a result, could not avail of schooling from the Malaysian government.

Del Rosario said that since they could not go to school, children either end up as workers in vast plantations in Sabah or sent to jail and then deported back to the Philippines.

“I am happy. The award is just a bonus. Our main aim is to provide awareness and to open the issue for public discussion,” he said.

“Strides into the future” told the story of Norjaida, who, at three months old, lost her leg in an ambush in Northern Mindanao while “Child in red blanket” showed a father carrying his child, wrapped in a red blanket as he and other families were fleeing from an armed encounter between government troops and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters last year.

The entries of Bulatlat.com, too, focused on children. The video, “Killings unabated under Aquino” told the story of Lourdes Mancera and how he lost her husband and two children when soldiers peppered their home in Camarines Norte with bullets, believing they were protecting members of the New People’s Army.

“Child rights violations under Aquino government increasing,” on the other hand, reported not just the dangers that children in armed conflict areas go through but also the violations of their socio-economic rights.

The report read, “In the ideal world, children are supposed to be protected from harm and are able to enjoy basic social services such as education and health services. In the ideal world, children are not supposed to die of hunger; they should have a roof over their heads and are living in a safe secure environment; they do not have to work to augment their families’ income. But none of these happen in the real world.”

This is the second time that the Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting recognized the reports published in Bulatlat.com. During its first awarding in 2011, the alternative news agency won the online category’s first and second place for “Child rights advocates bewail distortion of child protection for counterinsurgency” and “Child soldiers or victims,” respectively.

Olea said, “Despite our modest resources, we will continue to produce videos and write articles about stories and issues that the public should know about.” ()

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