Philippines: Ocampo Arrest Triggers Surge in Party List Elections Coverage

Apr. 04, 2007

MANILA — The filing of charges against Bayan Muna’s Congressman Saturnino “Satur”
Ocampo, his arrest, the attempt to fly him to Leyte, and his detention at
the Manila Police District headquarters triggered a surge in media
coverage of the party-list elections during the period March 316, 2007.

This was among the findings of the ongoing Center for Media Freedom and
Responsibility (CMFR) monitor of media coverage of the senatorial and
party-list elections. CMFR is monitoring the TV news programs TV Patrol
World and Bandila (ABS-CBN 2); 24 Oras and Saksi (GMA-7); Sentro (ABC-5);
Primetime Teledyaryo (NBN-4), as well as the front pages of the Manila
Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star.

CMFR is issuing two-week reports on the media coverage of the elections.
It issued its first report on March 16.

CMFR’s second report noted a departure from the media coverage of the 2004
elections, when the party-list elections received scant coverage. The
surge in the reportage in both print and television, however “was
occasioned by the filing of multiple murder charges against Ocampo, his
arrest, and the aborted effort to fly him to Leyte.”

However, the CMFR second report noted that there was little evidence that
the media attempted to provide background and explanatory material on the
significance of what was evidently a heightened government effort to
demonize Ocampo and his party. Neither was there a noticeable change in
the discussion of development issues, probably because few of the
candidates cared to discuss their take on these issues and programs of

The period reviewed also saw “a hardening of National Broadcasting Network
(NBN-4) bias for the administration’s Team Unity, and against the Genuine
Opposition as well as Ocampo and the militant party-list groups.”
NBN-4 is a government-owned and managed TV station.

“The surge in the coverage of the party list elections and groups was
accompanied by a boost in the reportage on Team Unity by both ABS-CBN and
GMA-7 as well as by the newspapers monitored (the Manila Bulletin, the
Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star),”said the report.

But while NBN-4 bias was more than evident in terms of time allotted, the
sources its stories used and these stories’ slant, the increase in the
number of reports on both Team Unity as well as the more frequent use of
TU and TU allies as sources among the news programs of the other stations
seemed driven by the GO’s apparent concentration on its campaign sorties,
which for their repetitiousness tended to limit media coverage.

The complete report will be posted at CMFR’s website (

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