The Philippines: 'Envelopmental Journalism.' (Bribing Journalists Replaces Censorship) (Column)

By Bird, Kai; Holland, Max | The Nation, February 2, 1985 | Go to article overview

The Philippines: 'Envelopmental Journalism.' (Bribing Journalists Replaces Censorship) (Column)


Bird, Kai, Holland, Max, The Nation


When Mariam Soraya, a reporter for the Metro Manila Times, received an envelope stuffed with 1,000 pesos (about $50) from a member of parliament, she was not surprised. Such bribes are commonplace at the Manila dailies, most of which are owned by businessmen with close political ties to President Ferdinand Marcos.

But then Soraya astonished here editors and fellow journalists by announcing she would return the money. She was urged to keep it, if only because none of the other reporters had ever returned their pourboirer. Nonetheless, Soraya and Marites D. Vitug of the respected financial publication Business Day, who had been bribed by the same politician, handed the money over to their editors and wrote about the bribery in their respective papers. The reporters identified their would-be corrupter as Jolly Benitez, a Marcos supporter who was seeking more favorable coverage.

Since so few Manila reporters earn a living wage, many have become dependent on payments by government officials, who, in turn, use their financial leverage to control the press. Indeed, bribes are replacing censorship, which has eased in the last wo years. The opposition weekly Veritas, funded by the Catholic Church and a group of businessmen, calls the practice envelopmental journalism. …

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