Bulatlat.com dominated the online category in the first Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting held on Saturday, winning the first and second prizes for stories that tackle the plight of children caught in conflict. It bested mainstream media outlets for the awards, which was established last year “to promote responsible reporting of conflict situations by highlighting the plight of those affected by it.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Bulatlat.com dominated the online category in the first Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting held on Saturday, May 7, winning the first and second prizes for stories that tackle the plight of children caught in conflict.
The alternative online publication bested mainstream media outlets for the award, which was established last year “to promote responsible reporting of conflict situations by highlighting the plight of those affected by it.” The awarding ceremonies were held on Saturday at the Richmonde Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City.
Bulatlat.com staff writer Marya Salamat won the first prize for her story “Child rights advocates bewail distortion of child protection principles for counterinsurgency,” published on Nov. 20, 2010. The story tackled the practice by the military of labeling as “child combatants” children caught in armed conflict, often using so-called child-protection instrumentalities such as the Paris Principle to justify the practice.
Quoting the nongovernment Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Salamat wrote that the Philippine military has been “distorting the intent of the international children’s protection principle to suit its counter-insurgency operations and violate human and children’s rights in the process.”
Another Bulatlat.com staff writer, Ina Alleco Silverio, won the second prize in the same category for the story “Child soldiers or victims?” published on Feb. 6, 2011. The story discusses the impact of extrajudicial killings on the children the victims left behind, as well as on children who have been victims themselves.
“Their brutal killing at the hands of the military prove the extent of the AFP’s impunity — not even the most innocent are spared,” Silverio wrote.
Staff writers Ronalyn V. Olea, Anne Marxze Umil and Janess Ann J. Ellao were also shortlisted in the competition. Last month, Umil was awarded a special citation by St. Scholastica College’s Hildegarde Awards for Women in Media for her stories on women and children.
Bulatlat.com is one of only two media outlets that won at least two major awards; the other is the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It also tied with the Inquirer in having the most number of finalists – five — in any of the categories.
The third prize in the online category went to Andreo Calonzo of GMANews Online for the story “A year after Ampatuan massacre, local journalists struggle to stay safe” published on Nov. 19, 2010.
The Philippine Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross launched the journalism awards in August last year, in partnership with the International News Safety Institute, Peace and Conflict Journalism Network, Philippine Association of Communication Educators and the Rotary Club of Manila.
Richard Gordon, former senator and chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said in his speech Saturday that through this award, the Philippine Red Cross hopes that more news reports on the impact of armed conflict would be reported in the media. “It’s about time that we put this on the front page,” he said.
The Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting received some 60 entries from online, print, radio and television news media agencies. The entries were judged according to the quality of the research, sourcing, coherence, style of writing and “conflict-sensitive reporting.”
Below is the list of winners in the other categories.
First prize: Frinston Lim, correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Mindanao bureau, for the story “Women grieve over landmine deaths” published on Feb. 27, 2011
Second prize: Stella Estremera, editor in chief of SunStar Davao, for the story about the Davao Jubilee Foundation and its amputee-beneficiaries
Third prize: Fernando del Mundo, desk editor and chief of the Inquirer’s investigative team, for the series titled “New Centurions”
First prize: Ed Lingao, multimedia director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, for the documentary “Maguindanao, isang taon” which aired on Dec. 20, 2010
Second prize: Malu Manar, DXND-NDBC program director, for “The armed conflict in Kabacan, North Cotabato,” which aired on Feb. 5, 2011
Third prize: Margaret Ortigas, correspondent of Al Jazeera, for “Southern Philippines conflict: Splinter group seen as threat to peace” aired on Feb. 16, 2011
The winners and finalists were awarded plaques, trophies, gadgets, and accident and death insurance coverages, among others.