PHILSTAR CITED FOR BALANCED JOURNALISM
 

MANILA, AUGUST 27, 2011 (STAR) By Evelyn Macairan (PHOTO - STAR news editor Marichu Villanueva and reporter Edu Punay receive awards from Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan (second from right) and VACC chairman Dante Jimenez. EDD GUMBAN)

For responsible and balanced journalism, The Philippine STAR and its justice reporter Edu Punay received special awards from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) yesterday.

In celebration of its 13th foundation anniversary, the VACC led by founding chairman and president Dante Jimenez handed out a special award to The STAR’s editor-in-chief Isaac Belmonte for “his consistent quality publication with the highest concern for responsible and balanced journalism; and for his unwavering mission to tell the news with commendable professionalism in investigative reporting.”

This was not the first time that The STAR was given recognition by the anti-crime group, said the newspaper’s associate editor Marichu Villanueva, who accepted the award in behalf of the newspaper.

Punay, who covers the Department of Justice (DOJ), Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA), also got a special award in the category of news reporter.

Punay, who has been part of The STAR family for eight years, was recognized for “his diligent work as news reporter for The Philippine STAR; in greater acknowledgement of his invaluable service to the community.”

The VACC also praised Punay for being committed to the fearless and balanced style of reporting, especially on issues that affect the advocacy for justice.

The STAR and Punay were two of 59 awardees, consisting of individuals and organizations from four of the five pillars of the criminal justice system beginning from the law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, and community/media.

This year, VACC skipped handing an award to those from the fifth pillar, the penal system, because of lackluster performance.

Topping the list of VACC’s major awardees was President Aquino in the category of anti-corruption campaign.

Jimenez said this was the first time that they came out with an anti-corruption campaign award and decided that Aquino should be the recipient since anti-corruption is the centerpiece of his administration.

The VACC also handed out a “Kalabasa Award” to the Supreme Court for reversing the conviction of Hubert Webb and six others, who were accused in the multiple murder of the wife and two daughters of VACC chairman emeritus Lauro Vizconde.

The group said the high court had “failed to address the nagging questions of corruption in the judiciary that has adversely affected the fair and speedy delivery of justice; for disappointing the victims whose trust in the judicial system has started to erode because of the lingering suspicion of hoodlums in robes who are giving the SC a bad name.”

The VACC believes that by honoring Aquino with the award, “it would contribute definitely in minimizing corruption within the criminal justice system.”

“We should reduce the corruption around him (Aquino) and the implementors of the justice system,” Jimenez added.

He said that from year 2001 to 2004, they have recorded a 100 percent success rate in VACC-assisted cases.

However, the success rate was significantly reduced because of corruption, Jimenez said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima credited the VACC’s dedicated members for their success and the group has also been effective in getting its message across and eliciting action.

De Lima said the VACC would continue to exist since the fight against crime and corruption is not yet over.

De Lima said she was honored to be invited as the guest of honor in the VACC anniversary because it reflects the group’s recognition of the DOJ and its attached agencies’ efforts.

“We wish to prove to you that your trust has been well placed and is well deserved. We wish to give you not just justice but also closure - something we can only do by rebuilding, strengthening and protecting the Rule of Law. This, as you all know, has been our battle cry for more than a year now,” De Lima said.

Some of the awardees were Manila City Regional Trial Court Judge Teresa Soriaso; Pili, Camarines Sur RTC Judge Marvel Chui Clavecilla; Guimba, Nueva Ecija RTC Judge Ismael Casabar; and Parañaque RTC Judge Danilo Suarez.

Recipients of major awards for the categories private prosecutor are State Prosecutor Rolando Ramirez; private prosecutor Teddy Esteban Rigoroso; and for law enforcement, Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona.

For the media, dzBB of GMA-7 was awarded as outstanding radio station; Mike Enriquez, outstanding radio host; Carlo Mateo of dzBB, outstanding radio reporter; GMA-7, outstanding television station; its coverage of the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), outstanding television program; Jessica Soho of GMA-7, outstanding television host; John Paul “JP” Soriano of GMA-7, outstanding television reporter; Catherine Jane Yamsuan of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, outstanding news reporter; PDI, outstanding newspaper; and Daniel Razon, chairman of Breakthrough and Milestones Productions Inc., outstanding individual for community service.

Vizconde was given the “Huwarang Ama” award. He was not able to attend yesterday’s event as he was still recuperating from a medical operation.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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