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Controversy hounds media access at DPWH


LEGAZPI CITY --- The Public Works and Highways in Bicol dismisses as baseless the alleged media ban circulated by a specific media group, labeling them as frequent visitors.

In response to the surge of social media figures identifying as media practitioners, Legazpi City regional offices express concern over their frequent visits, especially at the DPWH, raising questions about their motives.

Former Human Rights Commission official, Professor Salvador Flor, condemns the purported media ban at the DPWH regional office, emphasizing its infringement on press freedom.

Flor, president of the Bicol Reporters Association, acknowledges the rise of individuals from social media within the media industry, asserting its detrimental impact on mainstream journalism.

A certain media group claims a media ban at the new DPWH regional office, relocated two months ago to the Legazpi Airport’s Regional Equipment Service (RES) compound. However, two mainstream Bicolano journalists deny encountering such restrictions during a telephone interview.

DPWH Bicol Chief Administrative Officer Doris Losantas clarifies that security measures involve identity verification, not a media ban. Regional Director Virgilio Eduarte denies issuing any media ban orders, emphasizing the accessibility of his office to local and national media across Bicol.

As a writer for national and local papers, I haven’t experienced media ban allegations at DPWH or other regional agencies. Submission to office policies, including logbook entry and a press card, ensures seamless access.

Media practitioner Jun Buenaflor complains about difficulty every time he entered the DPWH regional office, citing an alleged media ban. Despite being a known visitor, a district engineer highlights Buenaflor’s frequent filing of graft complaints without specifying his media affiliation.

A former Albay lawmaker notes the mainstream media’s struggle to protect its identity amid social media proliferation. He humorously refers to social media vloggers as the “floating media” or 5th Estate, potentially undermining the traditional estates.

DPWH Director Eduarte confirms receiving a letter from Buenaflor, raising media ban allegations. Buenaflor claims the order originated from Chief Administrative Officer Doris Losantas, who denies the allegations.

Information Officer Lucy Castaneda also refutes the media ban, stating daily interactions with media visitors seeking press releases.

A confidential source expresses concern about numerous individuals entering the DPWH under the guise of media, often for dubious purposes like soliciting funds. The source mentions instances of extravagant requests, such as a vlogger seeking a whole lechon for his birthday.

Recalling a media night sponsored by a former media professional turned businessman six years ago, the event intended for Bicol media practitioners attracted over 300 attendees, including those from prominent mainstream media, who reportedly received cash incentives. Many mainstream media figures allegedly failed to attend.


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