February 2, 2016

Asia Society Seeks Applications for 2016 Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia

NEW YORK — Asia Society is currently seeking applications for the Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. The $10,000 prize is awarded annually to a reporter or team of reporters who has produced the best example of journalism about Asia during the calendar year. Evaluation criteria include impact of the work, its originality, creativity, depth of research and educational value in informing the public about Asia.
Submissions must be received by March 13, 2016.
The next winner of the “Oz Prize” will be announced at a special program at the Asia Society in New York City in May 2016.
The Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia honors the late Osborn Elliott, a legendary journalist and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. Elliott set new standards for reporting and editing, and became one of the earliest practitioners of “civic journalism,” the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy.
An independent jury of distinguished writers, award-winning journalists and Asia-hands, chaired by Marcus Brauchli, managing partner of North Base Media and former editor of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, will review nominations and select the winner.
  • A submission can consist of a single written article or a cohesive series of articles during the 2015 calendar year.
  • For the purposes of the award, “Asia” is defined as the area from Japan to Iran, and from Central Asia to New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. It does not include the Arab Middle East.
  • Journalistic work must have been published in English.
  • All nominations or direct applications are limited to one per writer/team.
Submissions are only accepted electronically. Click on the icon below for submission requirements and instructions.
All submissions must be complete and received by March 13, 2016 (11:59PM ET). 

February 1, 2016

On the First Anniversary of the Mamasapano Incident: BAYAN-USA Hits FBI with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to Uncover Truth About FBI’s Role in Massacre of Filipinos

“Over 60 Filipinos died and witnesses also saw the body of an American at the covert U.S.-designed Mamasapano operation one year ago, yet the U.S. has still not come clean about the extent of its role in the carnage. We are filing this Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI because the Filipino and American people have the right to know the full truth about this botched mission,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.
The U.S.-funded and orchestrated anti-terrorism operation “Operation Exodus” targeting alleged terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir aka “Marwan” occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in the Philippines on January 25, 2015, sending commandos of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) into territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), despite a ceasefire agreement and ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and Philippine government at the time. The ensuing 12-hour battle resulted in the killing of seven civilians, 44 SAF forces, and 22 members of the MILF and BIFF. Involvement of multiple U.S. agencies including the FBI became clear as both Philippine government and civilian organizations investigated the operation. Official reports by the Philippine Bureau of Investigation and Senate cited the presence of six Americans at the Tactical Command Post for the mission, including an American who ordered a Philippine Major General to fire artillery. Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napenas admitted under sworn testimony that the tissue sample of alleged terrorist target Marwan was immediately brought by the SAF to American FBI agents waiting in General Santos City, bypassing PNP Headquarters or any other Philippine agency. Witnesses cited by the Philippine media also reported seeing among the dead the body of a white American male, who is believed to have been involved in the operation even though the Philippine Constitution prohibits the participation of foreign troops in military operations on Philippine soil. In November 2015, participants in BAYAN-USA’s Peace Mission went to Mamasapano, where they spoke with widows of MILF fighters who shared accounts of white soldiers being sighted in the encounter, further pointing to U.S. military involvement.
BAYAN-USA’s FOIA request asks for documentation pertaining to the FBI’s involvement in Operation Exodus, including:
  • internal or inter-agency correspondence between David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, and the PNP Director General Alan Purisima, SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas, or other Philippine authorities, pertaining to Marwan’s apprehension through the execution of Operation Plan Exodus;
  • manuals or guidelines used by agents of the U.S. in training PNP SAF to execute Operation Plan Exodus, or other similar operations with the aim of apprehending Marwan;
  • responses to requests from the Philippine government to assist in the evacuation of the dead and wounded in the aftermath of Operation Plan Exodus;
  • results of the evidentiary analysis done by the FBI Laboratory indicating the positive DNA identification of Marwan; and
  • provision of any monetary award to the PNP SAF, or other Philippine authorities in exchange for Marwan’s positive DNA identification, such as the $5 million reward that the U.S. State Department offered for Marwan’s arrest.
Full text of the FOIA request can be found here: http://bayanusa.org/foia.
“The U.S. has dodged accountability for the Mamasapano carnage and countless more military-related crimes against the Filipino people, but Obama and Aquino continue to push for the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. It is senseless to give the U.S. military increased access to Philippine territory for its war games, when it won’t even admit any wrongdoing in an American operation that resulted in the killing of so many people,” said Ellorin.
“When government agencies like the FBI refuse to willingly be transparent about their actions, the public has the responsibility to use FOIA requests and all the tools at our disposal to hold government to account,” said BAYAN-USA Legal Desk member Jackelyn Mariano. “In addition to requesting information from the FBI, BAYAN-USA plans to file FOIA requests with other agencies of the U.S. government, including the Navy and the Army, to exercise our right to know the full truth about the U.S. role in Mamasapano,” continued Mariano.
“Operation Exodus at Mamasapano clearly shows how the U.S. is carrying out its ‘War on Terror’ with no regard for the lives of Filipinos, whether combatants or civilians. It carries out its war on terror without regard for the national sovereignty of the countries where the alleged terrorists are supposedly hiding. In many countries, the U.S. employs drones to target so-called terrorists, often ending up killing civilians. We demand an investigation into the U.S. role in Operation Exodus and for the termination of agreements like the EDCA which embolden the U.S. to carry out violent, covert operations with impunity. We demand accountability for the lives lost and the violation of Philippine sovereignty,” ended Ellorin.
BAYAN USA will also send additional FOIA requests to the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Pacific Command regarding the Mamasapano Incident to maximize the opportunity to unearth information about U.S. intervention in the Philippines.

January 31, 2016

Philippine Consulate General in New York Holds Third Annual Assembly for Geographic Wardens

New York – The Philippine Consulate in New York held the third Warden’s General Assembly on Saturday, 16 January 2016 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.

The Warden’s General Assembly is an annual gathering of community volunteers who have signed up to be part of the Consulate’s Geographic Warden System project. The project was launched in 2013 as a way of tapping Filipino community leaders to serve as point persons or “Wardens” in their locales and be first responders when members of the community are “in distress”, or when the area is threatened or affected by natural or man- made disasters.

Thirty-eight Wardens from the eight states under the Consulate’s jurisdiction showed up to listen to resource persons from the New York Asian Women’s Center, the New York Police Department and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency speak on a variety of topics, including violence against women, police community resources and disaster preparedness during its morning session.

The General Assembly devoted the second part of the program to a short interactive workshop. The participants were organized into regional break-out groups that focused
on exchanging information and views about federal, state, local government and non- governmental resources available in their respective communities to residents in need of information and assistance.

The Wardens pose for a group picture with Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. (center). 

Through its more than three years of existence, the Wardens have proven to be invaluable sources of help, giving aid and providing field reports, especially on high-profile situations like the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy in 2013, as well as the Philadelphia train derailment and Manhattan building collapse in 2015. Aside from on- the-ground reportage on such major events, the Wardens have also provided invaluable assistance in more ordinary but equally important cases in far-flung areas where Filipinos, with no one else to turn to, have sought the help of the Consulate to address their domestic or legal situations.

Towards the end of the day, participants were one in saying that the General Assembly has not only been opportunity to touch base and network with the Consulate and other volunteers, but more importantly a valuable opportunity to increase and enhance their knowledge of the possible issues and cases a typical Warden may encounter. This year’s assembly was especially significant, as the Consulate released it’s Manual on Assistance to Nationals (ATN), a reference booklet containing the procedures and best practices, as well as a community resource guide. The manual was developed to serve as a guideline for Wardens on giving immediate assistance to Filipinos in distress, and is expected to be their primary reference in dealing with the most common ATN issues faced by the Filipino community in the Northeast of the United States.