Internews, in partnership with VERA Files, the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines Journalism Department, is pleased to announce MASIP, a year-long project aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of reporting on the societal and environmental costs of infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
The Philippines’ economy and population is projected to grow faster than other Southeast Asian countries, requiring a significant increase in infrastructure investment. To continue its development path and reach the goal of becoming a high-income economy by 2045, the Philippines needs to engage in expanding its existing infrastructure across sectors such as energy, agriculture, and transportation.
To fund this infrastructure boom, the country has borrowed significantly from foreign lenders. Critics have raised concerns of predatory lending practices, foreign propaganda, increasing debt and environmental degradation as a result of unsustainable development.
Informed citizens and responsive public institutions can drive reforms that curb poorly planned infrastructure, mismanagement and inefficiency, but in the light of the suppression of media and civil society in recent years, these negative societal and environmental impacts remain under-reported, creating a fertile ground for disinformation to spread.
This project, funded by the US Department of State Global Engagement Center, aims to strengthen the media’s watchdog role, and raise public awareness on the social and environmental impacts of infrastructure development in the Philippines.
As part of MASIP:
- An online platform will be adapted specifically to track infrastructure-related disinformation, and partners will receive training on how to use it.
- Selected journalists will participate in a three-day media workshop on investigative reporting, fact-checking, and digital safety related to reporting on infrastructure development, lending practices, and their impacts.
- Journalism students will participate in a two-day reporting bootcamp at the University of the Philippines and learn about infrastructure lending operations, social and environmental safeguards, and the negative impacts of predatory lending practices. They will also be trained in fact-checking and digital safety.
- Story grants will be awarded to support a data-driven special report, multimedia stories and investigative stories that expose disinformation and highlight the impacts of unsustainable infrastructure development.
- Journalism students, media practitioners and CSOs will engage in roundtable discussions and information-sharing networks. They will take part in multistakeholder forums with businesses and government officials.
Banner image: In 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's administration approved more than 123 new projects that it hopes to start or complete in the coming years / Credit: Yannes Kiefer via Unsplash.