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J-school dean Sheila Coronel blasts Bobi Tiglao for demonizing PCIJ’s US funding: Nakinabang ka rin diyan!

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The dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism has slammed former Cabinet Secretary Bobi Tiglao for alleging wrongdoing over the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s (PCIJ) receipt of multimillion-peso funding from the United States government, saying he’s far from the man she used to know.

In an essay posted on PCIJ’s website Thursday (May 2), Sheila Coronel said Tiglao “has morphed from being a fact-based journalist to an intellectual apologist.”

“As a columnist for The Manila Times, he wants us shut down or in jail, based on spurious claims that we are somehow violating the Constitution and are ‘tools to advance U.S. hegemony over Filipino consciousness,'” she said.

Coronel wrote the essay in response to Tiglao’s May 1 column where he named PCIJ as one of the four Filipino media firms which received some P74 million from an organization linked to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Tiglao said PCIJ, Rappler, Vera Files and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) are critical of the Duterte administration because they are funded by the US government.

Coronel found Tiglao’s stand a complete turnaround from his position before as one of PCIJ’s founding members.

She recalled having to make do with little resources with Tiglao and PCIJ’s other founding members before foreign aid came in.

“PCIJ’s first office was my bedroom; later, we moved to a borrowed space with two second-hand desks and one DOS-based computer. We didn’t even have a telephone. The nine founders – including Bobi and Malou Mangahas, PCIJ’s current executive director – pitched in P1,000 each and volunteered their services for free,” Coronel said.

“After a year, we got our first grant from The Asia Foundation. That allowed us to hire an office manager and to give journalists fellowships to work on ambitious projects. We sent our stories to the newspapers and published books on corruption, the environment, and the media,” she added.

Coronel said Tiglao was well aware of the foreign funding that PCIJ received over the years since he was the group’s treasurer at one point. She said her former colleague never raised a howl about it.

“Bobi didn’t use to think this was a bad thing – not even long after PCIJ started publishing its own stories online… Today Bobi wants you to think it’s a crime to get foreign funding, despite his previous explicit support of it,” Coronel said.

She revealed that Tiglao was also a recipient of a Nieman Foundation fellowship at Harvard University courtesy of The Asia Foundation, which is believed to have ties with the CIA.

Coronel said Tiglao’s gripe against PCIJ may have something to do with its exposes of corruption during the Arroyo administration, under which he served as Cabinet Secretary.

“Perhaps those stories – the product of good journalism – holding to account an administration he was part of, are driving his anger at us?” she asked.

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