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Journalist denies saying money caused PCIJ execs’ breakup: I’m clueless too!

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POLITIKO - The bible of Philippine Politics

Journalist Gerry Lirio has accused Philippine Star columnist Victor Agustin of putting words in his mouth by quoting him as saying that money caused the acrimonious split of the executives of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

In a statement, Lirio said he never told Agustin that foreign funding made PCIJ executives Luz Rimban and Yvonne Chua leave the organization in 2006.

“How could I have told him that foreign funding split the PCIJ into two when I didn’t know? How could I have given him an information I didn’t have? Until now, I don’t know,” he said.

Agustin quoted Lirio as saying in his May 10 column that an “internal brouhaha” happened at PCIJ because of jealousy after then-Executive Director Sheila Coronel won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in 2003.

“Smarting over what may be diplomatically termed as ‘billing issues, another group of manangs, the workhorses in PCIJ, broke away and established their own Vera Files group,” he said.

Lirio called Agustin’s column “unfair, untrue and unfounded,” particularly because he hasn’t seen the columnist in years.

He believes Agustin jumped to his own conclusions about the split because his articles on PCIJ’s foreign funding wasn’t gaining traction.

“He (Agustin) has long been writing about the foreign funding of PCIJ, but he was largely ignored by the men and women behind it. Because he is not given the benefit of a denial, much less attention, he would now like to see what he wants to see?” Lirio asked.

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