Top investigations in the Philippines on human rights, the environment and governance and corruption were honored June 26 with the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism for 2007. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, a nonprofit promoting and protecting ethical media in the Philippines, administered the awards.

Writers for Newsbreak, an online magazine covering the nation’s news and current affairs, took home the two highest honors:

  • Glenda Gloria for “Trapped in a Web of Lives,” her report on the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, the son of press freedom fighter Joe Burgos. She also received the Marshall McLuhan Prize, a travel study award to Canada. Gloria is managing editor of Newsbreak, the author of several books — most recently Spin & Sell: How Political Ads Shaped the 2004 Elections — and teaches investigative reporting at KAF Asian Center for Journalism of the Ateneo de Manila University. Reach her here.
  • Roel Landingin for “The Battle for Manila’s Gateway,” his series of explanatory articles on the controversial opening of Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He also received the Australian Ambassador’s Award, a travel grant to Australia. Landingin is Manila senior correspondent for The Financial Times of London and a fellow with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Earlier this year, his three-part series, “The Perils and Pitfalls of Aid,” capped a 6-month PCIJ investigation into official development assistance projects, and “reflected the reluctance by many government agencies to allow public access to documents that involve use of taxpayers’ money.”

Newsbreak describes its coverage as “honest, independent, and spunky reportage” that emphasizes “in-depth stories, investigative reports, incisive analysis, as well as insider stuff that give a ringside view of the workings of people, politics, and power.” Paid subscribers can access the winning articles by Gloria and Landingin in its archives.

Finally, Prime Sarmiento of the PCIJ received a Plaque of Merit for “What’s Swimming in Your Soup?”, in which she documents the impact of domestic wastewater pollution on the Philippines’ waterways and wildlife. Sarmiento now works for IPS-Asia Pacific; see more of her work on her website.

The JVOAEJ program was established in 1990 by CMFR in the name of Jaime V. Ongpin, secretary of finance during the Aquino administration, who struggled against the Marcos dictatorship and advocated a stronger alternative press. Past winners include The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Newsbreak, and Philippine Graphic.

See the full list of this year’s finalists here.