Vera Files’ reaction to Zubiri statement

THE VERA Files story, “Ethical lapses mark passage of biofuels law” written by Jessica Hermosa and Johanna Sisante, was the result of six months’ research that included gathering and reading voluminous documents and interviewing dozens of sources.

The story is part of an abridged version of a thesis submitted to the University of the Philippines by two senior journalism students. Research for the story was meticulous and comprehensive, and met the UP’s rigorous standards. It also passed the editorial screening of VERA Files, which is composed of veteran journalists and journalism educators from the UP and the Ateneo.

The points Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri raised in his reaction—that his family’s land had been subjected to agrarian reform, that some of the land is now grown to bananas, that BUSCO has been sold to Chinese-Filipino businessmen, and that he denies conflict of interest on his part for pushing the Biofuels law—were all included in the report. Though grown to bananas, however, documents from the Bukidnon provincial assessor, including a list of his family’s landholdings dated March 11, 2008, and an interview with the Maramag agrarian reform officer show that Zubiri land is still classified as “sugarcane” land.

Everything in the story was gathered from documents and interviews with sources, among them Senator Zubiri himself.

The authors did not misrepresent themselves, as Senator Zubiri claims. Hermosa and Sisante are UP journalism students, a fact that was made known by the authors to Zubiri’s office and by VERA Files to all editors and news desks when it released its story.