Journalist Christine Herrera laid to rest
MANILA, Philippines – Journalist Christine Herrera was laid to rest on Sunday, November 26, at the Heritage Park in Taguig City.
She was 49.
Herrera died of cardiac aneurysm on November 19 while on vacation in Thailand.
Fondly called "Mamu" by colleagues and friends in the media, Herrera was known for hard-hitting reports and exposés, some of which earned her libel suits.
Editor Jullie Yap Daza said the threat of lawsuits never deterred Herrera.
"She was driven by hunger, the hunger for news and to tell the story well, even if it could mean another libel suit. She lived for her scoops, the deadline kept her going, by the hourly last-minutes to chase her sources, pursue her leads, trust her gut, ignore the 'no comment' comments that would've deflated another reporter," Daza wrote in an opinion piece on the Manila Bulletin.
Daza called Herrera a "subversive" and a "warrior masquerading as a reporter."
Herrera worked for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and then for the Manila Standard, where she was a House of Representatives reporter until her death.
Manila Times reporter Llanesca Panti recalled her memory of "Mamu" standing up for her to a congressman.
Panti said that when she was new to the House beat, she gave out a calling card to a neophyte congressman who told her irritably: "What do you need?"
"When Ate Christine learned of the incident, she called the guy out for assuming something else when somebody is just introducing herself to him, being in a new beat. I did not know Ate Tin before I was assigned to Congress. She was a total stranger, but she took the cudgels for me who was so confused back then on how I should deal with such a source when I [was] still getting a feel of covering politics," Panti said.
Colleagues describe Herrera as having almost no fear of going up against power.
In 2015, Herrera was pressed by a House panel to name her sources when she reported that lawmakers were bribed with P440 million to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). She refused to do so, as journalists cannot be compelled to name their sources unless for matters of national security.
Herrera's exclusive story would dictate the entire news cycle. It triggered investigations by the House and the Department of Justice.
"Christine could be mischievous but she was reliable. I once told her, go ahead, make more mischief, I like you better that way. Her nose for news was a God-given, her sources trusted her," Daza said.
In an interview with journalism students in 2005, Herrera said politicians and sources who want to pay her off know better not to try. The story of an attempt to give her grease money was published in the Inquirer then, Herrera said.
"So no'ng lumabas 'yun, lahat na ng mga sources hindi na lumalapit sa akin. 'Yun bang 'wag 'yan, 'wag 'yan kasi baka isulat tayo niyan, ganyan." (When that came out, all of the sources stopped approaching me. They feared a story would also come out if they tried to bribe me.)
As advice to young journalists, Herrera said they should fiercely protect and build their credibility.
"Kaya ako mayabang. 'Yun bang you take pride do'n sa trabaho mo kasi you didn't do it only because you were paid by these people or whoever." (That's why I'm proud. You take pride in your work because you didn't do it because you were paid by these people or whoever.)
Herrera is survived by husband Lito, daughters Nikki and Abby, son-in-law Jaybee, and grandson Malcolm. – Rappler.com