Philippines: The most dangerous place for journos

Australian journalists have a lot to be thankful for. They live in a relatively safe and free environment. The violence that they will, at most, get will probably be a bashing from their news subject. And yet the government will protect them even if they run after government personalities, not for witch-hunting, but to deliver information on the politician’s performance to the public.
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Election here and at home

Last Saturday, the electoral district of Willagee had a by-election after its MP, who was the former State Premier, resigned. The campaign and voting went well despite seemingly unnoticed. The campaign mainly consisted of print ads in community papers and distribution of leaflets in letter boxes of residents. If there was some exchanges between the candidates in media outlets, the topics will mainly be on policy concerns and what they can offer. Voting is also compulsory here in Australia, anyone who fails to vote risk paying a fine. I think the fine is to cover the cost of the materials and preparations allocated for each voter. Voting started from 8:00am to 6:00pm by 7:00pm votes have been counted halfway and before 9:00pm the winner was already known.
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Politicians, kings of the world???

Early this year, Australian politics was rocked by an incident caused by one of the administration’s backbencher politicians. The media branded the incident as Iguanagate (referring to the Watergate scandal that forced then US President Richard Nixon to resign). As President Nixon’s action was “swift” (well, he was cornered then and avoided an inevitable impeachment), so did Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who quickly rebuked one of his backbenchers and ordered that she undergo anger management classes.

In the Philippines, seldom will you hear the President, at least, reprimanding anybody for any wrongdoing, or am I just remiss that the President is indeed very caring that she will disregard political connection and uphold moral and ethical standards? Well, recently one of her men was involved in a scandal. It was criminal in nature.

It is not the usual your usual corruption to the nth degree but an “ordinary” mauling incident that started from a minor spat on the golf course. Blogger Bambi Dela Paz blogged how her father and brother were mauled by a cabinet member’s son and his bodyguards. Bambi wrote as follows:

At around 1:30 PM today, at Valley Golf and Country Club, Antipolo City, Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., Mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur, his father, Secretary Nasser Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform, and company, beat my defenseless 56-year-old dad and my 14-year-old brother to a pulp because of some stupid misunderstanding on the golf course.

This is a golf course. I have been a golfer all my life, and I have never seen anything like this. NOTHING. This is hard to comprehend. And it happened to my own father and my own brother too. Right in front of my eyes.

The blogosphere picked-up the news and so did the media.The Dela Paz’s filed a lawsuit against Pagnandaman, Jr and his bodyguards and the latter filed a counter lawsuit. A GMANews.TV report quoted Bombo Radyo as reporting as follows:

Bombo Radyo reported that Pangandaman Jr filed physical injuries and grave threats against De la Paz. The DAR chief’s son claimed he was hit with an umbrella by De la Paz during a commotion.

Is it possible that the commotion that they are referring to here is the time they are beating the Dela Paz’s???

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr.

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. (Source: USM)

Journalists and bloggers Tonyo Cruz and Carlos Conde expressed disgust at the incident and has called on the cabinet secretary to apologize or better yet resign. Tonyo pointed out that:

If he does not resign, well, it is up to President Arroyo what to do with Pangandaman. She chose him to be her alter-ego as DAR secretary and she could get rid of him. If she let’s him stay in office, what kind of signal does this new incident tell about the company the President keeps? She’s friends with fraudsters (Garci) and killers (Palparan) — she will also be known as a protector of thugs who go by the name of Pangandaman.

Carlos Conde, on the other hand, explained that a resignation is inevitable given the critical roles that the elder Pangandaman holds. As Carlos explained:

If the charges are true (the dela Pazes have complained to the police) and that indeed the elder Pangandaman just watched while his son displayed how arrogant and power-drunk he was (he allegedly told the elder dela Paz, “Don’t you know who I am?”), he should resign not just from the Department of Agrarian Reform but most especially from the government peace panel that is negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. There’s just no way he can function properly in that role, considering what we know now.

The indignations over the incident on the blogosphere is so immense that if Pangandamans cared to surf the Internet (if they know how to use one), they are looking at a Tsunami of expressions of disgust and calls for both of them to resign. Now, I hope that it will be enough for Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to impose some punishment to the father and son bullies or will it be a case of mother bully protecting her minions? Pessimist as I might be, I’m certain that this will just pass as a minor incident not worthy of the President’s attention, she has her own troubles to fend off anyway.

God have mercy on the Philippines.

Blogbastic

UPDATE: The Elder Pangandaman apologized for the golf brawl incident, however, he maintained that it was the Dela Paz’s that started the trouble (regardless Sir, is it justified to terrorize teenagers?). Malacañan has ordered the DOJ to investigate the incident. The Dela Paz’s acknowledged all the support that poured for their family especially from bloggers. They have corrected the charge sheet and four people will face legal action for physical injuries and child abuse. One of the accused claimed the Dela Paz’s “called his family, including “the oldest son [who was] carrying a baseball bat [and] the wife in a duster with a bladed weapon in hand.”

UPDATE2: Fellow Blogger Chuckie Dreyfus informed us that he sent a message to Philippine Sen. Francisco Pangilinan about the incident and Chuckie sent us a snippet of the Senator’s reply as follows:

“I will see what I can do to help. For starters we will be issuing a statement on the matter, calling on a no nonsense investigation and for the guilty to be punished regardless.

Thank you for your message. It takes more people like you making a stand and calling for action that will in the end help shape our nation.

When the people in their vast numbers stand up and say enough thats when genuine change happens.”

Sen. Pangilinan later issued a press statement condemning the incident and calling on Sec. Pangandaman to stop defending his son.

Of government trust and realities

This year, Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Chief-of-Staff Hermogenes Esperon retired from army service but he wasn’t giving up on his government pension, he was ready for another post in the government and was very much ready to fill any job as a ‘civilian public servant.’ While it was expected that most of the retired AFP chief end up in another government post, the Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial team summed up the fishy motive behind the latest move. It was also here that the editorial team suggested that there is more to the quick punishment and reward of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV‘s former colleagues, who were sentenced and in record time were ordered released based on the President’s pardon.
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One blind post

As I was reading the news, my emotions ran high. It was the same emotion when Trillanes took over another hotel. It was exciting and at the same time disgusting. The Philippine Daily Inquirer is vivid enough to put emotions into words. While I’m no De Venecia supporter, I’m just wondering when will our politician sit down or stand up to finally get to work.

Have they heard about the number of Filipinos migrating here in Australia to work as skilled workers, professionals? Or are they blinded that these migrant Filipinos will return some favor to the country by sending remittances? Well, some of the fact here is they are bringing their family here and they do not have anybody else back home. While there’s a claim of increases in OFW remittances and the Philippine economy is becoming a model for other countries, the fact still remains that these small victories does not trickle down to the lowly Pandoy household.

When I read the news, I can’t help but recall an event that I attended back in Puerto Princesa City. The phrase that this man kept saying rang over my ear just like an echo or a ringing bell–”sabi ng Mommy ko… sabi ng Mommy ko…” indulge have a guess, I might say my mind to you about this guy. :) *sigh*

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When media “dictates” the story

The Philippine Daily Inquirer recently made a major blooper bannering a headline that President Arroyo was present during an alleged bribery of several politicians. The news was also carried on Inquirer.net. Apparently the error was discovered only before the daily deadline for the day’s stories, which is at 3pm.

GMA Present, Says Solon
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