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A little more honest, but…

January 31st, 2010 No comments
MY FORMER City Hall colleague, Jessie Natividad, must have been following my ongoing conversation with Atty. Che Carpio.

When I woke up this morning, I got an email from him containing the link to Carpio's latest column, which Vox Bikol published in its website a day after our face-to-face at the Ateneo when he talked about Kaantabay sa Kauswagan, Naga's urban poor housing project.

I of course obliged him with the following reply:

Dear Attorney Carpio:

This pertains to your latest column entitled “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,” which continues to amuse me.

First off, this is an ongoing conversation between us. Since I first emailed you last Jan 17, you will take note that the message came from my email address; and it was my name that appeared as its author. It is only in your mind that it was Mayor Jesse Robredo responding, not I.

Having said that, anyone interested in finding out what I emailed you the second time around can check my weblog. I stand by what I wrote; if your or anybody else’s sensibilities are offended, then I’m sorry for that and the attending hurt or discomfort. But I will never apologize for correcting distortions and data selectivity that would amount to intellectual dishonesty.

Let me now address your clarifications point by point:

1. The only reason why the S&P report is not available in the website is because S&P marked it confidential. That much is clear from my email to Julma when I forwarded it to her per your request.

2. To the contrary, your claim that “intermediate is a dismal 50% rating” and a “failing mark”” is what I will call a spin. Because nowhere in that report did S&P conclude that way. They were your simplistic conclusions that do not do justice at all to the report in its entirety.

Consider, for example, the following snippets from the Financial Management Assessment (FMA) Report’s “Overview of Naga City’s key strengths and weakness” (underscoring mine):
Not withstanding the systemic constraints and institutional weaknesses afflicting Naga City, the strongest areas of financial management which drive the overall score for the city government include annual budgeting at Intermediate, financial reporting and disclosure at Intermediate Plus and debt management at Intermediate Minus.

Despite the lack of budgeting or accounting software, the city has been accurate in its budgeting performance on both revenue and expenditure. And as mentioned, its audited financial statements are free of material qualifications, a rarity among Philippines LGUs. This is a significant driving factor behind the city’s overall score as well. Naga city has also proven to have the capacity to managed debt and demonstrated a relatively high level of quality in its debt monitoring.



The city’s financial statements had received clean audit opinions from COA in the last few years. No notable discrepancies appeared on Naga’s audited statements except for the usual inconsistency in the valuation of physical assets, and COA reported that the city is expected to resolve them by end 2008. Naga’s transparency in its reporting of financial performance is also noteworthy, with the comprehensive publishing of its annual budget, interim annual and quarterly financial statements released on a timely basis on the city website. However its financial reporting score is constrained by the lack of accounting software that would potentially reduce paperwork and offer easier access to financial information within the city administration. Nonetheless, Naga has still managed to consistently produce reliable financial statements despite the lack of electronic solutions.

Likewise, despite the absence of any budgeting software, Naga’s annual budgeting performances have been strong and demonstrated relative accuracy on both revenue and expenditure planning. It is conservative on revenue budgeting, with final outcome more often than not exceeding initial budgeted amount. Correspondingly, expenditure outturn has been lower by an average of 1.6% from budgeted amounts in the period 2005-2007 (albeit with some volatility from year to year). Though Naga’s annual budgeting process is still largely characterized by incremental-based, it is one of the few LGUs to have at least adopt some form of programmatic expenditure planning. Currently, around 15%-20% of the city’s budget is estimated to be program-based.

The Naga city government demonstrate adequate capacity in debt management. Unlike most LGUs who have monthly debt repayment automatically deducted from their monthly IRA transfers, the Naga administration keeps good track of its amortization schedule and issue checks on timely basis to directly repay lending banks. Furthermore, all of the city’s loans are negotiated with clauses that allow prepayment without penalties. The city government actively monitors borrowing rates and would seek cheaper refinancing whenever the opportunity arises. However, like most LGUs, Naga’s debt management score is weakened by the lack of a coherent and explicit debt policy. Alleviating this is that the city’s medium-term investment plan (LDIP) has acted as a pseudo-debt policy of the current administration.
Together with the FMA is the Credit Rating Report on Naga, whose section entitled “Comparative Analysis” contains the following:
International peers
The Russian entities of Nizhny Novgorod (BB-/Stable/--) and Tver Oblast (B+/Negative/--), as well as the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv (CCC+/Watch Neg/--) and the Turkish city of Istanbul (BB-/Negative/--) are suitable international peers for the City of Naga (which is was given a credit rating of BB-/Stable)



Like some of its peers, the City of Naga has been able to partially fund aggressive capital expenditure programs in recent years with operating surpluses, which has helped to limit its borrowing requirements. However, the overall average level of capital expenditure relative to total expenditure reported by Naga (18.5%) is still below that for its international peers (30%) from 2005-2007. Although its physical infrastructure is relatively well-maintained by national standards, it is largely inadequate in the international context.

Naga’s direct debt level has been steadily declining, unlike Istanbul’s. Coupled with a healthy and fast-rising cash position, the city’s overall debt profile is favourable and compares well to that of Nizhny Novgorod. Likewise, Naga’s strong budgetary performance stands out among its peer group. However, this is in part a function of the city’s weaker capacity to administer capital projects (stemming from lack of benefits of scale), and also a function of the systemic borrowing constraints faced by Philippine local governments.

Local peers
Unlike its domestic peers who are located in Metro Manila like Quezon City, Taguig and Mandaluyong, who have relatively more diversified service-base economies, Naga is predominately engaged in the agrarian sector. The lack of a distinct geographic or industrial advantage has resulted in lower property value and smaller-scale businesses operating in Naga, which in turn limits the city’s real property and business tax collection. In mitigation, its local economy has been relatively more insulated than Metro Manila peers in this current global downturn. In addition, outside the capital region, Naga’s tax base and per capita income would compare more favorably than those of Iligan and Tacloban.



The city’s budgetary performance is nevertheless stronger than all rated Philippines cities, despite the fact that other cities have far more revenue streams at their disposal. This reflects to some extent the more advanced financial management practices of the Naga city government than its peers. Likewise, despite its more limited resources, Naga has been able to maintain robust liquidity coverage and a direct debt burden better than the average for its peer group.

This is hardly the picture of a “failing” city and its local government.

This is precisely why I challenged Vox Bikol to publish it wholly and let its readers decide. To me, it is an unadulterated take on the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s economy and the city government’s stewardship of its financial resources.

I will have to check if our point person in this credit rating project has already secured the needed clearance from S&P to publish the report in the city website. If yes, rest assured that we will make it available. Nonetheless, I am uploading the report in my blog, albeit unofficially, because I believe that its potential to educate us clearly outweighs its confidential nature.

3. I am happy that you have now acknowledged Naga’s score relative to its peers, the glaring omission that actually prompted that “intellectual dishonesty” remark in my previous email. Consequently, I will now gladly reconsider that assertion.

4. I will concede your point on the scope of that World Bank-funded pilot project, which is only limited to eight cities thus far. But I am confident that this inference is in order for the following reasons:
  • To have been considered, and more importantly, included in a pilot project on the credit rating of Philippine cities (out of the 120, because the League of Cities of the Philippines is still contesting the controversial SC decision affirming the cityhood of the other 16) already says enough about Naga. The mayor’s SOCR already covered this. But clearly, there is something about Naga that merited the Bank’s attention.
  • Quezon City, the richest LGU in the Philippines today, is among the pilot cities. So are Marikina, incidentally the most innovative and most awarded city in Metro Manila; Mandaluyong, Malabon and Taguig. But as you yourself acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, Naga more than held its own compared to these richer localities and their much more diversified economies. Unlike you, I therefore like our chances.
  • Your asides about transparency notwithstanding, the report clearly recognized, and it bears repeating here, that “Naga City is the only city assessed so far to have consistently received a clean opinion from COA on its financial statements, which placed the quality of its financial reporting considerably above domestic peers.” I have every reason to believe we will continue to be so, even if credit rating covers the entire universe of Philippine LGUs.
  • My experience with Philippine local governments -- and my work on public education has brought me to a number -- is that for the most part, they have continuing difficulty with disclosure and openness in regard to their finances. (For instance, I will be very interested to see whether the CWC is making money or not. By the way, I have written COA twice, requesting that it put online its 2008 Audit Reports for the Bicol cities and provinces; thus far, they have only obliged us with Masbate province and city.) To my knowledge, and of course I will be happy to be corrected on this matter, only Naga publishes its proposed and approved annual budget, as well as its quarterly financial statements.
5. Finally, that “consuelo de bobo” thing again highlights the fundamental difference in our respective positions: you may have become a little more honest in laying down the facts, but the “half-empty” perspective continues to color your opinion.

In your static world view, that condescending put-down (that Naga merely topped the class of Philippine failures) is consistent with your negative perspective; if one reads closely, it smugly implies that Philippine cities do not have what it takes to be world-class -- simply because their best started out with a measly “Intermediate” rating when S&P first came to local shores, courtesy of the World Bank.

In that world view, its credit rating of BB-/Stable for foreign currencies -- mind you, better than the capital cities of Ukraine and Turkey; BB+/Stable for local currencies; and AA+ in the national rating system -- only a shade lower than AAA, S&P’s top investment grade given to “the best quality borrowers, reliable and stable” -- it proposes for Philippine local governments do not matter at all.

Unfortunately for you, the Naga city government not only looks at the glass half-full, but believes it is our responsibility to fill it up the brim. Instead of sulking and fault-finding, we celebrate affirmations that come our way, like that S&P report, because they tell us we must have doing some things well and right all along. Thankfully, its FMA points out precisely where and what we need to do make the system better. I am confident that our current and next leaders are as bullish about the future and have the same positive, can-do attitude.

Again, I will not take it against you: you are entitled to your beliefs, in the same manner that I am entitled to a vigorous defense of the city’s position against continuing distortions that mask reality.

And I don’t have be a Mayor Robredo to be able to do it.:)

Those interested in the S&P report can go check the following:

Credit Analysis of Naga City

Financial Management Assessment (FMA) Report on Naga City

Appendix - Overview of the Philippine Inter-Government System
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

A little more honest, but…

January 31st, 2010 No comments
MY FORMER City Hall colleague, Jessie Natividad, must have been following my ongoing conversation with Atty. Che Carpio.When I woke up this morning, I got an email from him containing the link to Carpio's latest column, which Vox Bikol published in its website a day after our face-to-face at the Ateneo when he talked about Kaantabay sa Kauswagan, Naga's urban poor housing project.I of course obliged him with the following reply:Dear Attorney Carpio: This pertains to your latest column entitled “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,” which continues to amuse me. First off, this is an ongoing conversation between us. Since I first emailed you last Jan 17, you will take note that the message came from my email address; and it was my name that appeared as its author. It is only in your mind that it was Mayor Jesse Robredo responding, not I. Having said that, anyone interested in finding out what I emailed you the second time around can check my weblog. I stand by what I wrote; if your or anybody else’s sensibilities are offended, then I’m sorry for that and the attending hurt or discomfort. But I will never apologize for correcting distortions and data selectivity that would amount to intellectual dishonesty. Let me now address your clarifications point by point: 1. The only reason why the S&P report is not available in the website is because S&P marked it confidential. That much is clear from my email to Julma when I forwarded it to her per your request. 2. To the contrary, your claim that “intermediate is a dismal 50% rating” and a “failing mark”” is what I will call a spin. Because nowhere in that report did S&P conclude that way. They were your simplistic conclusions that do not do justice at all to the report in its entirety. Consider, for example, the following snippets from the Financial Management Assessment (FMA) Report’s “Overview of Naga City’s key strengths and weakness” (underscoring mine):
Not withstanding the systemic constraints and institutional weaknesses afflicting Naga City, the strongest areas of financial management which drive the overall score for the city government include annual budgeting at Intermediate, financial reporting and disclosure at Intermediate Plus and debt management at Intermediate Minus.Despite the lack of budgeting or accounting software, the city has been accurate in its budgeting performance on both revenue and expenditure. And as mentioned, its audited financial statements are free of material qualifications, a rarity among Philippines LGUs. This is a significant driving factor behind the city’s overall score as well. Naga city has also proven to have the capacity to managed debt and demonstrated a relatively high level of quality in its debt monitoring.…The city’s financial statements had received clean audit opinions from COA in the last few years. No notable discrepancies appeared on Naga’s audited statements except for the usual inconsistency in the valuation of physical assets, and COA reported that the city is expected to resolve them by end 2008. Naga’s transparency in its reporting of financial performance is also noteworthy, with the comprehensive publishing of its annual budget, interim annual and quarterly financial statements released on a timely basis on the city website. However its financial reporting score is constrained by the lack of accounting software that would potentially reduce paperwork and offer easier access to financial information within the city administration. Nonetheless, Naga has still managed to consistently produce reliable financial statements despite the lack of electronic solutions.Likewise, despite the absence of any budgeting software, Naga’s annual budgeting performances have been strong and demonstrated relative accuracy on both revenue and expenditure planning. It is conservative on revenue budgeting, with final outcome more often than not exceeding initial budgeted amount. Correspondingly, expenditure outturn has been lower by an average of 1.6% from budgeted amounts in the period 2005-2007 (albeit with some volatility from year to year). Though Naga’s annual budgeting process is still largely characterized by incremental-based, it is one of the few LGUs to have at least adopt some form of programmatic expenditure planning. Currently, around 15%-20% of the city’s budget is estimated to be program-based.The Naga city government demonstrate adequate capacity in debt management. Unlike most LGUs who have monthly debt repayment automatically deducted from their monthly IRA transfers, the Naga administration keeps good track of its amortization schedule and issue checks on timely basis to directly repay lending banks. Furthermore, all of the city’s loans are negotiated with clauses that allow prepayment without penalties. The city government actively monitors borrowing rates and would seek cheaper refinancing whenever the opportunity arises. However, like most LGUs, Naga’s debt management score is weakened by the lack of a coherent and explicit debt policy. Alleviating this is that the city’s medium-term investment plan (LDIP) has acted as a pseudo-debt policy of the current administration.
Together with the FMA is the Credit Rating Report on Naga, whose section entitled “Comparative Analysis” contains the following:
International peersThe Russian entities of Nizhny Novgorod (BB-/Stable/--) and Tver Oblast (B+/Negative/--), as well as the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv (CCC+/Watch Neg/--) and the Turkish city of Istanbul (BB-/Negative/--) are suitable international peers for the City of Naga (which is was given a credit rating of BB-/Stable)…Like some of its peers, the City of Naga has been able to partially fund aggressive capital expenditure programs in recent years with operating surpluses, which has helped to limit its borrowing requirements. However, the overall average level of capital expenditure relative to total expenditure reported by Naga (18.5%) is still below that for its international peers (30%) from 2005-2007. Although its physical infrastructure is relatively well-maintained by national standards, it is largely inadequate in the international context.Naga’s direct debt level has been steadily declining, unlike Istanbul’s. Coupled with a healthy and fast-rising cash position, the city’s overall debt profile is favourable and compares well to that of Nizhny Novgorod. Likewise, Naga’s strong budgetary performance stands out among its peer group. However, this is in part a function of the city’s weaker capacity to administer capital projects (stemming from lack of benefits of scale), and also a function of the systemic borrowing constraints faced by Philippine local governments.Local peersUnlike its domestic peers who are located in Metro Manila like Quezon City, Taguig and Mandaluyong, who have relatively more diversified service-base economies, Naga is predominately engaged in the agrarian sector. The lack of a distinct geographic or industrial advantage has resulted in lower property value and smaller-scale businesses operating in Naga, which in turn limits the city’s real property and business tax collection. In mitigation, its local economy has been relatively more insulated than Metro Manila peers in this current global downturn. In addition, outside the capital region, Naga’s tax base and per capita income would compare more favorably than those of Iligan and Tacloban.…The city’s budgetary performance is nevertheless stronger than all rated Philippines cities, despite the fact that other cities have far more revenue streams at their disposal. This reflects to some extent the more advanced financial management practices of the Naga city government than its peers. Likewise, despite its more limited resources, Naga has been able to maintain robust liquidity coverage and a direct debt burden better than the average for its peer group.
This is hardly the picture of a “failing” city and its local government. This is precisely why I challenged Vox Bikol to publish it wholly and let its readers decide. To me, it is an unadulterated take on the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s economy and the city government’s stewardship of its financial resources. I will have to check if our point person in this credit rating project has already secured the needed clearance from S&P to publish the report in the city website. If yes, rest assured that we will make it available. Nonetheless, I am uploading the report in my blog, albeit unofficially, because I believe that its potential to educate us clearly outweighs its confidential nature. 3. I am happy that you have now acknowledged Naga’s score relative to its peers, the glaring omission that actually prompted that “intellectual dishonesty” remark in my previous email. Consequently, I will now gladly reconsider that assertion. 4. I will concede your point on the scope of that World Bank-funded pilot project, which is only limited to eight cities thus far. But I am confident that this inference is in order for the following reasons:
  • To have been considered, and more importantly, included in a pilot project on the credit rating of Philippine cities (out of the 120, because the League of Cities of the Philippines is still contesting the controversial SC decision affirming the cityhood of the other 16) already says enough about Naga. The mayor’s SOCR already covered this. But clearly, there is something about Naga that merited the Bank’s attention.
  • Quezon City, the richest LGU in the Philippines today, is among the pilot cities. So are Marikina, incidentally the most innovative and most awarded city in Metro Manila; Mandaluyong, Malabon and Taguig. But as you yourself acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, Naga more than held its own compared to these richer localities and their much more diversified economies. Unlike you, I therefore like our chances.
  • Your asides about transparency notwithstanding, the report clearly recognized, and it bears repeating here, that “Naga City is the only city assessed so far to have consistently received a clean opinion from COA on its financial statements, which placed the quality of its financial reporting considerably above domestic peers.” I have every reason to believe we will continue to be so, even if credit rating covers the entire universe of Philippine LGUs.
  • My experience with Philippine local governments -- and my work on public education has brought me to a number -- is that for the most part, they have continuing difficulty with disclosure and openness in regard to their finances. (For instance, I will be very interested to see whether the CWC is making money or not. By the way, I have written COA twice, requesting that it put online its 2008 Audit Reports for the Bicol cities and provinces; thus far, they have only obliged us with Masbate province and city.) To my knowledge, and of course I will be happy to be corrected on this matter, only Naga publishes its proposed and approved annual budget, as well as its quarterly financial statements.
5. Finally, that “consuelo de bobo” thing again highlights the fundamental difference in our respective positions: you may have become a little more honest in laying down the facts, but the “half-empty” perspective continues to color your opinion. In your static world view, that condescending put-down (that Naga merely topped the class of Philippine failures) is consistent with your negative perspective; if one reads closely, it smugly implies that Philippine cities do not have what it takes to be world-class -- simply because their best started out with a measly “Intermediate” rating when S&P first came to local shores, courtesy of the World Bank. In that world view, its credit rating of BB-/Stable for foreign currencies -- mind you, better than the capital cities of Ukraine and Turkey; BB+/Stable for local currencies; and AA+ in the national rating system -- only a shade lower than AAA, S&P’s top investment grade given to “the best quality borrowers, reliable and stable” -- it proposes for Philippine local governments do not matter at all. Unfortunately for you, the Naga city government not only looks at the glass half-full, but believes it is our responsibility to fill it up the brim. Instead of sulking and fault-finding, we celebrate affirmations that come our way, like that S&P report, because they tell us we must have doing some things well and right all along. Thankfully, its FMA points out precisely where and what we need to do make the system better. I am confident that our current and next leaders are as bullish about the future and have the same positive, can-do attitude. Again, I will not take it against you: you are entitled to your beliefs, in the same manner that I am entitled to a vigorous defense of the city’s position against continuing distortions that mask reality. And I don’t have be a Mayor Robredo to be able to do it.:)Those interested in the S&P report can go check the following:Credit Analysis of Naga City Financial Management Assessment (FMA) Report on Naga City Appendix - Overview of the Philippine Inter-Government System
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

Naga City Tri-cycle

January 29th, 2010 No comments

pmcalara posted a photo:

Naga City Tri-cycle

Tricycle in Naga City, Philippines.

two sets of windshield in front.

Categories: Flickr, Multimedia, Pictures Tags:

The Booth is a Marketplace:

January 28th, 2010 No comments
Corruption in the Local Media

A media studies lecture delivered on the occasion of the Regional Convention on Decoding Politics: An Interdisciplinary Approach on 28 January 2010, at the Instructional Media Center, Ateneo de Naga University. the convention was held in line with the Philosophy Week Celebration, 25 to 30 January 2010,AdNU.

MY FATHER is a constant cynic when it comes to media personnel. It hurts me, because primarily, I work with and for media—although indirectly. I teach Media Studies in this university. My students—should they persevere in their respective disciplines—will be our journalists and/or broadcasters a few years hence. But I very well understand my father, his experiences with the media hollering around to get his views and to extract information from him in his capacity as one of the chiefs of our state railway agency were frequented with disappointments like interview answers edited to fit the taste of the person covering the beat (the term ideologies can never be applied, the use of it would be an insult to the word itself). The essential truth is that this is never new to us. The more alarming thing is that all through these recent years, this phenomenon has already desensitized, disillusioned, brainwashed, mis-educated us.

I have a daunting task in hauling broadcasting majors from believing that political figures need the media for publicity. As a pedagogue of Media Studies, I am deeply troubled by this; although never really surprised. Over the radio one evening, I heard a commentator arrogantly asked a field reporter to search for certain Camarines Sur board member so that they could ask him questions, subsequently telling the field reporter that in times like this, advent of the 2010 plebiscite, the politician in question should be in dire need of the media.

My lecture today is more experiential than theoretical or demographic. It is more of a tale, a narrative, than a presentation of figures and survey results. Perhaps, it is what we need these times; during this epoch of surveys that are self-serving, a period when demographic profiles and statistical data end up in just being figures and data themselves and nothing else, not even a tinge of action that research findings necessitate. Consider how the public ignores political surveys; consider how we disregard these supposedly social response indicators, simply because we believe either they are tampered or are done to favor one entity over the others. To the commoner, these demographics are never an authentic determinant of the public desire.

What I have today is a tale that embodies my own critique—or perhaps, censure—of, over, and about the state of our media industry today—particularly our local media here in Bicol. I am here in a two-fold persona: that of an advocate, and that of a pedagogue, a teacher. This fact, maybe, is the scope and limit of my lecture and public sharing. I believe that here in our midst, the booth is a marketplace. That supposed sacred space of media practitioners, especially, our broadcasters is more often than not, violated by their own kind and their cohorts. The booth, that small glass-lined, sound-proof cube consisted of a broadcast console, a swivel chair, and a condenser microphone, may also be a place of merchandise, where information are curbed in exchange of something, cash or kind.

All be it that this is a pressing concern, pun intended, there is nothing new in the issue of media corruption. Chay Hofileña of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism a few years ago came out with the book, News for Sale that presented an extensive research on the corruption of media in the Philippines and how politicians—our supposed leaders—have managed and succeeded in debauching the press. Funny, though never we should actually be, that new terminologies and term definitions came out of this shameful phenomenon in our media. Unfortunately, I happened to have witnessed one here in Naga City, where cash payments to media personnel covering a particular beat were distributed from a u-box of a motorcycle. How nasty the process was. In my eyes, how money-hungry our press was during that time. But can we actually blame this on the poor field reporter assigned? The answer may just be another chicken-and-egg tale. One newspaperman, a senior one, told me he got ten thousand from that event. That was supposedly for a good news out of a really, really bad and shameful failure of an ambitious and not well-researched implementation of a state project. The next day, the newspaperman was by-lined in a news article on a failed project in a national daily. That evening he invited all the radiomen and they all had a drinking spree out of the ten thousand pesos issued to him by the manager of the state agency. Our broadcast industry has lots more tales to share.

Media and Corruption: A Brief Definitive Inquiry

In the discussion of media corruption, there are two words necessitating an etymological and contextual scrutinies—first, the term media, and the second, corruption. Such looking up of the origins of these two apellations may give us a deconstructed and definitive clarity of what the fusion of the two, media and corruption, or media corruption, is all about.

Etymologically, the term media, has never lost the original Latin form of the word, the plural form of medium. This word puts an entity embodying it in between two worlds, while media itelf is an independent world with her own systems and procedures. In the context of our subject today, and considering the most obsolete and most basic of all models of mass communication, the media is synonymous to the channel through which information are transmitted from an entity to another—which in the communication parlance, more often, we refer to as either sender or receiver.

In the world of mass communication, the media are classified into the print, broadcast, audio-visual, the internet, and other mode of channeling information—the term multimedia, despite it acquiring some age, never ceases to amaze me, much like how younger students are perpetually amazed by 3D graphics created on computers.

In the context of this lecture, and to streamline our focus, I contain my scope within the broadcast practices in Naga City, within which I was recently deeply involved due to my involvement in an advocacy against the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project which is feared to inundate my hometown Lupi in case the insistent proponents push through with it despite calls for local folks to stop its construction. Because of this project, I became a regular radio interviewee. There were days when it became routinely, eating my early mornings or late evenings, answering to attacks and even succumbing to attacking my so-called enemies-in-principles, either out of compulsion or utter anger and disgust. In this sense, large portion of my tale is confined within this extracting of an insight out of recollection of memories and experiences.

On the other hand, the other term, corruption, was taken from the Latin corrumpere, or to ‘mar, bribe, or destroy.’ The etymological attributes are blatant; they are too revealing if I may say, of the intervening and altering faculties that I wish to convey as the bastardizing agent in communication systems like the mass media. Simply, corruption is anything intentionally applied to the transfer of information such that the transfer could never be a perfect process, never a high-fidelity ferrying of data from one entity to another—from the sender to the receiver.

Contextually, again, corruption happens when information broadcasted over the radio never reaches the audience with optimum fidelity and clarity. This involves curbing of data, misinterpretations, dagdag-bawas, information black out, one entity favored over another entity, I’m sure you know them all. Corruption happens when the supposed fluidity in the process of mass communication—that is the process of communication from a source to a large audience via a channel, is marred by merchandizing, information buying or selling, loss of neutrality, et cetera. Alarmingly, this is very much present and evident among radio stations airing news and public affairs programs. I am not accusing anyone; I am speaking of a fact.

Media, the Fourth Estate

We all should remember that in the world of communication, mass media, the press, is considered as the fourth estate participating in the check and balance in our state affairs. Again, it is something that is nothing new to all of us. And this is exactly the reason why we are supposed to protect mass media from corruption; the very same reason too why in the first place it is very vulnerable to corruption—because mass media is power. That small device called the microphone through which the voices of radio commentators are heard by thousands of listeners is a device that in the mornings becomes a channel of our social and political thinking. The misinformed will eventually say, “iyo ano,” no matter how shallow the views aired over popular stations. This problem could have been solved with proper education. There’s the rub.

The power of the media is immense and vast, that is has also the capacity to take away from us proper sensibilities. This is the danger of public perception. When Joseph Estrada was ousted by the so-called second Edsa People Power, Joseph Spaeth of Time predicted that ousting a leader would be a vice in the Philippines. Now it is indeed a vice, and the media is greatly involved in its success. You don’t like the face of your principal, go to a radio station; you want to defend a parcel of land you don’t really own, go to a radio station; there’s a hostage-taking somewhere else, get a media celebrity. Of course, I may have exaggerated a bit, but that’s only for literary purposes.

Media, as the fourth estate, is a participant in the check and balance among the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In the Philippines, however, media almost fiscalizes—it had gone almost to the jurisdiction of police powers. Pag nadukutan ka, dai ka magkonsulta sa pulis, magreport ka sa radyo. Of course, there’s validity to some extent of what others may retort that the government may have indeed reached a point when even the smallest units of it are no longer trusted by the people. But even this condition is partly created by public perceptions partly shaped by the media.

In my anti-dam advocacy works, I often work with media personnel for information dissemination as well as rebuttals of statements released by the dam proponents. I opt to go to them because we need to reach wider audience for our concerns. We need empathy and sympathy, not to mention various assistances, either tangible or intangible. Not a few times have I experienced having the anchor commentator place me in the awkward situation of having the other party maligned, insulted, challenged, to a point of violations of broadcast ethics, while the interview was still on air. In my advocacy, I believe a branch of the state failed to deliver a good project for, with, and by the people, and the media could have actually done a great part in evaluating it, in a manner that is ethical and scientific.

The Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Experience: A Discourse of Media in Advocacy

In my plight as an advocate, my relationship with the media began a few months ago when we needed a shoulder to rely on in terms of information dissemination. In the movement, we believe that there was an information blackout—my townsfolk in Lupi having been suffering from poverty, and many have received little education. Government engineers gave them jokes for answers, ridiculed their questions, and mocked them, in supposedly consultation meetings. We needed a stronger and more powerful means of sharing information. We turned to the radio stations. Two stations eventually—seemingly—adopted us. They provided us with ease in expressing our concerns, gave us enough time on air, gave us opportunities for interviews. Both were obviously favoring one political figure over another, this was a few months ago.

One station began mentioning my name in a bad light, apparently announcing that I was wanted by a particular commentator to call the station for an interview because I am accountable for many things—including alternative projects in case we succeed in fighting against that gargantuan project of the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam. I succumbed to the call, I got upset one evening I called the station. On my first call, the lady on the phone asked me to call again after fifteen minutes because the commentator was still delivering the evening news. After that all the lines gave me busy tones until the time the program ended. The day after, the same thing happened. On the third day, I called again, this time, I told the lady on the phone I was willing to wait until the commentator was finished with whatever he was doing. I got a pass.

I told the commentator, on the air, that he had maligned my name and wanted me answerable for things that were out of my responsibilities. He tried to clear himself. I told him to turn to the government agency responsible for it, because I’m not the one who were supposed to work on it. There is a government agency tasked for creating irrigation; do not ask me to look for alternative projects for the dam. I told him why, reiterating all our reasons, plus all the documents necessary to be annotated and alluded to for our advocacy. I told him about the Environmental Impact Statement, he didn’t know anything about it. Patay na. He wasn’t aware of the many documents appertaining to what we were fighting for. The media studies teacher in me suddenly sprung out. Perhaps it was in an arrogant manner, I didn’t care, but I told the commentator: next time when you malign an advocacy work, when you malign a person, please do so with tangible and pertinent documents for bases. Reading maketh a full man.

The many times we were with the media in our advocacy works were always tinted and hinted with political malice. There has always been that kind intimation for political leaning—and many times they were not intimations, they were blatant propaganda. One commentator would always make fun of the situation and would tell the reporter interviewing me, ‘pakisabi ngantig ki Dato, buwisit siya ha,’ obviously alluding to the tv ad of Dato Arroyo.

One station, which obviously acts as an evangelist for another politician always took the positive stance, instead of negatively attacking, to compare their sponsor with the adversary politician. Instead of saying the remark uttered by the commentator of the station earlier mentioned, they would say ‘kaya ngaya si gob baga kontrang maray talaga digdi sa dam ta makakaraot man talaga, maray pa ngaya si gob.’

Where can we go then, when our media is contaminated with this malady?

Desensitization and Public Perception: The Case of Ads Employing Children

My increasing rage over the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project and its insensitive and deceitful proponents was put to an almost overshoot when the first radio ad employing children was broadcasted on air. The ad employed children notwithstanding the fact that the very nature of the ad was no at all rate in congruence with the nature of the child. I am a creative writer, and in this capacity, as much as I desire to read texts are they are, the interpretation of text would always elicit intertextual perspective. In the case of the radio ad, it was obvious. Children were made to curse—muda—when the term peste was mentioned to refer to a group of people. It meant calling a group of people a sort of a menace, irritant, obnoxious being, toxic, whatsoever. The advertising agency, standing for the advertiser or the financing sponsor, must have missed the point, as much as it must have missed the fact that those who were opposing the project were a populace of a community, of a town, or towns in the case of Lupi and Sipocot. The very nature of the ad defies the very nature of the child. The ad itself, in form and content, was problematic, assessing it from the point of view of media studies.

The ad costs fifty thousand pesos a month, and in the contract, as related to me by an insider, would last for six months. Crude computation gave us three hundred thousand pesos, multiplied by the number of stations where the ad was aired. Millions.

It was all the more infuriating when a counter-ad from another party was aired.

One morning, a commentator in another station sent me a text message, ‘sir, igwa na po baga kitang simbag duman sa radio ad.’

The ad, likewise, employed children, but this time, it was in favor of us, those who oppose the dam project. I could have chosen to laugh at its entertaining value like what most people have done. I could have given it a rest, perhaps, because it was in favor of our cause. But, hell, no. Perhaps, it was the media studies in me who reacted. This time, I wrote Mr. Emmanuel Llagas, the president of KBP Naga. I wrote him my indignation over the ads that insensitively use children as talents. Questions were raging in my mind—labor issues, children’s rights, bad propaganda, truth in advertisement, et cetera.

In my trying to convince them that I was writing not in my capacity as an anti-dam advocate, I wrote: “Despite my involvement in campaigns against the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project and despite the fact that the anti-dam advertisement may actually favor our advocacies, I do not believe that the manner of presentation is in congruence with how we believe things should be done. Because we still believe in subtlety, in restraint, in human gentleness and compassion; not in rude and unreasonably adversarial procedure of airing concerns.

“Now, we should ask: where now lies our press ethics? Where now is our primordial sympathy as influencer and persuader of thoughts? Where now is our duty to further only what is the truth?”


After which followed my citations of declarations and Philippine laws apparently violated by the advertisements. I firmly believe that as partakers in this horrible phenomenon the media had the faculty to say NO in the first place. Only if they have included in their business considerations a bit of discernment over what is ethical and correct and what is not, this matter would have not gotten worse.

A few weeks later, more and more ads with children as talents came in. I saw no action despite my letter and the weight of people’s appreciation of it.

I paid visit to Mr. Llagas, there I knew that the problem was there was no one to turn to, no one to hold accountable for all the ads. My question for myself was, if there were no people accountable, how did all these ads make it to the airwaves?! There’s the rub.

I left Mr. Llagas office, the outcome of our conversation was to help each other look for names whom we can credit the ads to. Until now it remained unsolved. Media and the ways to impunity.

The exchanges of advertisements flourished, radio frequencies became like cockpit arena where one ad comes in response after another, and the process repeats itself, like eager roosters in a denouement of a cockfight. Most exchanges of attacks via advertisements were adorned with frequent comments from anchor commentators, who I associate to taunting public in cockpits. Perhaps, the cash flow is similar in terms of process.

The most alarming to me was that public got entertained. They laughed at the ads. Other children were made to imitate the singing. The elder sang them too, with gusto and frequent extemporizing. There was no anger, no abhorrence, no protests.

Now we ask, is this how mass media ideally should be? Where was the function to inform properly? Where was the function to educate? Where was the function to influence with ethical correctness?

Actions and Consequences

Two weeks ago, the media personnel were given the opportunity to have an audience in the Malacañan, the soon-to-be erstwhile residence of President Arroyo and her family. Upon coming back to Naga, I asked a friend as to how much he got from the sideline trip, he answered: four thousand. The amount depended on many things. What excited me more was the promise to share with me an information: he texted the clue: dato arroyo vic nierva.

Here’s the rub.

Two media personnel, a man I though was principled and an old lady broadcaster got into a conversation with the congressman. I was in the topic, as well as my letter about the ads and my advocacy against the dam.

The two broadcasters took turns in belittling my efforts against the ads that employed children, saying that the points I raised were somewhat weak and insignificant. Added to that was the assurance that our advocacy against the congressman’s dam project was, likewise, weak and proves nothing against the adamantine insistence of the proponents.

It hurt me as well as it challenged me to be more resolute.

No one can really blame it entirely on the media personnel. As it is in any other organization, not everyone is corrupt. Many are victims too. A few years ago, a research on the status of our media industry revealed that, on a nationwide scale, 80% of our journalists and broadcasters do not receive social security; 75% do not have health plans; 80% do not own their homes; 60% take out loans from family and friends to make ends meet; 60% have gone to news source to solicit funds. In Naga, a television reporter-cum-celebrity loaned thirty-nine thousand pesos from the office of a well-known elected official when his wife gave birth.

We all decry for all the media killings in our country. We protest against the violation of the dignity of the noble profession of journalists and broadcasters. But if we are going to ask ourselves, what are we doing to combat these monstrous acts? For if we in the media continue to attach ourselves to warring politicians, we will surely find ourselves caught in their senseless crossfires. Pity us, in the end.

In the last statements in my letter of protest against the ads employing children, I wrote: ‘During these times when we whine and rant so much about corruption, the best action perhaps is to start cleansing from within.”

Sadly, my last statement was perceived as arrogance. Who am I, according to them, a 30-year old dam fighter, teacher, and struggling poet, to instruct them who were in the business for such a long time.

In my body and spirit, and as I am telling you now in this lecture, that one afternoon upon learning of their response to my letter, upon questioning my capacity to question them, I told myself: “Precisely, who am I?”

Dios mabalos saindo gabos!


San Fernando, Camarines Sur
28 January 2010
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

The Booth is a Marketplace:

January 28th, 2010 No comments
Corruption in the Local MediaA media studies lecture delivered on the occasion of the Regional Convention on Decoding Politics: An Interdisciplinary Approach on 28 January 2010, at the Instructional Media Center, Ateneo de Naga University. the convention was held in line with the Philosophy Week Celebration, 25 to 30 January 2010,AdNU.MY FATHER is a constant cynic when it comes to media personnel. It hurts me, because primarily, I work with and for media—although indirectly. I teach Media Studies in this university. My students—should they persevere in their respective disciplines—will be our journalists and/or broadcasters a few years hence. But I very well understand my father, his experiences with the media hollering around to get his views and to extract information from him in his capacity as one of the chiefs of our state railway agency were frequented with disappointments like interview answers edited to fit the taste of the person covering the beat (the term ideologies can never be applied, the use of it would be an insult to the word itself). The essential truth is that this is never new to us. The more alarming thing is that all through these recent years, this phenomenon has already desensitized, disillusioned, brainwashed, mis-educated us.I have a daunting task in hauling broadcasting majors from believing that political figures need the media for publicity. As a pedagogue of Media Studies, I am deeply troubled by this; although never really surprised. Over the radio one evening, I heard a commentator arrogantly asked a field reporter to search for certain Camarines Sur board member so that they could ask him questions, subsequently telling the field reporter that in times like this, advent of the 2010 plebiscite, the politician in question should be in dire need of the media.My lecture today is more experiential than theoretical or demographic. It is more of a tale, a narrative, than a presentation of figures and survey results. Perhaps, it is what we need these times; during this epoch of surveys that are self-serving, a period when demographic profiles and statistical data end up in just being figures and data themselves and nothing else, not even a tinge of action that research findings necessitate. Consider how the public ignores political surveys; consider how we disregard these supposedly social response indicators, simply because we believe either they are tampered or are done to favor one entity over the others. To the commoner, these demographics are never an authentic determinant of the public desire.What I have today is a tale that embodies my own critique—or perhaps, censure—of, over, and about the state of our media industry today—particularly our local media here in Bicol. I am here in a two-fold persona: that of an advocate, and that of a pedagogue, a teacher. This fact, maybe, is the scope and limit of my lecture and public sharing. I believe that here in our midst, the booth is a marketplace. That supposed sacred space of media practitioners, especially, our broadcasters is more often than not, violated by their own kind and their cohorts. The booth, that small glass-lined, sound-proof cube consisted of a broadcast console, a swivel chair, and a condenser microphone, may also be a place of merchandise, where information are curbed in exchange of something, cash or kind.All be it that this is a pressing concern, pun intended, there is nothing new in the issue of media corruption. Chay Hofileña of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism a few years ago came out with the book, News for Sale that presented an extensive research on the corruption of media in the Philippines and how politicians—our supposed leaders—have managed and succeeded in debauching the press. Funny, though never we should actually be, that new terminologies and term definitions came out of this shameful phenomenon in our media. Unfortunately, I happened to have witnessed one here in Naga City, where cash payments to media personnel covering a particular beat were distributed from a u-box of a motorcycle. How nasty the process was. In my eyes, how money-hungry our press was during that time. But can we actually blame this on the poor field reporter assigned? The answer may just be another chicken-and-egg tale. One newspaperman, a senior one, told me he got ten thousand from that event. That was supposedly for a good news out of a really, really bad and shameful failure of an ambitious and not well-researched implementation of a state project. The next day, the newspaperman was by-lined in a news article on a failed project in a national daily. That evening he invited all the radiomen and they all had a drinking spree out of the ten thousand pesos issued to him by the manager of the state agency. Our broadcast industry has lots more tales to share.Media and Corruption: A Brief Definitive InquiryIn the discussion of media corruption, there are two words necessitating an etymological and contextual scrutinies—first, the term media, and the second, corruption. Such looking up of the origins of these two apellations may give us a deconstructed and definitive clarity of what the fusion of the two, media and corruption, or media corruption, is all about.Etymologically, the term media, has never lost the original Latin form of the word, the plural form of medium. This word puts an entity embodying it in between two worlds, while media itelf is an independent world with her own systems and procedures. In the context of our subject today, and considering the most obsolete and most basic of all models of mass communication, the media is synonymous to the channel through which information are transmitted from an entity to another—which in the communication parlance, more often, we refer to as either sender or receiver.In the world of mass communication, the media are classified into the print, broadcast, audio-visual, the internet, and other mode of channeling information—the term multimedia, despite it acquiring some age, never ceases to amaze me, much like how younger students are perpetually amazed by 3D graphics created on computers.In the context of this lecture, and to streamline our focus, I contain my scope within the broadcast practices in Naga City, within which I was recently deeply involved due to my involvement in an advocacy against the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project which is feared to inundate my hometown Lupi in case the insistent proponents push through with it despite calls for local folks to stop its construction. Because of this project, I became a regular radio interviewee. There were days when it became routinely, eating my early mornings or late evenings, answering to attacks and even succumbing to attacking my so-called enemies-in-principles, either out of compulsion or utter anger and disgust. In this sense, large portion of my tale is confined within this extracting of an insight out of recollection of memories and experiences.On the other hand, the other term, corruption, was taken from the Latin corrumpere, or to ‘mar, bribe, or destroy.’ The etymological attributes are blatant; they are too revealing if I may say, of the intervening and altering faculties that I wish to convey as the bastardizing agent in communication systems like the mass media. Simply, corruption is anything intentionally applied to the transfer of information such that the transfer could never be a perfect process, never a high-fidelity ferrying of data from one entity to another—from the sender to the receiver.Contextually, again, corruption happens when information broadcasted over the radio never reaches the audience with optimum fidelity and clarity. This involves curbing of data, misinterpretations, dagdag-bawas, information black out, one entity favored over another entity, I’m sure you know them all. Corruption happens when the supposed fluidity in the process of mass communication—that is the process of communication from a source to a large audience via a channel, is marred by merchandizing, information buying or selling, loss of neutrality, et cetera. Alarmingly, this is very much present and evident among radio stations airing news and public affairs programs. I am not accusing anyone; I am speaking of a fact.Media, the Fourth EstateWe all should remember that in the world of communication, mass media, the press, is considered as the fourth estate participating in the check and balance in our state affairs. Again, it is something that is nothing new to all of us. And this is exactly the reason why we are supposed to protect mass media from corruption; the very same reason too why in the first place it is very vulnerable to corruption—because mass media is power. That small device called the microphone through which the voices of radio commentators are heard by thousands of listeners is a device that in the mornings becomes a channel of our social and political thinking. The misinformed will eventually say, “iyo ano,” no matter how shallow the views aired over popular stations. This problem could have been solved with proper education. There’s the rub.The power of the media is immense and vast, that is has also the capacity to take away from us proper sensibilities. This is the danger of public perception. When Joseph Estrada was ousted by the so-called second Edsa People Power, Joseph Spaeth of Time predicted that ousting a leader would be a vice in the Philippines. Now it is indeed a vice, and the media is greatly involved in its success. You don’t like the face of your principal, go to a radio station; you want to defend a parcel of land you don’t really own, go to a radio station; there’s a hostage-taking somewhere else, get a media celebrity. Of course, I may have exaggerated a bit, but that’s only for literary purposes.Media, as the fourth estate, is a participant in the check and balance among the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In the Philippines, however, media almost fiscalizes—it had gone almost to the jurisdiction of police powers. Pag nadukutan ka, dai ka magkonsulta sa pulis, magreport ka sa radyo. Of course, there’s validity to some extent of what others may retort that the government may have indeed reached a point when even the smallest units of it are no longer trusted by the people. But even this condition is partly created by public perceptions partly shaped by the media.In my anti-dam advocacy works, I often work with media personnel for information dissemination as well as rebuttals of statements released by the dam proponents. I opt to go to them because we need to reach wider audience for our concerns. We need empathy and sympathy, not to mention various assistances, either tangible or intangible. Not a few times have I experienced having the anchor commentator place me in the awkward situation of having the other party maligned, insulted, challenged, to a point of violations of broadcast ethics, while the interview was still on air. In my advocacy, I believe a branch of the state failed to deliver a good project for, with, and by the people, and the media could have actually done a great part in evaluating it, in a manner that is ethical and scientific.The Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Experience: A Discourse of Media in AdvocacyIn my plight as an advocate, my relationship with the media began a few months ago when we needed a shoulder to rely on in terms of information dissemination. In the movement, we believe that there was an information blackout—my townsfolk in Lupi having been suffering from poverty, and many have received little education. Government engineers gave them jokes for answers, ridiculed their questions, and mocked them, in supposedly consultation meetings. We needed a stronger and more powerful means of sharing information. We turned to the radio stations. Two stations eventually—seemingly—adopted us. They provided us with ease in expressing our concerns, gave us enough time on air, gave us opportunities for interviews. Both were obviously favoring one political figure over another, this was a few months ago.One station began mentioning my name in a bad light, apparently announcing that I was wanted by a particular commentator to call the station for an interview because I am accountable for many things—including alternative projects in case we succeed in fighting against that gargantuan project of the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam. I succumbed to the call, I got upset one evening I called the station. On my first call, the lady on the phone asked me to call again after fifteen minutes because the commentator was still delivering the evening news. After that all the lines gave me busy tones until the time the program ended. The day after, the same thing happened. On the third day, I called again, this time, I told the lady on the phone I was willing to wait until the commentator was finished with whatever he was doing. I got a pass.I told the commentator, on the air, that he had maligned my name and wanted me answerable for things that were out of my responsibilities. He tried to clear himself. I told him to turn to the government agency responsible for it, because I’m not the one who were supposed to work on it. There is a government agency tasked for creating irrigation; do not ask me to look for alternative projects for the dam. I told him why, reiterating all our reasons, plus all the documents necessary to be annotated and alluded to for our advocacy. I told him about the Environmental Impact Statement, he didn’t know anything about it. Patay na. He wasn’t aware of the many documents appertaining to what we were fighting for. The media studies teacher in me suddenly sprung out. Perhaps it was in an arrogant manner, I didn’t care, but I told the commentator: next time when you malign an advocacy work, when you malign a person, please do so with tangible and pertinent documents for bases. Reading maketh a full man.The many times we were with the media in our advocacy works were always tinted and hinted with political malice. There has always been that kind intimation for political leaning—and many times they were not intimations, they were blatant propaganda. One commentator would always make fun of the situation and would tell the reporter interviewing me, ‘pakisabi ngantig ki Dato, buwisit siya ha,’ obviously alluding to the tv ad of Dato Arroyo.One station, which obviously acts as an evangelist for another politician always took the positive stance, instead of negatively attacking, to compare their sponsor with the adversary politician. Instead of saying the remark uttered by the commentator of the station earlier mentioned, they would say ‘kaya ngaya si gob baga kontrang maray talaga digdi sa dam ta makakaraot man talaga, maray pa ngaya si gob.’Where can we go then, when our media is contaminated with this malady?Desensitization and Public Perception: The Case of Ads Employing ChildrenMy increasing rage over the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project and its insensitive and deceitful proponents was put to an almost overshoot when the first radio ad employing children was broadcasted on air. The ad employed children notwithstanding the fact that the very nature of the ad was no at all rate in congruence with the nature of the child. I am a creative writer, and in this capacity, as much as I desire to read texts are they are, the interpretation of text would always elicit intertextual perspective. In the case of the radio ad, it was obvious. Children were made to curse—muda—when the term peste was mentioned to refer to a group of people. It meant calling a group of people a sort of a menace, irritant, obnoxious being, toxic, whatsoever. The advertising agency, standing for the advertiser or the financing sponsor, must have missed the point, as much as it must have missed the fact that those who were opposing the project were a populace of a community, of a town, or towns in the case of Lupi and Sipocot. The very nature of the ad defies the very nature of the child. The ad itself, in form and content, was problematic, assessing it from the point of view of media studies.The ad costs fifty thousand pesos a month, and in the contract, as related to me by an insider, would last for six months. Crude computation gave us three hundred thousand pesos, multiplied by the number of stations where the ad was aired. Millions.It was all the more infuriating when a counter-ad from another party was aired.One morning, a commentator in another station sent me a text message, ‘sir, igwa na po baga kitang simbag duman sa radio ad.’The ad, likewise, employed children, but this time, it was in favor of us, those who oppose the dam project. I could have chosen to laugh at its entertaining value like what most people have done. I could have given it a rest, perhaps, because it was in favor of our cause. But, hell, no. Perhaps, it was the media studies in me who reacted. This time, I wrote Mr. Emmanuel Llagas, the president of KBP Naga. I wrote him my indignation over the ads that insensitively use children as talents. Questions were raging in my mind—labor issues, children’s rights, bad propaganda, truth in advertisement, et cetera.In my trying to convince them that I was writing not in my capacity as an anti-dam advocate, I wrote: “Despite my involvement in campaigns against the Libmanan-Cabusao Dam Project and despite the fact that the anti-dam advertisement may actually favor our advocacies, I do not believe that the manner of presentation is in congruence with how we believe things should be done. Because we still believe in subtlety, in restraint, in human gentleness and compassion; not in rude and unreasonably adversarial procedure of airing concerns.“Now, we should ask: where now lies our press ethics? Where now is our primordial sympathy as influencer and persuader of thoughts? Where now is our duty to further only what is the truth?”After which followed my citations of declarations and Philippine laws apparently violated by the advertisements. I firmly believe that as partakers in this horrible phenomenon the media had the faculty to say NO in the first place. Only if they have included in their business considerations a bit of discernment over what is ethical and correct and what is not, this matter would have not gotten worse.A few weeks later, more and more ads with children as talents came in. I saw no action despite my letter and the weight of people’s appreciation of it.I paid visit to Mr. Llagas, there I knew that the problem was there was no one to turn to, no one to hold accountable for all the ads. My question for myself was, if there were no people accountable, how did all these ads make it to the airwaves?! There’s the rub.I left Mr. Llagas office, the outcome of our conversation was to help each other look for names whom we can credit the ads to. Until now it remained unsolved. Media and the ways to impunity.The exchanges of advertisements flourished, radio frequencies became like cockpit arena where one ad comes in response after another, and the process repeats itself, like eager roosters in a denouement of a cockfight. Most exchanges of attacks via advertisements were adorned with frequent comments from anchor commentators, who I associate to taunting public in cockpits. Perhaps, the cash flow is similar in terms of process.The most alarming to me was that public got entertained. They laughed at the ads. Other children were made to imitate the singing. The elder sang them too, with gusto and frequent extemporizing. There was no anger, no abhorrence, no protests.Now we ask, is this how mass media ideally should be? Where was the function to inform properly? Where was the function to educate? Where was the function to influence with ethical correctness?Actions and ConsequencesTwo weeks ago, the media personnel were given the opportunity to have an audience in the Malacañan, the soon-to-be erstwhile residence of President Arroyo and her family. Upon coming back to Naga, I asked a friend as to how much he got from the sideline trip, he answered: four thousand. The amount depended on many things. What excited me more was the promise to share with me an information: he texted the clue: dato arroyo vic nierva.Here’s the rub.Two media personnel, a man I though was principled and an old lady broadcaster got into a conversation with the congressman. I was in the topic, as well as my letter about the ads and my advocacy against the dam.The two broadcasters took turns in belittling my efforts against the ads that employed children, saying that the points I raised were somewhat weak and insignificant. Added to that was the assurance that our advocacy against the congressman’s dam project was, likewise, weak and proves nothing against the adamantine insistence of the proponents.It hurt me as well as it challenged me to be more resolute.No one can really blame it entirely on the media personnel. As it is in any other organization, not everyone is corrupt. Many are victims too. A few years ago, a research on the status of our media industry revealed that, on a nationwide scale, 80% of our journalists and broadcasters do not receive social security; 75% do not have health plans; 80% do not own their homes; 60% take out loans from family and friends to make ends meet; 60% have gone to news source to solicit funds. In Naga, a television reporter-cum-celebrity loaned thirty-nine thousand pesos from the office of a well-known elected official when his wife gave birth.We all decry for all the media killings in our country. We protest against the violation of the dignity of the noble profession of journalists and broadcasters. But if we are going to ask ourselves, what are we doing to combat these monstrous acts? For if we in the media continue to attach ourselves to warring politicians, we will surely find ourselves caught in their senseless crossfires. Pity us, in the end.In the last statements in my letter of protest against the ads employing children, I wrote: ‘During these times when we whine and rant so much about corruption, the best action perhaps is to start cleansing from within.”Sadly, my last statement was perceived as arrogance. Who am I, according to them, a 30-year old dam fighter, teacher, and struggling poet, to instruct them who were in the business for such a long time.In my body and spirit, and as I am telling you now in this lecture, that one afternoon upon learning of their response to my letter, upon questioning my capacity to question them, I told myself: “Precisely, who am I?”Dios mabalos saindo gabos!
San Fernando, Camarines Sur28 January 2010
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

Waiting for Bicol Access Health to open

January 28th, 2010 No comments

I can't remember that last time the people in Naga got a huge boost health-wise. Okay granted that probably only a few people could afford the services of Bicol Access Health, it is still comforting to note that we are making progress in this field.
So with fingers crossed, I patiently hope that Bicol Access Health would deliver its promises of upgrading the capacity of Naga to take care of its sick (privileged or not).
Lots of potentials...let's see if it delivers.
Categories: General Tags:

Malolos City is short, however one looks at it

January 28th, 2010 No comments
INTRIGUED by the close 7-6 vote by the Supreme Court on the voided law creating a separate Malolos City congressional district, I checked the dissenting opinion penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad.

I have a feeling these are more or less the arguments that were invoked or will be invoked by Rep. Dato Arroyo and his PALAKA cohorts in support of their reapportionment of Camarines Sur's former 1st and 2nd congressional districts.

The money quotes (underscoring mine):
The Court has always been reluctant to act like a third chamber of Congress and second guess its work. Only when the lawmakers commit grave abuse of discretion in their passage of the law can the Court step in. But the lawmakers must not only abuse this discretion, they must do so with grave consequences.

Here, nothing in Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution prohibits the use of estimates or population projections in the creation of legislative districts. As argued by the Solicitor General, the standard to be adopted in determining compliance with the population requirement involves a political question. In the absence of grave abuse of discretion or patent violation of established legal parameters, the Court cannot intrude into the wisdom of the standard adopted by the legislature.

...

R.A. 9591 is based on a “legislative” finding of fact that Malolos will have a population of over 250,000 by the year 2010. The rules of legislative inquiry or investigation are unique to each house of Congress. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Executive Department can dictate on Congress the kind of evidence that will satisfy its law-making requirement. It would be foolhardy for the Court to suggest that the legislature consider only evidence admissible in a court of law or under the rules passed by the Office of the President. Obviously, the Judicial Department will resist a mandate from Congress on what evidence its courts may receive to support its decisions.
It is however Paragraph (c) of Justice Abad's disquisition as to why a Ramos-issued executive order governing the use of NSO demographic projections that I find flawed mathematically. It relies on the annual application of the 1995-2000 population growth rate (PGR) of Malolos City (certified at 3.78% annually by NSO Region III Director Alberto Miranda) from 2001 to 2010, which would conveniently yield a projected population of 254,036 this year -- enough to meet the minimum 250,000 threshhold.

But it is not an accurate projection for two reasons:

1. It does not square with the actual 2007 NSO count. The 2007 NSO census for Malolos (223,069), which is available here, is 4,208 lower than the projected count of 227,277 -- putting the 3.78% certified PGR at the high side.

2. The PGR between 2000 and 2007 should have been used. It would have yielded a more accurate projection, being closer to the year in question. Demographers and city planners can easily compute this, using either geometric or exponential formulas.

I plugged these formulas and the basic data in this spreadsheet, which I uploaded to Google Docs. I will urge you to check it for accuracy. In sum, my computations yielded a PGR between 3.44% (geometric) and 3.5% (exponential), significantly lower than what Director Miranda certified.

In both instances, Malolos City falls short of the threshhold by a low of around 3,600 to a high of around 4,000.

They only reinforce the majority decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, which spells trouble ahead for the PALAKA coalition in Camarines Sur.
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Malolos City is short, however one looks at it

January 28th, 2010 No comments
INTRIGUED by the close 7-6 vote by the Supreme Court on the voided law creating a separate Malolos City congressional district, I checked the dissenting opinion penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad.I have a feeling these are more or less the arguments that were invoked or will be invoked by Rep. Dato Arroyo and his PALAKA cohorts in support of their reapportionment of Camarines Sur's former 1st and 2nd congressional districts.The money quotes (underscoring mine):
The Court has always been reluctant to act like a third chamber of Congress and second guess its work. Only when the lawmakers commit grave abuse of discretion in their passage of the law can the Court step in. But the lawmakers must not only abuse this discretion, they must do so with grave consequences.Here, nothing in Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution prohibits the use of estimates or population projections in the creation of legislative districts. As argued by the Solicitor General, the standard to be adopted in determining compliance with the population requirement involves a political question. In the absence of grave abuse of discretion or patent violation of established legal parameters, the Court cannot intrude into the wisdom of the standard adopted by the legislature....R.A. 9591 is based on a “legislative” finding of fact that Malolos will have a population of over 250,000 by the year 2010. The rules of legislative inquiry or investigation are unique to each house of Congress. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Executive Department can dictate on Congress the kind of evidence that will satisfy its law-making requirement. It would be foolhardy for the Court to suggest that the legislature consider only evidence admissible in a court of law or under the rules passed by the Office of the President. Obviously, the Judicial Department will resist a mandate from Congress on what evidence its courts may receive to support its decisions.
It is however Paragraph (c) of Justice Abad's disquisition as to why a Ramos-issued executive order governing the use of NSO demographic projections that I find flawed mathematically. It relies on the annual application of the 1995-2000 population growth rate (PGR) of Malolos City (certified at 3.78% annually by NSO Region III Director Alberto Miranda) from 2001 to 2010, which would conveniently yield a projected population of 254,036 this year -- enough to meet the minimum 250,000 threshhold.But it is not an accurate projection for two reasons:1. It does not square with the actual 2007 NSO count. The 2007 NSO census for Malolos (223,069), which is available here, is 4,208 lower than the projected count of 227,277 -- putting the 3.78% certified PGR at the high side.2. The PGR between 2000 and 2007 should have been used. It would have yielded a more accurate projection, being closer to the year in question. Demographers and city planners can easily compute this, using either geometric or exponential formulas.I plugged these formulas and the basic data in this spreadsheet, which I uploaded to Google Docs. I will urge you to check it for accuracy. In sum, my computations yielded a PGR between 3.44% (geometric) and 3.5% (exponential), significantly lower than what Director Miranda certified.In both instances, Malolos City falls short of the threshhold by a low of around 3,600 to a high of around 4,000.They only reinforce the majority decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, which spells trouble ahead for the PALAKA coalition in Camarines Sur.
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9 Years of EDSA Dos: Reliving and Keeping its Spirit and Message

January 28th, 2010 No comments
Convicted and pardoned ex-president: Still no apologies and running for president Former president and movie star Joseph Estrada of the Philippines is a freed man. He is also eligible to run for president according to Commission on Election (Comelec). As the first former president in Southeast Asia to be convicted of corruption (two counts of [...]
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A pyrrhic victory for PALAKA?

January 28th, 2010 No comments
UPDATE (1:35 PM): The SC decision voiding the Malolos City congressional district is now accessible here.

THIS PHILIPPINE STAR story should give pause to the unabated media war being prosecuted by the media groups of Rep. Dato Arroyo and San Fernando Mayor Perry Mabulo, aided by Gov. L-Ray "Bebe Ko" Villafuerte.

If the SC decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio were to serve as precedent, they may just end up -- together with DBM Secretary Nonoy Andaya and Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the bill reapportioning what used to be the 1st and 2nd Districts of Camarines Sur -- holding an empty bag, owners of a pyrrhic victory that caps the total unraveling of yet another best-laid scheme of mice and men by the Partido Lakas-Kampi (PALAKA) coalition.

The key portion of the story, found towards the end, deserves to be quoted fully:
‘Invalidate splitting of Camsur’

Meanwhile, sources in the House of Representatives said the SC could also invalidate the splitting of the first congressional district of Camarines Sur.

They said like Malolos, the two districts do not meet the population requirement of 250,000 per legislative constituency as prescribed by the Constitution.

President Arroyo’s son Diosdado is the incumbent representative of Camarines Sur’s first district, which has been split into two.

The new district is composed of the towns of Libmanan, Pamplona, Pasacao, Minalabac, and San Fernando, and the second district has the towns of Gainza and Milaor.

Libmanan is Rep. Arroyo’s adopted town. He is seeking reelection in the new legislative constituency, now denominated as the second district.

What remained in the original first district are the towns of Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot, and Cabusao.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., who represented the district for nearly nine years, is seeking to reclaim his House seat. The Andayas are from Ragay.

The present second district becomes the third district and is composed of the remaining towns of Pili, Campo, Camaligan, Canaman, Magarao, Bombon, and Calabanga, and Naga City.

Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the law splitting the first district, represents the second (now third) district.

The third district becomes the fourth. It will continue to compose the towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Sangay, San Jose, Tigaon, Tinambac, and Siruma.

The fourth district becomes fifth. Like the fourth, its composition -- Iriga City and the towns of Baao, Bato, Buhi, Bula, and Nabua – remains intact.

Secretary Andaya, a lawyer, said if he and Rep. Arroyo win on May 10, they would both lose their congressional seats if the Supreme Courts declares the splitting of the first district as unconstitutional.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo have asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the division of the first district for failing to meet the population requirement.

Local officials, led by Gov. Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Rep. Villafuerte’s son, initially opposed the splitting of the first district because they wanted a general redistricting of the province, which they said was entitled to six districts, instead of five.

In their letter to the Senate, they said Rep. Villafuerte’s bill would cripple the existing first district in terms of population.

“The remaining towns of Del Gallego, Lupi, Ragay, Sipocot, and Cabusao have a combined population of 176,383, 30 percent short of the population requirement prescribed by the Constitution,” they said.

When Rep. Villafuerte’s bill was pending in the Senate, Aquino had suggested that all the existing districts be reconstituted so that each would hurdle the population standard and the province would be entitled to six, instead of five districts. But his suggestion was ignored.
As my friend from Minalabac puts it colorfully, "gurang nang komedyante, nasuwi sa entablado."
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A pyrrhic victory for PALAKA?

January 28th, 2010 No comments
UPDATE (1:35 PM): The SC decision voiding the Malolos City congressional district is now accessible here.THIS PHILIPPINE STAR story should give pause to the unabated media war being prosecuted by the media groups of Rep. Dato Arroyo and San Fernando Mayor Perry Mabulo, aided by Gov. L-Ray "Bebe Ko" Villafuerte.If the SC decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio were to serve as precedent, they may just end up -- together with DBM Secretary Nonoy Andaya and Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the bill reapportioning what used to be the 1st and 2nd Districts of Camarines Sur -- holding an empty bag, owners of a pyrrhic victory that caps the total unraveling of yet another best-laid scheme of mice and men by the Partido Lakas-Kampi (PALAKA) coalition.The key portion of the story, found towards the end, deserves to be quoted fully:
‘Invalidate splitting of Camsur’Meanwhile, sources in the House of Representatives said the SC could also invalidate the splitting of the first congressional district of Camarines Sur.They said like Malolos, the two districts do not meet the population requirement of 250,000 per legislative constituency as prescribed by the Constitution.President Arroyo’s son Diosdado is the incumbent representative of Camarines Sur’s first district, which has been split into two.The new district is composed of the towns of Libmanan, Pamplona, Pasacao, Minalabac, and San Fernando, and the second district has the towns of Gainza and Milaor.Libmanan is Rep. Arroyo’s adopted town. He is seeking reelection in the new legislative constituency, now denominated as the second district.What remained in the original first district are the towns of Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot, and Cabusao.Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., who represented the district for nearly nine years, is seeking to reclaim his House seat. The Andayas are from Ragay.The present second district becomes the third district and is composed of the remaining towns of Pili, Campo, Camaligan, Canaman, Magarao, Bombon, and Calabanga, and Naga City.Rep. Luis Villafuerte, author of the law splitting the first district, represents the second (now third) district.The third district becomes the fourth. It will continue to compose the towns of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Presentacion, Sangay, San Jose, Tigaon, Tinambac, and Siruma.The fourth district becomes fifth. Like the fourth, its composition -- Iriga City and the towns of Baao, Bato, Buhi, Bula, and Nabua – remains intact.Secretary Andaya, a lawyer, said if he and Rep. Arroyo win on May 10, they would both lose their congressional seats if the Supreme Courts declares the splitting of the first district as unconstitutional.Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo have asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the division of the first district for failing to meet the population requirement.Local officials, led by Gov. Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Rep. Villafuerte’s son, initially opposed the splitting of the first district because they wanted a general redistricting of the province, which they said was entitled to six districts, instead of five.In their letter to the Senate, they said Rep. Villafuerte’s bill would cripple the existing first district in terms of population.“The remaining towns of Del Gallego, Lupi, Ragay, Sipocot, and Cabusao have a combined population of 176,383, 30 percent short of the population requirement prescribed by the Constitution,” they said.When Rep. Villafuerte’s bill was pending in the Senate, Aquino had suggested that all the existing districts be reconstituted so that each would hurdle the population standard and the province would be entitled to six, instead of five districts. But his suggestion was ignored.
As my friend from Minalabac puts it colorfully, "gurang nang komedyante, nasuwi sa entablado."
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Status Mag Feature {Issue 10}

January 26th, 2010 No comments

{ MangoRED featured on the photography issue of STATUS MAGAZINE / Issue 10 }

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SEEING {RED}

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Getting hitched need not be a boring affair, at least not in those album photos you’ll be showing your kids and grandkids a couple of decades from now. MANGORED shows us how to add zing to the world of weddings.

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By Raydon L. Reyes

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The first thing you would see once you enter MangoRED’s office is a blue sofa and a large wide-screen LCD TV more than half the size of a door. Further back are the desktop computers surrounded by a myriad of stickers, plastic toys, a surfboard, and a collage of photos forming the image of Obama – all these hinting at the lack of any real planning when it comes to their space’s design. But from the start, MangoRED was never about making plans. The weird name itself just came up one day because the brothers and company founders Randall and Ryan Dagooc thought it “sounded funny.”

But it is this free-flowing, anything-goes approach to life that forms the core of their crafy in the world of gigantic cakes with plastic couples on top, women in white flowing dresses and veils. And two people who vow to be together until the earth turns over-or something like that.

What started as a mini-project between two brothers has since transformed into a team of photographers, graphic illustrators, and layout artists who share the vision of adding more zest to matrimonial memories. “People have this notion that weddings are the cheesy and corny photos,” asserts Randall, who is happily married himself. “What’s corny about some [wedding] photographers is that they’re not genuine or authentic. Everything comes template-based.”

Randall noticed that most wedding photos did not really show the identity of the bride and groom. And so in 2004, they began to experiment. One of their initial ideas was to make the couples in their photographs appear like cartoon characters by using a lot of light. The pictures that resulted made the couples look like sketches of people celebrating in a more colorful parallel world. They then shifted their style into imitating baby pictures from way back that rouse a sense of nostalgia. Then MangoRed posted their photos online. They eventually started getting some attention. “Posting your photos in a site works because people have time to ogle at them. One time, we even had a client from the US who discovered us just by searching ‘funky wedding photographers’ in Google,” Randall narrates, laughing.

It also helps when the ones who commission them are mostly young people who understand what they are trying to do. Between puffs of smoke, Randall explains, “Many young people are also exposed to culture, and they’re looking for someone who can relate with them. We cater to thos who have similar personalities as we do.”

The team of MangoRed also makes it a point never to let the technicalities of photography get in the way of their creative vision: “I once reached that point where I was too conscious about ISO, aperture, shutter speed…and before I knew it, I lost my idea for the photo. Never let the technicalities hinder you from achieving what you imagine is the perfect photo.”

What started off as a n artistic effort to spice up the shots of people getting hitched is evolving beyond the wedding scene. From portraits to magazine shoots. You never know what to expect from this photo-graphics savant duo.

www.MangoRed.com
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A case of intellectual dishonesty

January 26th, 2010 No comments
ATTY. CHE Carpio, in his latest column, channels Shakespeare in his defense. But I don't think the Bard of Avon will be of any help -- to one who is engaged in the selective use of data to support his preconceived notion.

A clear case of intellectual dishonesty.

And unfortunately for Bicol Mail, its editorial writer swallowed Che's propaganda hook, line and sinker in its latest broadside against the city government.

This compelled me to fire the following rejoinder (which benefited from a little tightening), with cc: to the Vox Bikol staff.
Dear Attorney Carpio,

I am amused by your latest column entitled "The insolence of office."

1. I don't think even Shakespeare can help you mask the fact that you have cherry-picked your data to support a tenuous claim. This is a clear case of intellectual dishonesty.

2. You may be entitled to your own opinion, but definitely not your own set of facts. In support of the quote from the report (summary) which I highlighted in my previous email, you surely must have seen the Final Credit Rating Report and the accompanying spreadsheet comparing the cities covered by the pilot World Bank project on the credit rating of Philippine cities, which I emailed to Julma (Narvadez) per your request.

Only a biased columnist driven by the need to cherry-pick data favorable to his preconceived opinion will deliberately ignore the report's contents in its entirety. On this note, why doesn't Vox Bikol publish the main text of the (whole) Credit Rating Report so that its readers can judge for themselves who is really engaged in spinning lies and half-truths? Let's see if Fr. Wilmer Tria will be up to it.:)

3. I don't think disparaging the Standard and Poor's methods will help you get out of this mess. Not happy with its message, so you now want to shoot the messenger? Is this how a "liberal" strives to find the truth?

4. Finally, nice try on that SPUKOI issue to muddle our conversation; Rolly Campillos of the Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) is more competent to clarify that matter. But no, let's stick to the topic, please; the least that will come out of it is the education of Bicol Mail's editorial writer who swallowed your propaganda hook, line and sinker.:)
As I am writing this, Julma emailed she will take up my request with her editor, Eric Lagdameo.

But just in case Vox Bikol decides it's not up to the challenge -- which would have been a great contribution to Ateneo de Naga University's ongoing Philosophy Week celebration -- the internets, courtesy of Scribd, should do just fine.
Credit FA_Naga_ Final 31July09
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A case of intellectual dishonesty

January 26th, 2010 No comments
ATTY. CHE Carpio, in his latest column, channels Shakespeare in his defense. But I don't think the Bard of Avon will be of any help -- to one who is engaged in the selective use of data to support his preconceived notion.A clear case of intellectual dishonesty.And unfortunately for Bicol Mail, its editorial writer swallowed Che's propaganda hook, line and sinker in its latest broadside against the city government.This compelled me to fire the following rejoinder (which benefited from a little tightening), with cc: to the Vox Bikol staff.
Dear Attorney Carpio,I am amused by your latest column entitled "The insolence of office."1. I don't think even Shakespeare can help you mask the fact that you have cherry-picked your data to support a tenuous claim. This is a clear case of intellectual dishonesty.2. You may be entitled to your own opinion, but definitely not your own set of facts. In support of the quote from the report (summary) which I highlighted in my previous email, you surely must have seen the Final Credit Rating Report and the accompanying spreadsheet comparing the cities covered by the pilot World Bank project on the credit rating of Philippine cities, which I emailed to Julma (Narvadez) per your request.Only a biased columnist driven by the need to cherry-pick data favorable to his preconceived opinion will deliberately ignore the report's contents in its entirety. On this note, why doesn't Vox Bikol publish the main text of the (whole) Credit Rating Report so that its readers can judge for themselves who is really engaged in spinning lies and half-truths? Let's see if Fr. Wilmer Tria will be up to it.:)3. I don't think disparaging the Standard and Poor's methods will help you get out of this mess. Not happy with its message, so you now want to shoot the messenger? Is this how a "liberal" strives to find the truth?4. Finally, nice try on that SPUKOI issue to muddle our conversation; Rolly Campillos of the Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) is more competent to clarify that matter. But no, let's stick to the topic, please; the least that will come out of it is the education of Bicol Mail's editorial writer who swallowed your propaganda hook, line and sinker.:)
As I am writing this, Julma emailed she will take up my request with her editor, Eric Lagdameo.But just in case Vox Bikol decides it's not up to the challenge -- which would have been a great contribution to Ateneo de Naga University's ongoing Philosophy Week celebration -- the internets, courtesy of Scribd, should do just fine.Credit FA_Naga_ Final 31July09
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Bloody Trail towards 2010 Election

January 25th, 2010 No comments
Bloody Trail towards 2010 Election
Patrick I. Patino
Vote for Peace 2010
11 January 2010

The year 2009 ended splattering with blood the road towards the May 10, 2010 election. The whole year of 2009 recorded a total of 33 election-related violent incidents. Conventional security observers would readily say the numbers are insignificant in the context of the whole year round and too early to conclude that the incidents are election-related as there might be other factors or motives of the acts of violence.

The numbers may be insignificant but something to be taken seriously especially if one has to look beyond the numbers. The acts of violence are planned with clear targets and clearly election-related.

Of the number of incidents, there are 84 fatalities and 40 wounded. The high number of fatalities shows that the objective of the acts is not simply to sow fear but to kill. Especially that among the victims, twenty-two are politicians (13 killed and 9 wounded) planning to run in the election; 9 security aides of the politician-victims (7 killed and two wounded). Other victims are active supporters, allies and political operators of politicians. Election officers were also targeted with 2 dead and 2 wounded.

Civilians comprise the bigger number of victims (58 fatalities and 27 wounded) but less than five of these are accidental victims or were caught in the crossfire. The majority of them were also targeted and acts of violence against them were planned. The fatalities were mostly victims of the heinous massacre last Nov. 23 in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao perpetrated by the political warlords – the Ampatuans. Most of the wounded were victims of grenade throwing and strafing at the line of voter registrants that occurred simultaneously on the same day in Lanao del Sur.

By geographical distribution, the island of Luzon accounts for 15 incidents, while the Visayas had 6 and 12 in Mindanao. In Luzon, majority of the incidents were in Masbate, Isabela and Quezon. Samar island contributed most of the incidents in the Visayas. In Mindanao, most of the incidents were from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and North Cotabato.

Does the above mean a violent and bloody scenario in the months going to the election? Others hope that the number of incidents in 2009 will reduce the number of incidents during the 2010 election period as political scores have been settled “unfortunately in a violent way.”

Others may say, that looking the above information the other way is pessimism or sowing fear. The intent here is to call all concerned to act on the matter.

The last quarter of 2009 alone had 16 incidents of the total 33 the whole year. Does this mean that while election fever heats up, hot blood for violence also boils high?

The problem is that contributing factors of election violence remain. For a number of traditional politicians and vested interests, election is not about competition for position but a war for political power. Political dynasties and warlords still abound
and election is the time for expanding political turf and/or settling old score among warring political clans. Despite the PNP campaign last year to control the proliferation of loose firearms, there is an estimated 700,000 unlicensed firearms all over the country. There are 170 private armed groups the police force is running after outside of the other armed criminal groups and political armed groups whose services are readily available to violence-oriented candidates and political operators.

The 2010 National and Local Election is a historical period for the Filipino people. The election is about re-strengthening electoral democracy and more importantly looking forward to the next decade. Elections can be fair and free without violence and coercion. It is time to exact political and electoral costs to the perpetrators of violence and charge them of the consequences of their actions like the Ampatuans of Maguindanao and former Abra Gov. Vicente Valera. All election stakeholders and centers of legitimization like the Bishops, the Ulamas, the police hierarchy, the election officials, the media, the academe, the private sector and civil society formations should join efforts at containing election conflict and violence. Everyone must go beyond partisan interest and call the attention of all candidates and parties to play according to election and security rules. xxxx
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