Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reckless and Imprudent

Michael “Mike” Rogas, a fellow I know well, a resident of Brgy. Pag-Asa, San Jose and former student leader of our Alma Mater Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC), is in hot water. Mike is currently employed as one of the announcers/reporters of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN)-Manila DZXL. He, together with other media personalities were recommended by the Incident Investigation and Review Committee or IIRC, the body assigned to review and investigate the bloody hostage-taking incident in Manila last August 23 this year. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima gave hint yesterday that Mike, along with his bosom buddy at RMN, the fearless Erwin Tulfo, and several other broadcasters may face charges of Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Multiple Homicide or the violation of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code before a court of law. A case I thought before as exclusive only for drivers and motorists!

I had a short huddle with Mike when I met him at the San Jose Airport on September 6, the day before his first appearance at the IIRC investigation.

It cannot be denied that Mike is an accomplished homegrown broadcaster, for he made it to a prestigious radio network and became an anchorman to program with a nation-wide following. Mike indeed became one of the few people who hailed from Occidental Mindoro and became one of the prominent figures in Philippine broadcast industry. Especially after that incident at the Quirino Grandstand. Broadcasting for a Manila-based network is dream come true for every career-focused broadcaster from the provinces. And this is what separates Mike from the rest of our local broadcaster. He aimed high and willing to learn more. He took law and refined his skills risking his life and limb. He took lessons from his mentors and idols. He damned the risk as a reporter. He could not pass a day without a field report or a coverage. He was present at Oakwood and other events and even during the presidential campaign. He does not take for granted important things as far as his craft and career are concerned. He stand tall for what he believe is right.

But human as he is, Mike also have negative spots. Way back home, he is a known supporter of a politician. He even involved in an incident where he allegedly uttered foul and nasty words over a live radio broadcast against a political personality and his brother almost a year ago that ended with little mayhem in the radio booth. His mouth blows fire and not aimlessly. The other camp hated him very badly and they even accused him of financial opportunism. These are just few things in common about him and the rest of the local broadcasters that I know.

Going back to the IIRC recommendation, I do not believe that the journalists should be charged on the August 23 blood bath. According to a title of the blog post of lawyer-activist Harry Roque today, “Bad journalism is not a criminal conduct.” Roque even further cited, in commemoration of the Martial Law declaration, a Statement from Center for International Law which states : “Coming on the eve of the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the despot Ferdinand Marcos, P-Noy must be reminded that without a free press, there would not be a public debate on public issues crucial to the functioning of a representative democracy. This was why as a precondition for the establishment of an authoritarian regime, then despot Marcos had to muzzle a free press.”

But the horror of reckless imprudence haunts every citizen in our own little way, even in normal occurrences of our lives. Many of us are morally guilty of this offense.

As media propagandists for a politician or for a cause, sometimes we are reckless, and sometimes we are imprudent. Or both…


(Photo from Dailylife.Com)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clean Little Hands

If people from the national government now say that the primary aim of Small Town Lottery or STL is to outbox illegal gambling like jueteng, why they allowed STL to operate here in our place when in fact the present mayor of San Jose have already erased it from the face of Occidental Mindoro during his watch as governor. When STL came, jueteng already ended, so why on earth they allowed STL operation to kick-off here in our province three years ago? Surprising isn’t it?

But the latest exposé of retired Bishop Oscar V. Cruz, head of Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Sugal, that several dioceses of the Catholic Church are also receiving money from jueteng syndicates did not surprise me anymore. Cruz, formerly assigned in Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said that 8 dioceses in Luzon and Visayas allegedly benefit from jueteng payola. For those who are not Catholics, a diocese, - which comprises parishes, is a district under the care of the bishop.

One opinion writer even stated : “Is the Catholic Church still holds firm to what its late Cardinal Jaime Sin once told that he was willing to accept money, "even from Satan as long as it could help my flock." Sin reportedly said that in 2000 amidst reports that the Archdiocese of Manila was receiving a huge sum of money every month as donation from the Presidential Social Fund coming from Pagcor for the so-called Hospital for the Poor project in his archdiocese.

But we should also be reminded that the late Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, then Archbishop of Archdiocese of Manila issued a contradictory pastoral letter on March 25, 2002 about this very issue : “With paternal solicitude I now enjoin all the faithful, institution and ministries of the Archdiocese of Manila to refrain from holding activities that would even at least give a semblance of promoting or tolerating gambling that enslaves the person. Nor we should receive funds from such activities, even if the project we have is for the poor. Our thoughts turn to individuals and families who suffer from the ills of gambling. We ask pardon from the Lord for whatever sins we as sons and daughters of the Church may have committed, through our action or omission, that have led to this situation of suffering and vice.”

And let us suppose the allegation of Archbishop Emeritus Cruz that there are bishops and priests in 8 dioceses all-over the Philippines are collecting money from jueteng is true, maybe they are just following the footsteps of Mother Teresa of Calcutta : helping the desperate poor is the most important thing than minding and considering where that fund or money came from. But Cruz does not buy that argument ever since.

In the Catholic Church, there is no general rule or universal agreement regarding the acceptance of money from gambling in general by priests, bishops or nuns for any pastoral project or program. Nowhere in its teachings or laws can we find them. That is where the big problem lies. This is one of the biggest gray areas in Church so far. And aside from advocating against the evils of gambling and exposing how corrupt officials benefit from it, the Church should have a clear statement on this. A clear-cut policy declaring outright if taking money from such operation is evil or not. Then execute the law and punish the wicked men from among them (1 Cor. 5:13). Anything less is hypocrisy!

May this latest outbursts of Cruz serve as wake-up call not only to the newly-installed Aquino Administration but to long reigning Catholic Church as well.

But let us now set aside gambling and focus on this hypothetical case of donation-giving : Is it okay for the Church to have someone with checkered political career (or a known leader of a criminal syndicate at that) construct a church building under his name? Like in the first case, in the eyes of the Church, there’s a lot of shades of gray in this particular situation.

Both the Church people who accepts and those who declined to receive gambling money have things in common : they are adhered to the gospel value of love and charity to feed the hungry, provide water to the thirsty, etc; and the core theme of the PCP-II called “Preferential Option for the Poor”. Sadly, they differ in the quality of food and drink to give and those who are provided with such necessities using our clean little hands, I think, are being loved and cared for more deeply…

(Flicker Photo)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Let Us S/Pray

They put on a local radio talk show last week a man I know since I was a child. An interview made me reminiscent on my childhood days and my grandfather’s memory came to mind. It’s September 12 and the world celebrates the Grandparents'Day today. The old man worked with my granddad at the Bureau of Health’s Malaria Control Unit here in San Jose in the early ‘50s. The interviewee, Mr.Gaudioso Ordanel, also known as “Lolo Gudio”, is now more than 80 years of age but still puffing cigarette and swigging gin. My Papang was the medical technologist while Mang Gudio is the driver-team leader of the Malaria control spray men.

As early as 1906, the Philippine Bureau of Health established its Malaria Control Division which is tasked to conduct researches and study, history and epidemiology of malaria in the Philippines including control practices such as annual spraying of all houses in areas affected by malaria. Malaria is a protozoan disease and the word “malaria” means “bad air” in Italian, reflecting an old view and misconception that malaria is caused by gases from swampy regions where the anopheles mosquito, the carrier, usually dwell.

Even before the war, my late grandfather was sent by the government here in Occidental Mindoro from far-away Bulacan (he was from Tolosa, Leyte and my lola was a Bulakenya) to be part of the malarial control team composed of doctors, paramedics and health workers. They were stationed at the San Jose Sugar Central but most of the time, they go to remote areas including sugarcane plantations believed to be infested by malaria and breeding place for the dreaded mosquito. According to Papang’s account then, hundreds and thousand of employees and sacadas (sugar cane workers) suffered and died from the disease. No less than ten people die everyday because of malaria and other related diseases including cholera.

The old folks that I met today could still recognize my grandfather for they helped them in treating the disease. I was just a kid then but how I really wished to have written his biography or extensively made a journal on other interesting stories and experiences of his life. I never had a chance. But to tell you, the Novio clan - in this sense - spreaded in Occidental Mindoro because of malaria-carrying mosquitos!

On the other hand my Mamang was a typical Filipina wife. Good at cooking, at times strict but loving and very prayerful. A very religious woman of physical strength.

I just presumed that Papang joined the Six-Year (1953-1958) Philippine-American Program for Malaria Control in the Philippines. Aside from giving anti-malaria drugs as supplementary relief measure, they sprayed practically every houses, from San Jose to Rizal, for at least 3 consecutive years and thereafter another spot-spraying of houses as conditions demand. They use dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane or DDT. DDT is a potent insecticide rediscovered in 1939 by Paul Muller of Switzerland but it was banned in the United States in 1972. The Philippines have completely banned DDT in 1994.

In 1962, biologist Rachel Carson wrote a report called “Silent Spring” citing studies of bad effects of DDT specially on the reproductive processes of birds. This became a breakthrough in alleged DDT hazardous effect. A series of studies then followed and experts even alleged that DDT residue affects humans through the food chain. DDT like any other product of the chemical industry and the so-called corporate science, is owned by big chemical corporations and capitalists world-wide. Today, very strong scientific evidences of various kinds of harm to humans and other living organisms caused by DDT use gained its highest momentum.

Papang taught me this : Malaria, not unlike other communicable disease, can be traced or rooted from various factors. It is a disease closely linked with poverty and underdevelopment. And the mosquito only take the supporting (or is it character?) role. On the other hand, it is poverty who take the lead role. Poverty in the form of inadequate or faulty surveillance and treatment strategies, faulty data gathering and analyses, lack of medical facilities, medicines, among others. Of course not to be counted out are other factors like improving our socio-economic conditions, environmental protection and the likes. Does he sounded like a politician? As I have told you before in this post, my grand old man introduced me to political stories, issues and concerns of his time.

And my grandparents luckily "infected" their children and grandchildren with these beautiful traits and advices : to pray and spray the good seed of service to others …

(Photo from history.amedd.army.mil)