By Pet Melliza, The Beekeeper
Fair and objective reporting, oh, Kara!
Lawyer Harry Roque hit the nail on the head in his criticism of the incident investigation report (IIR) of the committee that P-Noy tasked to get to the bottom of the botched hostage rescue at Quirino Grandstand, Manila, the Philippines.
The committee, chaired by justice secretary Leila De Lima, recommended among others, charging certain broadcast journalists who “obstructed” government negotiators working for the release of foreign tourists taken hostage August 23 by a former police major distraught by a questionable order of the Ombudsman dismissing him from service with all benefits due him forfeited.
The media were only doing their job of informing the public on the unfolding drama that eventually led to the carnage – five Chinese and three Canadian nationals and the hostage taker Rolando Mendoza killed.
Roque, director of the Center for International Law (Center Law) based at UP Law Center, bewailed that De Lima was “shooting the messenger” The media perform the invaluable role of informing people and help mould public opinion. In the botched attempt to save the hostages, it was not the media which drove the hostage taker to go bersek and shot his hostages. It was the idiot (who turned out to be Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim) who ordered the police to handcuff the hostage taker’s brother Gregorio Mendoza, a police sergeant, “at itapon sa Tondo” (and dump him at Tondo) which in police lingo means, kill and dump someone at Tondo, where bodies of suspected criminals were often found.
De Lima’s conclusion holding certain broadcast journalists culpable is a crude ploy of covering up the incompetence of the P-Noy government. It merely wants to divert public blame from the black-eyed administration.
The media have their own code of ethics which members observe with care in their coverage of the hostage drama. Their presentation of facts and opinions were fair and objective in that they have exerted efforts to take both sides of the conflict, the hostage taker and the government.
We have admired Kara David, host-narrator of “iWitness” video documentaries, a purportedly investigative report on TV. We admire her also for her pedigree, she being the daughter of Randy David and Karina David.
Randy, a TV host and column writer, teaches at the University of the Philippines at Diliman and makes a name there as co-founder of Bukluran para sa Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa (BSIG) together with former UP President Dodong Nemenzo.
Together, they figured prominently in the anti-Marcos struggle and later in the campaign to oust the US military bases in the Philippines.
And who would forget Karina David who fought for democracy and socialism, not only in the streets, but also in her songs? She is one of the two singers in the album “Inang Laya” which pines for a Philippines free of the American military and Filipino women liberated from patriarchal oppression.
But there is something queer on what their daughter, Kara David did. If we may recall, in mid 2007, she ran a purported expose “Ghost road project” in Igbaras, Iloilo. She personally went to the scene on the slopes of the mountain town, 40 kilometers south of Iloilo City and called the road rehabilitation “ghost”.
Sadly, her presentation reeks of reckless conclusions that belie her piece as a product of conscientious and investigative work. To be blunt, it was the handicraft of a paid hack, a mercenary willing and ready to rig facts at the behest of the paymaster.
To make the story short, the case was about the complaint lodged in February 2005 by a pack of charlatans masquerading as graftbusters versus Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda and two of his subordinates. The graftwatch boys, led by a perpetual bar flunker and a cleric whose looks reminds us of our affinity with primates, charged their quarries before the Ombudsman for pocketing P1 million, claiming in other words, that the supposed road re-gravelling was a “ghost project”.
The charlatans submitted a thick wad of sworn statements alleging non-implementation. They were lifted from a single template with only the names and personal circumstances of the affiants differing. The signatories denied having seen sand and gravel delivered to their barangays; they neither saw dumptrucks delivering materials and graders levelling the mounds of aggregates.
Kara David, who is certainly not a mercenary, merely parroted the complaint without factoring in the facts that first, she came to the scene more than one year after implementation of the road re-gravelling; the ones she saw were on the slopes sans drainage canals, and susceptible to disrepair due to rains, vehicular and animal traffic. In other words, the mountain roads needed periodic repair.
Kara David should have dug deeper. She did not bother to check the audit report to learn that the municipal government spent only P444,000 to re-gravel 6 kilometers of mountain roads, P350,000 for cement, steel bars and concrete culverts, and reserved P150,000 (which is still intact in the municipal coffer) for labor.
She forfeited her reputation with her reckless report. Igbaras is customarily drenched by rains in June through August, the time when mountain roads are severely eroded, some portions becoming even impassable. But she made herself a clown by concluding that there was “no typhoon” in the period quoting unnamed but “reliable” sources at PAG-ASA. My foot! She fabricated the PAG-ASA report.
The report of Kara David is just a segment of the efforts of the charlatans to discredit Mayor Jaime Esmeralda. They are lucky they have on their side, Virginia Palanca-Santiago, then acting Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas.
I have written in my 21-series column “Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s exercise of raw power” that, to sum up, she acted like a mercenary rigging the decision versus Esmeralda et al. My columns categorically call her a moral pygmy, whose sense of right and wrong is as revol