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>A building at last for the Iloilo press


The Beekeeper

The Iloilo media have been wracked by internecine strife. Since 2001, its quarrel erupted in a word war between two camps, one led by Panay News publisher Danny Fajardo (DF), the other, led by Limuel Celebria and Lemuel Fernandez, the two later to form the Daily Guardian.

Yours truly took side with DF and was very partisan seriously taking the strife and refusing to offer one cheek when the other is hit: I fired tit for every tat coming from the “enemy”.

The DF faction named itself Iloilo Press Club (IPC) the other registered itself with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as “Iloilo Press and Radio Club” (IPRC) in 2002. The IPC has no SEC registration but claimed to represent an uninterrupted chain of succession from its pre-war ancestor.

The registration emboldened the IPRC to file quo warranto with damages asserting itself as the “legitimate” questioning the right of the other faction to represent the Iloilo media.

RTC Branch 39 Judge Sedrick Ruiz rendered a Solomonic decision. He dismissed the complaint. Instead, he declared that both IPC and IPRC were separate and legitimate organizations, the right to organize being guaranteed by the Constitution.

Be that as it may, one casualty of the strife is the IPC building. During the incumbency of DF as IPC president, the club managed to wrangle a usufructuary right from then Mayor Mansueto Malabor who awarded the club about 300 square meters in Molo to possess the property and construct a building thereon indefinitely. The structure itself as its birth pangs: another person claiming to be the IPC president wanted to control the structure. In the end, the court decided in favour of the DF faction. Under DF, the fishpond was filled and the foundations of the three-storey building established, from government grants mostly.

After the exit of DF, the skeletons of the building deteriorated as his successors did not give its completion a priority. Lawyer Ed Jalbuna, publisher of the Visayan Examiner, did not serve his full term. Lawyering overwhelmed him. He relinquished the presidency to Dado Tan of ABS-CBN, who faded away after he got promoted to a post that made him travel frequently to the Visayas and Mindanao bureaus of the network.

The IPC and IPRC happily lived separately although occasionally, it mutually sniped at each other. With the mother organization dormant, press people bonded together in smaller organizations among which were the Capitol Press Corps, City Hall Press Corps, Defense and Police Press Corps. So far, the bigger structure serving as rallying point in times of crisis for media people is the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) whose organizational linkages provided Iloilo journalists opportunities to hone skills and professionalism. The NUJP also took the cudgel for journalists victims of threats and violence or those threatened by them.

With that, let’s go to the question: is the take over of a group of journalists led by DF and Rommel Ynion, publisher of  The News Today proper?

We no longer have to delve long on its legality. The move is legal. The IPC structure deteriorated from nearly a decade of neglect with no hope of being completed. Anybody, not just Ynion, has the right to save it from wretchedness as an “officious manager” or as gesture of good management (negotiorum gestio) pursuant to Articles 2144 through 2153 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines.

We are lucky we have a colleague willing to spend P27 million to complete the building.

Back to the question: is it proper? Well, personally, I can only agree with DF that the building has to be saved and we are luckyt we have one who is willing and ready to run extra miles if only to give the Iloilo press a building where to converge and bond. That leads to another query: how about the recent election in the IPC that ignited an uproar from a segment of the local press? 

Well, people have the right to form organizations and with that, the right to revive inactive ones. That’s just what happened when a group of concerned journalists held an election to pick officials in an interim capacity, that is, temporarily, for the purpose of preparing for a regular election and safeguarding the organization’s properties, if any. that’s how Ynion was chosen interim president.

As I looked back, yours truly is just amused how we could fight and mend fences later. For one, we can drink together again with those we once engaged in bitter exchanges – but without inflicting physical harm on the other.

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