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Press ID for sale

Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. should not relinquish to a pack of racketeers disguised as members of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundationg, Inc. (IDFI), the accreditation of media persons at the Iloilo Sports Complex (ISC) next Dinagyang.
This will avoid the repeat of the scandal of non-journalists enjoying the license of controlling the ground. The press card bearing charlatans even had the temerity of shooing away legitimate reporters.
The IDFI sold press IDs for P500 apiece.
Defensor had refused to recognize the “media” people that IDFI, a private group running the Dinayang, assigned at judging area two that Iloilo Province erected. The IDFI “assigned” 87 instant journalists to the Capitol stage to the chagrin of the governor.
Those that IDFI deployed to the ISC (stage four) were undisciplined.
I was evicted by a group of “media” persons from the reporters’ den (ground of the ISC), January 22, for bearing the ID for reporters at the Capitol stage. They aggressively shooed away “non-reporters” like me.
Bombit Heler, chief of the Office of Economic Enterprise (OEE) which managed the ISC, was miffed;  these “reporters” kicked out even his personnel.
One “reporter” ordered a policeman to clear the den of “non-press people”. I seized that opportunity to confront her. I told the PNP man to ignore the fake journalist. I turned around and grilled her: are you a media person? From what outlet? Broadcast or print? Why do you parade yourself around as a journalist? I know journalists in Iloilo because I am one of them!”
The girl muttered: “Sir, we’re just issued IDs by Ma’am Lena to assist.”
Organizers of the Dinagyang must be trying to be cute by treating the Dinagyang opening ceremonies as political rallies. The Ati-Ati competition on the second day, January 22, kicked off at 8:30 am at Freedom Grandstand, first judging area or stage one, with a prayer, followed by the entrance of colors, singing of national anthem and speeches, the longest being that of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog who acknowledged every name on stage, almost mentioning the kitchen sink and  toilet bowl in his peroration that stretched beyond 15 minutes. He spoke lengthier than the previous day.It was past noon at the ISC, last judging area of the Ati-Ati competition. The first troupe was standing by the gate of ISC but organizers tortured the crowd by repeating the opening ceremonies all over again.

It doesn’t make sense: singing the same doxology and Lupang Hinirang twice for the same occasion? Having the same speakers replay what they earlier delivered at Freedom Grandstand? Opening a program already  opened three hours earlier? Having the same Jed Patrick Mabilog parroting the same kilometric piece delivered earlier at Freedom Grandstand?

The least that the 8,000 or so people crowding the ISC stadium expected was listen to speeches and watch rituals without their participation.  They bought tickets to get what they wanted: see the real action, the performances of the troupes or “tribes”. Most of the crowd arrived at the ISC starting 7 am, scarcely eating breakfast.

Mabilog should have simply declared: “Thank you for coming, welcome you all to the Ati-Ati competition!” as his role was to welcome. He wasted too much time naming this honorable-who, honorable-what, honorable you-know-who, thanking this honorable-so-and-so and honorable-benefactor-who-gave-us-a-lot, etc.Sen. Franklin Drilon who was not yet inebriated, delivered a moderately tolerable piece, enumerating his dream of delivering more projects for Iloilo province and city of Iloilo (ain’t he a legislator, not a contractor or DPWH secretary?)

Defensor, who took the microphone after Mabilog, never went beyond 5 minutes but always with a punch. “I won’t prolong my talk, I would just skirt the names of our honored guests because Mayor Mabilog already recognized them),” he said indirectly hitting the good mayor for his kilometricity.

Mabilog enjoyed his freedom of speech. The audience, had they been accorded the same freedom, could have screamed: Enough of speeches! Let’s get it on!

There was one on stage who could deliver more substantial message — Rep. Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna Party List). He was not given the chance.

Dinagyang a “religious” festival? The flow of food and booze shows it is more than that — a business. The deluge of politicos and the kilometric speeches of Mabilog and his ilk indicate it is also a political circus.


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