By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
If you can’t beat the, maake them “sana mapikon man lang”.
Harry Roque said that in one break of the ASEAN Media Litigation Defense Conference which he and another UP Law professor Romel Bagares convened in Cebu October 2009.
He was referring to the brazen indecency of Malacanang, to be more specific, by one Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, husband of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in handling criticisms.
The Arroyos drew flaks from the media but they responded the wrong way, with a deluge of libel suits. The complaints were hastily resolved by prosecutors, some even without the respondents being notified. The rule says, the respondent has the right to be notified so to file counter-affidavits for rebuttal.
Mike Arroyo charged not only the writers or reporters but everybody – publishers, chief editors, desk editors, radio anchors and managers.
It was so devious; in a short time, the investigating prosecutors resolved the cases in favor of the complainants and filed criminal information in court for the issuance of arrest warrants. The procedure should have been to furnish respondents copies of the resolutions so to give them chance to move for reconsideration or appeal to higher offices within the Department of Justice.
The respondents were arrested, some of them while covering their Malacanang beat. There was a funny incident – a delegation of media people went to the police station to check whether they had pending arrest warrants. They were handcuffed upon arrival. TV footages showed them herded in a bus and cheering from the windows raising their cuffed hands.
Mike Arroyo heads “The (law) Firm”, but notwithstanding his experience in litigation, Roque still threw him off-balance during cross-examination. He got so miffed that he growled and challenged Roque to settle the issue outside in a boxing match.
The latter smiled that Mike fell into his trap. Sana mapikon man lamang.
That must be the reason why Boy Mejo is smiling nowadays because Mayor Jed Petrick Mabilog is on the loose again.
Mabilog is a reasonable man and we don’t expect him to fall into such fit of tantrum. He has been honoring our invitations as resource person at Kape kag Isyu cable TV talk show hosted by Peter Jimenea and yours truly, incidentally, critics of the good mayor, too. (He is assured though that once he is our guest, we don’t embarrass him. And we still run extra mile by featuring his statements and pictures in a social medium.)
Boy Mejo has been shouting himself hoarse on a host of issues on corruption. One of the latest that he hurled on Mabilog was the alleged overpricing of the new Iloilo City Hall by over P270 million to which the mayor just winked.
There was one earlier issue though that got into the nerves of Mabilog prompting him to slap libel suits against Boy Mejo, publisher Rommel Ynion, and chief editor Junep Ocampo but it does not strictly fall in the category of corruption. Boy Mejo wrote that Mabilog misused donations to Haligi Foundation. No taxpayer’s money is involved here.
The latest issues fired by Boy Mejo were more serious like the overpricing of the construction of city hall and the shadowy approval of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal with Double Dragon for the construction of the P123 million ferry terminal for the Iloilo – Guimaras wharf. Mabilog pushed ahead with these projects amidst loud opposition from Boy Mejo.
Boy Mejo demanded for documents on the ferry terminal deal and the P270 M additional disbursements for the new City Hall Building, to which Mabilog responded with a smirk.
However, Mabilog took a twist lately after the pollster SWS gathered businessmen in Iloilo to present the results of its survey on corruption.
SWS reported that Iloilo City topped the list of cities perceived by business entrepreneurs in corrupt governance.
Tessa and Jezza carried the survey. They merely quoted the findings without identifying the offices and public officials involved, much less classified them as national agencies or local governments.
Mabilog went ballistic. He demanded apology and asked SWS people to return to Iloilo and hold a press conference to clear his name (to which the latter declined). Next, he vowed to sue two local newspapers for libel.
What gives now, mayor?