Anti-Social Media: Impeachment edition

While the cameras were trained on the clash between the two sides on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, there were smaller clashes among the media covering the event.

Which is understandable, really, given the emotionally-charged atmosphere of the whole thing. Tensions are so high, in fact, that journalists–both multimedia and traditional–were quick to see bombs when one of their own left a bag of equipment unattended for several hours.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team of the Pasay City Police had to be brought in and sniffer dogs had to check the bag for explosives. Senate security was not pleased, our correspondent says, because the scare made them look like fools. The radio crew who left their equipment were not too pleased either because they had to go without their equipment, will have to endure ribbing from their colleagues, and have to personally apologize to the Senate President.

Well, at least it gave everyone an excuse to whip out their smart phones and encourage discussion through this new thing called online journalism.

But more explosive is a brewing cat fight between a posse of reporters from a young media outlet and an existing clique of reporters with more experience both in front of the camera and on the beat. It does not help that the new reporters seem to still be undergoing birth pains. Covering an impeachment trial is, after all, not the easiest way to get your feet wet in journalism.

There was a shouting match this week after one of the new reporters, possibly harassed and treading water, pushed a bigger network’s camera aside. She accidentally touched the lens, which is apparently akin to slapping the Pope in the face, and so one of the veteran reporters let her have it (shouting, not the camera). To be fair, the newbie reporter had been hit on the head by a camera earlier that day (and who among us has not?) and she was just trying clear a path while protecting herself.

Another new reporter asked the defense lawyers why they were holding a press conference while the trial was going on. The lawyer, with a booming voice that would make a prosecutor quail, told her matter of factly that they were holding the press conference because the media had asked for one. “I thought we were doing you a favor,” he said as the reporter sank slowly into the plush carpets of the Senate before the Earth swallowed her up.

It was, to be sure, not the smartest question to ask a lawyer who used to be chief of staff to Supreme Court Justice Andres Narvasa. But it did not deserve the derisive laughter and the audible click of hundreds of eyes rolling in their sockets. Every journalist in that room began as a newbie, and the mean girls of the media have had their own share of booboos. It’s even debatable whether some of those in the old guard have learned anything in their many years in journalism.

A glaring example of that may be in this lady reporter with medusa locks who likes to take over press briefings with snide comments from the sidelines. “Give us the list!,” she shouted at the prosecutors from the House of Representatives, who were about to actually give the list of people they were calling as witnesses to the trial.

“It’s on the press release, honey!,” she screamed at a newbie reporter who had not, in fact, received the press release that would have answered her question. At any rate, the question was not addressed to her. With each comment, an ever widening circle as other reporters began cringing away in embarrassment.

We’re not saying that this same reporter has been harassing lawmakers for perks like food for the press office and free rides to and from the Senate. We hear, though, that other people are saying that.

Murders Most Foul

The All Saints’ weekend was not good to relatives of celebrities: the half-brother of an actor-senator was shot and killed, and the estranged father of an international singing sensation (cringe) was stabbed and killed.A

 

The authorities tried their best to make it up to the celebrities themselves, though. Catching and charging suspects in record time, all under the glare of media klieg lights.

 

Angel Capili Jr., now charged with the murder of Ricky “Charice’s Father” Pempengco, surrendered to authorities after being on the run for a few days, sleeping in bus terminals with his cellphone turned off while police “tracker teams” hunted him down in Southern Luzon.

 

The killer is in this very room.

 

Police also have custody of Ramon Joseph Bautista (aka Revilla) and two of his alleged accomplices in the murder of his brother Ramgen “Ram” Revilla (aka Bautista). Police say Bautista, the two other non-celebrity suspects, and his sister Ramona Revilla (aka Ramona Bautista) conspired to have Ramgen killed for P200,000. Supposedly, a family squabble over a P1-million monthly allowance given to the Genelyn Magsaysay chapter of the Revilla clan came to a head with Ramgen’s murder.

 

They let him hide his face

 

Police say the two cases were not given undue attention because the victims were relatives of celebrities. Still, Laguna and Cavite officials offered a P200,000 reward for Capili and Revilla is related to Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.(aka Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.), so, surely, that made the two cases extra important? Still, the police say the cases were treated just like they would treat regular murders.

 

The same cannot be said for how suspects in the two cases were treated, however. Capili was brought from Cavite to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Manila for what was essentially a glorified perp walk. Laguna and Cavite officials were there to turn over the suspect to Laguna police (before he was brought back to Laguna, which is nearer to Cavite than Manila). Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo even came over to give a statement.

 

What? The guy in the middle?

 

Through it all, Capili was in full view of television cameras and all local stations cut their programming to bring viewers and listeners a blow-by-blow account of the “bad guy” in what was essentially a drinking spree that ran its natural course.

 

The Revilla/Bautistas, on the other hand, were treated with kid gloves. Ramona Revilla/Bautista/Horn was not subject to the same scrutiny and Senator Revilla was quick to both ask for privacy and to excuse his half-siblings, both suspects in a murder. He called for a reinvestigation and hinted the police may have mucked up their jobs (which, to be fair, is actually quite possible.)

 

There was no perp walk for Ramona Revilla, who initially said the killers abducted her but later recanted when police showed she faked the supposed kidnapping. She was even interviewed on ANC so she could deny everything.

 

That night, ABS-CBN (which owns ANC) reported her leaving the country on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Immigration officials couldn’t stop her because they had no authority to. She was also reportedly accompanied to the VIP lounge by a “male escort.”

 

"You'll never catch me, porkchops!"

People who know about these things say someone with clout–a senator, or a congressman, or a mayor–had to have helped her get the VIP  treatment. Ramona Revilla/Bautista is related to a senator, at least two congressmen, and at least two mayors. That doesn’t even count her semi-relatives on the Ynares side of the family.

 

A visibly angry Revilla said he was shocked at Ramona’s flight and denied knowing anything about what happened. Some found his statements unbelievable and hinted the senator himself is the powerful figure behind Ramona’s flight from justice. After all, better a suspected murderer in the family than a convicted murderer.

 

Others were quick to say the episode could derail Revilla’s political plans for the 2016 presidential elections. This is true whether he knew about Ramona’s escape or not. If he did know about it, then he put his family above the justice system and his pronouncements of “I am a senator of the Republic, not a senator of my family!” are just fluff and showbiz make-believe.

 

If he did not know about it, then what does that suggest? If relatives have been accused of murdering their own brother, and risk dragging the Revilla name into the mud like former action star and senator Ramon Revilla Sr. was in Nardong Putik, should he have not kept better tabs on those relatives? If his own relatives can pull the wool over his eyes, then how about people who are not his relatives?

 

Also interesting, but probably easily explained, is that Ramona Revilla/Bautista boarded the Cathay Pacific flight at 8pm. The news broke at around 10pm and the Revilla clan only began reacting at least half an hour after that.

 

Now, if an ABS-CBN crew was at the airport in time to catch her waiting for her flight, could they not have asked Revilla about it before breaking the news?  At which point, presumably, Senator Revilla would say “Anak ng Teteng!“, put on a cowboy hat, and head to the airport for a confrontation with the half-sister he was defending just hours ago.

 

Or he could catch her himself.

Just Another Day At The Office

Our friends at Congressional Observer (who are even more indolent than us when it comes to updates) report the House of Representatives has been as quiet as a tomb these past few weeks.

Have you ever seen a Congress that is really quiet? During session breaks, it is really a ghost town. With the exception of a few personnel with security, ancillary and auxiliary functions, Congress is indeed silent.

Check it out:

North Wing Lobby, House of Representatives

 

Second Floor, North Wing

With our honorable congressmen and -women presumably in their home districts (but actually lording it up in some foreign land, most probably), the halls of the House are haunted only by bills still-born or talked to death. Like the past versions of the Reproductive Health bill and the various bills against political dynasties that have gathered dust in committees headed by members of political dynasties.

Ah, but hope springs eternal!

 All Congress employees will get back to work on November 8. Most of the Chamber’s 285 members (that’s Congressmen and Congresswomen for you) will get back to work on November 14 after a month off from legislative work.

Which, actually means very little.

As this picture tweeted by Kabataan Party-List Representative Mong Palatino shows, most congressmen are on vacation even when Congress is in session:

Says Kabataan Rep. Mong Palatino: "It's an empty house, and it's only 6pm"

Anyway, see you on the 14th, House-mates! ;p

Abalos says Department of Justice is harboring criminals

 

Seriously. Fuck this guy.

Benjamin Abalos, former Commission on Elections chairman and paragon of integrity, has accused Justice Secretary Leila De Lima of harboring criminals.

By harboring criminals, of course, Abalos means putting two witnesses who tagged him in alleged poll fraud in 2007 under the Witness Protection Program. He says former Comelec election supervisors Lilian Suan-Radam and Yogie Martiriza were placed under witness protection prematurely.

The two lawyers came out this week saying Abalos gave them orders through Comelec regional director Michael Abas to make sure administration candidates won in their region. De Lima has put them in the Witness Protection Program while their testimonies are being evaluated.

Radam has been charged with electoral sabotage and Abalos said the Department of Justice has to ask for permission from the court before giving her witness protection.

Hindi ko maintindihan what is happening. Itong dalawang ito ang sa ngayon ay inamin nilang nagkasala sila, inamin nilang tumanggap sila ng pera (I don’t understand ano ang nangyayari, these two have admitted breaking the law),” Abalos said.

Under the Witness Protection, Security, and Benefit Act, the DOJ has to petition the court to discharge an accused so can testify as a state witness. De Lima says she has already ordered the Witness Protection Program to do that.  The law says that once a petition is filed, “the Court shall order the discharge and exclusion of the said accused from the information.”

Binabale-wala mo lang ang ating proseso (You are disregarding due process),” Abalos, who has repeatedly denied brokering shady multi-million peso deals in violation of bidding processes, said. He warned that De Lima will destroy the credibility of a joint DOJ-Comelec investigation into allegations of poll fraud while he was Comelec chairman.

(Thx, Indolent reader FreeSince09!)

Anti-Social Media: Gentleman of the Press

A veteran employee at one government office stands to lose his retirement benefits over a bullshit complaint by a reporter from a small (in size and circulation) paper.

The reporter is, himself, rather small.

The reporter has accused the employee, who works in the media division of that government office, of kicking him and cursing at him over some minor misunderstanding.

 

Apparently, the reporter was lying on a couch in a room where government media hang out. Incidentally, he was also getting in the way of people trying to do their jobs.

 

When the government employee, a veteran photojournalist who has covered wars in Vietnam and Mindanao, tapped the reporter with his foot to ask him to get out of the way, the reporter got offended.

 

He immediately got on the phone to complain to the media division head saying he had been kicked. The cursing came after, and actually has basis. Pissed off at the fuss, the veteran photojournalist did say “Putang ina.”

 

Which, come on, doesn’t even mean anything anymore. Not when, as a source says, you’re a tabloid reporter who makes jokes about anal sex and sex in general. Besides, anyone who has worked with that government employee knows he’s cranky, half-deaf, and curses like a pirate all the time.

 

Putang ina. Kung sinipa ko siya, e di putok mukha nga (If I kicked him, his face would be busted),”  the government employee reportedly said in his defense. And, to be fair, the tabloid reporter’s face is. But that is from years ago and only the scars remain.

 

In an ideal world, journalists watch out for excesses and abuses in government. And it seems this tabloid reporter has taken that to heart, seeing the encounter as an affront to press freedom (or something similar).

 

This is not the first time, either. Sources say the tabloid reporter has previously raised hell after policemen guarding the government office he covers refused to let a taxi he was riding in enter the complex without leaving an ID. Incensed that the policeman did not know who he was and had the gall to do his job, our reporter had him summoned to the press office and gave him a dressing down until the cop apologized. For doing his job.

 

He may get his way again this time. We have been told that the media division is leaning on its employee to apologize just to get the bullshit complaint out of the way. Reportedly, he has already been suspended pending a decision on the complaint.

 

No word, though, on whether the tabloid reporter will ever apologize using the government agency’s name when he got arrested over something. Just when his press credentials would have come in handy (but unethically), our reporter took the moral high road and just claimed to be on the staff of a government official.

The reporter has been trying to make the career shift to political operator and has curried a lot of favor with government officials. He has been known to brag about his connections and his ability to get the government to pay for food and medicine for his friends.

You can call him “Bata” because he is child-like and because, as our tipster says, “bata siya ng mga politiko.” His family name is an island somewhere in the Visayas. Boracay, maybe?

"Puwede."

(Thx for the tip, Indolent reader Payanig Sa Pa-Astig!)

Mr. Pacquiao To Go From Congress

"You have the floor, Mr. Speaker."

 

Little more than a year into a three-year term, Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao has already had enough of the House of Representatives and wants to move to the Sarangani provincial capitol in 2013.

The professional boxer and part-time congressman is reportedly “[dismayed] over the slow pace of how changes for the country are made within the compounds of Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.”

“I want to experience serving in the executive. And I prefer making decisions when to implement the laws and I want these laws implemented immediately. But here in Congress, if you want to file (a bill), you have to wait for several months (before implementing it),” Pacquiao said.

And although Pacquiao is right, he may have considered that before running for Congress in the first place. His 2010 bid for a House seat in Sarangani province was not his first. He ran, but lost, in 2007. And that gave him three years to think about what Congress is, what it does, and how long it takes to do it, before deciding to run again.

And it’s not like he has had to twiddle his thumbs while the slow wheels of legislation grind exceedingly slow. He’s off boxing, or training to box, or having dinner with Paris Hilton most of the time, anyway.

Of course, things were different during the run up to the elections. According to a report on Japan Times:

“I want to help them because I know what they feel right now. It is not easy to help other people. That is a big responsibility. I will focus on that for the meantime,” he said.

And he did. Right until he won and had to train for another fight.

But, if nothing else, at least Pacquiao’s decision to run for governor is good news for the people of Sarangani. With his political plans made public this soon, Pacquiao can spend the time crafting legislation that he, as a potential governor, thinks will help his province. He can work with the Sarangani provincial board to create a legislative agenda that they can use when he moves to the capital. He can–

Pacquiao also said he would rather concentrate on boxing first instead of politics, especially in view of his upcoming rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico.”

Oh.

Anti-Media Social: Our Lady of Pangasinan

Here’s a nice reversal on things.

Sectoral group Bayan Muna filed a plunder case against Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday over the failed ZTE National Broadband Network deal. Reporters scrambled to cover it and got the story.

Here is a sidebar to the whole thing:

While this was going on, politician sent out a text message to reporters on different beats. His subtle message? “XXX can be asked for comments on the sixth plunder complaint against ex-PGMA.” While some politicians would have been content with releasing a written statement to the press, this one wanted to be interviewed even though nobody was asking.

Our baby mouse tells us that journalists who took the bait and called him up to ask questions were then told (politely) to wait because the politician was busy.

Although he is new in politics and cannot be expected to know how to deal with the press yet, he will gave to learn quickly or never have to deal with the press again.

A clue: Like his once prominent father, this politician can be referred to by his initials, one of which is J. His father used to be influential but the family’s fortunes have taken a turn since a falling out with Malacanang.

Anti-Social Media: Network wars escalate

Congressional hearings do not have a monopoly on flaring tempers and drama. The action can spill over into the sidelines as journalists covering the Congress beat found last week when two reporters from rival networks almost came to blows.

Hard-hitting journalism at its best

Witnesses say the fight started when one veteran reporter lady, let’s call her Long Time, tried to cut off younger lady reporter, let’s call her Ingenue, who was getting an exclusive* interview with a resource person at one Congressional hearing.

Ingenue had waited for Long Time to finish her interview with the resource person, a former accountant for a shady company, out of respect. After all, Ingenue was just there as back up, and Long Time was both older and bigger.

When it was her turn, though, Long Time cut her off and told her to wrap up. One source says Long Time did it because a separate press conference was about to start and she didn’t want to offend members of Congress. Another source says, however, that it was so Long Time coud claim her interview was truly exclusive.

Long Time later texted another reporter, from the same network as Ingenue, to complain. Our baby mouse says Long Time called Ingenue an “epal,” a Tagalog slang word for someone annoying and who butts in where she is not wanted.

Now, in kindergartens and elementary schools across the land, that is a fighting word, and that is exactly what happened. When Ingenue found out, she confronted Long Time and threatened to beat her up. According to a witness, Ingenue told Long Time that although, as a TV reporter, she dresses well, she was also ready to throw down and “mambasag ng mukha (break your face).” This earned her muted applause from everyone else from the press office. After all, everybody loves a good sound bite.

Long Time, probably shocked that someone actually stepped up to her, was speechless.

She later allegedly explained on her Facebook** wall why she didn’t fight: her mother told her to pick her fights. To which Ingenue replied with a post on her own Facebook wall that she pitied Long Time’s mother “for having a daughter like you.”

Meanwhile, a clue. Both reporters are from channels with prime numbers but debatable prime time shows. Ingenue shares a name with a Spanish fashion house while Long Time might be related to a former city police chief who hated hoodlums and whose life was made into a movie starring either Eddie Garcia or Eddie Gutierrez (or both).

*Those exclusive interviews you see on TV are often not such unless big shots like Jessica Soho and Lynda Jumilla are involved. Reporters take turns asking questions and having their cameramen shoot them doing apparently one-on-one interviews.

**Facebook has become the weapon of choice for reporters now, apparently. At another beat, a reporter for a business newspaper has reportedly taken swipes at two younger reporters for wearing dresses to a fundraiser for a colleague fighting cancer.

He supposedly called them whores for dressing nice. Which is a really classy thing to do when you are old enough to be the father of both younger reporters. For context, the back story is here.

[Edited third and fourth paragraphs because they made no sense.]

Come home, Filipino Catholics!

Oh, my saints and moral guardians! The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has ordered the remaining Filipino delegates to the World Youth Day in Spain to come home or risk becoming illegal aliens.

Of 427 delegates to the World Youth Day, 128 have yet to return to the Philippines and have one more day before their Schengen visas expire in September.

Viva El Papa! No vivos extranjeros illegales! (or something)

“(CBCP executive director Father Conegondo) Garganta admitted that in the past, there had been instances when WYD delegates sent by the CBCP failed to return to the country but these comprised only one percent of the delegation,” reports ABS-CBN News.

“They were endorsed by their parish priest and they were chosen because they saw their intentions to join the WYD. They were interviewed, selected and they also had to pass the scrutiny of the diocese,” he added. It was not clear whether the delegates were also asked if they have ever dreamed of a better life in Europe.

She would know

A self-proclaimed Iron Lady from Congress has been taking potshots at the Aquino administration lately, pouncing  on pretty much any issue she can.

When a mayor from Mindanao complained earlier this year about inadequate calamity assistance in his flooded city, Iron Lady was there to hector him on. Not on the ground, where it would have counted, but from the un-flooded hall of Congress where she works.

She has also locked horns with a Malacanang appointee for being arrogant despite just being an appointed official. It was a blow for the common man, who elects his Congressional representatives, and for the elite families who field random relatives for the common man to elect. It was also a blow to the concept of public service but whatever, it made the evening news.

And earlier today, she was crowing about the resignation of Customs chief Angelito Alvarez. She said a breakdown in leadership at the Bureau of Customs has led to rampant smuggling. And that is probably true. For example, smuggled plywood has reportedly been costing the Philippine wood industry millions a month. Clearly, it is time for a new day at the Bureau of Customs, where smugglers will be caught and prosecuted, and nobody will profit from misdeclared goods.

There is no word, though, whether the sun of that new day will shine on shiploads of logs that her family brings in from Papua New Guinea. We’re not saying that the logs are smuggled, but…

I'm not saying that either. Sheeeit.