opinion

Press freedom week

May 27, 2019

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”—Sec. 4, Art. III of the Philippine Constitution YESTERDAY, the media community of Cagayan de Oro kick- started the 37 th Press Freedom Week with a morning mass officiated by COPC Past President Msgr Elmer Abacahin, SSJV at the Press Freedom Monument. With the theme: ‘A united media in the face of threats’, various activities – fellowships, sports and seminars -- involving media organizations led by Cagayan de Oro Press Club are lined up for the week-long celebration, May 27-31, 2019. The theme serves as a reminder to all and sundry in the light of continuing threats -- and bullying -- of those powers-that- be and those self- proclaimed messiah of press freedom. The call of the hour is basically to discern by embracing with a heart the press club code ethics. Here is an excerpts of the Code of Ethics ratified by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club general assembly on December 22, 2001: “We shall be guided at all times by accuracy, fairness, independence and balance, and should not deliberately mislead or misinform the public. We shall clearly distinguished comment or speculation from fact when practicing our craft. We shall avoid misrepresentation or deceit to obtain information for publication unless there is a clear case of public interest and the information cannot be obtained in any other way. We shall promptly correct mistakes and we are obliged to provide a fair right to reply. We shall respect and observe the right to privacy except where there is significant public interest. We shall not engage in discrimination or stereotyping by placing undue emphasis on gender, religion, minority groups, sexual orientation, race, color, political conviction, culture or ethnic origin or physical or mental disability unless the description is in the public interest. We shall not normally identify victims of sexual assault or domestic violence or publish materials likely to lead the identification or public ridicule of victims of crime even when free by law to do so.” That said, responsible journalism is for the brave, but it must be enjoyed with full respect of the rule of law; where journalism ethics come into play in the exercise of the sacred duty as purveyors of truth, freedom and justice. Responsible journalism therefore is complying with the law and it solely means that the law applies to everyone. And the law must be applied the same regardless of race, gender, status or any other consideration. Press freedom is for the brave who complies with the law, because no one is above the law. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Trudeau’s trash talk

May 24, 2019

SANS good looks, Canadian President Justin Trudeau’s arrogant behavior speaks well of his persona – a braggart with no sense of respect of diplomatic protocols and human rights. Trudeau’s inaction to get back his country’s trash is an outright insult done by a first world country. He has been facing a flak  for dumping tons of illegal garbage into the country.   It’s now 2019 and Trudeau’s government is still working on it on the problem over a private firm's garbage shipment to the country in 2013. Chronic Inc, a private company based in Ontario, Canada had imported to the country some 55 containers filled with trash, including household waste in 2013. They were misdeclared as plastic scraps. Intercepted by BOC authorities, some of the containers were later sent to a landfill in Capas, Tarlac.    During his first visit to the country for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015, Trudeau vowed to find an immediate solution to the garbage problem.   And the good-looking Trudeau, who likes excessive yacking and photo ops may have overlook this: the United Nations Human Rights Committee has accused his country of failing to take effective action on a range of issues of human rights violations. These include, among others, the missing and murdered aboriginal women, political audits of charities, and the federal government's anti-terror legislation. Or this: Trudeau is accused of  championing fossil fuels, his support of an oil pipeline expansion across Canada, and the failing grade given to him by indigenous leaders of his own country. Simply put, the PR spin designed for Trudeau didn’t do well enough for him to justify his long overdue decision to get back his trash. Instead, it went wildly out of hand for him. Trudeau has been noticeably reduced to an attention-grabbing kind of a leader from the North. With Duterte’s order to spend for the trash shipment back to Canada, Trudeau is now reduced to being a stupid swagger-kind of a leader – an knowing in trash talk. His ‘good boy’ image is now tarnished like his garbage. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Ridiculous politics

May 22, 2019

Philippine politics and its practitioners, more often than not, have always been ridiculous, albeit sadly, since elections were introduce in these parts. Try to think of this. Every administration candidate for senator in the last elections did their best to win a seat by doing the ridiculous. Then candidate Ramon “Bong” Revilla, for example, did not do anything in his tv ads other than dance but in all likelihood, as of this writing, may win his previous seat despite being jailed for plunder though he was acquitted. He did not explain what his plans are but still he is likely to become a senator again. If this is not ridiculous, pray tell what is. While the administration did its best to win all the seats that were up for grabs, the fear that the senate will become a rubber stamp to Malacanang resonated. It morphed into an issue that such scenario will not be good for democracy because check and balance will then be a thing of the past if the Senate be packed with pro-administration senators. Still the pro-administration candidates romped away with all the seats available including the seat won by reelectionist Grace Poe, who in the estimation of many political observers, is more of a pro-administration than anti. Again, if by just looking at the results of the senatorial race you still cannot conclude to its being ridiculous, I don’t know what is. But what is more ridiculous about the whole thing is the administration’s insistence that the Senate could still play its role as the great equalizer in the equation of things especially in regard its task of performing check and balance against the abuses and excesses of the sitting administration. If this insistence does not harbor on being ridiculous, I don’t know what is. How can a 24-man Senate effectively perform its check and balance responsibility when 20 of its members have shown and are showing canine devotion to the sitting president? Regardless of the reason for such devotion, the fact that they have such devotion is irrefutable. With such devotion, do not be ridiculous in imagining these 20 senators can summon the gall to go against the wishes of Malacanang. Expect instead that they will willingly kowtow to what Malacanang wishes them to do. The naked truth that this will not do anything good to the country need not be emphasized here for it is a given. With the two chamber Philippine Congress safely in the hands of the administration to play with like puppets in a puppet show, expect that Malacanang will have its way as far as legislation is concerned. Will this be good to the country? Administration allies will in chorus tell us it is because this means passage of key administration legislations. But the legislative mill needs a strong opposition to go over every proposed laws like a fine-toothed comb to ensure laws such as the Rice Tariffication Act that we discussed in Monday’s column will not see light and actually become a law. For democracy to work for the common weal, a strong opposition is a must. It could not even be an option because in a scenario where you don’t have a strong opposition, democracy is automatically considered dead even if your legislators are duly elected by the people. Recall, how democracy almost died in America when both chambers of its Congress were controlled by President Trump’s allies. Legislative oversight of the administration was unheard of. Oversight became a reality only when the House was captured by the Democrats during their midterm elections November of last year. (jelbacon@yahoo.com; jebaconii@gmail.com)

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Laid-back Camiguin

May 22, 2019

MAMBAJAO, Camiguin – This ‘island born of fire’, hasn’t changed its laid-back landscape literally. Save for some resorts rising, the ambience of this tiny island province has remained unperturbed through the years. The island’s rustic scenery still enjoys that magnetic come-on to the tired and weary in search of temporary escape from urban living. That alluring charm is still there – alive and kicking. Truth of the matter is, this pear-shaped island, gifted by nature has simply ignored the convergence of modern living.   Except perhaps of the entry of social media, Camiguin has remained an ‘island of pure imagination’, where the furtherance of simplicity in living is most prevalent in its five municipalities where fishing and a little farming are the main source of livelihood. Though Camiguin enjoys being called ‘a home away from home’, it has its share of downsides and the mess starts from the port of entry in Balingoan where fixers abound, asking for “facilitation fee” for their services rendered on securing port entry tickets. For the first-time tourist, this comes as bad first impression. Port facilities are not that impressive either. Toilets stink, waiting sheds too low- class, and its upkeep, never world-class. On board a cranky, ageing ferry, the short one hour voyage is one hell of a ride. The vessel had maneuvered over strong waves, yes, but not without aching its way to Benoni, the island’s only commercial seaport.   One thing is noticeable though, and this is all about the resilience of people wanting to experience what Camiguin has to offer sans the inconvenience of a boat ride like inadequate safety measure while on board. This comes as no surprise because most often than not, safety precautions in this country are strictly imposed on sea travel only after a disaster or worse, a tragedy happened, where people are killed and properties damaged. And worst, national pride dampened. Rustic as it were, the island’s natural beauty is eclipsed scanty infrastructure facilities. A manifestation of this observation came after a quick look at the forest-capped Katibawan Falls. While the falls may have an awesome sight to behold, getting there is not as pleasant as imagined. The road leading to this tourist spot is a scene not pleasing to the eye, definitely a bane to the tourism industry of the island.   Up there at the falls entrance, one is greeted by stores and ambulant vendors -- an unwanted sight for a spot frequented by tourists. Take those out and place them at a far distance, that falls will shine to its highest grandeur! With no speed limit on sight, Camiguin’s circumferential road, though unevenly paved, is practically dominated by noisy fish peddlers on board their motor vehicles. The sight and sounds are too much to bear. Too crude for a tourist destination. The popular Ardent Spring, reportedly run by the local government is poorly managed so with other spots like Guiob church ruins. That said, this volcanic island, as others love to call it, is still a natural beauty to behold. Take it as it were. Camiguin has still its laid-back charm like no other. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Otso diretso: ‘medium rare’

May 21, 2019

THE dismal showmanship of opposition candidates in the senatorial race was not a ‘loss’ for the Filipino electorate, as claimed by detained Sen. Leila de Lima, but rather this: their preparation was a slackening ‘medium rare’ kind of political cooking. With almost 100 percent of the votes counted, not a single candidate of opposition slate Otso Diretso made it to the top 12 post as seen in the latest Comelec unofficial tally count. This prompted the untimely resignation of Liberal Party President Sen. Francis Pangilinan, blaming no one but himself of the campaign blunder experienced by his party mates. But the lame duck Vice President Leni Robredo was quick in the draw in putting on hold Pangilinan’s exit, saying there was no clamor for his early resignation. Kiko Pangilinan has assumed full responsibility for the outcome, and held accountable for the opposition’s gloomy defeat. So, what went wrong of Otso Diretso’s forlorn defeat? It could be the arrogance of their of kind of campaigning -- of rallying under board, even to the extent of going personal against President Duterte, who, after all was not a candidate, but simply was simply an endorser of his partymates.   To say it bluntly, the so-called ‘bright boys’ of the opposition has failed to launch a campaign based on platforms and issues at hand. They constantly attacked on the President’s persona, forgetting that the almost ‘excellent rating of the popularity of the Mindanaon president. They were like kids fighting for a slice of the President’s popularity, but as the saying goes: they ate dust instead of the most-sought-after political cake. The ‘ bisaya’ dictum came true: Otso Diretso sa inodoro! Better luck   next time guys! (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Rufus: Alam Lim’s nightmare

May 20, 2019

THE wide margin of votes said it all: Alam Lim, a political novice openly endorsed by no less President Duterte was no match running against Rufus Rodriguez, a doyen and stage veteran in the halls of Congress. Notwithstanding Alam Lim’s unlimited resources, the overwhelming fire of support of Cagay-anons had flickered constantly on the side of comebacking Rufus who suffered dismal defeat against the well-entrenched Oscar Moreno in his mayoral bid in 2016 national elections. Lest I can be misconstrued, my warm openness and kind words to Rufus has nothing to do with politics, nor the old friendship, or the stories I had prepared for him during his early days as the emerging Cagayan de Oro leader, or my intimate association I have had with the Rodriguez’ family. I speak from the heart as a taxpayer and a law abiding citizen who have long embraced this city as my second home. During his stint in Congress, Rufus has bannered the name Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao for that matter with pride, spontaneity and clarity of purpose. Every time Rufus occupies the lectern, the name Rodriquez takes the front page the next day. There is no debate therefore that Rufus, long regarded as media darling, has been – and will always be -- a good copy for both the local and national press, the international media included. With due respect to the previous house representatives that we have had, Rufus has outshined them all – in terms of eloquence, relevance and pro- active leadership, to the many significant house bills sponsored and authored, and to the billions of peso worth of infrastructure projects implemented in the city. To some, Rufus may not be the perfect ideal of a leader, but if we have to weigh-in closely , Rufus has got the sterling edge -- brain and heart combined, and the needed stamina to work 24/7. There is no denying the fact that in this era of global competitiveness, Cagayan de Oro has no reason to remain status quo. The city has to take the road most travelled if it has to catch up with other booming cities like Davao and Cebu. To realize this journey, we need a dynamic leader with nothing in mind but a clear vision and political will to leapfrog Cagayan de Oro into becoming a metropolitan city livable to all – rich or poor. Rufus has still that fervor shining high on him to serve this city with utmost dedication, sincerity and transparency under its HEED agenda: Health, Education, Employment and Dwelling.  As envisioned, his program of government for the city will eventually lead to a sustainable and inclusive growth down to the grassroots. With the re-entry of Rufus in the halls of Congress, expect his firepower to make ripples, for and in behalf of his constituents – the people of Cagayan de Oro in particular, and Mindanao in general. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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