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Rosalie’s hell begins

“All men are rapists and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.” Marilyn French

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By Alex P. Vidal

Now that 66-year-old Himamaylan City Councilor Harry C. Sian has been formally charged in the city prosecutor’s office for violation of Republic Act 7610 or Anti Child Abuse Act, life will never be the same again for Rosalie (not her real name) and her family.
Rosalie, 16, a housemaid, accused Sian, a rich and prominent haciendero in Negros Occidental, of raping her on several occasions for two years.
The alleged rapes happened sometimes inside the car, in the suspect’s house, and in motels. A sex slave?
Rosalie and her mother did not immediately report the matter to the police for fear of reprisal and eviction because they used to stay in the suspect’s hacienda, it was learned.
Even before Sian was charged, there were fears that Rosalie’s decision to come out in the open and pinpoint Sian as her alleged rapist would be an exercise in futility because she is fighting a Goliath.
Rosalie and her family must have evaluated and anticipated the possible consequences they would face once Sian’s name has been mentioned in the media.

CAST

Now that the die is cast, there should be no retreat and no surrender.
As expected, Sian would deny Rosalie’s allegations. As expected, Sian’s camp would mount a counter accusation to impeach the girl’s credibility.
The first volley came from Sian’s lawyer, Pietro Villarin, who claimed that the girl “only wanted money.”
Sian, the lawyer said, was the girl’s “third victim” whatever that means. Villarin did not elaborate.
We have heard this line before in other rape cases involving children who come from poor families.
The message is loud and clear.
Sian’s camp is crying extortion.
The best defense is offense, as the saying goes.
Sensational cases involving poor victims against rich and powerful personalities usually prosper when there are no settlements; when witnesses cooperate from start to finish and refuse to be intimidated and bribed; and when the cases are closely monitored by the media.
If the case goes into trial, Sian’s goose is cooked politically speaking.
Guilty or not, public opinion would be cruel against his favor.

CULTURE

In our culture, we sympathize with the poor, the powerless and defenseless children like Rosalie.
Each time cases like Rosalie’s surface in mass media, we remember the Tagalog telenovela Flordeluna; we remember the abused and exploited women and children working in the haciendas of tart-tongued mestiza and mestizo colonial landlords and landladies.
We remember inhuman treatment by the mighty and privileged against the destitute and downtrodden.
If she is telling the truth, Rosalie deserves all the support from all sectors of society, especially the women and human rights associations in Himamaylan City.
In numerous cases involving rapes, physical and mental abuse, and all forms of violence against women and children committed by moneyed and powerful characters, we seldom see a Rosalie coming out bravely to seek for justice.
In most cases, the victims would opt to keep quite and forget their nightmares rather than risk being pilloried and made to endure a long litigation they can’t afford to sustain financially.

JUSTICE

In our society where justice can be bought and truth can be twisted by the glitters of money and gold, the sight of a poor Rosalie fighting against odds is already a whiff of fresh air for those who pursue justice against conventional wisdom that you can’t topple the powerful, well-connected and well-oiled litigant in a protracted legal battle.
Sian deserves to be given his day in court. He will always be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
With his power and wealth, he is still considered to be in the advantage position.
The Bible tells us not to judge our fellowmen. He who has not sinned should cast the first stone.
When we judge others, we will be judged according to the barometer we used in judging others.
For Rosalie, win or lose, hell has just begun.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

‘I can forgive but I can’t forget’

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” BRUCE LEE ver-1

By Alex P. Vidal

What happened to Virgilio Orquiola early morning on August 31, 1996 or 18 years ago will forever be etched in his memory.
“I have forgiven my shooter but I can’t forget (that incident), of course,” sighed Orquiola, now 64 and network comptroller of the Philippine News Agency (PNA)-Iloilo.
On his way to buy coffee at around 3:15 o’clock in the morning, Orquiola left his boarding house and walked going to Iloilo Terminal Market popularly known as “super” in Iloilo City.
While passing by a popular nightclub on Quezon St., City Proper, he heard a gunshot from an unknown caliber.
Minutes later, he was grimacing in pain. Orquiola, a resident of Brgy. Mansilingan, Bacolod City, was hit on the right foot.
Another civilian, Ricardo Cang, who happened to be in the area, was slightly wounded.
“I only realized that I was hit when I felt pain and when I saw blood on my wound,” recalled Orquiola, father of eight-year-old girl, Daniela Cathy.

BULLET

The bullet came from the gun fired by a prominent Iloilo City politician who chaired a city hall task force against lewd shows, prostitution, and drug addiction.
The team was patrolling at that time and was reportedly doing “inspections” inside the nightclub when the commotion erupted.
The politician reportedly got enraged and fired his gun when he was unable to find a female entertainer working in that club.
Orquiola was rushed to the St. Paul Hospital.
When the story spread in media, the politician refused to comment and did not make himself available to reporters.
Due to pressures from media, Mayor Mansueto Malabor persuaded the politician, one of his most trusted allies then, to help Orquiola settle his hospital bills through an emissary.
Orquiola’s boss then, PNA-Iloilo chief Neonita Gobuyan, and some members of the city hall press corps, sought the mayor’s help.
The mayor did not fire the politician who held on to his post while at the same time serving his term as an elected member of the city council.
Orquiola positively identified the politician but did not anymore file a case against him.

INTENTION

“I know it was not his intention to hurt me,” Orquiola said. “I just happened to pass by in the area when the commotion ensued. He did not know me personally, so he had no reason to shoot me. I heard he has also done many good things for his constituents.”
Orquiola said he never saw the politician again since the incident. Because of what happened to him, Orquiola became an instant sensation in media.
News about the shooting and the follow up reports landed on front pages. Because of the personalities involved, it became the talk of the town—especially why the politician fired his gun and who was that female entertainer.
Eighteen years after the incident, Orquiola said he would only smile each time he recalled what happened.
“It’s good I was only hit on the leg. God still loves me,” he said in jest.

SCAR

Orquiola showed the scar of his wound and confirmed the bullet was still inside his foot.
“I feel pain during cold weather,” he disclosed. “Doctors did not remove the bullet.”
Orquiola said he did not attribute the pain he experiences from time to time caused by his diabetes and high blood pressure to what happened 18 years ago saying “it is probably related to my age.”
He was recently hospitalized for seven months due to tuberculosis. Orquiola said he is satisfied and happy working under a new boss, PNA-Iloilo chief Annabel Java-Petinglay, and is only waiting for the mandatory age of retirement at 65.
“I’m happy with my life and my achievement, and I considered that experience as a bad dream,” Orquiola stressed. “I have no rancor in my heart against my shooter whatsoever, and I have long forgiven him. But I can never forget.”

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Who is the rapist city councilor?

“People out there must be told about the self-loathing that follows rape and how it’s the greatest breakage in divine law to mutilate themselves, as I have done.” Tori Amos

By Alex P. Vidal

OF the 12 members of the Himamaylan city council in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, nine are males and three are females.
Their presiding officer is a woman, Vice Mayor Carminia G. Bascon.
One of the nine male city councilors has been accused of rape by Rosalie (not her real name), a 16-year-old housemaid.
He will be formally charged on September 1, according to Himamaylan city police chief,
Superintendent Antonieto Cañete.
The city councilor was not immediately named in the news “pending the formal filing of case against him” thus there was a guessing game that followed when the report spread in mass media.
He reportedly owns the hacienda where Rosalie and her mother and sister used to live.
The repeated rapes allegedly happened for almost two years when the victim and her family were still staying in the suspect’s hacienda.

MOTHER

Rosalie had informed her mother about the sexual molestations but they were afraid to tell the police for fear of eviction, if not reprisal.
They were powerless and paupers. They had no one to turn to.
Rosalie’s father died years ago and only her mother was looking after her.
The suspect allegedly sexually molested Rosalie on several occasions in separate places –in the motel, inside his car, inside his house.
People in Himamaylan City already know who the suspect is. The problem, our sources said, is nobody is gutsy enough to mention his name in the media.
Once he will be formally charged, his name will finally surface—whether he likes it or not.
Once formal charges have been filed against the city councilor, he would be forced to defend himself in media or “in the proper forum” and that is the court.
We hope there would be no whitewash in the investigation.
We hope the family will pursue the case and won’t backtrack when push comes to shove.

INVOLVED

Once a complaint has been officially filed and the involved characters are prominent personalities, media attention has always been full and constant.
We have heard of similar cases in the past where the complaints only ended up being thrown in the waste basket because the suspects and the victims’ families “amicably” settled the cases in the prosecutor’s office.
Sometimes the cases did not reach the first base as they were “settled” in the police station with the lawyers from both parties, some cops, witnesses, middle men, atbp. ending up with fat wallets and smiling from ear to ear.
Since Rosalie is a minor, she would need the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The suspect, except if he was not framed up or a victim of political harassment (in this case it’s impossible for a 16-year-old girl to allow herself to be used as a tool to harass a politician at the expense of her and her family’s reputation), will never take the case lightly.
He can’t afford to let the case prosper and suffer the consequences in his personal life and political career.
A rape accused, especially if he is a celebrity or well-known in his place, can never win in public opinion.

ODDS

The odds are always stacked against him especially if the victim is a poor girl and does not have power and connections.
He will always move heaven and earth to resolve the case or settle the complaint in whatever means.
Rape is punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, and is no peanuts once it reaches the trial court.
Once the case has been blown up in proportions in the media, the suspect will never be the same again.
It will be the start of his political career’s gradual demise if he will not end up behind bars.
Who among these male city councilors is the suspect in the rape case?
Aly B. Tongson, Jr., Gerardo G. Gamposilao, Harry C. Sian, Larry C. Badajos, Martin Florencio R. Villafranca, Raymuundo S. Lozada, Ricky T. Genova, Rolando V. Da-anoy, Timothy Augustine G. Yulo.
Or none of the above?

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Don’t nominate, we’ll just donate

“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.” Rachel Carson

By Alex P. Vidal

Please don’t nominate us for the ice bucket challenge.

We will just donate.

If we feel like participating in the promotion of awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research, all we need to do is donate cash.

No public announcement.

No ice dropping demonstration.

No self-congratulatory video gimmick that focuses primarily on fun while others are watching, giggling and cheering for all the world to witness.

We find the challenge as a clear example of substituting a trivial activity for more genuine involvement in charitable activities.

We may sound like killjoy to excited ice bucket enthusiasts, but if our intention is golden, just donate.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t celebrate!

Let’s go straight to the point. We don’t need to dump cold water on our heads if our intention is purely to raise money for charity.

The challenge may have adverse health effects on participants, especially adults like Justice Secretary Leila De Lima (Et tu, Leila?).

FEVER

What if we have typhoid fever and other respiratory ailments that prohibit us from getting wet?

Instead of helping solve the problem on ALS, we could end up the ones shaking and trembling in the emergency room.

And find ourselves the recipients of cash donations from friends instead of the ALS research.

Experts have already warned of the potentially inducing vagal response which might, for example, lead to unconsciousness in people taking blood pressure medications.

In many places where the challenge was recently practiced, a number of participants have sustained injuries but were not all reported in media.

Sources said at least one death has been linked to the challenge, with another thought to be from a variation on the challenge, jumping feet first into water.

WASTE

We can’t waste water only for this instant pop culture phenomenon and brief videoed spectacle.

Ilonggos are saddled by water crisis owing to the recent furor involving the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) and the FLO Water Resources, Inc. headed by Bombo Radyo tycoon Rogelio Florete Jr.

It’s an insult to MIWD consumers to waste water in the challenge when there is no drop of liquid in the buckets and others can’t take a bath and drink potable water on time.

We can’t afford to be insensitive during the crisis.

When water utilities and their bulk water providers are at loggerheads, water becomes a premium.

And we need to save every drop of water specifically for the household use. Not for celluloid gimmicks.

The problem is we are easily smitten by almost all the myopic activities that emanate from the Western world.

COPY

And we are good in copying them—for fun first; and, perhaps, for charity second.

We are always guilty of gaya-gaya or sunod-sunod or copycat. We lack the originality. Many of us have become poor trying hard copycats.

And we also drag our senior citizens in this slapdash challenge without any regard to their safety and health.

We have enough of such water-related gimmickry in the Philippines.

In our barangay (village) in Iloilo City where we celebrate the Feast of St. John The Baptist every 24th of June, we splash water on friends and passer-bys, and participate in different games.

We line up on every street and alleys with water guns in hand early in the morning and “shoot” the first “victims” spotted walking or passing by.

We do it with fun and excitement since time immemorial, but for purposes of religious celebration and festivity as part of our culture and tradition, not to raise funds for charity or research.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

SC verdict on ‘hulbot-hulbot’ ban a big win for Defensor

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau

By Alex P. Vidal

We are glad that Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. also mentioned, albeit briefly, in his State of the Province Address (Sopa) the recent Supreme Court decision that affirmed the ban on hulbot-hulbot not only in Iloilo, but also off the coasts all over the archipelago.
In a move to protect the country’s natural marine resources, Defensor pledged for the total ban of hulbot-hulbot early in 2013.
“Recently, our Supreme Court affirmed the validity of Fishery Administrative Order 246 banning the operation of the super hulbots or the modified Danish seine. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources issued this upon our prodding,” Defensor declared in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) Session Hall August 26.
“Our Bantay Dagat has relentlessly campaigned against this destructive fishing method. I have already called a coordination meeting among enforcement agencies like the BFAR, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Command to work together and enforce FAO 246 to the letter.”

UNKNOWN

Unknown to most people all over the country, it was Defensor who goaded Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala to issue an order banning hulbot-bulbot or Danish seine fishing in the Philippine waters.
Alcala thus signed Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 246, series of 2013, banning Danish seine and modified Danish seine on September 12, 2013.
Danish seine fishing involves throwing a large rock tied to a net into the sea and dragging it underwater.
The method destroys the country’s marine resources, warned the Iloilo governor, who was regularly briefed by Provincial Administrator Raul Banas, a former mayor of Concepcion, a coastal town in northern Iloilo where illegal fishing has been rampant.
Section 2 of the FAO 246 provides that “it shall be unlawful for any person to operate municipal and commercial fishing boats using Danish seine and Modified Danish seine in catching fish in Philippine waters.”
Persons, associations, cooperatives, partnerships or corporation engaged in Danish seine have six months from the effectively of the order to restructure or convert the same to other legitimate fishing gears.
Violation of the order will face imprisonment from two to ten years and a fine not less than P100,000 to P500,000 or both fine and imprisonment. The boat and gear will also be confiscated.

ALLOWED

Before the issuance of FAO 246, the Bureau in Fisheries Administrative Order No. 222, series of 2003, allowed the operation of modified Danish seine in waters beyond 15 kilometers from the shoreline of any municipality.
However, it was learned that it shall not use tom weights or any method or accessories that can destroy coral reefs, sea grass beds and other marine habitats.
The minimum mesh size of the net shall not also be less than three centimeters, it was learned further.
This fishing gear, also known as palisot, pasangko, bira-bira, hulahoop, is a fishing device which consistis of a conical shaped net with a pair of wings, the ends of which are connected to two ropes with buri, plastic strips or any similar material to serve as scaring/herding device with hauling ropes passing through a metallic ring permanently attached to a tom weight (linggote) when hauled into a fishing boat.
Hulbot-hulbot is now officially banned off the Philippines coasts and our coral reefs and sea grass beds will not be spared from its mayhem.
For this, we doff our hats off to Secretary Alcala, Governor Defensor, the Supreme Court, the BFAD, our law enforcers at sea and all those who risked their lives and livelihood to nip hulbot-hulbot in the bud.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

We tolerate corrupt leaders

“Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.” Ray Davies

By Alex P. Vidal

No Ilonggo politician has been jailed for graft and corruption.
But many politicians from Western Visayas have pending cases in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Some of them have already retired or still active in public service, while some have already died.
There has been no conviction in the P125-million Pavia Housing scam in Pavia, Iloilo committed by prominent characters in Iloilo city government more than 10 years ago, but some of the accused are already dead if not retired.
Most of those facing graft charges normally belong to the opposition and their cases are the ones being expedited if the administration considers them as threats in the next elections.
While cases against the opposition are prioritized and tackled like a speed of light, cases filed against politicians allied with the administration gather cobwebs and may never even be remembered until the changing of the guards in the Office of the Ombudsman, when the next president takes over the helm of the Malacanang.

BELIEVE

That’s why we don’t believe that Senate President Franklin Drilon of Molo, Iloilo City will be jailed for graft and corruption.
We don’t believe that the graft cases filed against him by his former Twitter account handler, Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada for the alleged overpricing of Iloilo Esplanade, etecetera; and former TESDA chief Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco for alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Hall of Justice, etcetera will ever reach first base.
Drilon is one of the most powerful personalities in the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III today; the most influential honco in the kingdom of the Liberal Party.
As the third highest official of the country, Drilon enjoys the protection of no less than the President and his cabal which are also die-hard LP stalwarts.
He is even one of their rumored candidates for vice president in the 2016 elections.
The Office of the Ombudsman, as a quasi-judicial body, can never claim independence from Malacanang if it allows itself to be used as a tool by the Malacanang to persecute those identified with the opposition, but is lenient to those identified with the administration.

TOLERATE

The Philippines is probably one of the countries in Asia, if not the world, that tolerates and even elects into office corrupt politicians.
Even if many of the rumored aspirants for the highest positions in the country are tainted in the imbroglio related to misuse of pork barrel funds and other graft and corruption scandals, Filipinos are still willing to give them mandates in 2016.
Even if the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will establish the guilt of the Binays in the multi-billion Makati parking space scandal, Vice President Jejomar Binay will remain as the leading aspirant for the presidency of the country two years from now.
Binay is extremely popular in Western Visayas, including in Capiz, the bailiwick of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
So many politicians in Iloilo, Negros, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Guimaras have shifted allegiance to Binay. And their numbers are growing by leaps and bounds.

DIMINISH

For these local politicians, graft and corruption issue will never diminish the vice president’s chances in 2016.
We continue to tolerate and elect into office even the worst politicians. That’s why we deteriorate as a nation. Corruption eats up the very foundation of our socio-political sphere.
The practical difficulty surrounding the effort to get rid of corruption is enormous. It comes from all sides. The biggest is the obstacles arising from a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, warned Syed Hussein Alatas, in his book, “Corruption and the Destiny of Asia.”
Any effort to correct injustice and reduce the suffering of the victims should be attempted however limited its success may be. The experience itself is valuable and revealing, explained Alatas.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Motel crimes could be poverty-related

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Frederick Douglass

By Alex P. Vidal

Poverty remains to be the number one source of depression among the Filipinos.
Even the Ilonggos in Western Visayas face the grim task of how to arrest and, perhaps, reverse the trend now that the National Statistics Coordinating Board (NSCB) has confirmed that Western Visayas economy has slowed down in 2013 due to a substantial slump in the agriculture hunting and forestry and fishing (AHFF) industry.
If economic analysts will go beyond air-conditioned rooms, they can see the gnawing reality; many sectors in society are still very much saddled by financial woes.
A big chunk of the hoi polloi still can’t prepare a decent meal on the table for their families.
Violent domestic spats, health problems and gradual deterioration of the quality of life can be traced to this social malaise.
When there is nothing to eat during meal time, moods change, blood pressures increase, tempers flare up.
Crime and violence become the order of the day.

OPPORTUNITIES

Unemployment and lack of opportunities to wiggle out from dire straits are among the biggest stumbling blocks in a Filipino’s quest to live a normal life and maintain a peace of mind.
As a philosophical theory, existentialism is supposedly an approach that emphasizes our existence as a free and responsible agent determining our own development through acts of the will.
Many major cities and provinces are still infested with crime elements engaged in nefarious activities—all related to poverty.
The case of a despondent mother who recently hanged herself after killing her three-year-old child in a Bacolod City motel may be dismissed as a mental health issue on the part of the mother, but poverty may have driven her to commit the twin macabre crimes.
Some of the reasons why humans kill each other–especially their own relatives–are: 1. Either they are mentally disturbed; 2. Property dispute; 3. Crime of passion motivated jealousy; 4. War among kingdoms, territories, countries; 5. Extreme hopelessness due to poverty.

-o0o-

The letter addressed to Capiz Gov. Victor A. Tanco and Vice Gov. Esteban Evan B. Contreras and signed by two leaders of the Christian fellowships in Capiz and Iloilo regarding the P500 Million Yolanda Rehabilitation Fund, is an evidence that not everything is well in as far as the distribution or non-distribution of calamity funds for the super typhoon that ravaged parts of the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo is concerned.
That politics, as usual, reared its ugly head once more even if it involved the welfare of the people.
“Our warmest greetings to you all and the hardworking women and men of the Capiz Provincial Government.
“It is with the highest esteem that we reach out to you in this moment of confusion, sadness and disappointment. All these, as we have since supported your beliefs that a public office is a public trust.
“Mr. Governor, Vice Governor and our honorable board members, we are however deeply moved, even embarrassed, on the latest media report to hit our province. And this is in reference to the news about the P500 Million Yolanda Rehabilitation Fund for the damaged school buildings here.
Like the rest of our Christian-faithful, we ask, what is going on with the implementation of these relief programs of the National Government?
“Why is this happening to our province when we know that your administration is committed to delivering much-needed rehabilitation works? How can this happen to the detriment of our thousands of schoolchildren who up to today suffer from undelivered promises? How true that all these happened because of intervention of our beloved Congressman Tony Del Rosario? How true that all these were known by the hierarchy of the Department of Education particularly by Undersecretary Valera?
“We implore from your good office to please heed our call for action and corresponding investigation. We need to have the people behind this be held accountable.
“We implore from your good office to please make public the reasons why this delay even happened. We entirely depend on both your Executive Office and our Legislative Branch—our Capiz Provincial Board to shed light on this matter.
Yours in pursuit of genuine service to the people.
Suplicio P. Morales Jr., Capiz Baptist Minister Association, Province of Capiz; Rev. Ramon E. Plaza, Evangelical Minister Fellowship of Iloilo City, Iloilo City. Signed August 20, 2014.”

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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