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Shooting Judge Artuz from the hips

“If you can’t see past my name, you can’t see me.” 

― DaShanne Stokes

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

IF you aren’t authorized, you can’t solemnize.
Iloilo City Legal Officer Edgardo Gil’s basis for calling as “fake” the marriages solemnized by “ex” Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 5 Judge Ofelia M.D. Artuz was the Supreme Court’s purported order in 2017 that dismissed Artuz as a judge; thus “she wasn’t authorized.”
Gil, according to report, has named Artuz to be possibly behind the alleged fake weddings uncovered at the Iloilo City Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO) that supposedly victimized more than a hundred couples since 2017 until 2018.
The city legal officer was so cocksure about Artuz’s role that he made a categorical declaration about what had transpired when the alleged malfeasance was executed.
Kun kaisa sa sagwa ginasolemnize, si Judge Artuz, gin-terminate na siya sa service as a judgesang August 29, 2017. Even if she is not authorized, sige pa siya gihapon solemnize sang marriage,” Gil was quoted in a report by Emme Rose Santiagudo in the Daily Guardian dated August 22, 2019.

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Because Gil already went ballistic against Artuz, we assume that the city legal office had already conducted a motu proprio investigation prior to its decision to endorse the issue for further probe to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Otherwise, Gil would be accused of pushing the cart ahead of the horse in as far as investigation of the issue is concerned.
Now that Gil has jumped the gun on Artuz, isn’t it incumbent upon him to start filing the appropriate cases against the lady judge if he had enough evidence, instead of running for succor to the NBI?
By telling all and sundry they had already endorsed the matter to the NBI (Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas had earlier confirmed they were seeking the NBI’s help), Gil innocuously was sending a message they have a weak case against Artuz; so that they needed the NBI to do the yeoman’s job.

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Gil may have violated their profession’s code of ethics by prejudging Artuz and by making a presumption that all the weddings she had solemnized, because she was “unauthorized”, were fake and, thus, null and void.
According to LCRO Officer Romeon Juncae Manikan Jr., a law graduate, only the Supreme Court can declare whether a marriage is fake.
Assuming that Artuz could not anymore solemnize marriages immediately after her purported dismissal from the Supreme Court took effect, were the weddings she had solemnized before the Supreme Court ruling on her termination authorized and legal?
Better still, did she really continue to solemnize weddings even after her dismissal? If she appealed the dismissal, were all the weddings she had supposedly solemnized while her dismissal was under appeal, authorized and legal?
There are two schools of thought in this imbroglio, thus we want the truth to come out; we want wrongdoings to stop, but we must be objective and fair to all concerned.
Without any impartial investigation or without inviting Artuz to air her side first before going tongs and hammer against her in the media, they have already shot her from the hips and injured so many bystanders.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Can Iloilo mayors stop incest rapes?

“I think that the enormous emphasis on violence and sex, and in particular violent sex, may not make rapists of us all, but it predisposes us to accept a kind of world in which these things happen.”

–Alexander Walker

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

I KNOW of at least four Iloilo mayors accused of committing a rape when I was covering the Iloilo Capitol beat in the early 90’s.
One of them, a former ex-convict from the fifth district, even ran and lost for governor. His victim, a minor, became a lawyer.
Another one, a gambling lord in the second district and a cockfighting aficionado, was abandoned by his wife not for being a gambler, but for allegedly “molesting” his own niece.
The third one was from a coastal town famous for a certain seafood in the fourth district. Of the four, this third “rapist” from the coastal town, who finished only in the elementary level and was always carrying a gun, was the worst: he allegedly raped his wife’s sister, who eventually “consented” to become his lover.
To minimize the scandal, they (the mayor, his wife, and the wife’s sister) lived in the same compound like a normal family. Other members of the household pretended they knew nothing about the quirky situation.

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The fourth was also from the second district.
His case was not a secret because the alleged rape happened prior to his reelection bid.
The victim, a minor and the mayor’s own niece, was briefly interviewed by reporters before being intercepted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel.
Interestingly, two weeks before the rape case exploded in the media, I visited this mayor in his house together with former Senator John Osmeña.
We monitored two other rape cases involving prominent political figures (a defeated congressional aspirant from the first district and another municipal mayor in a far-flung municipality in the fifth district).
Except for the ex-convict who spent several years in jail, the others were never prosecuted. Because of their influence and power, their cases were either “kept under wraps,” or “settled” (meaning the “victims” decided not to lodge a formal complaint).
I recalled these cases when I learned that the Iloilo Provincial Board recently passed a resolution penned by Board Member June Mondejar urging Iloilo mayors to take action to curb the “alarming” number of rape cases in the province.

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Mondejar said most of the rape cases logged by the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) last year and this year were incestuous or sexual assaults committed by somebody with close relationship to the victims such as a father, a stepfather, an uncle, or a cousin.
Mondejar wanted the mayors to initiate programs and measures to prevent all forms of sexual abuse in their respective municipalities.
Good move, but most rapists have serious psychological or mental issues that no amount of programs can scare or stop them from doing the crime. In fact, it has been proven that even the death penalty was not a deterrent to the commission of rape.
We doubt also if the mayors or their law enforcers can personally stop the rapes, which mostly happen in the darkness or night time and in secluded places.
Although this additional task will not really overburden the mayors, let’s hope that no perpetrator will come from their own ranks like in the cases I just mentioned.
Latin poet Juvenal once posed this question: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or “Who will guard the guards?”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Vexation for Iloilo RTC judge applicants

“Anybody can become angry–that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

–ARISTOTLE

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

ANY lawyer from Iloilo aspiring to become a regional trial court (RTC) judge today must have felt alluded to when disqualified Duterte Youth party-list nominee Ronaldo Cardema recently accused Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of extortion and of demanding the appointment of a lawyer as RTC judge in Iloilo.
We know that desperate Cardema’s wild charges are nothing but a hogwash, but his allegations are unfair to all lawyers who happen to have pending applications for RTC judge in Iloilo.
Guanzon, 61, a former Cadiz City mayor, is from Negros Occidental, not Iloilo.
And granting, for the sake of argument, that Guanzon is really pushing for a certain lawyer to become RTC judge in Iloilo, why would she genuflect with a former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman, who is only a Duterte fanatic and not even a lawyer or someone with connections with the Department of Justice or with the President?
Where is the common sense?
Guanzon might as well go directly to President Duterte.

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If a lawyer is appointed as RTC judge in Iloilo tomorrow or any day, which only coincides with Cardema’s ongoing revulsion toward Guanzon, some people will suspect that the new judge must have connections with the brave lady poll commissioner.
Even if Guanzon doesn’t know the newly appointed judge from Adam, for instance, she will still nevertheless get a credit for the appointment, in one way or the other.
Even if the appointment as RTC judge is valid and had undergone the normal process and has nothing to do whatsoever with the Cardema-Guanzon skirmish, some people will start to speculate maliciously once they remember Cardema’s allegations against Guanzon.
People, of course, aren’t stupid to believe that Cardema is responsible for the appointment since, in the first place, he has no power to facilitate or even recommend for higher positions in the judiciary unless he is the President.

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AS the legal battle between Panay Electric Company (PECO) and MORE Electric and Power Corp. prolongs, many Iloilo City consumers have become skeptical as to which firm will eventually remain and which will fold up.
The consumers don’t have the patience to follow the high-strung telenovela, much less take sides.
They listen to the news, but aren’t interested in the nitty-gritty of the legal dispute.
They are aware that what’s going on is a game of the generals and whoever will capitulate and victorious, is none of their business as tiny grasses.
As long as they are assured of a steady and sufficient power supply, the monthly bills aren’t astronomical, the services aren’t lousy, and they have the money to pay for the monthly bills, the consumers won’t give a hoot if the litigation between the two elephants will extend beyond the Age of Aquarius.

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THE Spaniards have colonized us and taught us how to become religious and hypocrites.
The Americans have colonized us, gave us education, and taught us to patronize Hollywood movies.
Will the Chinese colonize us next and teach us how to get rich through business and how to build more infrastructure and bridges from one island to another for future global trade route?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

When the pie isn’t properly sliced

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”

–David Foster Wallace

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

IN other mega corporate ventures in the country managed by one clan that involves a public interest, we seldom heard–or none, at all–of an intra-family feud that threatens to paralyze the company’s operations like what is happening in the Vallacar Transit, Inc. in the transportation sector.
Several years back, Iloilo City’s Florete brothers also went tongs and hammer in their legal squabble over some issues in their properties, which also nearly threatened to break-up the family.
Like in the case of the Yansons, the public was startled that members of a prominent business clan that owns one of the biggest radio networks in the country, were at loggerheads and in the newspaper headlines for several months.
If the Yansons have Roy and Leo Rey, the Floretes had Marcelino and Rogelio.
The feud between the Florete siblings, however, was not as tension-filled as compared to the tumult that erupted in the Yanson family, where several employees and security personnel in the Ceres terminals had been disarmed and frightened during the territorial tug-of-war.

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When serious internal insurrections explode within the family-run corporation, it means only one thing: everybody isn’t happy, or the pie wasn’t properly sliced.
In all these wranglings and hullabaloos, however, it’s always the court that has the final say, no matter how one party will attempt to resort to any extra-judicial alternative, or show of force and intimidation.
Meanwhile, despite managing the Panay Electric Company (PECO) in Iloilo City for nearly a century, the Cacho family never quarreled in public; all their corporate issues are tackled privately and peacefully.
Unlike the Yansons in the Vallacar Transit, Inc., the Cachos never washed PECO’s dirty linens in public.
If the Cashos were in the news, it’s because they worked side-by-side against the rantings and agitations of the consumers who went ballistic against the “astronomical” charges in their monthly bills.

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Also, we never heard the Lopezes tearing each other apart over corporate issues while managing the Meralco and ABS-CBN, among other family-owned public utilities.
What we heard and learned in the news was the smooth transition of management of their major prime properties from one family patriarch to another.
Ditto with the Gatchalians of the Cebu Pacific, the Sys of the Prime Holdings (that operates SM City), the Ayalas of the Ayala Center, the Gokongweis of the Robinsons and Universal Robina Corporation, among other big families engaged in mega businesses.
Bad management normally causes most of the organizational problems. Over and over, according to Ligthouse, it’s their actions (or inaction) of managers that combine to be the hidden, root cause of these major, valid concerns.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Check the lifestyle

“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. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

A FORMER town and provincial official, a good friend of mine, who was lucky to get a juicy position under the Duterte administration, is now super rich.
I know him even before he entered politics. We had the same passion. And he was not rich.
Now, he is a multi-millionaire. No, he didn’t win the lotto.
He was neither engaged in the stock market nor in the real estate.
He was a simple man who had a lucky stint in the public service (where he learned the ropes of “how to earn more than what you get in the payroll” without having to work like a slave).
He was a promising “promdi” (from the province) until swallowed by the prevailing system, a common sickness of those given the opportunity to work in the government only to dip their fingers in the cookie jars.
We won’t be surprised if he is one of those being investigated by the Presidential Ant-Corruption Commission (PACC) as reported recently.
I personally won’t be surprised if one day he will send me another email “to explain my side and to inform you that I am a victim of intrigues and jealousy; and these critics only want to destroy my reputation.”
Like what he did when he ran and lost for vice governor.

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The decision to close a portion of Boracay’s shoreline for a 72-hour clean-up August 14 after a female tourist allowed her child to defecate in its water, was over acting.
Also, the decision of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to instruct Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BITF) General Manager Natividad Bernardino to isolate the area for the cleanup, was theatrical.
Authorities could have just cleaned up the mess without necessarily announcing it in the whole world through the mass media after the incident was reportedly caught on video and went viral in the social media.
Their wild reactions only exacerbated the incident’s negative effects on Boracay’s tourism.
It’s like washing their dirty linens in public.

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World class beaches are not spared from beachgoers urinating and pooping in their waters especially during the sunset.
This happens every now and then, but authorities tipped off about the incident were careful not to overreact in order not to turn the fire into a conflagration, or not to make a mountain out of a molehill.
There are municipal ordinances that deal with this kind of unsanitary behavior by vacationers. Local authorities can throw the books on violators.
But if they can help minimize the impact of such incident in public which will have negative effects on tourism, it’s best if the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the DENR can solve the mess silently and refrain from making a billow out of it in the mass media.
If publicity in the social media is cruel, publicity in the mass media will leave a bad taste in the mouth.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

If there’s a bridge

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers.” 

–Nikita Khrushchev

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

ONLY a bridge can solve the problems of those regularly crossing the Iloilo Strait to Guimaras vice versa.
A bridge won’t automatically kill the maritime industry in the area, but people will have a better alternative just in case a bad weather would render the transfer from one island to another vice versa via ferries impossible.
A bridge linking Guimaras and Iloilo will eliminate king-sized hassles and inconveniences just in case the government will not allow pumpboats to operate just like what happened days after the sea tragedy that killed nearly 31 pumpboat passengers.
A bridge will fast-track all the transactions and other urgent matters when travel time is reduced and maritime overloading of passengers and goods is nipped in the bud.
A bridge will be beneficial to the prosperity of both the provinces of Guimaras and Iloilo, including Iloilo City and other provinces and cities in Panay Island with economic and agricultural interests in Guimaras.
The government has promised to bridge the gap by building the bridge even before we heard McArthur promising “I shall return.”
Let’s hope the bridge will finally be erected before human beings can reach the planet Mars.

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Just like the priests and the pastors, policemen also every now and then receive gifts–in kind and in cash–from Good Samaritans, businessmen, and, sometimes, from recipients (e.g. victims of crimes that have been solved) of their services mostly as “tokens of appreciation.”
Even the heads of state, the highest church leaders and military and police generals accept gifts; but, sometimes, done incognito to dodge those with malicious minds.
Only a hypocrite cop will proclaim that he has not received offers of a gift (although there are really a few who are determined not to accept the gifts regardless who made the offer).
Nobody is actually taking seriously Republic Act 3019 or the anti-graft law, which clearly states that government workers should not accept gifts in exchange for favors. Since presents of small or insignificant value are reportedly exempted, most of those who accept gifts and want to justify it pretend what they got were only “peanuts.”
We can put to big test this interesting hypothesis during the Yuletide Season, which is four months away.

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If a grown up teenager or a young citizen wants to be a communist, a voodoo practitioner, or an advocate of exorcism, the parents shouldn’t be cursed or blamed for it.
If it’s the person’s choice, it’s his destiny and there is nothing the parents can do about it especially if the person is of legal age.
The parents, however, are responsible for their children’s education in the early stage, especially the formation of the children’s values and character.
It is assumed that when the children reach the legal age, they know what is wrong and what is right; they know what is legal and what is illegal.
Brian May once said, “The biggest emotion in creation is the bridge of optimism.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

We worry for tourism

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.”

–Martin Parr

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

WE are worried for tourism in Iloilo and Guimaras in particular, and in Western Visayas in general, following the travel advisory issued by the United Kingdom urging its citizens to avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats in the Philippines following the recent Iloilo-Guimaras Strait maritime mishap that killed nearly 31 boat passengers.
Travel advisories issued by European and American countries always have ripple effects and are monitored and followed by other continents with large business and tourism contingents that regularly circumnavigate the globe.
In the age of internet, the recent UK travel advisory can travel and spread around the universe faster than the tsunami and quicker than the speed of a bullet train.
At this time when our tourism has been reaping inroads and dividends owing to the aggressive and productive campaign instituted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office headed by Director Helen Catalbas, we can’t afford to reap a negative publicity in the global market and altogether slump to square one.
Instead of a leap backward, it must be a long jump forward.

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Guimaras, producer of the best mango in the world, is undoubtedly a tourism wonder and the only viable means to get there vice versa is through a passenger boat.
With UK’s recent travel advisory, tourism and business in Philippine islands that rely heavily on ferries and passenger boats to connect the tourists and their destinations like Guimaras, Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, among other favorite spots in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will certainly suffer a dent.
The UK travel advisory exhorted its citizens to avoid travel on ferries and passenger, particularly from June to December, the season when the country is frequently hit by tropical cyclones.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “They are often overloaded, may lack necessary lifesaving equipment or be inadequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly and maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.”
Let’s hope a new travel advisory from Europe and America will soon come out; this time to pave the way for a quick Renaissance of tourism in Western Visayas and in the entire Philippines.

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The “dark past” of Supt. Roland Vilela, penciled in to be next chief of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), circulated in the media faster than his credentials and accomplishments as police official.
This came after his name was reportedly chosen recently from among the list of police officials by Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr.
In the past, police officials who would occupy important positions in the Regional Police Office down to the provincial police offices were hailed for their good record and good behavior in press releases prior to assuming their respective assignments.
In the case of Supt. Vilela, it’s the opposite.
As long as he was not yet convicted of any criminal act, he could still perform his tasks as a PNP official; Ilonggos can still give him the benefit of the doubt.
He wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the PNP if he had been found guilty of hooliganism or any serious moral and criminal misconduct.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2019 in Uncategorized