Monthly Archives: August 2011



Police Senior Inspector Musa Amiyong has a lot of explaining to do, first, to the bereaved family of murdered radioman Niel “Lito” Jimena; and, second, to members of media in Iloilo and Negros.
It was Amiyong who recruited Jimena, 42, to become civilian agent of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) several years back thus exposing the radioman’s life to danger.
If Amiyong did not enlist Jimena in the dangerous police operation, he probably did not suffer a cruel death last August 22 in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.
A radioman or any media practitioner for that matter, can’t serve two masters at the same time. There is always conflict of interest; and he ceases to be impartial once he wears multiple caps and lays his hand on a payroll outside his mandate as fiscalizer and purveyor of truth.
But because he probably thought he was incompetent as law enforcer, Amiyong needed to buttress his force by hiring the services of a mediaman to act as his sidekick. And Amiyong was so proud of this arrangement that he had no qualms telling all and sundry he was instrumental why Jimena was allowed to carry a firearm.


While having coffee at Dunkin Donut inside a mall in Iloilo City several months back, Jimena joined me in the table to ask my help regarding his relative who wanted to migrate to Canada. When I saw a short firearm tucked in his waist, I grilled him why he was carrying a deadly weapon when, as member of the Fourth Estate, he was supposed to be non-combatant (I am against the idea of allowing journalists to carry a gun. The pen itself is “mightier than the sword”).
Jimena told me he was “helping” Amiyong in the cop’s campaign against illegal drugs in Iloilo. In what capacity and how, he did not elaborate. How did he become instant police civilian agent while at the same time handling radio blocktime programs for politicians and businessmen was something that boggled my mind.
My worries reached a climax on August 22 near midnight when columnist Peter Jimenea texted me to inform that Jimena had been shot dead in Victorias City, Negros Occidental at around 6 o’clock that evening.


According to police report, Jimena was riding on his motorcycle at around 5:45 p.m. from Victorias City on his way to his temporary residence at Hacienda Teresa in Brgy. Alicante, E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental when two men riding in a motorcycle chased him and started shooting him.
Jimena incurred two bullet wounds in the back that exited in the front of his body. When he tried to escape by returning to Victorias City, his motorcycle lost control and fell. At this juncture, the assailants came nearer and pumped two more bullets on his head.
Probers said Jimena was still breathing when rushed to the Silay City Provincial Hospital where he expired at around 6:30 p.m.


“Ka Peter” Jimenea also had misgivings of Jimena having ties with the controversial Amiyong whose credibility as anti-illegal drugs crusader is also a big question mark ( I have covered the police beat in the early 90’s and, more or less, I am familiar with Amiyong’s “talent”).
Probers are zeroing in on the suspects who also tried to kill Jimena in 2009 in Taytay Malago, Victorias City. In the first attack, Jimena was hit only in the leg and survived. Last August 22, they made sure Jimena was dead.
Many believed Jimena flirted with disaster when he decided to tie up with Amiyong. Probers theorized the hitmen could be hired killers or members of a drug syndicate that collided with Amiyong’s team.


Although he had also incurred the ire of politicians and private individuals in his blocktime programs in Iloilo City, the issues that Jimena handled were not so dangerous that would warrant his brutal murder.
Only those with primitive minds that harbor deep hatred and ax to grind against Jimena and his activities as Amiyong’s civilian agent would be emboldened to commit the dastardly crime, and Amiyong, as command responsibility, is not blameless for the death of Lito Jimena being his superior.
We condemn Jimena’s treacherous and senseless murder and demand immediate justice for our fallen comrade. Rest in peace, Lito!

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Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Uncategorized



By Alex P. Vidal

When former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos returned in the country in 1991 five years after the 1986 EDSA Revolution, we were among the few journalists from outside Metro Manila who were given the chance to visit her for interview at the Manila Peninsula Hotel.
I was with freelance broadcaster Louie Vivar, Arsenio “Kamlon” Ang of DYRI “Radyo Agong”, and Mario Jara of the defunct DYRP “Radyo Tagring.” We went to the hotel with a police escort provided by then Western Police District director, Chief Supt. Ernesto Diokno. Our entry in the tightly secured five-star hotel was facilitated by Mrs. Marcos’ media liaison, Sol Vanzi, who herded us like VIPs to the waiting area on the 9th floor.


Upon entering in a suite on the 9th floor, we were surprised to find out we were not the early birds, after all: fellow Ilonggo and Prensa Libre publisher Vicente “El Cid” Nava was already inside and about to finish his first cup of coffee.
“Welcome, my fellow Invaders of the Lost Ark,” Nava, a poet and literary writer, greeted us smiling. “Your arrival has completed the outcast!””Well, I was told that Madame First Lady Marcos might or might not show up due to security reasons, among other alibis, perhaps,” Nava quipped, avoiding an eye to eye contact with Vanzi, who apparently was peeved by his –and our — presence, as well as Nava’s snide remark.


“We are here to greet the First Lady because we missed her. It’s been a long time since we last heard from her and the Marcos family; and we want to know from the horse’s mouth how is President Marcos doing now in Hawaii,” sighed Vivar, then a blocktimer of Manila-based DYWB and a “sweet talk” specialist.
“I thought you came her to interview the First Lady?” Vanzi retorted, raising her eyebrows to stress a point.
“That’s exactly the reason why we came here all the way from Iloilo City,” I volunteered. “We want to have not only an exclusive interview with First Lady Marcos, but also to be part of history — as among the first media people to have interaction with the most famous woman in the Philippines since the EDSA Revolution.”
“At handang handa na po kami (And we are very much ready),” Ang, holding his cassette tape-recorder, chipped in.


“OK, just wait. I will check upstairs (12th floor) if the First Lady is now available,” Vanzi said.
Several minutes later, Vanzi returned and produced Atty. Dean Antonio Coronel, the Marcos family’s combative and fire-spewing lawyer. There was no Imelda R. Marcos.”I would like to introduce to you Atty. Dean Antonio Coronel. He will answer all your questions concerning the First Lady. He has been authorized to answer all your questions,” Vanzi stressed.”Where is the First Lady?,” Nava and Vivar chorused.”She is not feeling well. You know, she just arrived a few days ago and has been busy meeting important people, friends and relatives she haven’t seen for a long time; she badly needs some rest,” Vanzi explained.


No choice, the “invaders” settled for the swashbuckling lawyer known for his goatee and acerbic voice. “They can’t arrest the First Lady because there have been no formal charges filed against her; and if there is any, she is entitled to due process which is a sacred right of any individual regardless of status,” Coronel remarked.
Since it was near the 20th year anniversary of the Plaza Miranda bombing on August 21, 1971, I asked Coronel about Mrs. Marcos’ stand on the issue.”Mrs. Marcos has maintained that it was the handiwork of the Communist Party of the Philippines (founded by Jose Ma. Sison),” Coronel said.But the CPP blamed President Marcos, whose rival, Liberal Party stalwart, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who was assassinated on August 21, 1983 at the airport tarmac, was linked to the CPP, by virtue of his “curious” absence from the Liberal Party rally.


The lawyer confirmed that some of those Mrs. Marcos (she was very much involved in the political affairs of the state especially during the Martial Law) had ordered arrested in relation to the political party bombing that killed nine people and wounded more than 30, were members of the media who went underground after their names had been linked to the blast.
He confirmed among those arrested earlier was radio commentator Roger “Bomba” Arrienda. The bombing happened a few minutes before 9 p.m., the official proclamation program for the Liberal Party’s senatorial slate.Manila Mayor Ramon Bagatsing lost one of his legs; scores were wounded, including former Speaker Ramon Mitra, then Rep. John Osmena, the late senators Eva Estrada Kalaw and Jovito Salonga, who lost his eyesight.


In 1992, when Mrs. Marcos ran for president, she recruited the late comedians Chiquito and Johnny Wilson to run for senator under the KBL party and brought them to Iloilo City. They hired my services and for four nights and five days, I accompanied Mrs. Marcos in her Western Visayas sorties.
Although they all lost miserably, at least I was able to rub elbows and exchange tete-a-tete with my favorite childhood comedian, the late Chiquito, one of the worst senators we never had.

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Uncategorized



By Alex P. Vidal

One of the only few remaining bastions of old values and ethics in media today is Amante “Boy” Espejo Jr., Iloilo city hall information chief.
Everytime I played blitz chess with this uncrowned master, I learned not only the rudiments of Nimzo Indian, Pirc Defense and Queen’s Gambit, but media values and ethics which Mr. Espejo has been espousing — whether he was writing press releases, speeches and souvenir book messages (from the time of Mayor Tita Caram, Mayor Roding Ganzon, Mayor Mansing Malabor, Mayor Jerry Trenas, and now Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog) or acting as official chess arbiter in major tournaments.
“Media practitioners must be dignified not only the way they perform their duties and obligations but also the way they behave because people look up to them,” Espejo once said. “Their manners and professionalism are important.”


Espejo, also a chess columnist, once observed that only sportswriters are spared from controversies and violence “because they don’t dabble in political issues and are always respected by their readers.” Material things, like money, can destroy a media practitioner if his values are not strong, warned Espejo.
Iloilo has the oldest press club in the Philippines. Ilonggos also take pride that they have Graciano Lopez-Jaena as role model and hero.
Lawyer and political science professor Pol Causing once declared that “Ilonggos are among the best journalists in the world” in terms of substance, ability and professionalism. “Only those who don’t strictly adhere to the profession’s code of ethics succumb to temptations of material want and have tarnished the profession.”


Among the best minds that have contributed in greatness of the Iloilo Press Club were Rex Drilon, political essayist and writer and first Filipino president of the Central Philippine University; Dean Alfredo Gonzalez, essayist and author of the “The Bamboo Flower”; Stevan Javellana, lawyer and winner of the Palanca Award in literature and author of “Without Seeing The Dawn,” an English novel about World War II published abroad and serialized in television.
We also had Ike Villalobos, of the Manila Bulletin, and the precursor of “timawaism” under the leadership of the late senator Roding Ganzon when it was soaring high against the vested political and economic power; Rodolfo Claparols, Sr., historian and former tourism director of the Western Visayas. He was credited for restoring discipline, dignity and honor to the club, according to lawyer Ernie Dayot.


The Iloilo Press Club is the synthesis of the old and the new values. In harmony, they are to blend and work for the benefit of the people. But if the old values are lost, no longer observed or honored, where shall the new values be salted, as spoken in the parable?
The old values in the press club are the verities of honesty, sincerity, discipline, dedication and love of the profession and not for monetary consideration.
The press club like any other enterprise thrives in the confidence and support of the people. It is an article of faith that every member must be like Caesar’s wife–above suspicion and must abide to the highest standard of ethics and excellence.
“Give the people the light so that they can see,” Rex Drilon once declared, making this battlecry as the motto of the Iloilo Press Club.

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Uncategorized



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Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Uncategorized




WHEN two intellectual behemoths from Copenhagen, Denmark and Guimbal, Iloilo met and unleashed their philosophical ideas last week at the Atrium Mall in Iloilo City, jealous gods of Mount Olympus shed copious tears.
The meeting between Don Henning Blegvad, the “Friedrich Nietzsche” of Denmark and Atty. Ernesto Justiniani Dayot, the “Socrates of Iloilo,” was witnessed by several students from the St. Paul University, who thought they were attending philosophy, political science and religious classes when they heard the two discuss heavy philosophical, social and religious topics at noontime!
The gods punished Prometheus for giving us fire (wisdom). Will they lower the boom too for Messrs. Blegvad and Dayot for giving us enlightenment? Whom they wish to destroy the gods will make mad first?


Incidentally, both Blegvad, 83, and Dayot, 80, can’t be destroyed. Even death can’t obliterate them as they are ready to take off anytime and both have expressed desires “to be burned” –not at stake like those in the Dark Ages– but in the crematorium once their bells make a final toll.
“I’m ready to go and I stand by my philosophical thoughts until the end,” declared Dayot, who recently spent half a million pesos to beautify their family mausoleum in Dingle, Iloilo “where I will take my final journey.”
Like Nietzsche, Blegvad doesn’t believe in the personal god. “God is when you do the right things and serve your fellowmen with all sincerity and candor,” he said. “God is not a business.”
Blegvad openly wages war against dishonest government officials and hypocritical religious leaders and does not hesitate to use strong words when castigating them face to face both in private and in public.


“When I die, I want to be burned and my wish is for my ashes to be scattered around the schools and structures that I helped build,” Blegvad stressed.
“I believe in the philosophy of reason. It is our bacon for living on earth,” Dayot, 80, hissed. “Man in his primitive origin slowly developed the logic of reason to liberate himself, only to be subverted time and again in the darkest annals of history.”
“I believe in the philosophy of self-esteem which makes every man a hero of himself. The psychology of self-esteem is the living mirror that reflects the nobility of man’s soul, thus the man who is true to himself can never be false to another,” Dayot added.


“I believe in the philosophy of science which gives technological and practical values and renders intellectual and cultural enrichment. I believe in the philosophy of brotherhood of men. The highest attribute of man is his sense of wisdom and it includes political and social relationships to increase knoweldge and to trade goods and services with others.”
“I don’t believe in Socrates, but I believe in Ernesto Dayot,” concluded Blegvad, who believes that “some men sold their souls with the devil while others have tried to sell their souls, but there was no evil to buy them.”
He was referring to the story in Western literature where a man bargained his soul with the devil, provided the devil would grant him his wordly desires. It was a contract that after 24 years, the devil would come to collect his soul. Thus, Dr. Faustus was given absolute power, great knowledge and riches.


And when the hours has come, Dr. Faustus was frantic and desperate, praying for a savior so that he will not burn in hell for thousand years. While he blamed the devil for his miserable condition, he was told to blame himself for being weak-hearted and ambitious.
Next Dr. Faustus called for the mountains and hills to fall in him and the earth to cover him. Likewise, he called for the stars to lift him up because they have something to do with the life and destiny of any man.
At the end of the day, Dr. Faustus gave up and the devil came to collect his soul.
Will the devil come to collect, nay invite the souls of Messrs. Blegvad and Dayot?

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Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Uncategorized




Grafters in government were lucky there were no Facebook and Twitter when I made an expose on the teachers uniform anomaly in the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) now Department of Education (DepEd) in 1998, which didn’t sit well with then Regional Director Pilar L. Pascual, who thought I was a media scalawag out to make a pile using the issue; or she thought I stumbled into a can of worms and caught her in flagrante delicto with hands in the cookie jar!
Had the expose happened today, the whole world would have been given a front seat view of how rotten was the system in this government agency via our Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as our private blogs.
When I published Pascual’s “regional order no. 7 series of 1998” dated March 9, 1998 regarding school/office uniforms addressed to all schools division superintendents, administrators and principals of schools, she would no longer accommodate my requests for interview in her office.


How did she develop “media shyness” overnight remains a mystery which Pascual managed to keep under wraps until this day, wherever she is now.
In that regional order, Pascual “recommended” private contractor, Elizabeth Hammonds, as exclusive supplier “in compliance with Department Order No. 66 s. 1997.”
“It is hereby ordered that all concerned acquire the uniforms in one form, cloth pattern and color tones as prescribed on the issuance,” stated Pascual’s order. “In order to get the same quality nearest to the authentic original winning entry of the required gala set, the complete uniform sets produced by the winner, Mrs. Elizabeth Hammonds is recommended.”


Pascual explained that Hammonds’ “volume production for the four complete sets are made of textile material which is durable, wrinkle free, soft, heavy drape, and ‘wash and wear’ kind, the same as one used for the original winning gala design sample.”
Pascual’s order continued: “With the 1997 clothing allowance allocated and received last year and the 1998 clothing allowance which is expected to be released soon, the amount is sufficient to buy the materials.
“The budget required to purchase the four sets of ready to wear uniforms is P3,450 for the teaching group and P3,550 for non-teaching group, while the pre-cuts clothing materials with complete accessories will cost P2,700 for the teaching group and P2,800 for non-teaching group considering the difference in the materials used.”


Pascual required the “strict compliance on wearing of uniforms for both groups” which will take effect “after all concerned are able to acquire complete sets and not later than the opening of classes on June 1998.”
But, lo and behold, here comes the spoiler!
Iloilo Schools Superintendent Raymundo Lapating flew the coop when he sent me a letter to clarify that Pascual’s order had been rescinded by DECS Oder No. 43 series of 1998 and DECS Order No. 66 series of 1997 (the same order she had invoked in recommending Hammonds) dated Jan. 30, 1998 and Sept. 16, 1997, respectively.
Lapating earlier told me over the phone “I did not and do not intend to endorse or advertise products of any particular supplier, manufacturer or distributor of DECS uniforms; the aformentioned included.”


The policy, Lapating pointed out, was consistent with DECS Order No. 43, dated Jan. 30, 1998 which states that “DECS has not authorized or designated any individual or entity as the official supplier of the aforementioned uniforms and/or textile materials.”
“To set the record straight and to avoid misinterpretation, it is hereby declared as a policy that the purchase of uniforms by the DECS personnel from any manufacturer, supplier or distributor is his own personal choice provided the materials conform with the specifications prescribed by DECS,” Lapating explained in his letter.
In a stroke that broke the back of the camel, Lapating totally blew to pieces Pascual’s recommendation of Hammonds by declaring that “consistent” with the DECS orders he had pointed out, “the purchase of DECS uniforms from teachers cooperative/association is hereby encouraged.”

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Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Uncategorized