“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
— Winston Churchill
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — I dropped a “thank you” note for Iloilo City Councilor R Leone “Boots” N. Gerochi through the Facebook messenger because that’s the only way I could get in touch with him.
I told him I admire him for being such a broad-minded public official.
This was after he “shared” my article on his Facebook wall entitled, “Iloilo dads should get their hands off ‘Bato’ case” on February 2.
In that article, I criticized the Iloilo City Council for its “unanimous” resolution urging embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa “to stay put” (the exact words I used).
The article stated that the resolution, penned by Councilor Joshua Alim, “may be wise and symptomatic but not necessary, to say the least.” (READ: https://alexpvidal.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/iloilo-dads-should-get-their-hands-off-bato-case/)
As among those who “voted” for the resolution, Atty. Gerochi would have sneered at the article. The lest he would have done, if he were myopic-minded, was to ignore it. He didn’t.
By being sport and open-minded, he displayed a unique level of wisdom and understanding seldom seen among public officials today who are easily carried away by their emotions in a slightest media criticism.
Atty. Gerochi knew that the article was merely an opinion of a columnist or member of the Fourth Estate; and airing or expressing it in the free market of ideas like radio, TV, newspaper and blog falls within the ambit of freedom of the press and expression.
The city councilor knew that a public official is not supposed to bellyache and rant like a child if his acts are criticized or if the press chides him in relation to his functions and obligations in a public office.
Atty. Gerochi, son of well-respected criminal lawyer Romeo “Roming” Gerochi, our co-host in the original “Kape kag Isyu” cable TV program also aired “live” over RMN dyRI in 1996 together with Peter Jimenea, immediately caught my attention.
Here’s one public servant who understands and respects the job of a journalist; a public official who is perceptive and not onion-skinned; a city official who knows how to handle and value constructive criticism.
I started covering the Iloilo City Hall beat in 1989 during the turbulent reign of the late Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon until 1999, thus I am not familiar with Atty. Gerochi, who became city councilor in 2010 when I was already in Canada.
In the Philippines in 2014, I recall that the late former Iloilo Press Club president Teddy Sumaray once mentioned to me Atty. Gerochi’s name over a cup of coffee in the bakeshop of Iloilo City’s Atrium Mall.
“Alex, there is one city councilor, a new breed of politician who I really admire,” Mr. Sumaray volunteered. “He is the son of pare Roming and is also a lawyer. When I visited pare Roming in his office recently, this young lawyer was very polite and accommodating. I have not experienced the kind of politeness shown by any son of my friends in a very long time. He is a man to watch. Basi mag meyor ni sa pila ka adlaw (He could be a future mayor).”
We also trust that Atty. Gerochi’s colleagues, especially the senior members of the city council, won’t take the criticism of their job as public servants personally, and won’t consider the press as enemy but partner in nation building.