Tag Archives: Iloilo Convention Center

We mourn Boy Mejorada’s conviction for libel

“If you call your opponent a politician, it’s grounds for libel.”

–Mark Russell


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — As a community journalist, I am personally saddened by the decision of Pasay City, Philippines Regional Trial Court Branch 188 Presiding Judge Rowena Nieves A. Tan to convict former Iloilo Press and Radio Club president Manuel “Boy” Mejorada for libel.
The case was filed by Senator Franklin Drilon in 2014 after Mejorada, a former Iloilo provincial administrator, criticized the “overpriced” P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and the “anomalous” use of the senator’s pork barrel fund in his Iloilo City projects.
A libel case in the Philippines carries a penalty of imprisonment.
A convicted journalist will be cuffed like an ordinary criminal, a blot in the image of a democratic state that prides itself as having the “freest press” in the world.
Mejorada, who lives in Iloilo City, has been sentenced to spend time in prison for up to four years.


If the Motion for Reconsideration to be filed by his lawyer within 15 days since the sentence was out will be denied, a warrant for Mejorada’s arrest is imminent.
He will have to travel from Iloilo City to Pasay City just to be placed behind bars.
This is the kind of “agony” and inconvenience enemies of press freedom would like to happen to purveyors of truth and adherents of transparency in government.
We are worried because Mejorada, who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years now and a senior in media profession, will have to deal with his case in a faraway Pasays City in Metro Manila, considered as “a lion’s den.”
If this could happen to a veteran journalist, any media practitioner who will anger with commentaries and reports powerful and influential political figures in the country like the former senate president, could also suffer the same fate.
In a democratic country like the Philippines, the last thing people would want to see is a news or opinion writer or anchorman being manacled and padlocked in jail for exercising his freedom of speech and expression.


We are aware that a libel case is not supposed to prosper against members of the Fourth Estate in the Philippines.
We are not prejudging the Motion for Reconsideration to be filed by Mejorada in the sala of Judge Tan, and, possibly in the Court of Appeals (CA), but there have been so many Supreme Court rulings in the past that reversed libel convictions involving journalists in the lower courts–from RTC to CA.
Even public officials like Drilon know that in Philippine jurisprudence, no Supreme Court decision was ever decided with finality against newsmen accused of libel.
Even the late former President Corazon Aquino, who hauled to court the late famous journalists Max Soliven and Luis Beltran in one of the most celebrated libel cases in the country, lost in the Supreme Court.

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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in MEDIA, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS


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Ilonggos don’t want a repeat of Manila film center tragedy

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Karl Marx

By Alex P. Vidal

WE are worried that the incessant and continuous pressures applied on contractors to finish the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meetings might result in another construction catastrophe.

God forbid.

The Manila film center tragedy is still fresh on our mind.

Because of pressures to finish the project before the international film festival hosted by Manila on January 18, 1981, construction of the $25-million building was expedited when delays hampered the project.

Delays have also been experienced in the ICC project with no less than APEC National Organizing Committee (NOC) head, Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., expressing concern during a visit in Iloilo City February 24.

“Until it is built, it is a concern. Once it is finish, the concern is gone,” Paynor announced shortly after being informed that the main venue of the meetings is still being constructed.

Iloilo City will host two APEC ministerial meetings in September and October.


We understand Paynor’s concern but we need to have faith in the capability of the contractors to beat the deadline without sacrificing quality.

In the ill-fated Manila film center, the project required 4,000 workers as the deadline drew nearer.

Under pressure, they worked in three shifts, around the clock.

Tragedy struck when the upper scaffold collapsed, sending workers falling into wet cement at 3’oclock in the morning on November 17.

Some of them were impaled on upright steel bars, according to witnesses whose testimonies were not included in the newspapers that carried the news.

Media was under control during Martial Law.

Then First Lady Imelda Marcos was immediately informed about the tragedy and was told the recovery of the bodies would take a lot of time.

As many as 169 bodies were allegedly covered with cement when Mrs. Marcos ordered the construction to continue as planned so as not to incur further delays.


Some of those who fell into the cement may have been buried alive, critics of the Marcos dictatorship claimed.

We asked Mrs. Marcos about this incident when she campaigned for president in 1992 and she called the story as a “blatant lie.”

She told us there was only a single casualty and that enemies of the Marcoses “bloated” the figure “out of malice and out of spite.”

We read the news in the Daily Express (we had a daily copy in the house) and the article did not mention the death of more than one worker.

Independent chronicler of historical events, Lisa Waller Rogers, claimed that “the full story has never been told, as news crews, rescuers, and ambulance teams were barred from the scene for nine full hours, while the government, under martial law, prepared its official version of events, censoring all news and silencing all witnesses.”


Mrs. Marcos, Rogers said, wanted Manila to rival Cannes as a world film capital. She described the project as “grandiose and expensive; the building on Manila Bay was designed to look like the Parthenon.”

Hilmarc’s Construction also bagged the second phase of the 3,700-seater convention only two weeks ago.

The Small and Medium Enterprise meeting is from Sept. 21 to 25 while the High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy is from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.

Like the international film festival that the Manila film center hosted in 1981, Ilonggos are also excited to host part of the APEC meetings this year barring unforeseen construction and political circumstances.

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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!


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Beware of Miriam in ICC senate hearing

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

By Alex P. Vidal

NOW that Senator Teopisto Guingona III has set the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) project on November 17, the occasion will serve as a moment of truth for both the accused Senate President Franklin Drilon, et al and their accuser, Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada.
Although the merits of the serious charges Mejorada thrown at Drilon, et al will be tackled in the formal investigation to be initiated by the Office of the Ombudsman, the senate committee hearing is always considered by the public as the primordial barometer to spot the vagabonds, the tearjerkers, and the ninny lobcocks.
Like in the other high profile senate investigations, we expect hearing proponent, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, to again grab public attention and bring those invited to appear in the hearing in the edge of their seats.
It was Santiago who sponsored a resolution calling for the inquiry after Mejorada’s well-publicized filing of plunder and graft raps against Drilon, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and other Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials in relation to the P700-million project in Iloilo City.


Now that Drilon has announced he was willing to inhibit himself, we expect him to skip the hearing and monitor the event on TV somewhere else.
Of course, people would love to see Drilon’s presence so he can dispute the allegations leveled against him by his former Twitter accountant handler and media consultant for Iloilo.
But based on all indications this early, it looks like the senate inquiry will unravel without the presence of the senate president.
Mejorada, the most excited person in the entire imbroglio, has expressed willingness to appear in the hearing even before Guingona announced the November 17 date.
Mejorada’s face to face encounter with the fire-spewing Santiago, a fellow Iloilo resident, is now inevitable, barring unforeseen circumstances.
As she is wont to do, Santiago, 69, a former trial court judge, usually starts her spiel with a fierce lecture, or a cross-examination-like juggernaut that usually leaves the invited guests immobile, confused and flabbergasted, especially if they are imbeciles and intellectually inept.
There is a popular saying in the gallery that if there are rats inside your stomach and you can easily be intimidated by a staccato of words and high tones, you better stay away from the senate committee hearing lorded over by Santiago.


To an ordinary invited guest, Santiago always sounds intimidating even if she asks the most basic questions such as “can you state your complete name and other personal circumstances?” and “Why you are here and what is your role in this committee investigation?”
Mejorada should not expect a joy ride once Santiago starts to open her laser-laced mouth during the hearing.
It’s always better to be prepared ahead of time than to be zapped with shockwaves of unexpected questions that will catch a person flat-footed.
He should anticipate harsh and even gruesome questions especially about his background as a media practitioner and as a government official.
Mejorada’s past and present links with politicians—winners and losers in the previous elections—are also expected to be brought up.
Battle-scarred and intrepid, Mejorada knows where he is heading to.
We all know that Santiago is deadly when it comes to marital and extra-marital affairs.


She is merciless even the way she describes innocent individuals caught in between the scandals.
Her sharp tongue has tormented a lot of prominent and little-known individuals who found themselves like being thrown into the lion’s den or like being mauled black and blue by the spinach-eating Popeye after the hearing.
Look what she did to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and his concubines (plural).
Drilon’s co-accused will also suffer from emotional and intellectual discombobulation if they go to war unmanned and unprepared.
For sure, the hearing will be a battle of not only credibility, but also of documents.
There are allegations of overprice in the ICC project, financed partly by Drilon’s Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), and Mejorada insists he is determined and ready to prove it.
Drilon claimed there was no any anomaly in his pet project for Iloilo City.
Let’s proceed with the senate committee hearing.

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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in POLITICS


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Killing Boy Mejorada will complicate matters

“Murder’s out of tune,
And sweet revenge grows harsh.”


By Alex P. Vidal

WHILE walking inside the La Paz Public Market in La Paz district, Iloilo City last Monday night, I overheard in a loud radio set inside a billiards hall former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada while being interviewed by Aksyon Radyo anchorman Joecel Banias.
Mejorada said he was ready to appear in the Senate blue ribbon committee that will investigate the alleged overpriced construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).
Mejorada has filed plunder and graft complaints against Senate President Franklin Drilon, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and six other government officials and private individuals in relation to the P700-million project before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Although Drilon, who hails from Molo district, Iloilo City, has expressed willingness to inhibit himself in the soon-to-be announced committee hearing prompted by a resolution filed by fellow Ilonggo Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Mejorada said he prefers to see Drilon in the senate hearing “so we can discuss the issue face to face.”


Mejorada insisted there was overprice in the mega project and respondent Drilon must be held accountable for the alleged loss of P488 million from the coffers of the government.
Drilon has denied the allegations of his former Twitter handler and media consultant for Iloilo.
When Banias asked Mejorada if he has received threats in his life considering that he stirred the hornet’s nest involving big names in Philippine politics, Mejorada, who first served as executive assistant of former Iloilo Governor Neil D. Tupas before being promoted as provincial administrator in 2006, quipped: “Ila man ina grupo a (It’s also their own group).”
Mejorada said “God will protect me” if indeed He believes in Mejorada’s crusade against graft and corruption.
During the 2013 local elections when he campaigned against Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, Mejorada claimed that certain characters, some of them members of drug syndicates, wanted to kill him.
Some of those who allegedly wanted him dead aired their threats via the social media and even showed the weapon they intended to use against Mejorada.


He identified an alleged drug lord in Brgy. Muelle Loney, City Proper as one of those who are itching to shoot him if their paths will cross.
Mejorada walked with a bodyguard most of the time until after Mabilog was reelected overwhelmingly.
If Mejorada was saying that the persons allegedly interested to kill him belong to “the same group”, was he insinuating that some of those included in the plunder and graft raps were allies of the drug lords who wanted him dead during the heat of the 2013 local elections?
We are concerned that some of Mejorada’s enemies might take advantage of his rift with Drilon, et al and harm him (God forbid) while he is in the thick of battle against the respondents of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) brouhaha.
When so many people want to eliminate a certain individual, chances are his most recent enemies will be blamed.
We know that Drilon, a national figure and a potential presidential aspirant, is not a violent person.
We can’t speak the same for other characters caught in the web of the imbroglio and those sympathetic to the senate big man.
Now that the issue has exploded into horrific proportions and is now known worldwide, killing or attempting to kill Mejorada at this time will only complicate matters.

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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in POLITICS


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