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‘Ilonggos are not corrupt; I am proud to be an Ilonggo’

“There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.” A. K. Antony

By Alex P. Vidal

WHILE others claim they felt “ashamed” when Iloilo was recently referred to as “a bird’s nest of corruption”, the former economic planning chief of the Iloilo provincial government said the issue did not shake his faith in the Ilonggos.
“I am still proud to be an Ilonggo and I am not ashamed to tell the world that I am a resident of Iloilo,” declared 77-year-old Teodoro “Teddy” Sumaray.
Aside from the economic planning portfolio, Sumaray also served for 13 years as press secretary and protocol officer of the late Iloilo Governor Conrado “Rading” Norada in the 70’s and late 80’s before the EDSA Revolution.
Sumaray does not believe that the Ilonggos are corrupt.
“Corruption is not a monopoly of one province (and city). Corruption is endemic in the entire country,” he pointed out even as he criticized the Iloilo City Council for declaring former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada as persona non grata on November 18.
“It (the declaration of persona non grata) was a misplaced reaction,” quipped Sumaray, a resident of Zarraga town but grew up in La Paz district, Iloilo City. “They (city councilors) should have just ignored him (Mejorada).”
Sumaray praised Councilor R Leonie “Boots” Gerochi, the lone member of the city council who did not vote against Mejorada, describing him as “respectful” and “always studying his plans.”
Sumaray was elected as president of the other faction of the Iloilo Press Club in 1990, the same year Mejorada was elected as president of the Iloilo Press and Radio Club (IPRC).
The two press clubs emerged after IBC TV-12 newscaster Bobby Rodriguez’s term as IPRC president expired.

PRINCIPLES

Mejorada and Sumaray had clashed over principles.
The two press clubs have been reunited.
Sumaray, who claimed he bested Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, 69, in their Junior Republic days at the Iloilo National High School in La Paz district in 1960, said, “Ilonggos should be proud of our heritage and history.”
He considers Senate President Franklin Drilon and Defensor-Santiago as among the best contemporary Ilonggo leaders in the national government.
Defensor-Santigao was the best campus writer in the country in 1961 and would have been our president in 1992, said Sumaray, the first scholar of then Iloilo Governor Jose Zulueta.
“We have more reasons to be proud of as Ilonggos rather than be ashamed,” added Sumaray.
He cited the following reasons:
-the first Supreme Court chief justice in the Philippines was Victorino Mapa, an Ilonggo;
-the longest-serving Supreme Court chief justice (24 years) in the Philippines was Ramon Avancena, an Ilonggo;
-the lawyer with the highest rating (96.75%) scored in the Philippine Bar Examination in history was Florenz D. Regalado, an Ilonggo;
-the first deputy speaker in the Philippine legislature under Pesident Sergio Osmena was Nicolas Jalandoni, an Ilonggo;
-the first most bombastic senator in the Philippines known as the “Colossus of the South” was Ruperto Montinola, an Ilonggo;
-the first doctor of pharmacology in the Philippines was Joaquin Maranon, an Ilonggo;
-the first woman civil engineer in the Philippines was Josette Garcia-Portigo, an Ilongga;
-the first elementary school established under the American educational system was the Baluarte Elementary School in Molo district, Iloilo City;

HIGH SCHOOL

The first national high school established outside Manila in 1902 was the Iloilo National High School in La Paz district, Iloilo City;
Sumaray said Iloilo was the pride of the entire country and considered as the best province during the Spanish era.
“We used to be called as the ‘Queen City of the South’ and Molo (district) was considered as the Athens of the Philippines,” explained Sumaray. “More boys from Molo studied in Europe than in the Philippines. Some of the best intellectuals in the country are Ilonggos.”
Graduated a cum laude in the Central Philippine University (CPU) College of Agriculture in 1964, Sumaray’s parents were Placido Poblador Sumaray, Sr. and Floreta Sequite-Sumaray.
He described his Ilonggo children as “all intellectuals” starting from eldest Roberto, a cum laude in the University of the Philippines School of Economics; only lady Rhodora Mae, former chief of staff of former Vice President Teopisto “Tito” Guingona; Arturo, a mathematics wizard; and Jose Manuel, an Information Technology (IT) expert.
Sumaray, born on May 7, 1937, described his wife, Rohita Robles, 73, as also an intellectual but a “low profile” person.

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in EDUCATION

 

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Boy Mejorada didn’t deserve it

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” Harvey Fierstein

By Alex P. Vidal

IF they call it a mortal sin, the only fault of Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada was he made a sweeping statement that Iloilo is a “bird’s nest of corruption” in the recent Senate blue ribbon committee hearing in Manila.
Columnist Wenceslao Mateo called it as “probably a slip of the tongue.”
His other “sin” was he dared but failed to topple the Goliath, considered as the most powerful and influential political demigod in the country next to President Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay when he fell short during the senate inquiry with his most important ammunition: evidence. (It’s too early to celebrate though since the Goliath is still facing a plunder case in the Ombudsman).
But this does not make Mejorada an unworthy person that would warrant a declaration of persona non grata or unacceptable person from the Iloilo City Council.
Mejorada is intelligent and old enough to defend himself amid the barrage of ridicule and scurrilous verbal and written assaults he has been getting from those agitated by his “bird’s nest of corruption” allegation, thus I am not defending him as if my next meal is at stake in this issue.

OVERKILL

In declaring Mejorada as persona non grata, the City Council may have committed overkill and abuse of authority.
Or they may not have done their homework and shot themselves in the foot as a result.
The issue here obviously is political. They don’t like Mejorada’s adversarial fulminations and they hate his guts.
But with all his shortcomings and imperfections, I have not heard of any instance that Mejorada has brought shame to the Ilonggos.
Feud with politicians in defense of his political patrons and media colleagues yes, but they weren’t in the level of demagoguery.
But I have witnessed how he brought honor to the Ilonggos and how he made many of his fellow journalists proud of him.
Former Iloilo Governor Neil D. Tupas Sr. would not hire him as provincial administrator if he was a flash in the pan or a fly in the ointment.
It was Mejorada’s exclusive article in the Asiaweek, an international magazine, in 1985 that prompted the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help hungry kids in Negros.
He was the first president of the Iloilo Press Club (1990-91) to be sworn in by no less than the late former President Corazon C. Aquino (I was a member of the IPC board).
Mejorada was the first outstanding fellow of the UP-Diliman College of Mass Communications-Konrad Adenauer Foundation-sponsored Graciano Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Fellowship in 1989 together with Diosa Labiste, a Magsaysay awardee for journalism and now UP-Diliman faculty member.
Only the best community journalists in the country are chosen to the Graciano Lopez-Jaena fellowship.

FIRST

Mejorada was the first and only Filipino back-to-back fellow in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1991-1992.
No Filipino or Asian journalist for that matter has duplicated his feat in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, where some of the best broadcast, TV and print journalists in the world hone their skills.
This was the man they brought to the guillotine and burned at stake for speaking out his mind, for sending a thunderstorm to the establishment; and for saying what others would not dare say before a nationally-televised “live” conference.
“I may not agree with what you said, but I will defend to death your right to say it,” Voltaire once said.
I may not agree with Boy Mejorada, my senior in community journalism, on many issues including some of his political statements, but I will defend to death his right to say them.
His rights to freely express himself about political and social issues are not only protected by the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, they are also enshrined in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to wit: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

POWERS

The powers vested upon members of the legislative body cannot overrule these paramount rights.
They are buttressed by the doctrine that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press and expression.
Because he went to the senate inquiry as a “former provincial administrator”, only few people knew that he really was, and is still an investigative journalist, thus he was pilloried and sneered at for mentioning that he is an investigative journalist who happened to fancy the Wikipedia.
A journalist, driven by passion and a clarion call for public service, will forever be a journalist.
Mejorada’s knack for investigative journalism did not end when he joined the government service first as Tupas’ executive assistant and subsequently as provincial administrator.
So many politicians, military officers and even members of the church and judiciary have openly and scandalously brought dishonor and shame to the city and province of Iloilo in the past, but they were never declared persona non grata.
Not even a rap in the knuckles.
Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo, a lawyer and the most senior member of the city council who authored the resolution against Mejorada, sounded like a dimwit and hypocrite when he asserted that because of Mejorada’s statement in the senate inquiry investors will now avoid Iloilo.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in POLITICS

 

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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.

INHIBIT

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.

GUEST

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.

MERCILESS

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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Can we just stop and talk awhile?

“Maybe then we could go for a ride drive down to the countryside. Get away from the gray and frenzied hurly-burly of the city life.” JOSE MARI CHAN

By Alex P. Vidal

THERE has been so much hatred and violence in the local, national and international news these past weeks.
Crimes, immorality, political bickering and graft and corruption have dominated the headlines and overshadowed so many positive events in the fields of foreign relations, education, arts, science and sports.
An Iloilo provincial official announcing to the world in a national event her displeasure toward her philandering husband and wishing in jest that he be injected with an anti-Ebola virus so that his womanizing days will come to a screeching halt.
A former Iloilo municipal mayor hauling her estranged husband to court for physical and verbal abuse.
A city hall consultant lambasted by his wife in the social media because of, again, womanizing.
Cain and Abel tearing each other apart publicly like real life enemies and dragging the name of the city mayor in their brutal mudslinging skirmish.

INSULTS

A city mayor and his erstwhile councilor allies swapping insults in their Facebook accounts and their respective sympathizers joining the fray.
A capitol bigwig accused of enriching himself at the expense of super-typhoon Yolanda victims and hiding his loot on an island.
A tough municipal mayor accused of ordering the murder of the assailants of his son, including the assailants’ family members who wanted to rescue the victims.
Tensions have exacerbated in the national level due to the endless muckraking of the main dramatis personae trying to malign each other in preparations for the mega political derby in 2016.
A governor apologizing not to his wife but to his younger mistress for the leaked sex photos and video that have caused a tidal wave of humiliation among their respective households before the national media.
A transvestite murdered by an American sailor for not revealing his/her true sexual preference.
Cops accused of “hulidap” and molesting women lawbreakers under their custody.

EBOLA

Filipino peacekeepers coming home from Ebola-hit Liberia treated like Ebola patients and driven away to a secluded Luzon municipality for quarantine as their superior officers and town officials squabble.
Even the social media is not spared from man’s hateful fulminations.
The rift between Senate President Frank Drilon and his former media consultant for Iloilo, Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada, has escalated in the national level when Mejorada filed plunder and graft raps against his former boss before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Drilon’s Iloilo sympathizers have banded together and impeached Mejorada’s integrity as a retaliatory act.
There is now a smorgasbord of name-calling, insults, character assassination and even physical threats.
The war has deepened and emotions are at fever-pitch.
Meanwhile, Mejorada continued to fire his artillery in the national media hopping from one TV and radio station to another in a bid to cripple Drilon in the bar of public opinion.
Tension exacerbates each time followers of both parties engage in unnecessary word wars and heated debates in the media programs and coffeeshops.
Why don’t they take a break first, stay calm and sober, stop and talk awhile?

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in POLITICS

 

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Killing Boy Mejorada will complicate matters

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

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Othello

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.”

INSIST

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.

DRUG LORD

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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