Journos in hot water
The case of a lawyer-broadcaster accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in downtown Cebu City is said to have hit a snag purportedly because the victim’s mother failed to show up at the Parian Police Station to press charges against the suspect. I’m not at all surprised by this development, and neither are my media colleagues familiar with cases that are brought to their attention.
Journalists can’t help but reach out to the victims especially when they come from the margins of society. When they begin to recall their painful experiences in detail, the program anchor or news reporter cannot look away. Moved with pity, he mobilizes his contacts in government agencies to speed up the wheels of justice. Apart from that, he will also alert contacts around civil society groups and private organizations for logistical assistance in behalf of the victim.
But just when the case begins to attract media scrutiny and arouse public interest with the police about ready to file the case, the victim becomes scarce and disappears from public view. Meanwhile, the controversy remains hot copy until it is overtaken by a more lurid and controversial case.
Many years ago, a businessman and city official made headlines after he maltreated a dock worker over a mistake committed in the workplace.
I was then anchoring a public affairs program over dyRF and I recall that the victim was so aggrieved that I was prompted to call a human rights lawyer to help him. The case became a daily news staple and put more pressure on the erring businessman and city official, who kept on denying he punched and kicked the unfortunate worker. Sources say he was drunk when the incident happened.
Accusations, reactions and denials were coming back and forth from the victim and the suspect until crunch time came. Police authorities who were also under pressure to push the case before the prosecutor’s office tried to assist the victim, but he just vanished into the trees so to speak.
Speculations then were rife that he was pressured to withdraw the case for a thousand reasons.
I earned the ire of the bizman/city official as a result, but I’m fortunate to have incurred only dagger looks from him whenever we bump into each other in some public events. Looking back, I couldn’t blame the victim because it was a matter of survival for him.
However, rape is a terrible crime far worse than physical assault. Let the wheels of justice turn on this particular case.
Meanwhile, the Capitol’s Public Information Officer Jason Monteclar and his assistant Jethro Marvin Bacolod are in hot water for allegedly violating RA 3019, a.k.a. the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The case stemmed from complaints lodged by broadcasters Arnel Bacalan and Rico Osmeña, who accused Monteclar and Bacolod of receiving double compensation. In the case of Monteclar, reportedly as manager of dyCM where he is receiving a salary of P18,000 monthly, while his assistant Bacolod is said to be receiving P17,000 a month from the station. This, while they are both working full-time in the Capitol’s Public Information Office.
If reports are true, it would not be surprising if station dyCM cornered the Capitol budget for radio blocktime because you have a station manager who is the PIO of the local government at the same time. (Blocktime programs refer to airtime paid for by individuals or parties to advance a particular product, cause or advocacy).
Some quarters are saying that Arnel and Rico are chafing (Arnel belongs to a competing station, while Rico is also connected with dyCM) because Monteclar failed to spread the Capitol gravy to other radio stations.
That is beside the issue.
Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide and the Provincial Board should look into this controversy because it can be a potential political issue. The PIO in question and his underling cannot be holding two positions at the same time, one in the Capitol and one in the private sector, without getting into trouble for breach of RA 3019.
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