Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bomb joke

I am here at the airport waiting for my flight to Cebu.
A while ago I witnessed a checked in passenger accosted by airport security for uttering a bomb joke.
I myself heard the bomb joke that wasn't funny at all.
A companion passenger asked why their other companion went back to the check in counter.
The other passenger answered "Kasi merong bomba"
A little while a lady security approached and told the passenger he has committed a secuirty breach and that bomb jokes in airports are strictly prohibited.
The passenger turned pale and began to apologize no end.
The prohibition against uttering bomb jokes in airports must be taken seriously.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Journey in Manila "Don't Stop Believin'"

Here's Journey's signature song....

Journey in Manila "Open Arms"

The new, extended arrangement of Journey's signature power ballad "Open Arms" sang at the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds on March 14, 2009.

Journey in Manila "Faithfully"

Journey in Manila When You Love A Woman

Here's Arnel Pineda singing his version of "When You Love A Woman" during the concert at the SM Mall of Asia March 14, 2009. This song became a hit the late 1990's, when Steve Perry briefly returned to the band.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From watchdogs to dog-watchers

In all the discussions raised against the right-of-reply bills, so far 2nd district Rep. George Arnaiz advances what---to my mind---is the most compelling argument against the legislative proposal.
There are bills pending in the senate and the house of representatives that would, in a nutshell, compel newspapers to publish replies to published criticisms, under pain of fines.
The bills require newspapers to publish the replies providing equal space and, in the same prominence that the criticisms were published.
According to Rep. Arnaiz, the bills are violative of the due process clause of the constitution.
He argues that compelling newspapers to publish replies free-of-charge is an economic deprivation of a newspaperman’s property without due process of law.
Arnaiz’ constitutional argument differs from others that are focused on the constitutional guarantee to freedom of the press.
Here, Arnaiz showed wisdom because he has sounded an economic reality of newspapermen---specially community newspapermen---even if he has never been newspaperman.
You see, from the very start, the premise is that newspapers have to be a business.
It is not by choice.
It is by force of circumstance.
You can study all forms and sizes of newspapers in the free world--- from the biggest (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) to the smallest tabloids.
The common denominator is that newspapers have to operate as a business.
When one runs or operates a newspaper, there are inherent costs.
The publisher or owner has to take care of the costs of the newsprint, the ink, the labor costs (printers, composers, news-gatherers, editors, administrative personnel, etc) the electricity costs, chemicals, etc.
Where will the publisher get the money to cover the costs?
The publisher is not a government official, many of whom get money from kick backs, commissions, pork barrel, horse-trading, etc.
The publisher is also unlike the Red Cross which can receive donations, or a foundation that lives on charity.
So, everything you read in the newspaper---from page one to the last page---money has to be generated to make it a going concern.
In the case of columnists, they are chosen to write freely.
But their writings occupy space.
For every space that a columnist occupies for his or her article, there is a corresponding cost borne by the publisher or newspaper owner.
It is the columnist who, above anyone else, criticizes public official actions.
That is his job.
That is a very vital element in our democracy.
Checks and balance.
Here come these bills that say that for every criticism published, there must be compelled publishing of a reply.
Note that the reply should be of equal space, and of similar prominence.
If a columnist criticizes a public official for his official act, the bill compels the newspaper to publish the reply.
The foremost question is (actually this was my very first question):
Who pays for the space used-up or occupied by the reply?
Free? Libre? Bokong?
From the stand point of the newspaper publisher or owner, the government is exacting an economic burden because of what one of his columnists wrote.
By the way newspaper publishers or owners are separate from columnists. They are usually two different animals. (The bills don’t even distinguish)
So it is a double whammy for the publisher or owner.
The publisher bears the cost of the space for the columnist.
Now, if the bills become law, the publisher will also have to bear the cost of the reply.
Loosely speaking, double jeopardy (for lack of better description or analogy).
As a consequence, the newspaper publisher will start telling your political columnists: “Stop criticizing public officials because the cost will double”.
What is the effect?
For one, the corrupt will be happy.
The incompetent and the inept will rejoice.
No one will expose them anymore.
Newspapers will no longer be “watchdogs”.
Instead, they will become “dog watchers”.
Goodbye press freedom.
The publisher—specially the provincial publishers---will start telling columnists to just write about why the sky is blue, or why the sun is hot, or why cockfighting uses roosters and not hens.
That way, by staying away from controversial stories, the publisher can evade costly replies, and devote his newspaper space to generate income to cover the cost of the column.
I believe George Arnaiz saw this imminent and, should I say dangerous, anomaly.
And his argument has jurisprudential precedence.
Let me reinforce it, if I may.
In the case of Miami Herald Publishing Co. versus Tornillo decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 1974 (418 U.S. 241), the court struck down as unconstitutional a right of reply bill in Florida.
The supreme court said: “The Florida statute exacts a penalty on the basis of the content of a newspaper. The…penalty resulting from the compelled printing of a reply is exacted in terms of the cost in printing and composing time and materials and in taking up space that could be devoted to other material the newspaper may have preferred to print”
In simplified but superb legal articulation, the U.S. Supreme Court said: Faced with the penalties ... editors might well conclude that the safe course is to avoid controversy. Therefore,… political and electoral coverage would be blunted or reduced.
If I may add, a blunted or reduced political discussion would undermine the constitutional guarantee to freedom of the press.
If these right-of-reply bills are passed into law, there is a chance that the editor-publisher of this paper---to avoid added costs---may instruct me to just write about my inconsequential childhood, my boring past love-lives, or whether during my adolescence there was ever a time I entertained gay tendencies, or to just be creative without being controversial.
Well, I’m already pondering on that possibility.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An evening with Journey

Tonight is the night.
There is no other night.
The waiting is over.
We will have an evening with Journey, and with Arnel Pineda.
We are all set.
We are huge fans of Journey.
Me of the Steve Perry Days.
Now with Arnel Pineda.
This is going to be Journey's first concert in Manila.
We will re-live the rock music of the eighties.
It will be held at the concert grounds of SM Mall of Asia.
Show starts at 8 p.m.
We thought we would never see Journey live.
But we never stopped believin'

Monster in our midst

Everything has changed in Dumaguete City.
The peace, the security, are gone.
I got a call early this week about the bomb scare at the Dumaguete hall of justice, while it was happening.
Lawyers, court employees, litigants were scampering to safety. Judges were seen getting out of the courtrooms, while still wearing their judicial robes, the caller told me.
I immediately alerted the news team.
I think we have to start accepting the realty that Dumaguete city is no longer a safe place to be, unlike what it was when we were growing up.
Growing up as a kid, you can walk along the streets of Alfonso XIII, without fear of anything.
The phrase “bomb threat” was even unheard of.
Now in Dumaguete, extrajudicial killings have become a cottage industry.
Some people brush this aside and accept it, saying “Ok lang, criminal bitaw”, “Ok lang, drug pusher bitaw”
Politicians, aside from keeping quiet, turn a blind eye.
Hear-no-evil, see-no-evil.
It seems they accept extrajudicial killings, as a short-cut method of dispensing justice.
Perhaps, some politicians’ children fell victim of prohibited drugs, that is why they don’t lift any finger in stopping extrajudicial killings.
Unfortunately, it seems that tolerated vigilantes have metamorphosed into a much deadlier monster.
We are now unsure whether the so-called vigilantes, welcomed by some, have graduated to become hired guns.
Being a hired gun is a more logical career-advancement, from being a mere executioner.
At least, there is money in being a hired gun.
I fear what has been tolerated as a necessary evil, has transformed
into an uncontrollable monster.
The 'solution' has become the problem.
Who will now determine who deserves to die extra judicially?
Not the courts anymore.
Who will determine whether the target is a criminal?
Not the courts anymore.
It is now the one who hires an assassin who determines who must be extra-judicially exterminated like a cockroach.
That is a total breakdown of the rule of law.
Now, with the recent bomb scare, the local judiciary is not being spared.
The judiciary is the strongest pillar in maintaining order in society.
If the judiciary becomes ineffective because of a breakdown in security, law and order, anarchy will ensue.
Beware, I think were seeing a monster in our midst.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

What is happening to our city, mayor?

Many of us perhaps have asked the question as to why unsolved killings have gone unabated in Dumaguete City.
My personal answer is simple: A failure of governance.
And the one who should be accountable is nobody else but the city mayor of Dumaguete City, Mayor Agustin R. Perdices.
Sometimes, I don’t feel like paying my taxes because I feel I do not get my money’s worth.
Mayor Perdices must, at the very least, provide an explanation, directly to the people as to why unsolved extrajudicial killings continue with impunity in this city.
Even a single loss of life must be fully explained, to the public’s satisfaction.
The way I see it, mayor Perdices’ attitude is playing deaf and dumb. No explanation.
I will trace back history and re-phrase the question posed by the late Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez in his hospital bed after surviving an assassination attempt in 1983. Pelaez had asked: What is happening to our country, general?
So we ask: “What is happening to our city, mayor?”
If you would notice, Perdices is an accountable official who has not accounted for what is happening to the city he is sworn to serve.
We have not heard anything from him.
If we look at the local government code, the overall responsibility of keeping the peace is with the mayor.
As the chief executive of the city, direct responsibility for peace and order lies with the city mayor.
Atop his desk, U.S. President Harry S. Truman placed an inscription: “The buck stops here”
In other words, as chief executive, he cannot pass the buck to anybody because he assumes responsibility for the way the country is to be governed.
But not mayor Perdices.
As a matter of fact, he is so onion-skinned, that he is reportedly mad at this newspaper when his picture was placed nearby the photo of the body of physician Ami Madamba who was murdered in cold-blood.
That is not the issue, mayor. The issue is your failure, as mayor, to solve these crimes in the city.
Perdices has been mayor for---how many years? Seventeen years? Where has he steered this promising city?
I fear that Dr. Madamba’s death will be trivialized to a mere statistic, in addition to a growing list of prominent persons whose murders have remained unsolved.
Among them are the late city treasurer Erlinda Tumongha, Angeling Lajato.
If the murders of the mayor’s own department head, and one of his closest friends cannot be solved, how do we expect the murders of ordinary people be solved?
Let us write, for the mayor’s reminder, his duties under the local government code.
He is supposed to be paid by our money to perform these duties.
The mayor is duty bound to formulate a peace and order plan for the city, and upon its approval, implement the same.
Where is this plan? How is its implementation? How effective has it been?
The mayor is legally tasked to exercise general and operational control and supervision over the police.
He is legally tasked to call upon appropriate law enforcement agencies to suppress disorder, riot, lawless violence.
He is tasked to apprehend violators of the law when public interest so requires.
He is legally tasked to issue executive orders for the faithful and appropriate enforcement and execution of laws and ordinances.
The failure of governance is the result of years of mis-management.
How many city officials have been suspended for graft-related issues under mayor Perdices’ watch?
Not only that. We have received documents showing that the tentacles of corruption have reached right at the doorsteps of the city mayor’s office.
The city government must account for the wasteful spending.
These funds could have been properly channeled to provide our police with resources to fight criminality.
Why buy T-shirts for parades?
Why even try to appropriate funds to buy cell phones for city officials?
Why use people’s money for private purposes like nose repair, and airplane tickets?
With these wasteful spending, what comes to my mind is that mythical story of emperor Nero playing the fiddle while Rome was burning.
The local press has been performing its role to society by informing our people about the wrong things that have been happening in government.
We report, hoping that things will change for the better.
To our disappointment, it seems things have changed for the worst.
What is the result of government mis-management?
Lives are unnecessarily lost.
Precious lives of students, government workers, doctors, senior citizens, ordinary citizens.
There is a wave of uncontrollable, unstoppable crimes.
Criminals are lording it over.
The unabated killings in the city are a result of a failure of
We are very frustrated.
Very disappointed.
Very outraged.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rape is harmless fun, says lady lawyer

My high school friend Anna, shared a news story of a lady lawyer in Bahrain who defended her accused-clients by arguing that rape (by minors) is a 'harmless' fun. Here is the story:

Rape 'harmless fun' says lawyer

The alleged abduction and gang rape of a woman was dismissed as harmless fun by a female defence lawyer in a Bahrain trial yesterday.

Three men accused of the attack should be acquitted because young people often commit crimes for "fun", without criminal intent, said lawyer Fatima Al Hawaj.

The men, aged 19, 20 and 21, are accused at the High Criminal Court of snatching a Filpina off the street as she walked home from work at night, last September.

They allegedly drove her to an isolated area in Askar, gang raped her and then abandoned her, after stealing her mobile phone and purse.

All three deny abduction, rape and theft.

Ms Al Hawaj told judges that her clients were youngsters and that "minors' often committed crimes for fun, without ill-intent.

"It is general knowledge that youngsters commit crimes for the fun of it and not with the intention to harm others and I request the court to take that into consideration and clear my clients of the charges," she argued.

The 24-year-old woman failed to show up in court yesterday for cross-examination despite knowing about the session.

Attorney Mohammed Al Mutawa stepped in mid-session, saying he represented her and pledged to bring her to the next hearing.


"I am representing her in this case and she knows about the hearing, but couldn't make it due to personal reasons. I pledge to personally bring her to the next session," he told judges.

The woman was allegedly walking home from the hotel she works in Manama when the men, who were driving a rented car, followed her.

Prosecutors claim they grabbed her hands and dragged her into their car, drove her to a secluded area in Askar and gang-raped her.

The men then allegedly stole her mobile phone and purse, which contained cash and dumped her in the middle of the desert. She later managed to identify her abductors' car and the rape kit results were positive for the defendants' DNA, said the prosecution. Judges adjourned the case to April 12, to summon the woman for cross-examination.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chronicle reader monitors

A reader of Negros Chornicle on-line regularly points out some errors, and defficiencies of our on-line publication. We appreciate this very much because many times, we don't get to see our own mistakes. It takes the eyes from afar to notice it.
So thanks to H. Joseph "Joe" Dobrowolski.
We will try to refer the matter to the web admin.
Here is Joe's email:

Just a quick reminder:
1) 18 January link give a "page can't be found" dialog box
2) The current PDF copy link and the archives 22 February link BOTH give you the previous weeks paper.

Keep the news coming!

Joe D

Frenchman looking for Ely

A French national emailed me and is looking for my father's email:

I'm Laurent (Lorenzo) Guillaume, a french guy that met with great
pleasure MM Eli Dejaresco and Lionel Chong during my vacations in
Dumaguete in year 2002 for the last time.
Between other good moments that we shared together, we used to play
frontennis in S.U. court.
I hope they're all doing fine now.
At that time, I was a young radio journalist and I'm now, for 4 years,
at the head of a small french radio station.
I'd like to reach Eli Dejaresco (your father?) to exchange a bit about
life generally speaking and also about radio.
I got your adress from your blog, which link I got from the Negros
Chronicle's website.
Could you please send me Eli's e-mail adress, or to tell him that I try
to reach him?
Thank you
Laurent Guillaume

Picture of Zoilo D. Dejaresco Jr.

Olga emailed me seeking apicture of my grandfather Zoilo D. Dejaresco Jr.
He died June 8, 2002.
I got his book and extracted my lolo's picture.
Here is Olga's email:

I found your blog site through yahoo search engine. I am looking for a picture of Jun dejaresco. I can't find any though my ex-boss, aumentado, mentioned before that sir Jun was not fond of picture takng.
My child's assignment is to give 10 great boholanos with their lives background and pictures, and I want sir jun to be included. I hope you can send me a copy. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Can't wait for Journey

Filipino die hard fans of Journey can't wait for ther March 14 concert, their first in the country.
It will be held at the grounds of SM Mall of Asia at the reclamation area.
We already bought our tickets at Missimo.
Joshua is so excited he keeps on looking at the tickets.
This is his very first time to watch a concert, and he is happy he is watching his favorite band.
My tito Bobong from New York emailed an Associated Press photo of Journey with Arnel Pineda during a press conference in Manila.