Viewpoint : Grinding scammers down


By Juan Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: November 24, 2009

“Example is the school of mankind,” parliamentarian Edmund Burke wrote. “They will learn from no other.”

Solita Collas-Monsod’s columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer document how the Arroyo regime embeds scams that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos and tycoon Lucio Tan cobbled. They’re examples of first-rate investigative reporting. Journalists and mass communication students have another model to learn from.

Monsod’s work is critically relevant. “We’re moving towards the new impatient culture of a journalism of assertion, rather than verification,” Harvard University’s Bill Kovacs writes. “The new journalism (presses) to go on with the story before going through the discipline of editing.”

“Journalism of unfiltered assertion” is the alternate model. “It (won’t) separate fact from spin, argument from innuendo. It exacts too high a cost from society … ruthless respect for facts remains journalism’s most enduring strength.”

The Inquirer published Monsod’s columns—“Tortured claims” to “Overpowering stench”—from October through early November this year. They probe into the P51-billion Sandiganbayan Civil Case 005. The meticulous research display “ruthless respect for facts.”

Tan wrote Marcos to wangle a P310 million standby letter of credit on March 26, 1977. That was “a Saturday,” Monsod wrote with an eye for the telling detail. Monday, Tan had P310 million on hand. The “PNB” single borrower limit then was P200 million. Another damming detail.

The dictator had 60 percent stake in seven Tan’s firms, Imelda Marcos testified. However, “Tan never delivered the shares of stock to FM’s estate in accordance with the deed of assignment.” Did one’s unexplained wealth morph into another’s unanticipated windfall following “People Power”?

The careful authentication reflects journalism’s First Commandment: “Thou shalt check, then recheck, your facts.” Thanks to Monsod, one now understands Imelda’s choice of epithets. “That beer bottle-peddler,” she once dubbed Tan.

The columns go beyond trashing historical carcasses. They reveal that the Arroyo regime cloned the Marcos-Tan corruption. Tuloy ang ligaya. What does such betrayal mean?

At this storm’s center stands Mariano Tanenglian, Tan’s brother who acted as financial consigliere” for decades. “Tanenglian knows where all the bodies are.” He offered to sign in return for immunity, as did earlier other Marcos cronies. Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera and Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Camilo Sabio rejected the offer.

Devanadera instead cashiered PCGG lawyer Catalino Generillo for painstakingly gathering the evidence. If Tanenglian wants to testify, he shouldn’t set conditions, PCGG’s Ricardo Abcede piously insisted. Earlier, this commissioner was at a loss why the public howled delicadeza when he partied with defendant Imelda.

“Why does Devanadera want to lose the case against Tan?” Monsod wondered. I’d ask the justice secretary first, of course. But, then that’d be Devanadera too.

Reminds one of Ombudsman Aniano Desierto. He was skewered for filing cases rigged to fail. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is an “Aniano Desierto in skirts,” critics say. History repeats itself as a farce.

“What will the President (Macapagal-Arroyo) do?” Nothing—except probably appoint Devanadera to a Supreme Court crammed with her appointees. PCGG’s Sabio? He’s busy denying junketing with his family, all over Europe. Who foots the bill?

“You journalists live in the reality-based community,” a senior official told editor Bill Kovacs. “That’s not the way the world works anymore. We create our own reality ....We’re history’s actors.... And you’ll just study what we do.”

“Yet, today’s generation is empowered by technology to instantly tap into wells of information,” Kovacs said at Boston University. “You can challenge history’s actors. To survive you must ask: Is the information verified? ... Help us learn the new role of citizen journalist and gatekeeper of reliable information.”

How many Filipinos are potential citizen journalists?

Worldwide, eight out of every 10 persons on social networks, like “YouTube,” “Twitter “ or “Multiply,” are Filipinos, Jane Paredes of Smart Communications says. And 70.4 million Filipinos heft cellphones.

Will 70.4 million journalists verify facts, Sun Star’s president Jess Garcia asked a Cebu Press Freedom Week seminar. A columnist like Amando Doronila does. Or will we have 70.4 million who merely assert.

Tomorrow’s “citizen journalist” must be the “gatekeeper of reliable information” if new media is to be a force for reform and service. And work by investigative journalists like Monsod, Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism or Yvonne Chua of Vera Files, among others, set the parameters for this new tool.

Also, no substitute has yet been found for journalists of integrity. Thus, the late Alan Chalkley of Financial Times would drill into cub reports the pig-Latin motto: Nil Illegitimati Carborundum. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”


Anonymous said...

Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III [Admin-3]

“I ask for more time to evaluate (the evidence). So
far there’s no evidence of rape. There was also no beheading.” -
Justice Sec. Agnes Devanadera

Well there sure is hell of a LOT of evidence of KILLING.

Anonymous said...

is the justice secretary downplaying murder ??? This is absurd. Ok, there's no rape and beheading. HELLO!!!! Wake Up !!!! Someone committed murder, isn't that enough of an evidence to go after the Ampatuans ???!!! Damn.
3 hours ago · Report

Anonymous said...

Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III[Admin-3]Nicolas, hehe, don't worry, I"m not arguing with your or saying you are wrong, merely debating the merits of either action. We can wait until the outrage and international pressure has eased (remember garci? remember jun lozada?) like they hope it will, or we can make an arrest now, with what evidence we have, and try to build a case from... See More there.

Here's a point in fact, if Ampatuan and his henchmen had been arrested quickly, they could have at least been tested for gun powder residue, searched for evidence that they were at the scene of the crime, and been placed in a lineup for witnesses to identify. What do we have now? Several days have gone by and each day the trail goes cold, all to the benefit of the suspects and their benefactors.

Anonymous said...

Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III “...he is a monster. They are monsters. My wife's
private parts were slashed four times, after which they fired a bullet into
it. They speared both of her eyes, shot both her breasts, cut off her feet,
fired into her mouth. I could not begin to describe the manner by which they
treated her.”
- Ismael Mangudadatu

Anonymous said...

Lissa Castro Siagato Justice Devanadera..even if there`s no rape and beheading..the fact remains that this is a barbaric act..no amount of fair justice can tame the monsters who did this..isnt it about time we change the way we deal with the devils in Mindanao?

Anonymous said...

bakit nandito si noynoy at si ampatuan? magkaibigan ba sila?

Anonymous said...

Kathleen Garcia, a current student at the University of the East, said that since much of the issues that plague our country are not in school books, they were required to bring newspapers to school as well as to report on them while asking them to form their own opinions.

Kathleen’s mother Liza, who works at a call center, would tell her to read not just one newspaper but several and to read the opinion columns that dissect them further. “We are aware that some reports might not contain the whole truth so it’s always good to see all the sides,” said the daughter. “Tulad ng ZTE Scandal – paano nangyari ito at bakit? Ano yung implications sa ating bansa?”

Kathleen, who came from a small high school in Caloocan, was suddenly face to face with even bigger concerns once she stepped in UE’s Recto campus. She paused as if to measure her words then dropped the question on everybody’s lips but many are afraid to ask,

“Bakit walang nakukulong?”

Her professors could only mumble that the system was corrupted and those with money and power can get away literally with murder.

“Kailangan meron din na-offer na solutions and ways on how they (the students) can help,” underscored Solomon who admitted to the difficulty of classroom discussions on corruption and social ills.

Anonymous said...

meron nakakulong. si jalosjos dati. si corporal smith dati. si de guzman hanggang ngayon. si joey marquez nakaligtas. si richard gomez nakalusot. si ampatuan baka hindi makalusot dahil sobrang dami ang nabangga at buhay ang inutang.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Sr. and the alleged brains in the carnage, was given VIP treatment when he arrived in Manila.

Ampatuan Jr. was met by Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera who even shook his hand after he alighted from a helicopter from Maguindanao on Thursday.

Anonymous said...


PCGG gives Tan brother last chance

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: December 12, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) is giving Mariano Tanenglian, brother of businessman Lucio Tan, a last chance to appear before officials of the agency prior to being considered a witness in the cases against his estranged brother.
In a press conference, PCGG Commissioner Ricardo Abcede said Tanenglian should appear before PCGG officials if they are to consider his request for immunity from suit.

“We want to give him a chance to prove he is valuable and serious about testifying against his brother. This is the last chance,” Abcede said.

He added that granting immunity from suit to any witness is “an important thing. It’s not that easy.”

Abcede said they want to interview Tanenglian and gauge whether his testimony would be valuable to the government’s cases against Lucio Tan.

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