Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Romblon Sun as opposition

I cannot understand the vehemence by which some public officials react to the Romblon Sun’s reports about their alleged misdeeds while in position of power.

To me, such attitude indicates two things. One, either these officials are guilty or innocent, and two, they were not called or asked to give their side about the reports that appear on the paper.

I said this because two weeks ago, on a short trip to Odiongan, Manong Julius Fortuna, who hosted my visit, again reminded the Romblon Sun to always present both sides of a story for the sake of objectivity and fairness.

This reminder was timely because there are observations that the Romblon Sun is perceived as an opposition paper; that it is thought to be a tool to “malign” and “destroy” Romblon’s political leaders.

This, of course, is farthest from the truth, and I strongly disagree with those who say the Romblon Sun is politically destructive. I mean, can the Romblon Sun single-handedly bring down the capitol? Can it force our politicians to admit to and mend their corrupt ways? I doubt.

First, there is no organized political opposition in Romblon, so how could the Romblon Sun be an opposition mouthpiece? Does the erratic and unsteady as the subasko Dr. Joey Cabrera, who is covered by the paper from time to time, own a share in the paper? Is Romblon Sun former representative Lolong Firmalo’s? Are the writers of the paper paid hacks of those salivating over Rep. Budoy Madrona’s or Gov. Jojo Beltran’s posts? I doubt.

Where is Firmalo, by the way? After his bitter defeat, he hibernated, disappeared, hid, and so became a ghost of his old self.

And Romblon? It was left to its own devices under the baton of the current political overlord, Rep. Madrona and his orchestra, led by the likes of Beltran who, disappointingly for a governor, doesn’t seem to understand a bit what civil service meant. To Beltran, to be a civil servant seemed to be a servile servant, but these two are different animals. Amelie Mallen, kudos to her, is more informed than the governor.

Second, the Romblon Sun, if it is a paper of the political opposition, should not be begging for money to buy its weekly supply of paper and ink. Because of budget constraints, it has a limited circulation, so magnifying the harm it could inflict on the political status quo is more of a compliment rather than a disparaging attack.

I can’t imagine the Romblon Sun to be solely responsible for the low regard that many Romblomanons nowadays have for their leaders. The Romblon Sun is only a newspaper whose editors and writers happen to disagree with the views of the establishment. And its reportage on what it sees as the pestilences plaguing Romblon is rightly a function of a newspaper. It is, while struggling, only performing its responsibility to serve as watchdog of the people, without being asked to be rewarded.

I know. I have read some of the text messages received by the paper, commending it for its courageous reporting on the burning issues of the day. The text messages don’t come from politicians belonging to the opposition. They come from readers, the ordinary Romblomanons, with whom the Romblon Sun has come to identify itself with. That means the paper is credible and, therefore, trusted.

Now, compare this to the deafening silence of those who are making it to the news like, for example, Gov. Beltran or Engr. Rolindo Perez, two officials who are often flagellated because of their conduct. If I were they, I will write back to dispute every untruthful or malicious item that comes out in the paper, if there are any, and request that it be published for the sake of fairness and objective reporting.

Alas, and unfortunately, the reports in the Romblon Sun about alleged anomalies, malfeasance, omission, or corruption are not challenged by the subjects of the reports, even if, as Tony Macalisang told me, he exerts every effort to get their side on a story.

Again, this indicates either of two things: that the reports are true or the person subject of the report is plain lazy or doesn’t know how to write. What do you say, Messrs. Beltran and Perez?

And what if the Romblon Sun stopped reporting on the issues that affect Romblon? What if, for example, instead of reporting the Ombudsman’s dismissal of Engr. Perez, it reported that he was ordered promoted as DPWH secretary?

What if the Romblon Sun, instead of writing about SP Benjamin Irao’s refusal to accept the P66, 959.00 in cash incentives given to all provincial officials and employees—even if the money came from the calamity fund!—wrote that Irao is suing the provincial government for not tripling the amount?

Or, what if the Romblon Sun, instead of reporting that Gov. Beltran was rebuffed by the Civil Service Commission for illegally dismissing Ms. Mallen, reported that the CSC encouraged the governor to dismiss some more employees who don’t agree with his views?

If these things happen, then I can bet my daily gin budget that the readers of Romblon Sun, instead of reading the paper, will turn to reading road and store signs, or the clouds, or gumamela leaves. At least, these are truthful. Then, Romblon Sun can rename itself the Romblon Moon for peddling dark lies.

My point? Don’t hate the newspapers. Save your contempt for the newsmakers. Comments are welcome. Text them in to 0917-623-8842 or send to

1 comment:

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