Lonely fight for Sevilla

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MANY of my friends are asking me why primetime television news programs are giving too much importance to the mauling case involving noontime show host and movie comedian Vhong Navarro. Since this issue came out the other day, it has occupied a big portion of the airtime of TV news programs. Competing stations are “feasting” on the case.

Well, I won't question what we call in the journalism profession as “editorial prerogative” because I could end up questioning my own network. GMA 7 Manila has been following up the case.

I explained to my friends that one of the elements of news is prominence. Had the personalities involved in that mauling incident been ordinary persons, the media wouldn’t have given it importance. But since those involved are prominent people and the circumstances of the case are unique (love and violence), it has become a hot issue.


But I won't give airtime and print space to this issue in my radio commentary program and in my column. While many people, especially the “masa,” like this kind of news, we can't get anything from it. It's their own doing and I know that the protagonists are all lying.

Sa Tagalog pa, “Hindi na ako makisawsaw dyan.” Leave that issue to the entertainment world.


Newly installed Bureau of Customs Commissioner John Philipp Sevilla was here the other day to meet with his people in the Port of Cebu and with some businessmen. He also opened several abandoned containers.

I understand it was his first visit here since he assumed office replacing Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who voluntarily resigned following reports of his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam when he was still a congressman of Muntinlupa.

Sevilla revealed his plan to cleanse the bureau. He said he would initiate reforms so the bureau can regain its positive image and will become a corruption-free government agency.

I don't know the personal background of this guy but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. Still, granting that he is very honest, his envisioned reforms in the bureau are too ambitious. I think that even if we put a cardinal in that bureau it will not be cleansed of corruption.

I am afraid that what he said was just “pakitang gilas” that he is incorruptible. He warned his people here not to receive bribes and not to extort stakeholders in the import and export industry.

Asa ka dili modawat og padangog o mangilkil sa mga mga negosyante? Bisan gani og legal
imong produkto, padug-on ka man gihapon.

Granting that Sevilla is not corrupt and he is toeing the anti-corruption campaign of PNoy, but can he control the people around and under him?

There are syndicates and groups in the bureau that prey on importers. If you attempt to bust them, it’s as if you are touching a house of bees. Morag makahikap ka sa balay sa putyokan.

These groups can even hire public relations people to launch a negative publicity campaign against possible targets, also using their contacts and connections either in the mainstream media or among so-called “hawshaw media” (who receive monthly takes from corrupt bureau officials). And it's happening even in our own port. The “take” is shared every Friday.

Don't tell me that bureau officials use their own money to pay unscrupulous media men. They get it from importers.

It will be a lonely fight for Sevilla. And because there is big money in the bureau, I'm afraid that he might be swallowed by the system. What I mean is, he will become corrupt, too.

There is a saying that “if you cannot lick them, join them.” I have known many people who are righteous but when they joined politics and were employed in graft-ridden government agencies, they also became corrupt. This is how our corrupt system works.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 29, 2014.


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