Editorial: Turning down kibitzers’ noise

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

THE case of Redemptorist priest Romeo Obach can be a good study of the psyche of kibitzers, whether in social or traditional media. Obach is the priest who was caught on video berating the unwed mother of a baby he baptized in a chapel in Jagobiao, Mandaue City last Sunday.

The video went viral, earning the priest widespread condemnation from columnists, radio commentators and texters in traditional media and by so-called netizens in social media.

The action of the Redemptorist congregation in Cebu Province was swift. Obach has been barred from saying mass until investigation on the incident has been completed. The congregation also promised to impose sanctions on the priest and to reach out to the mother and her family.


Obach himself wrote a letter apologizing to the mother, her family and all those who were scandalized by his act. He acknowledged his error, noting that it was only later that he realized how “cruel” were his “ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event.”

Unfortunately for the parties in this mess, incidents that have gone viral in the Internet or that have sparked a furor in traditional media can’t be resolved in a jiffy. The noise of kibitzers can have a positive effect if the goal is to expose condemnable acts but it can hamper the resolution of conflicts.

A case in point is the mouth-taping incident involving the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House. The parents of the baby used a social networking site to air their grievance and their case turned viral and was feasted on by netizens and by the traditional media.

The mother of the baby eventually sought to settle amicably the issue but couldn’t fully resolve it because the very people who urged her on eventually turned against her. The “noise” was deafening.

Their lawyer eventually gave her and her husband one advice: steer clear of both social networking sites and the traditional media. The point there could be that, with the noise plugged, the resolution of the conflict can proceed undisturbed.

The views of kibitzers can be important in exposing a condemnable act but these can at times muddle conflict resolution efforts. In the end, the parties involved, in this case the priest and his congregation and the mother and her family, should be given a chance to solve the problem on their own terms.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 10, 2014.


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