Editorial: Security above all

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A DETACHMENT commander was relieved because of an argument he had with three vendors at the Task Force Davao checkpoint in Binugao, Toril. The vendors may be cheering, but this deserves more attention that winning the approval of the public.

We understand the concern of the TF Davao chief. We don't know how the argument went, but we have an inkling of how vendors can be peskier than normal. Thus, we tend to take the side of Lieutenant Colonel Nestor Mondia on this one, with some reservations.

Granted that he may have used harsh words against the three complaining vendors, but wait... why is the TFD checkpoint in Binugao? It is there to check vehicles and passengers entering Davao for the security of the city. It's not there so that all vehicles will stop and allow vendors to peddle their goodies.


As reported in yesterday's Sun.Star Davao headline, the three vendors -- Grace Tapat, Junalyn Dalian, and Rolly Diego - were among the vendors who were informed by Mondia that it was to be their last day of selling goods and beverages to motorists stopping at the Binugao checkpoint.

"The vendors, however, appealed to Mondia to consider their livelihood, but the officer allegedly got irked and berated them, using cusswords," the report reads.

TFD commander Colonel Macairog Alberto explained that vendors have been reminded time and again that they can only sell their goods to passengers and motorists after the soldiers have checked the vehicles. But, usually, the vendors do not follow this and instead embark public transportations like the big buses that pass that route, even before the passengers can disembark to be checked and the soldiers can enter the bus to check.

He said that this was already relayed to the vendors three times, but still some would insist on disobeying the rule set. Thus, the decision to get rid of vendors.

Between the role of the vendors and the role of the soldiers, we know who serves the interest of the greater public: the soldiers.

We can imagine the cusswords that Mondia spewed out. That's the issue here. We can just remind all soldiers that tact and diplomacy should rank high in their dealing with the public, vendors included and that the tone of voice and choice of words can make or break sobriety.

As Professor Albert Mehrabian, who has has pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960s, had found in his oft-repeated albeit oversimplified research on body language and non-verbal communications:

7 percent of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
38 percent of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55 percent of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.

If indeed Mondia used bad words, then the 7 percent is already as tainted as the whole message, add the 38 percent on the way the words were said and the 55 percent of facial expression, then the army officer has failed 100 percent in delivering his message. No understanding can ever be reached in that way. What went wrong is in the delivery of the message, and we can understand why, after all, the same message has been sent three times already but has been disregarded.

There were no vendors before in the first years of the detachment's operation there. The appearance of peanut vendors were a welcome respite for the travelers. We love to munch on something when we travel, don't we?

But if the vendors are disregarding rules set, and in the process getting in the way of the security protocols, then even if we love to munch on peanuts and would just love a cold drink to chug that down with while waiting for soldiers to check our vehicles, then the vendors will just have to go. Lt. Col. Mondia will just have to be reminded over and over again that tact and diplomacy win over hearts and mind while cusswords earn equal cussing.

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


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