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Darker than the dark side of justice

AL S. VITANGCOL 3RD

AN esteemed media colleague said, albeit in jest, that man is inherently bad — contrary to the Christian belief that man is inherently good. This happened at the Fernandina Media Forum, which is held every Wednesday morning at the Club Filipino. I probed him for proof of his assertion.

He cited the Decalogue (aka the Ten Commandments) to buttress his claim. Out of the 10 directives there, eight are prohibitions, meaning they are orders that bar a person from doing something. For example, “V. Thou shalt NOT kill” and “IX. Thou shalt NOT covet thy neighbor’s wife.” The exceptions are the third (III. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day) and fourth (IV. Honor thy father and mother) commandments.


His second evidence, this time scientific in nature, is the existence of light and darkness. According to him, the world and space are just a vast void of darkness. You need light to see your way through. Thus, when you enter a closed room, it will be dark and you need to power on the lights for you to see what is in that room.

Last week I wrote about the dark side of the judicial system. Having heard that man was inherently bad and that darkness is the natural thing without light, I realized that there is something darker than the dark side of justice.

What is darker than the dark side of justice? It is the uninformed (or even paid) media practitioners perpetuating the injustice. These are the ones that rejoice in bad news and shun the good news. These are the ones who don’t check their “facts” but simply regurgitate what is fed to them.

Numbers don’t lie but the writer lied
A certain Andrew Marasigan of BusinessWorld published on February 9 an article with the title “Numbers don’t lie.”

He wrote “PH Trams was paid $1.15 million per month, for a six-month term to maintain the train system. The contract was said to be extremely overpriced as it applied only to maintenance services and labor, not to spare parts.” Truth is the payments were all made to CB&T and none to PH Trams. The disbursement vouchers at the DoTC-MRT 3 (Department of Transportation and Communications-Metro Rail Transit System Line 3) would prove this. Likewise, there is no such thing as “labor only” contract. In other words, Marasigan lied.

He added, “In October 2012, Roxas, through MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol, awarded the maintenance contract to a firm called PH Trams CB&T.” I never awarded anything to PH Trams CB&T. It was beyond my powers and authority to award big-ticket projects. It was then Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya who awarded the maintenance contract to PH Trams CB&T JV. This can be seen clearly from the Notice of Award that Abaya signed. Again, Marasigan lied.

“The terms of PH Trams contract was [sic] problematic, too. It called for PH Trams to provide the manpower for the maintenance of MRT 3, while government was to handle the procurement of spare parts.” There is no such thing. The government was never tasked to procure the spare parts. Marasigan lied once more.

Wrong assumptions
The Philippine Star in its editorial of February 8, “Accountability in MRT 3 mess,” stated that, “The contract involved payment of $1.15 million a month for six months to PH Trams. The amount involved is above the P50-million threshold for a plunder case, which would have carried a heavier penalty. The Office of the Ombudsman, however, filed a case merely for graft and violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.”

What plunder are they talking about? If they did some research, or just Googled it, they would know that plunder is the accumulation or acquisition of ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt acts. This is the systematic raiding of the government coffers. Plunder is not determined by the amount of the contract — it is determined by the alleged amount that was accumulated by the raider. Uninformed or simply lazy to check facts?

The Star editorial continued: “What followed was a long string of glitches in the MRT 3, from electrical failures to doors that won’t close and even seats that caught fire. Stranded commuters forced to disembark and walk along the railway tracks became a common sight.” Pure assumptions. Official figures from the Transport department reveal that the number of unloading incidents was at its lowest from 2012 to 2013. These were recorded during my stint.

I remember one of my mentors, the late Dean Arturo Balbastro. He would always urge us not to ASSUME. Why? He said, “When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” Indeed, the Philippine Star simply assumed.

Shining light on the darkness
Revered journalists are the shining light in the darkness enveloping the media industry. These are the writers who check their facts, do background research, and study the issues at hand. No making an ASS out of U and ME.

For a sampling, please check the March 22, 2016 column of Rigoberto Tiglao through this link; https://www.manilatimes.net/2016/03/22/opinion/columnists/topanalysis/roxas-ruthless-lie-at-the-debate/252127/252127/; and the recent Commentary/Cannon fodder at the Daily tribune; https://tribune.net.ph/index.php/2020/02/08/cannon-fodder/.

One commandment that should always be the guide of journalists is the eighth commandment — “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

Watch the live streaming of News and Nuances Kapihan at Almusalan media forum at www.nankamediaforum.com every Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Continue sending your comments to allinsight.manilatimes@gmail.com or posting them at www.facebook.com/All.Insight.Manila.Times.

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