LIKE DU30 I WAS ALSO BASHED BY MEDIA
President Rodrigo Duterte pledged that he will never talk to media until his tenure is completed. And he had valid reasons for it. He said that media would spin anything to make a person look bad even if the person was trying to project something good. It is media that dictates how the public would view anyone. It is not how reality should be shown; it is how media wanted the public to perceive their brand of negative reality. Of course, this is intended to make news, the controversial one. Controversy makes news and more following and therefore commercially viable. People lap it up.
And so media at first would make a person prominent, illustrious even. Once the public gets hooked, then media throws a monkey wrench on the person and it becomes prime news. That is when media gets its revenue kick even if the poor person’s integrity is sacrificed.
When President Duterte was invited before a select group of businessmen for a conference, he explained that there are three kinds of journalists in their midst. The crusading kind—they are the advocates of truth and fair play; and the mercenary type—-they who promotes or highlights for a fee; and the threatening variety. The threatening variety is unprofessional and would likely to expose foul and at times invented or skewed facts to destroy a person. They are mostly the victims of assassination. Media never bothered reporting the whole but rather plucked out that part about the threatening variety and blew out news that Duterte favors assassination of journalists. International news had a heyday quoting the news and Duterte became an overnight villain.
No more media interview for Duterte from that time on.
Once upon a time I was also feted by media. I was the face of prison service. I was the face of expertise when it comes to execution of death penalty. I was sought after whenever there are controversies that require discussion when it comes to prison problems. I was a celebrity.
Then I was asked to manage New Bilibid Prison, this was in 2014. At that time, death in the prison community was constant, averaging 10 a day. Congestion and epidemic, not to mention gang related violence had compounded a toll on the peace, order and lives of thousands of convicts compacted into a limited area. I organized activity centers to draw the prisoners into constructive workshop away from gang related violence (which includes drug peddling) and at the same time, isolate inmates infected with TB from rendering the community with lethal contagion.
It took a month of persuasion but the effects were encouraging. Deaths and violence including drug menace radically reduced.
Inmates however will never be swayed away from gang membership because of privileges that is why my activity centers were profusely provided with amenities. When prisoners virtually were recruited into my programs, I asked my supervisor to allow me to rearrange the prison community by batch. That way, gangs will no longer flex their muscles and influence over the prison population. Without gangs, violence and yes, drug menace will slowly wither away.
Gangs are highly organized that they virtually control territories in the whole archipelago. Gangs have been organized on a regional basis and their effective influence can transcend from their lowly cell in prison up to the free community all over the country. Prisons have been transformed into seminaries of syndicates to learn and advance their exposure on the world of criminality.
Gangs therefore from my standpoint must be obliterated. But my superior felt that doing so might create more problems. My proposal was met with a cold shoulder. Thinking that I had no more efficient approach to make, I asked that I be reassigned back to Davao Penal Colony where I used to be assigned since there are no gangs in its facility—well, actually the only prison establishment in the country where there are no gangs.
A year later, gangs in NBP took over the activity centers which I organized, drained its equipment and gadgets then transferred it to the gang controlled dormitories. There were complaints by prisoners and their families, losing hope on an activity they wished could give them skill, reaching the Department of Justice.
DOJ mounted a series of raids and discovered amenities inside the cell blocks of inmate gang leaders. Media was quick to search for people to blame. And since I was the one who organized activity centers that allowed the use of amenities a year ago, without even seeking for my response, my name was bandied all over prime news as the epitome of allowing the transformation of prison into a haven or a gangster’s paradise!
I asked my superiors for permission to make a press conference but I was not given the chance. Meanwhile, media continued with bashing my name without even asking for my explanation as if I invented the wheel of VIP treatment in the penitentiary. Unable to get my side officially explained, I submitted my application for retirement instead.
That is the only way, in my estimation; I could prove to my friends, relatives and colleagues that I was not what media wanted my persona to project. If I could retire smoothly that could only mean that I was not in any way charged nor had a case against that I must deal with.
President Duterte hated media and would not speak to them until his term ends because he was unfortunately given a wrong spin. In my case, I had the same experience. Nonetheless, I had a grand time enjoying retirement away from the limelight. It pays to be a commoner.