What will you give me if I can hand him over to you?

*Revisiting the “Interpol Wanted” caper, the group responsible for it and their futile attempts to force the courts to declare Bro. Eli Soriano as “fugitive from justice.”
*Challenging lawmakers to do something about the command bloc voting practice of the Iglesia ni Cristo that is practically making government servile to their whims.

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (February 28, 2019) – THE JUDAS OFFER would flourish in a materialistic, godless world where there is loathing for anyone who stands in the way of one’s slide and carousel. In the same godless world are the venal, who, by all indications say, “Here I am; corrupt me!”

What will you give me… is not even a question but an offer. The person is willing to do it for a prize. And it is made possible because we have surrendered or are surrendering to people whom we have given political clout to.

Bro. Eli Soriano

People hating Bro. Eli Soriano’s big mouth is a case in point. Some people loathe him for what he says – because he gives them a run for their money. Most of all, some people want him dead and would hound him to the ends of this earth to stop him from talking.

But Preacher Soriano is not that totally hated; nor his words totally loathed. He has helped several souls come to know the true God and follow His ways, as such is Bro. Eli’s calling.

I am looking for lost sheep 

Bro. Eli doesn’t preach about false prophets as a topic per se, if that is what people hate; they are only side issues. The focus on them come only at certain points that there is any association with the topic at hand. The preacher doesn’t give long lectures to dumb the mind, in fact. He makes the audience highly engaged with his discourses similarly found in unique academies. He is teaching from the Bible – yet encouraging critical thinking. While he has to be sensitive to the probable absence or presence of his target audience (lost sheep), he, all the more, is very sensitive to his material – always. And this is where the “problem” begins because he has to teach the whole truth – not just a part – no matter how it hurts.

If the plan is intact, wherever you take it, the house will be built. Strictly speaking, even a jot or a title should not be diminished.

To show how important this principle is to Bro. Eli, before there any texto (topic) is given in the Members Church of God International (MCGI) , the following verse is displayed on the screen is several languages. [The screen is the blackboard for his worldwide preaching as viewed from Apalit, Pampanga to his audience in 6 continents]:

 “Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:” (Jeremiah 26:2)

Following this order, random grabs from Bro. Eli’s lectures show a deep sensitivity for the Bible. Already, beginning with the first verse of the Bible, Bro. Eli has a comment, noticing the supposed logic of the statement in relation to the verse coming after it. He makes sure the translations are proper before proceeding.

GENESIS 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

[Checking against the Bible Concordance] Gen 1:1  In the beginningH7225 GodH430 createdH1254 (H853) the heavenH8064 and the earth.H776 

Gen 1:2  And the earthH776 wasH1961 without form,H8414 and void;H922 and darknessH2822 was uponH5921 the faceH6440 of the deep.H8415 And the SpiritH7307 of GodH430 movedH7363 uponH5921 the faceH6440 of the waters.H4325

If this were faithfully translated, he says, it would show the status of the earth when it was created. It should read, “When God began to create heaven and earth, earth was without form and void.” Moses was showing the status of the earth when it was created. It was without form and void, he says.

But in the case of Matthew 24:37, “days” should be actually be “day” only.

MATTHEW 24:37 (KJV) But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

This is not in the proper context, he says. Not days. Almost all translators put “days,” even in the Greek. You can only base on the original context of the Bible. It is not right to think that it is “days,” but only one day. Particular day. Particular hour and second of that particular day, he says.

PROVERBS 28:8 (KJV) He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

It is not logical that he takes to pity the poor, so he increases his substance by usury and unjust gain. Illogical, he says.

[Checking against the Bible Concordance] Pro 28:8  He that by usuryH5392 and unjust gainH8636 increasethH7235 his substance,H1952 he shall gatherH6908 it for him that will pityH2603 the poor.H1800

There are words added in the translation, he says. There was no “he that by” in the original Hebrew. The subject is the action, hence, “Usury and unjust gain increaseth…” Consider this other verse.

DEUTERONOMY 15:11 (KJV) For the poor shall never cease out of the land:

The poor shall never cease. There will always be the poor.

An explanation for mistranslations, Bro. Eli says, is that readers of the Bible have their minds veiled. Translators read the Bible also, like the translators of the Douay-Rheims version which was derived from the Latin Vulgate. There are translators, and there are readers whose minds are veiled. The veil will only be taken away through Christ, he added.

Working against Soriano for promotion

Being a serious Bible student and teacher, exposing those with erroneous doctrines is part and parcel of Bro. Eli’s work, hence the hatred and vitriol from people who do not want to rectify their ways are expected. The system they don’t want to leave behind has monetarily supported them all these years, and they prefer status quo. They do not want anybody interfering. But ”interference” to one maybe “work” to another. Wherever there is lost sheep, expect a Soriano to speak.

And how “Eliseo F. Soriano” had ended up in the Interpol’s wanted list for “sex crimes” is a puzzle to most. Those in the know, however, are not surprised at how far the enemies of Eliseo F. Soriano, simply “Bro. Eli” to them, would go to humiliate him. They are wont to learning his identity get stolen; his very name used to counter information about himself; his biopage [at Wikipedia] mangled to include lies. The truth is, he has no enemies but false preachers he is trying hard to expose.

But there were really works done at the background to explain how these things happen: for placement in lucrative positions, for promotion, for retaliation in a supposed “libel.” And the system is very much accommodating.

As often pointed out, the INC’s bloc voting practice has earned for them preferential treatment in the government so that they can recommend their own men to sensitive positions even as high as the Supreme Court. When this happens, there is what Rivera (2015) calls “the willingness to prostitute convictions and the rule of law” – but this is not limited to politicians only.

Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. is someone backed by the Iglesia ni Cristo as mentioned by Marites Dañgilan Vitug in “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court.” This justice was the one who wrote the decision sustaining the suspension of Ang Dating Daan, the program of Bro. Eli, upon the complaint of the Iglesia ni Cristo. On pages 93-94 of Vitug’s book –

It did help immensely that Velasco was endorsed by Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, a relative of his wife, and the Iglesia ni Cristo. Velasco listed Cardinal Vidal as one of his references when he applied for the Supreme Court. Asked about the INC nomination, Velasco said, “Some of my friends and classmates may have approached the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

Years later, Velasco wrote a decision in favor of the INC when he upheld the three month suspension of the TV program, Ang Dating Daan, whose host used offensive language against a minister of the INC who also anchors a TV program, Ang Tamang Daan. These religious rivals had been at each other’s throats for years.

The majority sided with Velasco. Four justices dissented, calling the decision a “prior restraint” and therefore, a blow to freedom of speech.

The perception was that Velasco was paying his dues to INC. “It was an en banc decision,” [Velasco] said, dismissing the perceived bias.

The question is: Why didn’t Justice Velasco inhibit himself from the case, considering his links with the Iglesia ni Cristo? He even wrote the decision! (Astudillo, 2013)

When the Iglesia ni Cristo launched “Ang Tamang Daan” way back in 2001, Bro. Eli knew its principal function was to destroy the person of the preacher through that TV program. But the Interpol-wanted caper was different because of the scope and the sufferings that Bro. Eli had to undergo. Worse, it was a patent display of church and state in virtual collusion. In the words of Randy David (2015), “Nothing is more explosive than the mixture of religion and politics.”

Why was this made possible? The INC were able to place their men in strategic positions: in the police force, in the justice system, and in many similar others. And who can tell secrets best but the people who are/were also one of them.

Ebanghelista (2017), for one, mentions that there was/is an Eli Soriano Crusade. “Antonio Ramirez Ebangelista,” according to TJ Burgonio (2015) is the pseudonym of a blogger who not only exposed what he called irregularities in the sect, but also dished out timely updates on expelled INC ministers who were allegedly illegally detained or kidnapped.

The filing of libel cases against Bro. Eli, Ebanghelista (2017) says was a contribution from INC ministers. There was a covert operation (black-ops) on Bro. Eli and his supporters at the ADD Convention Center in Pampanga using none other than the INC Police Officers of the Quezon City Police Department… All those who belonged to this Black-ops (team of Atty. Barcellano) were under an oath of silence.  Result: The cases were never solved; Atty. Vimar Barcellano was promoted – immediately and strategically.

Some time ago during the Eli Soriano crusade, the head of the INC Legal Department was the Minister/lawyer, Restituto Lazaro and the one who handles the actual legal operations was the Ministerial Student/lawyer, Atty. Vimar Barcellano. These people were not forthcoming to the Administration of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo then. They reported lies to him and covered up most of their heinous crimes.  [Underscoring by Ebanghelista (2017)].

As a result, Atty. Resty Lazaro committed so many legal blunders for the church, he was eventually relieved of his position. As for Atty. Barcellano, after his wife discovered his extra-marital affairs, he was kicked out from the Ministry and from the INC Legal Department but because of his contributions to the Eli Soriano filing of libel cases, he was not expelled from the Church. Instead, he was “advised” to join the police force, after which he became Captain in the notorious INC bailiwick, the Quezon City Police District, as the head of its Legal Department…

All those who belonged to Atty. Barcellano’s Black-Ops Team were under an oath of silence, that is why the cases were never ever solved. And this paved the way to Atty. Vimar Barcellano’s immediate and continuous promotion in his position up to the highly strategic post he now holds as CHIEF PROSECUTOR of Dasmariñas, Cavite. It’s much clearer now, why most of the highly questionable activities of the Church Administration of Eduardo V. Manalo is done in Cavite, Philippines because Chief Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano is there to make everything “appear to be a legit procedure.” (Ebanghelista, 2017)

A black operation (or black ops) is a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. This can include activities by private companies or groups. Key features of a black operation are that it is secret and it is not attributable to the organization carrying it out. (Wikipedia)

What went before 

On March 27, 2005, Bro. Eli posted on The Manila Times a challenge to debate with Eraño Manalo of the Iglesia ni Cristo “to once and for all settle our doctrinal differences.” He was refused and instead was pushed to ask Pope John Paul II at Vatican, who was dying that time, for a debate and to speak in Latin. That would be the time his request would be accepted. The implication was that the Iglesia ni Cristo was superior to the Roman Catholic Church.

By December 2005, Bro. Eli Soriano was forced to leave the Philippines, with so many cases filed in court.  While he was out of the country, a rape case against him was filed by no other than one he had excommunicated and went to the Iglesia ni Cristo. This case was dismissed In January 2006 for lack of evidence. Curiously, it was re-filed by the Secretary of Justice whose office fell under the Office of the President.

In 2007, INC members who had filed Criminal Case 5957 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, sought a motion to declare Bro. Eli a fugitive from justice. Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez on August 31, 2007 denied the motion. Soriano’s counsel had underscored that his client is under intense persecution by the INC, explaining his failure to return to the country. DENIED.

The following year (August 2008), the “Interpol wanted” news came out – at least from the news report of Alfred Dalizon of Journal Online. The offense being true or not, it said Eliseo Soriano was being wanted by the Interpol for “sex crimes.”  The Interpol website that displayed the photo and information of Bro. Eli dated January 28, 2009 said, “If you have any information, contact your national or local police, General Secretariat of Interpol.”

At the same time, GMA7 showed an interview with the supposed complainant with Arnold Clavio as the anchorman. That was the only time the MCGI congregation came to know Bro. Eli’s location: Brazil in Latin America. All the time, information about his location was kept from the organization.

The MCGI went into full force. To introduce to the Interpol the supposed victim, “Portrait of the ‘raped man’ for whom the Interpol would mobilize” was written on “Censored News Uncensored,” WordPress, a parody of the interview of Arnold Clavio, “Case Closed Unclosed.” It described the accuser and narrated the reasons why Daniel S. Veridiano was excommunicated by Bro. Eli in the first place.

All the while, the Internet helped to show: (1) That the rape case was dismissed, (2) The case was re-filed under questionable circumstances, (3) That there is an age-old and on-going battle between the INC and MCGI, (4) That powerful people, not involved, are themselves being used in persecuting Bro. Eli, and (5) That there is the INC to be pleased by these people.

In 2009, since nothing was happening with the Interpol notice (No Bro. Eli yet in their jails) but just a notice, INC complainants in Criminal Case 06-248365 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 8, Manila, also sought a motion to declare accused Eliseo Soriano a fugitive from justice. Just as with the first motion in 2007, this second motion seeking to declare Bro. Eli as fugitive from justice was turned down by the court. Penned by Presiding Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. on December 15, 2009, in the absence of evidences to support accusations, the court said the accused cannot be declared a “fugitive from justice.” DENIED

In fact, there was a third one: Criminal Case 06-248365 (For Libel) failed to get its motion to declare the preacher as fugitive from justice, and was archived. ARCHIVED.

By December 2009, suddenly Bro. Eli began broadcasting from a garage, turned into a makeshift studio, located in Florianópolis, Brazil. Here was the “wanted” man showing himself to the world. Yet he was still supposed to be “wanted.”

Fast forward to August 2011, GMA News, a sister station of GMA7, replayed the interview made on August 2008 made with the supposed rape complainant despite protestations from MCGI members. This resulted in more than 36,000 MCGI members responding with a boycott of the station and opened an online page purposely to communicate with GMA.

The following year [March] 2012, the Interpol dropped Bro. Eli’s name – after some three years. It said their investigations depended on up-to-date global data.

In sum, the Iglesia ni Cristo were not successful in having Bro. Eli be declared a fugitive from justice. They were not able to have him incarcerated. The cases they filed began to be dismissed one after the other. The Interpol Wanted list deleted Bro. Eli’s name. Meanwhile, on the Internet, he is being seen preaching worldwide from Brazil.

Was the Interpol really looking for Bro. Eli?

An Alfred P. Dalizon wrote in August 2008 a story on World News of Journal Online, saying Bro. Eli was served an international Red Notice from the Interpol for the charge of rape. The request was supposedly made by the Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga. This was the very court that tried the rape case that was first dismissed, but was re-filed.

Dalizon was clearly partial to the INC that he wrote Bro. Eli was a former INC, just as he said, Daniel Veridiano, the complainant, was an INC member who went to Bro. Eli’s group, then returned to the INC. These are patent lies.

As records reveal, the investigating prosecutor found no probable cause to prosecute Soriano as he believed that Veridiano’s accusations were all lies and fabricated. It highly considered the rift going on between the INC and the ADD. It was penned by Alexandro Lopez, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor, and approved by Jesus Manarang, the Provincial prosecutor, Province of Pampanga, San Fernando City, on January 26, 2006.

But the case was re-filed. How was this done? Manarang, with some filial links to Raul Gonzalez, the Secretary of Justice under the Office of the President, was replaced by Jaime Umpa from Mindanao that took care of the re-filing of the case. After that, Manarang was returned to his place and Umpa was returned to Mindanao.

Ebanghilista (2015) on his website shows photos of the concerned documents. The document shots duly captioned, are as follows:

(1) Rape case filed against Bro. Eli was dismissed by Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alexandro Lopez and submitted by Jesus Y. Manarang on January 26, 2006.

(2) March 21, 2006. DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez orders the records of the rape case to be elevated to his office. The President at that time was Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, widely supported by the INC for their bloc voting practice.

(3) April 10, 2006, Jesus Manarang, Provincial Prosecutor, complies with the order of DOJ Sec Raul Gonzalez to elevate the case.

(4) April 25, 2006, DOJ Sec Raul Gonzalez assigns Jaime L. Umpa to Pampanga especially to resolve the case, “Daniel Veridiano vs. Eliseo Soriano.” Department Order 255, April 25, 2006 was signed by Raul Gonzalez.

Ebanghelista’s (2015) assessment was that –

[This is] a case of special treatment, of obvious manipulation and interference! The “common sense” that can explain this is that the one who filed the case is an Iglesia ni Cristo member and the accused happens to be a Bro. Eli Soriano, one who has no influence [with] the government.

Notes: In (2), directed to elevate the records to the Office of the Department of Justice was Regional State Prosecutor Jesus Simbulan of Region III.

In (3), there’s a notation that says, ‘Together with the prepared resolution of Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alexandro Lopez.’

ELEVATING THE CASE

Question: What happened now to the earlier resolution? Was Lopez forced to change his first resolution of ‘DISMISSED’?

Because the clear intention is to once and for all apprehend Bro. Eli wherever he was in any part of the world, the Interpol was used. So that the Interpol would have something to hold on to, a court case for mere libel (2007) sought a motion to declare him “fugitive from justice.” Hence, the following year (April 2008), the Interpol wanted list appeared, but that was all. Only a notice. In 2009, another court case, again for mere libel, sought a motion to have Bro. Eli be declared as fugitive from justice. Still no handcuffing. And yet a third attempt was made, despite the court junking the two earlier motions, but was archived. How persistent these efforts were, the court cases can tell.

The Iglesia ni Cristo were having a feast from all of these, as shown by their spams on social media sites. But their problem was that because Bro. Eli is being seen on the Internet preaching world-wide, how could he be someone hiding with activities that required the intervention of the Interpol?

Questions on Interpol Notice

The Interpol does not also involve itself in any political, military, religious, or racial crimes. This is written in its constitution.

Moreover, the work of Interpol focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism, organized crime, war crimes, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.

For which of these crimes was Soriano guilty of to merit an Interpol notice? If Bro. Eli Soriano cannot even be declared a “fugitive from justice” by the courts, how could the Interpol be looking for him? Two times denied; the third time, archived. For whatever motive his name was placed there, only the culprit knows.

The Interpol emphatically states in their database that a Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant in contrast to Dalizon’s report of April 2008 about Bro. Eli. It also gives a warning in bold letters that the person should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

But did someone make a killing for the temporary posting? The Internet was so full about this Interpol thing. The humiliation was too much. Those who had filed cases, and those that moved the powers that be to hound Bro. Eli, are those who had made a feast of all these – and it took 3 painful years, and more.

What were they able to disable from Bro. Eli?

Why in the world would Dalizon pretend to direct the Interpol to places where Bro. Eli goes as a tip? Was the preacher hiding? How could Interpol not know about the activities of Bro. Eli when he is on the Internet teaching the world day in and day out? For a while, the enemy seemed victorious. Bro. Eli laments to the congregation (Skype conference, 2016) –

The enemy was doing everything to destroy me. I asked permission from the court to leave the Philippines to conduct a Bible Exposition in Singapore.

When I was already in Singapore, the enemies filed a rape case against me, so that they can take me. That is without bail. Atty. Frank Chavez called me and advised me not to return to the Philippines. He said it would be dangerous for me to go home to the Philippines.

I did not know where to go. My mind was troubled.

Considering that they had wanted Bro. Eli to suffer, they enjoyed placing him in difficulty. While Bro. Eli was jumping from country to country, he was not able to preach – but he was thinking.

We jumped from one country to the next. We found out that Brazil is predominantly Catholic. I was thinking, there may be people of God there.

In the map, Brazil is the opposite of the Philippines. We had to go to Uruguay first. With God’s help, I was given a visa. But the lawyer advised me to lay low for a while. That was for three months. I was not happy because I was not able to preach.

We exited to different countries every 30 days. I was like a man without a nation because I had no visa in Singapore. And then I was eventually granted a work visa. I did not need to exit to neighboring countries. But we were not allowed to preach in Singapore.

I was thinking, what would I be doing here? Will I just die here without preaching? In Singapore, we sold snacks. I was earning. I had a savings account in a bank. But the bank told me to get my money and close the account. It turned out that I have an Interpol notice.

Enter the God of Justice

For all his sufferings, Bro. Eli knew God would not allow him to suffer injustice for long. He will assert his presence. The God of Justice will balance things. One day, his lawyer said, “They cannot arrest you anymore. There is no extradition treaty here in Brazil. Before they can have you deported, they have to get through me.”

Bro. Eli started going out. He told Bro. Josel Mallari, one of the ministers, to look for a television station. It was rather expensive, but they gave it a try. They aired a program. After two weeks, they received many responses, and so they conducted a Bible Exposition. Guests swarmed in.

People attended the exposition for the whole day – 14 hours. Bro. Eli spent much; it was in millions. It turned out that this thing is already in the Bible: the prophecy that salvation will start in the east and then go to the west. He asks, and answers his own question: “Was anyone able to hinder it? No!”

In December 2009, TV Verdade was born. Its broadcast feed originated from a small garage, around 48 square meters, transformed into a makeshift broadcasting studio located in Florianópolis, Brazil. The station now carries the 24-hour Portuguese broadcast of O Caminho Antigo (English: The Old Path, Tagalog: Ang Dating Daan) hosted by Bro. Eli.

After virtually driving Bro. Eli away from the Philippines, his enemies thought they would be safe from his mouth. But feeling that the Interpol would not be acting, they tried three times to have him be declared as “fugitive from justice.” No results. The courts did not approve. Worse, Interpol dropped Bro. Eli’s name from being “wanted.”

Now that Bro. Eli had based himself in Brazil, failing from the Interpol attempt, they wanted to have him extradicted so they can have some access to him. But such request was archived, too. With God’s mercy, Bro. Eli came to have legal status in Brazil.

Even if they killed me

The notion of an antipodes map first came to Bro. Eli when he tried to make sense of what was happening to him and found it is a package by itself. His being hunted and hounded is merely a part, but it doesn’t mean those party to it are blessed and should be blessed.

With the antipodes map, the direction of preaching that MCGI should follow is dictated: Coming from the east that is the Philippines, it goes to the west (Brazil); then it should go up north and finally go down south. That is in the prophecy. As far as the MCGI is concerned, the one tasked to save people in these areas is the Church affiliated with the Church mentioned in the Bible.

Bro. Eli has been 12 years in Brazil now. In all places in south and Latin America, there are now MCGI locales:  259 in Spanish-speaking countries (Latin America), and 149 Portuguese-speaking locales (Brazil). By April 2016, TV Verdade was announced as adding 23 relay stations, to total 50 relay stations in the west.

TV Verdade airs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via Star One C2 satellite in South American countries and SES-6 satellite which also covers South American countries as a redundancy, including other nations in North America, Europe and North Africa.

If you will look at the antipodes map, if you bury a tunnel right through the center of the earth to the other side of the world, you will end up in Brazil, in South America.

The church is growing. They cannot hinder it. Even if they killed me, the word of God is already planted. It already started to grow and to bear fruits. I hold Bible Expositions in different places. That’s how I look for lost sheep.

Why did he say, “even if they killed me?” From experience, Bro. Eli knows that there are people who cannot accept truth.

When he was just 27 years old, preaching in the barrios of Central Luzon, Philippines, the young Eli was mauled by deacons of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Betis, Pampanga. The topic he was discussing was about the “other angel ascending from the east.” According to several sources, Felix Manalo, the founder of the INC, had declared himself to be the fifth angel calling out to four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or sea or trees until we have sealed the foreheads of the servants of our God.”…

Santa Romana (1955) and four other sources write, it was in 1922 that Felix Manalo first declared himself to be the “fifth angel” or  “another angel rising in the east” as mentioned in Revelation 7:2. Accordingly, he developed this doctrine in order to accumulate power and reassert his leadership in the church.

Bro. Eli said it was impossible that, that angel was Manalo. Can he set one foot upon the sea and another foot on the earth? Impossible! Before he could even do that, he would drown, he said. Members of the Iglesia ni Cristo did not like what they heard. Five deacons beat the young man that he got hospitalized at Mercy Clinic for one week.

INC Interference in Government

Lawmakers should climb a little higher to take note of what’s happening in the environment. What they did to Bro. Eli Soriano is so far the most complicated operations carried out. Involved here were the courts, the media, the Interpol, and the governments of the Philippines and Brazil, with the Iglesia ni Cristo playing major role.

At the background were the many members of the MCGI in 6 continents actively following up on developments. All throughout, there was an online boycott of some 36,000 against GMA7 and GMA News because of their support of the supposed “raped” victim. There was a lot of disinformation on the Internet for three painful years and more, while the “Interpol wanted list” requested by the Iglesia ni Cristo was active. Has there been any other Filipino treated like this? Who will be their next victim?

And yet lawmakers have not done any move because they can milk the corrupt practice for their own purpose. Nothing is being done to check the Iglesia ni Cristo. Not to even mention accessions given to them on a platter, we trace this cancer to the INC practice of bloc voting that has made politicians servile and government corroding to the core. It begins with the Iglesia ni Cristo playing games with their members on one hand and candidates for elections on the other.

The politicians court the INC for votes, the INC dictates to their members. When these politicians win, they act as stooges. It is payback time, and the cancer cells spread out. Now, since the practice is aimed at national officials including the President of the Land, every part of government is not safe from defilement.

One can say there’s nothing wrong with bloc voting, but the kind that INC practices is one of command. There have been dissenting voices but it looks like no one is interested in solutions. As Columnist Conrado de Quiros asked, why do we allow this?

“Why do we allow the INC…to interfere in elections? We know that INC members vote as a bloc for the candidates of their leaders’ choosing. We know this because that church doesn’t bother to hide it; it parades it as one of the reasons for joining it or currying its favor…This is out-and-out flouting of the separation of Church and State, a thing expressly forbidden in a democracy. And yet we see no law stopping it, and yet we see only politicians seeking to profit from it.” (De Quiros, 2012).

Even thinking INC members are not fooled. They can see what’s wrong and they are concerned about the effects on the government –

“Oh, how terrible and weakening the feeling, hearing those words of politicians who are subservient to the influence of the Iglesia ni Cristo! It is like they have lost their mind. Can you imagine Pavlov’s dog? What these politicians actually salivate for are nothing but the bloc votes of these non-thinking Iglesia ni Cristo. That is the reason these politicians cannot stand up for law.

“It appears that the Iglesia ni Cristo ni Manalo can freely do anything they wanted to do without worry of interference from the government even if they aggrieve others. It is indeed discouraging and seemingly marginalized to feel that one belongs to the people who have no “say” to those in the government. (Ebanghelista, 2015)

Of the next victim, can you imagine? It only happens that the God of Bro. Eli is real who also wanted to prove his power. The spikes of the fierce and vicious, he was able to dumb down. But what if the victim is not a Bro. Eli?

Politics of religion

Yet the INC are ever ready to use the infamous tagline, “separation of Church and State” to defend themselves whenever they could capitalize on it. The principle is that the State cannot interfere in purely religious matters and the Church cannot also interfere in matters of the State.

Miraculously, after Bro. Eli was relieved from that “Interpol wanted” caper, things were happening at the Iglesia ni Cristo even as it approaches the INC’s 101st founding anniversary (July 27, 2015). There was fighting within, amidst allegations of corruption. The very family of the Manalos were in contention: the Executive Minister, that is Eduardo V. Manalo, had excommunicated his own mother and his brother (CNN_PH Staff, 2015).

Corruption was being alleged within the organization even by Angel Manalo, the very brother of the Executive Minister (Malig, 2015). Some ministers have either gone missing or were being held as prisoners within. Court cases flew. At one point in time, the Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima called for a preliminary investigation of several INC church leaders based on the testimony of Mr. Isias Samson, a former minister, with allegations of serious illegal detention.

Wikipedia records that on August 27-31, 2015, the INC held protests. The INC were calling it an alleged violation of separation of church and state due to the DOJ acting on the filed illegal detention case. The twin goals were: (1) Removal of DOJ secretary Leila de Lima from her post, and (2) Junking of the Case filed by Isaias Samson Jr. The results of the 5-day protest were that (1) The Iglesia Ni Cristo announced the end of the protests following talks between church and government officials. And (2) The Iglesia ni Cristo in protester created a heavy traffic jam on EDSA, causing major re routing and road closures. (3) De Lima remained DOJ secretary.

Here comes the question:

Who gave a minority religious group like the Iglesia Ni Kristo, not even one-tenth as many as the Catholic Church, so much power and influence that it has the audacity… to stage a protest and expect the State to kowtow in fear?…It is amazing why election after election, presidentiables and senatoriables have to make a courtesy call to INC leadership like their political lives depended on it. It is mind-boggling how the announcement of INC-supported candidates get more media mileage than the CBCP list (Rivera, 2015).

Buenaobra (2016) echoes the same sentiment: “Despite the failed endorsements, candidates still trooped to the INC compound to get the ‘blessing’ (and votes) of its executive minister.” As news accounts show, previous endorsements of the INC that have failed include: Eduardo Cojuangco who came in 3rd; Estrada who was ousted in 2001 because of corruption charges; Macapagal-Arroyo who had graft charges, and Manny Villar who lost the elections.

Rivera (2015) explains that the problem starts when people who want to control the State are willing to use the Church to get elected. Then, the separation of church and state becomes blurry. Wielding influence in the matters of State is made possible by giving religious groups leeway to dictate election results by their open endorsements, Rivera said.

That is the reason why some politicians are willing to prostitute convictions and the rule of law so they will not earn the ire of the INC and others who may already know their fate with the INC to readily criticize it (Rivera, 2015).

But it may not be the same again to claim that INC members are ‘just protecting their faith.’

Until we learn that we get our ails from our own doing, we cannot say to the INC, it may not be the same again. What we have now is a government fast deteriorating and cheapened from engaging in barter schemes with a “church” demanding special privileges. And this is done through politicians, prosecutors, justices, police and personalities of like stature from wrongful political couplings demonstrated herein. #

References

Abao, J. (2008, August 27). Portrait of the “raped man” for whom the Interpol would mobilize. Retrieved from https://jakeastudillo.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/portrait-of-the-raped-man-for-whom-the-interpol-would-mobilize/ First posted on Newsvine.com

Abao, J. (2014, October 22). Eli Soriano Not Fugitive from Justice: Two Courts Deny Motions. Retrieved from https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/eli-soriano-not-fugitive-from-justice-two-courts-deny-motions/

Astudillo, J. (2013, April 3). Are We Now Going to Give the Country to Bloc-Voting People? Retrieved from https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/are-we-now-going-to-give-the-country-to-bloc-voting-people/

Buenaobra, MI. T. (2016, February 24). The Politics of Religion in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://asiafoundation.org/2016/02/24/the-politics-of-religion-in-the-philippines/

Burgonio, T.J. (2015, November 29). Blogger ‘Ebangelista’ writes Inquirer, warns Iglesia elders. Retrieved from https://technology.inquirer.net/45477/blogger-ebangelista-writes-inquirer-warns-iglesia-elders?utm_expid=.XqNwTug2W6nwDVUSgFJXed.1

CNN Philippines Staff (2015, July 24). Iglesia ni Cristo expels Manalo siblings, mother. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2015/07/23/Iglesia-ni-Cristo-expels-Manalo-siblings-mother.html1

Dalizon, A.P. (2008, August 16). Int’l arrest warrant out for Eli Soriano. Retrieved from http://article.wn.com/view/2008/08/16/Intl_arrest_warrant_out_for_Eli_Soriano/

Dalizon, A.P. (2008, August 17) [Tabloid version posted in People’s Tonight]. Retrieved from http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php?issue=2008-08-17&sec=1&aid=70285

David, R. (2015, August 30). Law, politics and the INC, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/88043/law-politics-and-the-inc#ixzz5gcEUY8du

De Quiros, C. (2012, May 23). Why do we allow this? Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/29267/why-do-we-allow-this#ixzz5gVDXkCjH

Ebanghelista, A.R. (2015, September 21). Iglesia ni Cristo Straining the Gnats but not the Camel. Retrieved from https://incnomore.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/iglesia-ni-cristo-straining-the-gnats-but-not-the-camel/

Ebanghelista, A.R. (2017, June 7). Eduardo V. Manalo’s Administration: Undeniably a Bully Disguised as Holy. Retrieved from https://incsilentnomore.com/2017/06/07/eduardo-v-manalos-administration-undeniably-a-bully-disguised-as-holy/

Malig, J. (2015, July 24). Angel Manalo alleges ‘massive corruption’ in Iglesia Ni Cristo. ABS-CBNnews.com. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/metro-manila/07/23/15/angel-manalo-alleges-massive-corruption-iglesia-ni-cristo

Rivera, B.V. (2015, September 1). The Iglesia ni Cristo and the game of politics. Retrieved from https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/opinion/content/535108/the-iglesia-ni-cristo-and-the-game-of-politics/story/

Santa Romana (1955:381-5), Gumban (1968:41), Fabian(1969:7-8), Sanders (1969:353-5) and Tuggy (1976:57-9,116-9). Fallacies of the Iglesia ni Cristo. https://sites.google.com/site/fallaciesoftheiglesianicristo/biography-of-felix-y-manalo

Smith, Jr., W. Thomas (2003). Black-ops. Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc. p. 31. ISBN 0-8160-4666-2. In Wikipedia

Soriano, E. F. (2016, April 6) Lamentations. (Statements in italics). Skype Conference. Members Church of God International

Vitug, M. D. (2010). Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court. Public Trust Media Group Inc.

Wikipedia. 2015 Iglesia ni Cristo protests. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Iglesia_ni_Cristo_protests

Corruption in News Media and the Charge of Power-grab

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (9/24/2014) – Arrogance is defined in the dictionary as revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance. It can also mean displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or ability. When media does this or when one ascribes to media such power or importance, then its performance of its supposed social function of being watchdog is being judged amiss. Indeed, is media incorruptible?

The Column

On September 9, 2014, an Efren N. Padilla wrote an opinion blog titled, “VP Jejomar Binay and the third commandment.” He wrote this in an online site, gmanetwork.com. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The columnist began with a public pet peeve: that of Binay being of ill repute. Vice President Jejomar Binay was said to deny the testimony of his former vice mayor in Makati at a Senate blue ribbon committee investigation – that he received kickbacks from the construction of the Makati City Hall’s overpriced P2.3-billion building.  He swore in Tagalog that he never received kickbacks –

Sa Diyos at sa tao, taas-noo kong sinasabi na wala akong tinanggap o hiningi na anumang pera sa proyektong
ito o anumang proyekto sa Makati. (Before God and people, I hold my head up high and say that I never received or asked any money for this project or any project in Makati).

Padilla said such denial and swearing sent shivers down his spine. “It stunned me. More so, it terrified me,” he said. The reason was that Binay had the gall to swear in God’s name.

Then Padilla inserted a short anecdote about Svengali, one he looks at as a powergrabber –

And talking about power-grab, I am reminded of Svengali, a fictional character in George du Maurier’s 1895 novel “Trilby.” The story tells of Svengali who seduces and controls Trilby into becoming a great singer using hypnosis. Of course, without Svengali, Trilby cannot perform.

Padilla’s piece was short of calling Binay a power grabber. From whom, Padilla did not elaborate.

Just like our power grabbers, they seduce and control particularly the “great unwashed” to do their bidding for power and make them helpless and dependent. Oh, how quickly we are reminded of the charming and bewitching entrepreneurship of our political and religious personae, and the involuntary ignorance of the lived experiences of our people.

Next, he pigeon-holed Binay with many others.

Is there a difference between the likes of Binay, Estrada, Marcos, Arroyo, Enrile, Revilla, Velarde, Quiboloy, Manalo, Soriano, et cetera? For me, there is none. Our political reality is that religion is now simply a sinister means rather than a noble end to pursue.

The many others, however, do not fall into one category.

Finally, the columnist made an exaggerated claim – that of news media being incorruptible.

I am glad that our people still have an advocate whose job is also to research the issues and to present the facts, to debunk the lies, and to tell the truth—the incorruptible news media!

Rhetorical Analysis

Everyone is presumed right until another one comes forward to prove him wrong. Padilla ended with an arrogant endorsement of news media as being incorruptible, but that is also his claim. What was his issue? That Binay is of ill repute is not debatable anymore – from the context that Padilla had detailed and supported this contention. Indeed, from the daily news reports, we read of the public wish that Filipinos will have as next President one who is not connected with any corruption charge. That is one thing no one would quarrel with. It is every nation’s desire anywhere in the world. From this angle, Padilla’s charge is tenable.

The structure of Padilla’s argument led to discussions about a Svengali. Who is he? The word origin and history for Svengali, according to Reference.com is “one who exerts controlling or mesmeric influence on another,” 1914, from hypnotist character of that name in the novel “Trilby” (1894) by George Du Maurier.

Another definition from Chris Welles as posted in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition is “A person who, with evil intent, tries to persuade another to do what is desired. In the story, the “singing machine” who was Trilby was under the spell of Svengali.

Padilla was therefore referring to non-thinking people made victims by powergrabbers. But he appeared confused because Svengali worked by hypnosis – not by power-grab – although Svengali held power. What do these grabbers do?

They seduce and control particularly the “great unwashed” to do their bidding for power and make them helpless and dependent. Oh, how quickly we are reminded of the charming and bewitching entrepreneurship of our political and religious personae, and the involuntary ignorance of the lived experiences of our people.

This charge is serious! Padilla should go to court – now that he had included Soriano in his tirade against Binay which he implied as power grabber and playing on the ignorance of the great unwashed.

What is Power

Power is different from power grab. One can have power through the appointment of people or through the appointment of God. Power taken forcibly is power grab. But Power is not hypnosis and people are not that frail and corrupt as to be mindless following fools.

Power is not the same as power grab. Power is not always negative. In fact, power can bring order. Power does not necessarily take away thinking as in hypnosis. When people are ruled in a democracy, their minds do not melt at the powerful’s will.

Not Protected Speech

By equating Binay to a potpourri of personalities, this opinionator is left without a conclusion to the ethical issue he presented.

It is not protected speech anymore, Mr. Padilla, when you cannot give reasons why WXYZ is equivalent to Binay. Here’s an analogy:  You would get angry if someone said your book is like the book of Weber on Page 31. One said that without support, with nary a proof given. From a Johari window, that is how you appear to the audience, Mr. Accuser. You get angry because it implies you plagiarized someone. But that is how you impress those assessing your opinion blog. You may have bulls-eyed with Binay, but you hit and run in some.

What is protected speech? The freedom of speech is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. Article III Section 4 of the Bill of Rights provides that: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Free speech comes from facts – not rumors – and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person’s good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their ethnicity or religion. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others. One can always speak, but what if one comes up to demand you to support your allegations?

Responsibility

The right to speak means you are entitled to voice whatever you want to say. However, freedom of speech does not give you the right to anything without consequences to the law.  If you defame anyone or lie about him, there are laws to prevent that, which is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article number 19. This Declaration states that every human being has the right to express their opinions and ideas without hindrance. But you cannot besmirch one’s reputation and cite free speech. It is said that with the right to free speech there comes a responsibility.

Missing Supports

Padilla was making an assertion without an explanation as to why audience would agree – to his equation. What are missing are reasons responsible for his claim. Reasons to arguments are beliefs, evidence, metaphors, analogies, and other statements offered to support or justify conclusions. They are statements that together form the basis for demonstrating the credibility of a conclusion. But the man was hardly reasoning out at all. After describing a scoundrel and fully showing why he thinks of him as scoundrel, he merely dropped bombs on many others innocent to his charges. One of them is Bro. Eli Soriano.

When Freedom is Bad

There is a time that freedom of speech is bad. When is that? When it is practiced irresponsibly, freedom is bad. Too often, some take advantage and claim freedom of speech and of the press and use it as a shield to hide behind. There is a misuse of freedom of the press when anything in print or other media is used to harm another, for whatever reason. There is a misuse of the press when a writer publishes what he chooses without considering the facts. Freedom of the press is misused when reporters, columnists, editors, publishers have little or no accountability for what they produce. That is what this law means.

Disinformer

We call the misuser of this freedom a disinformer. Unfortunately, Efren Padilla has chosen to be a disinformer – a naïve public relations man for media, while at the same time condemning innocent people. Did he do research? Did he look at his facts? Does he really know Bro. Eli Soriano? Or is he merely quoting Soriano’s enemies? Why did Soriano come to have those enemies? Isn’t it because he tells the truth from the Bible?

In fact, it is because media has become foxy that media literacy came into force to protect the public which purpose is to inform the citizens how media can work negatively and how not to be fooled.

Looking back, the reason a government should affirm freedom of the press is to enable the free flow of ideas. In a democracy, the authority to govern comes from the people. The people need to be able to freely access information and put information out for others to consume.  But media can be wayward some ways and that is why media literacy is being taught especially to the youth.

Column Writing

What is the scope of opinion writing? Columnists are opinion writers, but they do not simply write opinions. Here is the scope of opinion or column writing according to ZeePedia.com (MCM 514:19)

Anybody can be trained to write straight news because it is very mechanical. Feature articles, though also somewhat formulaic, are harder because they require good writing.  But column writing is the hardest type of writing of all because it requires good thinking.

To write a good column requires more than just the ability to articulate an opinion. Your opinions must make sense, provide insight and be convincing. And you must do this in an entertaining way.  It requires you to be almost like a lawyer. Through your arguments, you will need to convince the jury (your readers) that your client (your viewpoint) is right. Shaping a powerful argument takes practice and requires both breadth and depth of knowledge as well as the ability to critically analyze a particular issue.

It is clear that column writing is highly personalized journalism but it does not mean one can be illogical and irresponsible. Padilla’s work shows thinking tools that are poorly calibrated for any analytical work. Just from concepts alone that jump from one thing to another without showing their valid connections, it doesn’t pass for a positive teacher’s mark. Especially for one known to have written a book and the fact that an author is expected of more refined thinking than one who is merely writing opinions, one can only shake one’s head.

It is unfortunate that Padilla is as a pretentious visionary whose vision does not have a foothold on reality. When did news media ever become incorruptible?

For one making a prognosis such as looking for facts, facts, and more facts to save people from power-brag and hypnotism but never considering the system that houses his fawning compliments, there is much to say. You should have done your research, man! (Clue: Google for boycott and 37K+ supporters). And did you ever imagine that fawning could be a form of corruption too?

Padilla’s Argument

Here’s the actual structure of Padilla’s simplistic argument:

  1. Binay is a scoundrel (has moral/ethical issues).
  2. Binay is like the following: a, b, c, d, e, f, g (who are Svengali-like).
  3. The answer is facts, facts, and more facts.
  4. News media is incorruptible.

The best that the gentleman could have done is to tie his prescriptive issue to a conclusion and fix it there.

Prescriptive issue: A Presidential Candidate should be upright and proper. Lying and swearing, using God’s name is the last thing he should think of doing.

Supports: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

A: The Office of the President is the conscience of the nation, it deserves a moral occupant.

B: Swearing in God’s name does not make a lie true.

C: Binay swore lies in God’s name.

Etcetera.

However, what Padilla did was to drag in other people aside from mixing the concepts of power-grab and hypnotism, and then finally tossed in the uncalled-for praise on media that is devoid of logic. In effect, how is the flow of connections? If this is not the equivalent of garbled wires in an incoherent’s head, what could it otherwise be?

Mere Assumptions

There is no coherent structure in Padilla’s opinion piece. From his charge of a “Svengali-like political or religious character who covets power by all means, even if it means damning one’s soul or undermining one’s sense of personal integrity,” he was only cat-pawing. Was this Binay?  Estrada? Marcos? Arroyo? Enrile?  Revilla? Velarde? Quiboloy? Manalo? Soriano? But he made an equation, right?

So all of them are deemed equivalent to Binay in Padilla’s assertion. The assertion, however, was not supported and his supposed conclusion for “the incorruptible press” to look for facts, facts, and more facts is looking for truth in reverse. He then takes a dangerous, illogical and unjust path: that of making assertions first and then calls for the press to prove his assertions.

Mr. Padilla, you have included Soriano in your accusation, right? Then prove it!

The Soriano

The only link that can be seen between Bro. Eli Soriano and “power” is that of him correcting Pope Francis in his skewed statements to an atheist. That is because Bro. Eli is well-versed in the Bible and is primarily a faithful steward of Bible truth such that he cannot let these things pass: Firstly, calling Christ a man and not spirit; and secondly, advising Eugenio Scalfari, journalist of the Italian Newspaper, “La Repubblica” to follow his conscience on the question of whether to believe in God or not.  Correcting the Pope maybe shocking to Padilla who does not appear steep in spiritual experience but to people honed in an environment that is suffused with learning, that is expected of Bro. Eli. Is that power-grab? That was rather power of knowledge and understanding at play but not power-grab.

If thousands of Catholics are leaving their Church every week after learning the truth from the Bible Expositions of Bro. Eli, that is hardly power-grab. It is enlightenment.  It is the power of the Holy Spirit in the man that can explain mysteries from the Bible. Bro. Eli does not merely tell stories like priests in other churches do. He expounds on Bible verses very well.

It is also not the work of hypnotism if people can listen to Bro. Eli for hours and hours on end for three consecutive days and more. It is rather due to the understanding of the man that is un-equalled in the entire world. Of all churches, it is only in the Members Church of God International or Ang Dating Daan as locally known where members are encouraged and challenged to think with the preacher. They do not merely listen. Bro. Eli conducts his preaching through Socratic questioning. The style is interactive – between preacher and the audience – and a group that facilitates Bible reading because every teaching comes from the Bible.

Here, there is no place for a Svengali because the culture within is characterized by questioning and answering all the time. Every week-end where there is Worship Service followed by Thanksgiving, there is a Consultation Period where any question can be asked.

To be sure, the language used in Church services is mostly Tagalog and then translated into English, Spanish, and Portuguese, so there is nothing hidden from the members attending services through satellite systems worldwide. Lately, Chinese and Japanese translations were added. There are no images around to venerate and everything is directed to God where the members are taught to worship The Almighty in spirit and in truth.

The names Padilla mentioned do not fall under a single category. Are they dictators like Marcos? Are they known as corrupt like Arroyo? What connection do they have to power-grab that Padilla implied?

Padilla is hitting fellows he does not like. The danger with his equation is that he has hit innocent people like Soriano. Surely, there is no other Soriano that is a religious leader than Bro. Eli – or a religious leader of his stature.

Now, ask the millions of members of the MCGI if that is how they see Soriano. Is he like Binay that he described as corrupt and a liar with the gall to be swearing in God’s name? Does Bro. Eli have entrepreneurship to speak of that are the product of corruption?

Between one man who cannot construct well his arguments, yet accuse Soriano whom he only knows from rumor, and the average of 1,500 people getting baptized every week from Bro. Eli’s preaching, credibility would incline more to the latter than to this opinionator. Verily, he has not even seen fit to supply a single support to his equation claim. Logos, Mr. Padilla! You have to supply it to be credible.

And to a supposed author, tsk! Of course, anyone can be an author nowadays, but not a writer. A writer would be careful about his reasoning.

Media Literacy

Why was there a need for media literacy to be taught in the first place? The premise is that media is not all the time responsible. It can give out lies or half-lies. It can be tricky. Why so? There are many factors. There are many influences that may come in between performing its social responsibilities and offers for material comfort. There are the owners of media who may want to earn profits from political ads and would like to forego rules of parameters. There are the advertisers who may threaten to leave if their rival is given preferential treatment. There are the customers with money with some demands, and the like. On the other hand, there are the audiences that can believe that whatever they read and watch are true – just like what Padilla just wrote – until debunked.  In effect, some people become victims of media carelessness or irresponsibility.

Padilla’s column is clearly confused.  It is false and hollow in most parts. Yet, let’s bet: That piece will stay there no matter what untruth it preaches. Written on GMAnetwork.com  the author appears to be merely ingratiating himself to those housing his opinions. Now is the time they will know that Padilla lacks proper perspective – to even call himself a journalist. Haw-haw! Media is incorruptible? A backhanded compliment – that is rightfully what it is! An “insult” according to the dictionary.

Aside from tossing that unmerited praise to media, the sycophant clearly lacks a wide perspective on religion, more yet a sound spiritual experience. Doesn’t he know that religion cannot be forced on anyone – much less play it by hypnosis?  It appears that his search for truth – if there is – is very much behind his eagerness to write and blow off praise to those who do not deserve while he compromises the innocent. He writes –

This means that the only way to debunk lies and to uncover the truth is to research and present the facts, facts, and more facts.

Sure! As scholarly writing is, yes! That also goes for journalism – even personalized journalism like column writing. This advice is apt for you, Efren Padilla.

Scholarly writing, as well as journalism, does not exaggerate and encourage the penchant for observing adjectives only at the extreme ends of supposed binaries. There could be things in-between as one thing may not be the opposite of another. Nor is everything in superlatives or necessarily the cause of another. For example, how could Svengali-like leaders thrive in our midst? From the other extreme, how could news media be incorruptible? If there is incorruptible news media, there could still be Svengali’s – like it or not – because media is not god nor has the power of God, and secondly, because it depends upon the people if they submit to hypnotism or not. Will they? Definitely, where church services are held in Latin and where idols are venerated, there is hypnotism there because people cannot tell what is true or not.

Here are recent charges of corruption in Philippine media. It doesn’t look like Padilla has been in a cave, yet why doesn’t he know these?

Corruption in Media

Chay Florentino-Hofileṅa (1998, 2004) wrote “News for Sale, The Corruption of the Philippine Media.” This is part of the books of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Notice the introduction and the beginning –

No one in journalism will deny that media corruption exists. There is contention only in the extent of the corruption and the damage it causes…. This study shows both the remarkable continuity of the forms of media corruption as well as the new types of malfeasance that emerged in the 2004 campaign.” (http://pcij.org/bookshop/newssale.html)

Fast forward to 2014, posted in ABS-CBNnews.com is “Time to speak up about media corruption – NUJP”

In a statement, NUJP Chairperson Rowena Paraan said: “We hope that any discussion of ethics and professionalism shall encompass all aspects of the media industry as a whole and not be limited only to weeding out individual offenders. After all, for all its virtues and faults, the Philippine media is a reflection of the society from which it springs and which it claims to serve.”

This comes on the heels of a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that claimed broadcast journalists Erwin Tulfo and Melo del Prado received payoffs from the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), one of several government offices used in the pork barrel scam. (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/03/20/14/time-speak-about-media-corruption-nujp?

The news said among others that Paraan mentioned ownership as well as management patterns that play a major role into why journalists “fall astray.” This is a reality playing into the work of journalists which is why one cannot say news media is incorruptible. Just like in other professions, journalists can fall astray in their work.

Already there is a dictionary for corruption in media in the country (Glossary, 2004). Just where did these terms come from if not from experiences, from reality? We have, for example, Hao siao or Warik-warik. The first is used in Manila while the second one, in Cebu. It is “a derogatory term used to refer to pseudo-journalists, those not employed by a reputable news organization but pass themselves off as journalists in order to cash in on payoffs and bribes made by news sources, particularly during elections.”

Then there is smiling money. The compilation says it is “Cash that is given to reporters or editors for no particular reason except to create goodwill between a source and the journalists. It can also be used to refer to a payoff given after the publication of a positive story, supposedly as a gesture of the source’s appreciation.”

Among many others, there is also Shepherds. These are “journalists who are either jobless or on leave from their news organizations and act as guides to reporters covering a particular candidate or party.” Shepherds are said to take care of the reporters’ needs including accommodations, food, plane fare and other transportation expenses, as well as “extras” like nights out.

Here’s a snippet of a profile interview (Magno, 2004) on Chay Florentin Hofileña on how to battle media corruption. Hofileña from the Center for Journalism, Ateneo de Manila University, is the author of News for Sale. Leo Magno was IT editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and executive editor of INQ7.net when he spoke with her about her latest book.

Magno: In your book, Malaya publisher Jake Macasaet said the problem with mediacorruption is that businessmen and politicians are afraid of the press, that’s why they resort to bribing journalists. Has the press become too powerful and too drunk with power en route to gaining freedom that it feels it could now throw its weight around?

Chay: There is no such thing as absolute freedom. With freedom comes greatresponsibility. The press in the Philippines enjoys tremendous freedom and it has become terribly irresponsible. This irresponsibility will have its costs as credibility is continuously eroded. Look at print – diminished credibility has affected readership,circulation and sales. This is the future of the media that insist on being obstinate and irresponsible.

Jon Joaquin (2014), the managing editor of the largest circulation newspaper in Mindanao, the Mindanao Daily Mirror in Davao City, wrote in Pilipino Express

There are enough bad eggs to spoil the reputation of the media. These are the ones who think nothing of twisting facts in order to enrich themselves, spreading lies or withholding the truth in exchange for money. Some do it passively, merely receiving grease money from their benefactors, while others do it actively, literally extorting money from hapless victims who are targeted for their so-called “AC-DC” activities — Attack-Collect, Defend-Collect. The truth suffers, and ultimately it is the people who are victimized.

Media corruption is a painful topic according to Marissa Robles (2012) –

There is one main reason why readers do not get a complete understanding of the corruption in mass media – the people in the industry don’t want to talk about it. The reason? It involves colleagues, friends, people you see and work with everyday. Apart from this, it’s hard to give names for the simple reason that there is no documentary proof. It’s the kind of practice where people don’t keep records, for obvious reasons.

Talking about corruption in different kinds of media reporting, Robles says of opinion makers –

A different set of rules is followed by newspaper columnists or opinion writers. Sometimes, columnists come from the ranks of reporters but oftentimes they don’t. They are contracted by the newspaper owner or by an editor to dish out opinion on mostly anything under the sun. Because of this, political and corporate strategists love to sit down with columnists, massage their egos and shower them with presents and favors. Some columnists are quite ethical in their dealings with news sources. Others are not.

I have been frequently told by colleagues in the industry the names of this or that columnist demanding freebies from hotels and airlines – just because they are columnists.

The point I’m trying to make is, please don’t blame reporters in general for what columnists write. Columnists are not writing hard news but their opinions and if they parrot word for word the stand of companies or corporate sectors on certain issues, then just stop reading them….

In January 2013, a Covenant Against Media Corruption 2013 was drawn. It was basically about election deals where politicians used to pay for media favors to journalists. In the covenant they are to stop doing these practices and to report of such cases when there are.  The covenant is said to be an outcome of Media Nation 9 last November 2012, an annual conference of media leaders convened by anti-corruption advocates from civil society. The covenant was signed by a diverse group that included representatives of three major TV networks and political parties and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Not long after, on May 19, 2014, there was publicized a report that some media personalities allegedly benefitted from the notorious pork barrel scam. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that some media personalities allegedly received cash gifts from pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles as shown in financial records by principal whistleblower Benhur Luy. How did the covenanters take it? The statement of the National Union of Journalists (NUJP) began this way –

Let Us Take the Bull by the Horns

We have said it before and we will say it again, there can be no denying that corruption is as serious a problem within the media as it is within government and, let us face it, society in general.

Media, after all, do not exist in a vacuum.

Without passing judgment on anyone, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s report on media personalities who allegedly benefited from the pork barrel scam according to accounting records purportedly drawn up by whistleblower Benhur Luy comes as no surprise….

It is time that the Philippine media – and we speak not only of those who work in the news but everyone in the industry, including, yes, the managements and owners – recognize the problem and save ourselves and our people from ourselves. 

Foxy Media

So there!  News media is after all as corruptible as ever! And to preach that it is not is insane. The likes of Efren Padilla feeding the public about news media being incorruptible is already corruption itself. It can make the people believe that everything written and published is true and incontestable. The truth is, with too much entertainment from media, the great unwashed are made content and forgetful of their realities. With focus on celebrities from media, the great unwashed are taught that success is materialism, and that life is about make-up and false pretense. With games and time-consuming gift-giving programs from media, laziness is encouraged and that lining up for hours as a gamble is preferable to working meaningfully at home. With gyrating at the studios from media, the children are taught that learning from their books is painful and that the boob-tube is a better school. With gossip and exposure depending on power and exchange of favor preferred by our media, the great unwashed are all at attention, and that is about all the information they get. Add the campaign for media being incorruptible and you peddle total untruth.

In writing about, “The high cost of media corruption” in his column for Philippine Star, William M. Esposo (2012) wrote –

Planting false information in peoples’ minds is a worse form of corruption than simply giving a public official a bribe. A poisoned mind fails to properly discern and eventually makes some very bad decisions for the country — like electing the worst candidates that corrupt media promoted. The only reason why these corrupt media practitioners have not been checked and prosecuted is because legislators are politicians and are afraid of a media backlash.

What about the Filipino minds? Should we blame their kind on Svengali-like leaders like Padilla said?

Filipino minds today are over-entertained and under-informed, with a good part of the blame going to the tri-media that failed to provide its most important service. This over-entertained and under-informed state of the Filipino mind can be likened to the proverbial devil’s workshop of the corrupt media practitioners.

Marites Vitug (2012) from Rappler.com wrote on “Media Secrets” and began, “Are you prepared for this? Colleagues in the media estimate that 85% of us are corrupt! That’s a super majority.” That is closer to truth because the respondents are media people themselves. But according to Transparency International, only 14% of the respondents think Philippine Media is corrupt. That shows how the public is sadly ignorant of what is happening.

Accordingly, in other countries like United Kingdom, the latest Transparency International on corruption reflects that media is perceived as the most corrupt group at #1 (69% respondents), beating politicians (45% respondents). In France, media is #2 most corrupt next to political parties; and in Germany, media is #3 most corrupt, next to political parties. In Switzerland, media is #2 perceived worse than public officials, and in the United States, media is #3 most corrupt group next to government and congress.

Last Word

In helping media to know themselves better, this piece is written as reader feedback to column writing that needs CORRECTION. Following Danguilan-Vitug’s (2012) proposal for covenanters to “not get caught” corrupt as part of media’s attempt at self cleansing, here’s an advice to Dr. Efren Padilla and those like him: 1) Shun away from loose talk about media being incorruptible; 2) Increase your research and retrieval skills before you publish; 3) Don’t believe gossips and rumors for you build on falsities; 4) Own up to innuendos you have started. Support them or else apologize for your error if you made one; 5) Man up if you cannot, and face the world. When you fail to do these that is corruption too.

____________

 

References on Corruption in Philippine Media:

A glossary of media corruption. Excerpted from News for Sale. The Corruption & Commercialization of the Philippine Media. (2004, October 12). http://www.hotmanila.ph/content/media/glossary-media-corruption

Buenaobra, M. & Reyes, J. (2013, January 30). New covenant to curb media corruption in Philippines ahead of Midterm Elections. Retrieved from http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2013/01/30/new-covenant-to-curb-media-corruption-in-philippines-ahead-of-midterm-elections/

Danguilan-Vitug, M. (2012, November 26).  Media secrets. Retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/16756-media-secrets

Diaz, P. (2012, November 28).   Corruption in the media. Globalita.com. Retrieved from http://globalbalita.com/2012/11/28/corruption-in-the-media/

Esposo, W. M. (2012, December 30).  The high cost of media corruption. The Philippine Star. http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2012-12-30/891421/high-cost-media-corruption

Florentino-Hofileṅa, C. (1998, 2004). News for sale. The Corruption of the Philippine Media. http://pcij.org/bookshop/newssale.html.

 In face of shady election deals, media leaders issue covenant against corruption. (2013, January 22). http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/291507/news/nation/in-face-of-shady-election-deals-media-leaders-issue-covenant-against-corruption

Joaquin, J. (2014, April 1).  Corruption in Philippine media. http://www.pilipino-express.com/editorialopinions-sp-161843661/pov-philippines/2418-corruption-in-philippine-media.html

Magno, L. (2002). Battling media corruption in the Philippines: Profile interview: Chay Florentin Hofileña, Center for Journalism, Ateneo de Manila University, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 15, 221-225. Retrieved from http://ro.uow.edu.au/apme/vol1/iss15/20

Media tackle issue of corruption, Philippine Daily Inquirer. (2012, November 24). Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/312063/media-tackle-issue-of-corruption

Robbles, R. (2012, November 30).  “Part 1: A painful topic – media corruption,” http://raissarobles.com/2012/11/30/part-1-a-painful-topic-media-corruption/

Time for PH media to address corruption in ranks – NUJP. Raapler.com. May 19, 2014. http://www.rappler.com/nation/58413-ph-media-corruption-nujp

Time to speak up about media corruption – NUJP. ABS-CBNnews.com. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/03/20/14/time-speak-about-media-corruption-nujp. 03/20/2014