Eli Soriano Not Fugitive from Justice: Two Courts Deny Motions

By Jane Abao

Manila, Philippines (10/22/2014) – Two courts refused to declare an international evangelist a “fugitive from justice” as sought by his enemies, particularly those he had been criticizing for their false beliefs and practices. This means the preacher is still far advanced over his enemies trying hard to see him dead.

BRO. ELI SORIANO. Keeping quiet when he sees something wrong is not his cup of tea. Photo by Sweetwasabe.

As court records would show, Bro. Eliseo Soriano was accused of libel twice for which complainants sought the courts to declare him fugitive from justice but failed to get a favorable ruling.

The preacher who is referred to simply as “Bro. Eli” by his constituents, is the Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) or Ang Dating Daan as known by the public for its flagship radio-TV program.  By practice, the preacher readily exposes false practices in his effort to preach truth from the Bible. He does this particularly through his Bible Expositions or in his preaching to the congregation. The result is sometimes vehement reaction from those who prefer to remain as they are, in terms of filing court cases aside from libel.

The preacher left the country sometime in December 2005 after a series of attacks from the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in the form of court cases and a raid of the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila where Bro. Eli held office.

The complainants in Criminal Case 5957 (For Libel) at the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, Philippines sought a motion to declare accused Eliseo Soriano a fugitive from justice and to issue a hold departure against him.

However, in a decision signed by Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez on August 31, 2007, the motion was denied. Soriano’s counsel had underscored that his client is under intense persecution by the INC, explaining his failure to return to the country.

Despite a court denial, in 2007, two years later, the 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. The court this time took pains to explain the meaning of “fugitive from justice” as one already “convicted by final judgment.” Until proven guilty, an accused is considered innocent.

In a decision 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,” thereby the motion was denied. Among others, the decision said the prosecution admitted that the accused left the country before the filing of the case (September 5, 2006), therefore the intent to evade prosecution is not present.

Incidentally, the first Libel case (Criminal Case 5957) was dismissed seven years after it was filed. In an eight-page decision penned by Josephine Zarate Fernandez, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76 of San Mateo Rizal, TV Broadcaster Eliseo F. Soriano was acquitted of the charge of libel. The order signed on January 14, 2014 said that malice was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

According to Law, malice is one of the four elements of libel that must be sufficiently satisfied for the case to succeed. The three others include: the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another, publication of the charge, identity of the person defamed, and existence of malice. The absence of anyone of these elements will not make the case prosper.

The private complainant was a Dr. Nancy Pascua represented by her counsels Atty. Abraham Espejo and Atty. Rodel Morta. Pascua was found vilifying Bro. Eli to her peer doctors who happened to be members of the MCGI that Bro. Eli led. The decision records that at that moment, Pascua was with Bernardo Santiago and his wife, both excommunicated members of the MCGI who were admitted to the INC. For background, Santiago’s wife Yolanda, legally belonged to another MCGI brother for which reason (adultery) Santiago was expelled. Bernardo Santiago is now an INC minister.

Bro. Eli reportedly reacted to the attempt at disinformation: “Baka quack doctor yon kaya galit sa akin,” (She may be a quack and that is why she’s mad at me). It was on this basis that Pascua filed a libel case. The preacher’s statement, however, was reportedly meant to underscore that a true doctor does not inflict pain on people – be it physical, mental or psychological. This case was dismissed including the earlier attempt to declare Bro. Eli a fugitive from justice.

The other case (Criminal Case 06-248365 – For Libel) that failed to get its motion to declare the preacher as fugitive from justice, was archived. According to the camp of Bro. Eli, INC Ministers named Michael Sandoval and Ramil Parba incited Muslim suicide bombers to run after Soriano to avenge the criticisms of the preacher about their beliefs and raid the ADD Convention Center. Here’s an excerpt from their exchanges on television:

Ramil Parba: Hindi ako papayag niyan! Kung ako ngayon ay miyembro ng Abu Sayaff? Miyembro ako ng MILF? Halimbawa, miyembro ako ng Suicide Bombers? Naku! Hindi ako papayag na basta ganun lang yan!  (I would not allow that! If I were a member now of the Abu Sayaff? Member of the MILF? For example, I were a member of the Suicide Bombers? Oh, no! I would not take things just like that!

Michael Sandoval: Lulusob ako sa Apalit. (I would raid Apalit).

The ministers openly did this through Net25 in their program, Ang Tamang Daan.

This went with the filing of a libel case by Muslims against the preacher in 2006 but which was archived after all these years.

These court cases relieving Bro. Eli were not publicized earlier by the MCGI such that enemies capitalized on rumors being perpetuated by his enemies that he is running away from the strong arm of the law. Recently, a disinformer went as far as writing to the editor of a publication in the United Kingdom  named Planet demanding to know why a ‘fugitive from justice” is allowed to advertise his activities instead of being reported to authorities. The MCGI thought it is high time the public should know about these two court decisions.

To Bro. Eli’s camp, the only group that is gaining from this syndrome inflicting injuries on the preacher is the Iglesia ni Cristo. Soriano happens to be the most severe critic of this group.

The “INC Syndrome” to the MCGI is actually a package that includes the following: 1) Excommunication in the MCGI means the person is not anymore acceptable due to filthy living and/or continuing violations of doctrine. But Church members excommunicated from MCGI are readily admitted into the INC after which they are made complainants or witnesses in court cases filed against Bro. Eli; 2) Court cases rain on Bro. Eli running the gamut of libel, obstruction to justice, murder, rape; 3) Net25 is used by the INC ministers to incite Muslims to run after Bro. Eli to avenge his criticisms of Muslim beliefs;

-4) Several broadcast programs of Bro. Eli  or he and his co-anchors get suspended with time or indefinite time by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB); 5) Rape case filed against Bro. Eli by an excommunicated Church member that went to the INC gets dismissed for lack of evidence; the Department of Justice under the Office of the President of the Land intervenes, gets the case elevated to them and then refiled;

-6) Bro. Eli is forced to leave the country late 2005;  7) Net25 is used by the INC ministers welcoming back Bro. Eli home with the free services of Amurao Funeral Homes, Amurao, being their “kapatid.”

-8) Interpol is attempted initially to locate Bro. Eli as Wanted for “sex crimes” which scope is not even covered by the concerns of the international body; 9) Motion to declare Bro. Eli a Fugitive from Justice is filed in two courts; and

-10) Disinformation campaign from the Internet extends to foreign media.

In each of these, Bro. Eli believes the The Almighty he serves has been saving him. Advertisements welcoming people to listen to his Bible Expositions are a part of normal routine. The fact that he advertises himself belies the claim that he is in hiding, the MCGI explained. Secondly, he preaches to the world via satellite and could be located if he is really wanted. The disinformer exerting influence on foreign media had not considered that advertising oneself and preaching openly could hardly be the behavior of a fugitive from justice.

Despite the continued disinformation, instead of seeing Bro. Eli banished from the face of the earth as desired by his enemies, all the more he has widened his base for preaching. When he speaks in Bible Expositions, all six continents are linked to his base. From statistics, the MCGI has tremendously grown over the last seven years since Bro. Eli set base in South America.

When asked about images, tithing, practices that are not espoused by the Bible, Bro. Eli continues to irk religious leaders with his answers. But it is part of his role as Truthcaster, preaching the Bible whole, the preacher claims.

What did the INC not want the world to hear from Bro. Eli as broadcaster? For one, the preacher underscores the devious effect of the Iglesia ni Cristo Command Votes practice that is actively influencing politics in the country. Public knowledge reveals that the members are commanded to elect certain candidates – be it someone judged to be unworthy for the elected position. Failure to do so would  merit sanctions. After the elections, the INC would recommend their people to sensitive positions as forms of payback. The devious effect can be said to have filtered into the justice system of the country by way of these Command Votes for the President of the Land and other national elective positions. [Read this book for more on the justice system: Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court by Marites Danguilan Vitug, Public Trust Media Group Inc 2010].

To analytical minds, “Command Votes” is the right term because there is bloc voting that allows the will of the voter to reign. In contrast, in the Command Votes practice of the INC supposedly for unity, there is no freedom to choose, such that some leave the INC on account of such practice. Most leavers can be found in the MCGI who lament that they had to vote for the rivals of their very own relatives – against their will.

An earlier blog of Jake Astudillo (April 21, 2013, this blogsite)  wrote –

Alex Magno of Philippine Star calls this more of “command votes.” As practiced by the INC it is command votes, he said, “evoking sad imagery of witness voters and omnipotent political lords.”

Whatever you may call it, the INC had perfected this practice by declaring candidates to support only a few days before the actual casting of votes – when the most likely candidate to win is already palpable. They then appear to have exerted some influence when the candidate wins, who usually would call in to thank them.

As discussed by Preacher Soriano, this bloc voting syndrome has affected the country as exemplified by politicians’ sycophantic bestowal of favors to the Iglesia ni Cristo. There is the obvious hope of abbreviated efforts in having to troop to their chapels for endorsement during election time.

Jake Astudillo is talking about the controversial re-naming of already-named streets to Felix Manalo Street’s by politicians, and granting INC (July 27) holidays to INC members in their localities. It is a practice gradually getting established that takes a less strenuous exercise than having to go to the INC Palace for endorsement or inclusion in bloc voting.

Why do politicians do this – rename streets in heroes’ names into Felix Manalo’s and grant holidays to INC’s in their localities?  Did the INC ask for these street re-naming and July 27 holidays? They did not, some INC claim. Isn’t it an effect or more precisely an offshoot of this Command Votes practice? To re-quote Astudillo, “There is the obvious hope of abbreviated efforts in having to troop to their chapels for endorsement during election time….  this syndrome has affected the country as exemplified by politicians’ sycophantic bestowal of favors to the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

The INC Command Votes practice is really at the root of the INC Syndrome, some quarters swear to that. They get their influence from it and use it to persecute others. Meanwhile, they ensconce themselves in power. This INC is hardly a CHURCH, according to Bro. Eli. If this were a true church, it would not display these symptoms.

But there is the necessity to speak – for the benefit of others. At his age, when Bro. Eli goes, at least he has been harping about the nefarious practices of this so-called very influential group: scattering their grandiose chapels everywhere but deforming their members within. With him, enemies may do everything, but he depends on what God can do.

“I am old. I don’t know how far my work will take me. As to preaching, there’s a direction to follow: from east to west to north to south. We are going north,” Bro. Eli would say.The Bible indeed points to that direction in not only with a single verse. When you consider what the preacher is saying and referring to, it is the Antipodal Map that he is busy following.

Advertisements

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

 

 

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 4 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 14 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 40kb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 11th with 1,200 views. The most popular post that day was What the Dissenting Judges Wrote: Bro. Eliseo Soriano Vs Laguardia, MTRCB on Speech.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, mcgi.org, twitter.com, elisoriano.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ang dating daan, daniel veridiano, ang dating daan tv, book of eli, and the book of eli.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

What the Dissenting Judges Wrote: Bro. Eliseo Soriano Vs Laguardia, MTRCB on Speech June 2010
44 comments

2

Ang Dating Daan boycotts giant TV network GMA, Bro. Eli decries harassment June 2009
164 comments

3

Dr. Jose Rizal’s language very much alive in Bro. Eli Soriano June 2009
74 comments

4

Ang Dating Daan blasts GMA7 self-branding as House of Truth July 2009
77 comments

5

Thank you for the sorrows – Preacher in exile April 2009
33 comments

The Face of War: Preacher in Exile Dares Powerful Nemesis to Finally Debate

By Jane Abao

An international evangelist, considered as the most queried man on earth today reiterated his need to face his powerful nemesis in a one-on-one debate on television live. Also counted as the most sensible preacher of our time today, his challenge is not one to be easily dismissed. Some quarters look at this challenge as a spur to the debate of the century long expected by those familiar with this preacher.

Filipino evangelist Bro. Eliseo Soriano who had exiled himself for expediency, reiterated today (23/1/2008) his challenge to a church leader of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, translated as Church of Christ) to come out in the open so that this man could defend his teachings. Soriano had been very critical of false preachers ever since, most especially those of the INC.

Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister of the INC, one whom Soriano calls a false preacher, has been ignoring Soriano’s call for a debate. Soriano is the presiding minister of the Church of God, International, better known through their program, as Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) by the public.

Eraño is the son of Felix Manalo, founder of the INC. He is politically a kingmaker in the Philippines for his bloc-voting congregation and is much sought after by politicians for help come election time.

Soriano, 61, left the Philippines in a hurry towards the end of 2005 when conditions turned sour to his interests as preacher, on the belief that Manalo had much to do with the string of cases maliciously filed against him. Word had reached the evangelist of impending events to happen. As he did not want anyone of his people to be sacrificed if they defended him, Soriano left the country upon advice of his security personnel.

A formal challenge to debate with Manalo was published by Soriano in one whole page of the broadsheet, Manila Times, in March 2005. The intention was to end once and for all the contentions between them and to let the public see who among them was telling the truth.

However, the INC Executive Minister Manalo merely told Soriano through his ministers in their TV program, Ang Tamang Daan (The Right Path), to debate with the Pope of Rome first and speak Latin before attempting to debate with him.

Ang Tamang Daan is an INC counterfeit of Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), Soriano’s long running program which has won several awards. For the nth time, Soriano who has been based abroad for two years now is reiterating the call for debate with Manalo.

In a bible exposition where the interactive portion, “Ask Bro. Eli” was held today at Marinduque, south of Manila, via satellite from the United States, Soriano who is called Bro. Eli, has been challenged by a minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo or INC to explain why Soriano kept referring to his church as Iglesia ni Manalo (Church of Manalo). Soriano replied that there are so many churches of Christ but it is only the INC who refers to Christ as man and that he never was God at any time. Therefore, to make a distinction that the church of Christ he was referring to is the one that believes in Christ as man, Soriano had to refer to this group as Iglesia ni Manalo, he said.

Further, Soriano reasoned out that the Wesleyans did not find it offensive if their church was referred to as the Church of Wesley, just as the Mormons and the Aglipays did not feel slighted when they were referred to as the Mormon church or the Aglipayan church. Soriano also showed some documents on screen for the audience to see that Felix Manalo, the founder of this church, referred to the Iglesia ni Cristo as “my church.”

Piqued with the preacher’s answer, the minister of the INC (name unidentified to the audience) insisted that he could debate with Soriano at that very moment, but the latter countered that he must have the authority of Manalo first. The minister claimed that Soriano had been evading debate with his group, to which Soriano retorted that he was the one who had long been challenging Manalo to come out in the open and defend his teachings. He also warned the INC minister not to reverse the truth.

Answering from his seat abroad where is he based, Soriano said in a raised voice, “It is I who kept calling for Manalo to come out in the open and debate with me. Don’t you dare reverse the truth.”

As published in Wikipedia, “Eliseo Soriano posted a paid advertisement in Manila Times broadsheets and invited the camp of Iglesia ni Cristo in a one on one debate and discussion. The Iglesia ni Cristo answered Soriano on their program by asking him to debate first with Pope John Paul II which was bedridden at that time and died a few days after this was posted.”

The INC minister, who was tagged as the 14th inquirer in the “Ask Bro. Eli” portion of the program that night, walked out of the hall after failing to get what he wanted. As he left the hall, many of his followers took after him that several seats were vacated up front. However, even as the INC group left, there was excitement in the air.

It is nights like this that the audience becomes excited whenever one would dare challenge Bro. Eli. Until now, it is said, no one has proven this man wrong when it comes to biblical matters. His work history is one tracked with many exciting debates – with the losers leaving in bitterness after their erroneous teachings were exposed. Bro. Eli does not flinch whenever he comes face to face with false preachers, it is said. The INC are not excluded from the many fiery attacks of this evangelist.

It was evident that the inquirer was not there to ask questions on matters of faith or salvation but to register his angst and anger against the host for labeling their church as Iglesia ni Manalo.

Eliseo Soriano comes off as the most queried man on earth today. Working initially with Filipino audiences wherever they could be found, he had expanded on to international audiences. In his program, “Ask Bro Eli,” he is asked several questions ranging from relationships, to dreams, to ailments, to spiritual concerns, to management, to governance, to deep matters of truth, and he would answer by reading direct from the bible.

Each month, Soriano’s program gives off an average of 10 bible expositions where about 20 complex questions in each are asked and he would give long comprehensive answers. Each month, therefore, Soriano’s program that is held in the evening up to midnight could reap about 200-250 questions and each year, about 2,500 questions. The program had started its heydays in the radio then. Most of the questions are those not answered by the pastors of the inquirers. They included questions about idols, spirits, prayers, death, tithing, the real Jesus Christ, resurrection, judgment day, living, God the father, false preachers.

“Ask Bro. Eli ” has long been showcasing Soriano’s prowess in answering questions where most of the inquirers were enlightened and had joined Soriano’s faith – not excluding those from the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Soriano is now facing multiple charges in the Philippines filed by the Iglesia ni Cristo and its sympathizers – all of them arising from his work as evangelist. The witnesses are either those Soriano had excommunicated from his congregation for various offenses, public officials who had benefited from the bloc-voting practices of the INC, and even those who stood to gain from the filed cases.

The impact of the evangelist’s work has drastically reduced the membership of Manalo’s church that heavily depended on tithing – which practice Soriano has been preaching against. Tithing according to him is merely Mosaic law that is not applicable to Christians today.

Wanting to continue with his mission as one in a hurry, Soriano tries yet to be safe from those who would want his downfall. With his impressive humanitarian work of caring for the helpless of Philippine society, he feels he is not being given the justice due a Filipino citizen.

In one of the many earlier discussions of Soriano on Biblical topics, he had intimated that the last war to be fought will be a war between truth and evil.

Soriano had earlier filed a case with the International Human Rights Commission.