Eye of the storm

It’s very seldom that a journalist hugs the center of a political storm. But in a hurricane of scandals that is now lashing at City Hall, City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog has conveniently dragged me into the eye of the storm. Yesterday, in a press conference following a dialogue between militant groups, on the one hand, and the Army and police on the other, Mabilog virtually accused me as being responsible for the threats and intimidation.

Mabilog had actually declined to name who that “only one person” was. But several media persons who covered the press conference made an educated guess: Mabilog was referring to me. That conclusion was helped by Mabilog’s linking the whole issue to the exposes about anomalies in City Hall.

It’s no secret that I’ve been in the forefront of these journalistic exposes, particularly on the security risks posed by the position of trust and confidence given by Mabilog to Jeffrey Celiz. In fact, entire radio block-time programs of the City Hall have been devoted to attacking me in a vain effort to destroy my credibility.

Apparently, having seen his feeble attempts to undermine my credibility, Mabilog has decided to shift his angle of attack against me. He wants to paint me as a diabolic figure with a Marcos-era military tendency to go after leftist militants in violation of their human rights. The trouble with Mabilog is his fiction is far too incredible to be seriously considered.

First, I am a peace-loving person with no record of violence. Unlike Celiz, I have never been accused of threatening another individual. Never have I physically harmed anybody, and I’m not prone to losing my temper. I know for a fact that Mabilog is quick with his temper and often humiliates subordinates. Me? I always keep my cool.

Hence, based on my profile, I would be the last to be made a candidate for that role. It simply doesn’t fit my personality.

Second, I adhere to democratic principles. Free speech is sacred to me. When I was provincial administrator, I practiced this principle to the letter. When militant organizations asked for permission to use the Rotary Amphitheater as venue for anti-government protest actions, I never hesitated to grant their requests. Once, when then ICPO chief, Senior Supt. (now retired and incumbent city administrator) Norlito Bautista wanted to arrest leaders of Bayan and other groups, I forbade him from entering the Capitol grounds and prevented him from carrying out his orders.

It’s amusing to think that I should be accused of strong-handed acts and intimidation when I’m a plain civilian, an ordinary journalist. Definitely, I don’t carry as much clout as Mabilog now that he is City Mayor and chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC). I don’t move around with a platoon of bodyguards . I don’t have the resources of the government at my disposal.

Let me reiterate that I have nothing personal against the militant left organizations. In fact, many of its leaders have become my friends. When it comes to friendship, I don’t distinguish whether one is rightist or leftist, rich or poor, gay or straight.

But if Mabilog is saying that my exposes have become the most potent threat to his political ambitions, he may have a valid point.

I will plead guilty if he charges me of courageously digging for the truth and then reporting it to the public through The News Today, or the “Kapehan sa Bali”, or my weekly “Isyu” radio block-time program.

I will plead guilty if he charges me of opening the people’s eyes about the magnitude of the corruption in City Hall and exposing his involvement in these shameful misdeeds.

I have long known that Mabilog has financed the black propaganda against me. But I never bothered to confront him about it over the airlanes. It’s part of the hazards of the trade, so to speak. When you persist in digging for the truth, you often get hit hard, and you have to be ready to suffer the consequences. In a number of cases, journalists have had to pay with their lives.

I can see that Mabilog is mortally wounded, politically, with the exposes I’ve written and reported. His thick web of lies have been cut smoothly in the middle with the sharp scalpel of investigative journalism. The truth has been exposed, and more continue to be unraveled, by our journalistic crusade.

This is the reason Mabilog has now taken to using his powers as RPOC chairman against me. He wants to drag my name into the left-military tug-of-war in a feeble and vain effort to discredit me. But truth has a way of making its way to the surface no matter how thick the murk in the water.

Truth is my only weapon. With truth, I need not be afraid even of the RPOC chairman.

Mabilog should learn to tell the truth more often. It’s going to be good for his political career. He may have fooled a lot of people once, he may have fooled some people twice, but he’s never going to fool the people all of the time.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

One Response to Eye of the storm

  1. The issue of front organizations like Bayan being part of the CPP/NDF/NPA is an old one. I didn’t invent it. The issue I’ve reported on is about the security risk posed by the presence of Jepoy Celiz in the City Mayor’s office as his right-hand man. Mabilog happens to be chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), which gives Celiz access to sensitive information. Is that red-tagging?


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