Lying through his teeth (Part One)

The longer P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV told and retold his version of what happened on November 29, 2013 inside a plush subdivision in Mexico, Pampanga, the more his credibility sank into a morass of dishonesty. He lied blatantly, and when pressed, made changes to his story, perhaps thinking he could fool the Senate committee on justice and human rights, and the entire nation. Never before have I seen such a liar.

Baloyo had nothing to back his story except his word. On the other hand, a mountain of evidence told an entirely different story. This individual doesn’t deserve to wear that uniform and badge of an officer of the Philippine National Police a minute longer. An orange uniform of a Bilibid prisoner is what suits him.

BALOYO’S VERSION:

At around 2 p.m. on November 29, 2013, a confidential informant walks into the intelligence branch of the Pampanga provincial police office. This “asset” — slang for informants — narrates to Baloyo that there is a big-time drug pusher operating in the Woodbridge Subdivision, Lake Shore View in Mexico, Pampanga. The debriefing took one hour, and Baloyo takes the asset’s story as truthful. Immediately, he organizes a team of 13 including himself and proceeds to the target. He had sent ahead two policemen to conduct surveillance and rendezvouzed with them at a gasoline station at around 4 p.m.

Baloyo was able to raise P100,000 to be used as “marked buy-bust money” in a test-buy before making an arrest. He said it was a certain policeman named Santos who gave him the money. The money consisted of 100 P1,000 bills, with each paper note signed “by the operatives” as the marking.

At around 4:30 p.m., Baloyo carried out the buy-bust and arrested a Chinese national, Ding Wen Kun. They recovered 36 kilos of shabu and P300,000 in cash. The situation became tense when two security guards arrived and challenged the police officers, who were in civilian clothing. “They were armed with shotguns which were aimed at us,” Baloyo said.

To secure his men from this threat, Baloyo said he and his men boarded their vehicles, taking with them an estimated 200 kilos of shabu and a vault believed to have contained P55 million, and drove off toward the Pampanga provincial police office.

His immediate superior, then P/Senior Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, said there was a press conference at around 5:30 p.m. in which the seized shabu and cash were laid out on a table for presentation to the public. This last detail was confirmed by retired Police General Manuel Gaerlan, who was then deputy regional director for PRO 3.

This is the core of Baloyo’s story.

THE TRUE VERSION:

There was no buy-bust. It was an unauthorized raid on the residence of Chinese national Johnson Lee. Apparently, Baloyo had been monitoring the activities of Lee in the distribution of shabu from that house. His superior, Albayalde, knew about it. (After all, the first rule is that the commander must know everything that is happening.) Baloyo was looking for an opening to pounce on Lee. The opportunity came in the morning of Nov. 29. Baloyo learned there was a large shipment of shabu. He had to move fast.

But instead of applying for a search warrant, Baloyo and his men barged into the house of Lee. The Chinese national was able to jump over the fence and ran away to ask for help. He didn’t know that the intruders to his house were policemen. Lee went to the barangay hall to report the forced entry into his house.

The barangay officials telephoned the Mexico, Pampanga PNP station to report the alleged home invasion by the armed men and the presence of Lee in their custody. Three uniformed policemen were dispatched to investigate. Lee was taken aboard the patrol car back to his residence. There, he came face to face with Baloyo and his men, now ready to haul their loot.

This gave Baloyo a bonus. Instead of just the shabu, he had the suspect in custody. But then it wasn’t a legitimate drug buy-bust that he had planned. It was a money-making enterprise. Baloyo had removed a steel safe containing P55 million from the house. He struck a deal with Lee: open the safe and he will set the Chinese national free. Lee was only too glad to comply.

Two blue guards from the private security company assigned to Woodridge Subdivision arrived at the scene to investigate. Baloyo identified himself as the intelligence officer of Pampanga provincial police office. The security guards could not do anything. Baloyo and his group left, bringing with them their stash of shabu and cash. The three policemen, thinking everything was in order, also left and headed back to the municipal police station.

It was just before noon of November 29, 2019. (To be continued)

 

Teaching kids how to write

In any age, good writing skills are always an advantage for every individual. Its importance is even bigger in this era of social media, when we need to write brief and concise posts to convey our ideas. Good thinking is equated with good writing, and vice versa. This is the reason every parent should want to see their children grow up into good writers.

But unlike all other subjects, there is no formal course for teaching children how to write. In fact, the best writers didn’t learn their craft in the classroom. Teaching writing in the traditional sense of education doesn’t exist. There is no one method or approach to teaching children how to write.

I speak from experience. I’ve reached a point that I can fairly say that my writing skills would be proximate to excellent. At 60, I’ve probably written millions and millions of words, most of them in my work as a journalist. I was also a public servant (Provincial Administrator of Iloilo) for nine years. I worked in a bank for eight years. And as a parent, I’ve raised six children into becoming good writers.

I’m sure that my formula — if you can call it a formula — is similar to others who achieved a high level of writing skills and taught their children to do the same. It’s not a big secret. It is very simple.

In 1991, I had the privilege to attend a seminar at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, FL as a 32-year old Filipino newspaper editor. I spent a week with Dr. Roy Peter Clark, considered the guru of American journalism writing. I came to Poynter with a feeling of inferiority. I was at the Mecca of journalism, and I had vowed to bring home as much knowledge about writing.

Dr. Clark asked the participants to write a feature story. At the time, the Apple Mac was still a novelty. I had never laid my hands on an Apple Mac before. Oh boy, did I relish every moment writing on a Mac (I think it was Mac II with floppy discs). It was like being allowed to drive a Rolls Royce; that’s how primitive IT was at the time in the Philippines.

And so I saved my work on the Apple Mac II and waited.

After a day, Dr. Clark invited me to a small conference room for a one-on-one coaching session. My first question was: what mistakes did I make? Was my grammar atrocious? Was I an embarrassment to the institution which gave me an all-expenses paid trip to Poynter?

To my surprise, Dr. Clark was all praises for my writing. “Where did you learn how to write?” he asked. My lame answer was: “In school.”

Of course, that was an exaggeration. School didn’t really teach me how to write. But school was where I was introduced to reading. It helped that my aunts had plenty of old editions of Time, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest. These I literally gobbled up whenever I could.

Looking back, I realize now that this is how most of the great writers discovered their talent. At a young age, they devoured books. It became their introduction to a world of words. Every page that they read became a building block for their writing ability.

No writer who is now famous was given formal lessons in writing. As Dr. Clark told me, “you taught yourself how to write.” This is the same thing with all writers. Later in life, it helped that they had mentors. This is the reason journalism is one of the best ways to sharpen one’s writing skills. Editors teach us what to avoid and how to conserve on words to put across our meaning.

Having great writers as models is also a good way to develop your writing skills. When we read the great books, we come to see how their ideas are packaged in easy-to-comprehend sentences and paragraphs. I do remember a high school teacher tell us: “If you want to write well, just follow the three R’s: read, read, and read.”

So, if you want your children to learn how to write, encourage them to be readers at an early age. That will give them a big headstart in becoming good writers.

National Heroes Day musings

We honor our heroes today, not just those who figured in our history and whose names we had memorized while still in elementary and high school, but also current day men and women who have died for our country, or put their lives at risk so that their countrymen could live in freedom and peace.
It’s not just the dead who are heroes. Every man or woman who has served in the armed services and law enforcement is also a hero. When a person is willing to give up his or her life to protect our institutions, he is elevated to that status as well.
Ordinary people can also be heroes. We have seen countless examples of individuals braving fires, or rough seas, or any other dangerous situation, to save lives. We witnessed this kind of heroism a month ago when three pumpboats capsized in the Iloilo Strait, sending 31 passengers to their deaths. Without hesitation, porters and crew members of other pumpboats rushed to the scene of the accidents to rescue the victims. We can only imagine how many more lives were lost without these heroes.
It’s unfortunate that as a people, we don’t really show appreciation for the sacrifice our heroes have had to do for our nation and for our people. On National Heroes Day, most of us look at it as a public holiday, a long weekend. This is perhaps one of the reasons we haven’t developed a strong sense of patriotism.
I salute our heroes, both living and the dead. I hope their sacrifices will ultimately build a badly-needed patriotism among our people.

More radio reporting bloopers

Fire call in Barangay Baldoza, Lapaz, Iloilo City.

Anchor:  Gina-interrupt naton anay ang ini nga programa para sa isa ka flash report gikan sa aton patrol. Patrol, please come in.

Lady reporter 1: Naga sunod kita subong sa mga firetrucks sang BFP nga madasig nagapadulong sa Barangay Baldoza, Lapaz. Makita na naton subong ang maitom nga kalayo.

Anchor: Maitom nga aso (gently correcting her).

Lady reporter 1: Ay huo gali, maitom ng aso.

Anchor: Kuhaon naton ang report gikan kay Lady Reporter 2. Lady Reporter 2, please come in from your location.

Lady reporter 2: Tama ka dako na gid ang maitom nga kalayo sa sunog nga nagaluntad diri sa Baldoza, Lapaz.

Anchor: Maitom nga aso buot mo silingon (with no sign of exasperation).

 

How stupid can stupid be?

Anchor: (In Tagalog) Boracay island is now on its second day of closure to tourists, and tourists and workers in hotels and other establishments have started leaving the island since yesterday. Our reporter is live from Boracay to give us a situationer report on what is going on. Reporter Juan, please come in.

Reporter Juan: That’s right, Boracay has suddenly become a ghost town as thousands of tourists left the island yesterday on the first day of closure. Workers are also leaving the island after their establishments heeded the order of President Duterte and allow an inter-agency task force to start rehabilitation efforts. With us right now is Pedro, who is one of the displaced workers, and is now packing up his things to leave the island. Sir, does your boss still intend to keep his place open (for the duration of the island closure)?

Now, isn’t that a stupid question? What business owner would keep his place open, paying salaries of his workers for six months when there would be no tourists to patronize their hotel or restaurant?

Radio networks should provide training for their reporters and anchors to avoid embarrassing situations like this.

Back to the airwaves

The first time I sat as radio anchor was back when I was still in college. RMN’s DYVR station in Roxas City was then being managed by Mrs. Violeta Arnaldo, widow of the late Lorenzo “Inzo” Arnaldo who was a city mayor of Roxas City. I think it was in the summer of 1977 when Tita Violet sent word she wanted to see me. I was 18 years old.

Tita Violet told me her station had a slot for the summer for a disc jockey. But I had no experience talking on radio, I replied. She said I can learn on the job. The time slot was 7-9 p.m. every day, from Monday to Friday. It was just for the two months when school was out. All I needed to do was play music and do occasional ad-libs. At the time, Roxas City had no FM stations. Radio was AM — news, drama and music.

That was 40 years ago. After that two-month exposure to radio, I was hooked. And so it was that in 1991, I was confident enough to accept the job offer of Fred Davis, then area manager of Manila Broadcasting Co. (MBC) to join his line-up of anchors for the new radio station that was to be opened. This was DyOK 720, which is now known as “Aksyon Radyo Iloilo”. I stayed there for two years.

Interview with Jovy Salonga and Nene Pimentel DYOK

As an anchorman of DYOK 720 in 1992, I interviewed the venerable Senator Jovito Salonga who was then running for President in the 1992 national elections. With him are former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. and the late Iloilo Vice Governor Ramon Duremdes.

Print journalism was always my number one passion. And even when I occupied positions in government, I always managed to find time to write columns for The Daily Guardian and to blog. I have been blogging since 2008. I anchored a weekly radio program when I was Provincial Administrator of Iloilo to deliver reports about the Tupas administration and engaged critics over issues. In 2012, I was back on radio to tackle issues about corruption. Then City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was a constant target for criticism.

Being a communicator is really in my blood. Recently, I have done Facebook Live broadcasts, and I am happy to note that

With John Paul Tia

Being interviewed by Aksyon John Paul Tia in 2014.

it was well received. This is how I could serve the people — to inform them and to educate them by dissecting issues especially in this age of fake news. It is easy to be confused and misled, and I hope I can enlighten the public about the truth.

This is the motivation that led me to negotiate with 89.5 FM of the Aliw Broadcasting Corp. to buy a radio block time starting the first week of May. The time slot is 7:00-8:00 p.m. It will not be exclusively about politics; I intend to talk about health, business, entrepreneurship and personal growth. I will do interviews with a variety of resource

Aksyon Radyo interview

Speaking before the microphone to elucidate on issues.

persons to achieve that purpose.

It will be like fish being thrown back into the water for me.

As much as possible, I will avoid doing hard-hitting commentaries, although I know that is what many people want. I will keep any criticism positive, with the purpose of calling attention

to matters that need straightening up by those in government and business. I have also ordered equipment to allow me to do Facebook Live during my program and engage listeners not only in Iloilo, but worldwide, in an active conversation about the issues.

Watch out for my announcement on the maiden broadcast. I am just finalizing the details.

Political agenda

Over the weekend, Rommel Ynion published several posts on Facebook outlining his views on what ails Filipino society in general, and Iloilo City in particular. One interesting post dwelt on corruption: Ynion said we should stop complaining about how corrupt our officials are, because there can be no corruption if the people don’t allow it. We deserve the kind of government we have, that’s essentially what Ynion was telling us.

Screenshot 2015-12-28 09.51.26I gave my own observations in reaction to the post. And there followed quite a long thread on our respective viewpoints. There are general agreement that voters are responsible for the kind of government we have. But I argued that voters as we know them now are incapable of making judgments that would lead to choosing leaders who truly look after their interests. Ignorance, brought about by poverty and poor basic services of government, is the culprit.

What struck me as significant is that politics in the Philippine setting has lost its brains. Just take a look at the television and radio commercials being aired — the treatment of vital issues affecting society is skin-deep. Nothing of substance can really be discerned. And the posts made by Ynion could initiate a move in the right direction.

It’s time the electorate demand to read and hear the views of candidates for the May 9, 2015 elections on the burning issues. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it’s possible for candidates to conduct virtual town hall meetings in which ordinary citizens can engage them with spontaneous questions and listen to their viewpoints.

We have reached a point when Facebook and Twitter has become accessible for ordinary Filipinos. Smart and Globe provide free access to their subscribers. Now, any Filipino citizen with a mobile phone can make his voice heard to their political leaders. Genuine leadership  makes it imperative for politicians to rise to the challenge.

So far, in Iloilo City, only Ynion has shown that he possesses the intellectual readiness with his views on issues. If he keeps up with similar posts, he should be able to articulate a well-crafted political agenda that every Ilonggo can ultimately claim as his or her own. That’s because as the discussions get deeper, Ynion will get to understand how people feel and know what their aspirations are.

Ynion might be running for a City Council seat this time, but it doesn’t stop him from assuming a position of leadership in Iloilo City. He can serve as a guiding beacon that would slowly, but surely, illuminate the minds of fellow Ilonggos and make them realize it’s in their power to achieve the changes in their lives.

Change does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a charismatic and determined leadership to make it happen. I strongly believe Facebook and other social media are giving us the singular opportunity to achieve that goal.