Who is adobo ilonggo?

Atty. Pet Melliza wrote in his blog that there are three distinct writing styles that are apparent in the black propaganda machine, Adobo Ilonggo. That’s true. Right from the start, the identity of these three individuals became obvious to me. Having been in Iloilo media for over three decades, I’ve become quite familiar with writing styles. It’s not rocket science. And it’s easy to piece things together. Just look at their backgrounds and motive can be established without sweat.

A lady and two men. That is the core composition of this evil triumvirate. Holding them all together is Jeffrey Celiz, the former mouth piece of Bayan Panay and expelled member of the CPP, and now the spokesman of City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog. The other man is Nereo Lujan, who was also expelled from the Philippine Daily Inquirer after being caught in flagrante delicto with dozens and dozens of plagiarism cases. The lone woman is Hazel Villa. She is the smooth and literary style that could occasionally be read on Adobo Ilonggo.

Let’s go to motives. Jeffrey Celiz is a no-brainer. He is defending Mabilog, so he needs to put up a platform to neutralize the stream of exposes thrown against his boss. And being a no-brainer, his only recourse really is to use profane language and throwing heaps of lies as he had done during his Bayan-Panay days. That’s why he recruited Hazel and Nereo.

Hazel is a business partner of Celiz. They run communications workshops together. They pulled a big stunt for the “Sinadya sa Suba” that didn’t quite bring fun to the Iloilo River. All it did was reward them financially. Hazel is angry at Rommel Ynion. She was fired about a year ago when he failed to deliver on the online platform for The News Today despite having obtained cash advances of P120,000. Her deadline came, and went. She promised to rush things up. After two weeks, editor in chief Junep Ocampo cancelled the contract and asked her to return the money. Hazel was able to cough up only half the amount. And she was really angry.

She became a natural candidate for Jepoy to recruit. They had a common enemy, in addition to their business and personal relationship.

Jepoy saw Nereo as another helping hand. Nereo has turned the internet into a platform for terroristic attacks against the characters and reputations of his targets. Jed Patrick Mabilog was one such target during the campaign period for the 2010 elections. Nereo put up blogs and Facebook accounts exposing Mabilog as a closet gay. It wasn’t hard for Jepoy to figure out how Nereo can be useful to his cause. Let bygones be bygones. Mabilog can forgive him if he turns his guns on the critics of Mabilog.

It wasn’t difficult for Celiz to persuade Lujan. Nereo has an overwhelming obsession to destroy me. I was the one who gave this guy his biggest break when he was still starting as a reporter for The Daily Times. But he is consumed by a passion to do better than me — “lapawan niya ako” — and he has done a lot of nasty things in his efforts to do so. That’s why when he was writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he bombarded its news desk with bundles and bundles of stories every day. He looked like a super reporter with his story output.

The problem is that the stories Nereo Lujan filed with PDI were all stolen from other local newspapers. At the time, we shared an office at the Lopez Arcade along with his erstwhile friend and partner, Joy de Leon. When I saw what he was doing, I counseled Lujan to stop the practice. It was just lead him to trouble, I said. He just snickered at the thought. A few months afterwards, the whole nation turned its attention to the controversy over the disposal of Metro Manila garbage to the open pits of Semirara Island off Antique province. Almost all national dailies sent reporters there to tackle the story.

For a few days, the by-line of Nereo Lujan dominated the front pages of PDI with his stories. Then one day, a photograph taken by Arnold Almacen, who was then connected with the Sun Star network, appeared on PDI with Lujan’s name on the credit line. Almacen had submitted the same picture to Sun Star, and his editors quickly saw the theft. They complained to PDI.

As it turned out, Almacen asked Lujan to ship his rolls of film taken from Semirara during the lone instance that the plagiarist had gone there. Before shipping the film to Sun Star, Lujan had them processed and printed, and took a few shots with him. He submitted them to PDI as his own. That’s plain thievery.

An embarrassed PDI ordered an investigation. Ironically, it was Hazel Villa, who is also an accredited PDI correspondent, who did the initial inquiries. When the preliminary inquiries validated the cases of plagiarism, the bureau chief of PDI in Cebu, Connie Fernandez, came to Iloilo and double check. The plagiarism cases, and theft, were established without doubt.

Lujan was quickly banished from PDI without much funfare. Plagiarism is the worst sin that a journalist can make. It is akin to leprosy in society.

Lujan became angrier because his dream to overtake me as one of the more successful journalists in Iloilo was frustrated. He became angrier when Boboy Syjuco fired him as a consultant from his district office in 2000 because he wasn’t doing any work. He blamed me for his loss of a lucrative contract. I was chief of staff of Syjuco at the time.

These individuals are hiding behind a camouflage in mounting a campaign of vilification, defamation and condemnation against just about anybody who dares speak against Mabilog. Even innocent women and children are dragged into their online offensives. They want to scare everybody against helping the cause of truth and justice. Even private individuals who happen to express opinions that are not favorable to Mabilog are hit.

Atty. Melliza is right in saying that the intensity of adobo ilonggo will rise now that the Ombudsman has commenced on criminal and administrative investigations against Mabilog. They will try to destroy my name and credibility in the desperate hope that Ilonggos will not believe the charges I have filed against the mayor. Too bad, this is no longer a propaganda issue. This is a legal issue. Mabilog has failed to destroy me through adobo ilonggo, and he has now to face the Ombudsman on these issues.

COA exposes lie peddled by City Mayor Mabilog on City Hall project

When asked by media why the Iloilo City government didn’t conduct a competitive public bidding for the P260 million supplementary works contract for the City Hall project, the quick reply of City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog was that it was the Commission on Audit that advised him it was okay to do so. This letter from State Auditor IV Ofelia T. Demegillo disproves this claim. More than that, it exposes the blatant lies peddled by Mabilog:

Jed Mabilog hates concept of ‘transparency’ in government transactions

Transparency in government transactions is one thing that Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog hates these days. He doesn’t want to give the public free and unhindered access to documents. Here’s a link to a short article on that:


‘University City’

City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog never gets tired of conjuring new schemes to show constituents how tirelessly he is trying to promote Iloilo City  to investors and tourists as a premiere destination. On Tuesday, I heard Aksyon Radyo Iloilo reporter May Ortega talk about Mabilog’s initiative to package the city as “university city” in the hope of attracting more foreign students to pursue their university education here. As usual, Mabilog’s latest scheme is purely air, with no substance.

Perhaps Mabilog is unaware that the city is already host to thousands of foreign students, South Koreans among them, attending school in prestigious universities here for several decades now. There is no need for him to push that image; Iloilo City’s reputation as a center for excellence in education has been existence since he was still wearing short pants. It will do little to repackage the city with that label he has in mind.

It’s time Mabilog realizes that governing Iloilo City isn’t about slogans and labels. The product can speak for itself. What the city desperately needs is honest and accountable leadership, where decisiveness and transparency are major hallmarks, and constituents are able to repose their complete trust and confidence in their leaders. Sadly, after almost one year and a half in office, Mabilog has veered off course from an ethical and moral compass in leadership, and is now navigating in the turbulent seas of scandal and corruption.

It’s also time for Mabilog to realize that as a university city, he is dealing with constituents who can easily through his not-so-brilliant schemes and crude attempts to hide his dishonesty, incompetence and lack of sincerity. Ilonggos are an intelligent people. Mabilog may have succeeded to disguising his true character in the last elections, or persuaded voters that he was the “lesser evil”, but at the rate his popularity and trust ratings are falling, even his supporters are now crying “abandon ship” to avoid being sucked deep into the ocean of corruption.

It’s time Mabilog stops treating Ilonggos as stupid and gullible who will just believe everything he peddles. So far, what we’ve seen with Mabilog are scams and frauds that speak volumes about his character flaws. Perhaps he thinks he has become a master of disguise and a Houdini escape artist who can extricate himself from tight situations. But he’s wrong. His true character is now being unmasked and exposed. At a young age, he is mired in corruption and deception, and I can’t see how he can advance another step in politics.

The deceptive and dishonest character of Mabilog is capsulized in the corporate fraud that he masterminded to abscond the P2 million financial grant of United Parcel Service (UPS) for the improvement of the English language teaching competency of public school teachers in Iloilo City.  Here is a man who deliberately deceived a generous donor to pursue a noble project and rake in P2 million! In any language, he betrayed his true identity as a scam artist masquerading as a public official. That’s the reason he is keeping quiet and steers clear of the issue. He knows there’s no way he can justify his actions.

In other cultures, such behavior would have led to his resignation as city mayor. But then, Mabilog has developed a thick hide. He has lost the sense of decency and honor. He has become insensitive to public criticism, just as he is now ignoring the cacophony of negative commentaries about how he turned the Jaro public plaza into a giant pissing ground, open-air karaoke bar and flea market for the next four months. He feels compelled to keep barangay captains in Jaro who stand to reap millions of pesos from rental income from the Jaro plaza to keep them loyal.

It doesn’t help Mabilog that he has a spokesman with a loud and foul mouth. He forgets that the behavior and language of his spokesman is a reflection of him. The public has constantly found Jeffrey Celiz to be offensive in the way he talks on radio. I won’t be surprised that many Ilonggos have changed their view from positive to negative about Mabilog just on this basis. I guess Mabilog and Celiz simply deserve each other.

The bottom line is that no amount of media hype to promote Iloilo City as “university city” will not change reality. The corruption stinks, and worse, the stench is emanating from the city mayor’s office. That is certain to become the biggest turn-off  for investors and visitors who might be interested in coming here. Propaganda, especially bad propaganda, can’t deodorize that stink.

Management by stupidity (Part II)

With all the issues about corruption now swirling around City Hall, a lot of people are feeling frustrated that little effort has been made by the city leadership to answer them point by point to erase any doubts in their minds. For six months now, the propaganda machine of City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog has focused its efforts on trying to destroy the names of media personalities who are in the forefront of these exposes. Their strategy is simple as it is stupid: paint Mabilog’s critics as evil, and the issues will vanish from the public consciousness.

This is a classic example of a beleaguered leadership unable to extricate itself from the quagmire of rottenness. Its actions demonstrate its desperation to survive the endless onslaught of exposes. Cornered, its propagandists can only put up a smokescreen in the hope it can buy time to elude the issues. Unfortunately, the issues won’t go away, and more people are waking up to the ugly picture of a corrupt city government.

Mabilog hasn’t helped his own cause. In fact, he has only succeeded in sinking himself deeper in the quicksand. First, he betrayed his lack of knowledge and understanding of his work as local chief executive. Second, he complicated the situation by refusing to remedy the situation by avoiding being trapped by the scandals. Rather than flee from the scandals, he waded deeper into the muck, thinking he can out-duel his critics in a word war.

Basically, it’s Mabilog’s acts of stupidity that is causing him to self-destruct.

As it is, there’s an increasing clamor for performance, and Mabilog has nothing to show after more than a year in office. He has a long list of impressive-sounding plans, but scores “zero” on implementation. When he assumed office on June 30, 2010, he boasted about the completion, and inauguration, of the City Hall by the time the city government marks its 74th Charter Day anniversary. That didn’t happen. So many of the things he promised didn’t happen.

Why has this been so? Because Mabilog’s style is management by stupidity.

He thinks he can always spin stories around people to create a positive image. He’s forgotten that credibility is a major commodity for leadership. Each time he makes a promises he doesn’t keep, a chip falls from his bank of credibility. This is such an elementary act of stupidity for a leader. As a result, it hasn’t taken long before his own image was destroyed.

Mabilog has singled me out as one of his detractors. He doesn’t know it, but he is his own worse enemy. If I have an arsenal of issues about him, it’s because he’s made so many stupid mistakes. He is breaking apart by his own wishy-washy decision-making and double-talking. I am only a messenger of the truth.

It’s obvious Mabilog feels the impact of these issues, because he is expending so much energy and resources just to hit back at me. Again, this is an act of stupidity. He should really spend more time telling the people the truth rather than send a band of goons to rough me up. As the saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

How far can this kind of management by stupidity go?

Halfway into his first term, Mabilog has become a lame-duck. With a heavily-bruised face after the series of scandals that hit him, he is becoming more afraid to do anything. His latest actions show a badly-shaken individual who has lost his confidence in trying to mislead people. He knows his old techniques are now worn-out. He hasn’t achieved momentum. He has fallen short, far too short, on delivery. He needs a new bag of techniques to survive.

Will Mabilog be able to recover? Only he can answer that. But it will require a major overhaul of his management style. He will have to invest in rebuilding his tattered credibility. He will have to regain the confidence of the people. And he will have to achieve that ability to get good advice from well-meaning people, not only from those who lick his ass.

In short, he should stop being stupid.

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.

A valid security issue

Over the last week, I have written a series of articles in The News Today about the security risks confronting military and police officials over top secret intelligence and plans on counter-insurgency that are routinely submitted to the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), which is chaired by City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog.

The security concerns were raised after it was pointed out that Jeffrey Celiz, the vociferous loud blabbering mouthpiece of Mabilog, may have access to the top secret information because of his newfound position as political affairs liaison and spokesman. And Celiz has not severed his ties to the New People’s Army (NPA).

As expected, the articles drew sharp reactions from Celiz, and another militant left figure, Jory Porquia. Celiz claims he is no longer active in the NPA; he has lived a life of peace and quiet, he said. Porquia says his organization, Bayan Muna, is not in any way connected with the communist underground.

Why is it hard to believe that Celiz hasn’t cut his umbilical cord to the NPA?

For one thing, Celiz has only his word to back his claims. Unlike the military or police, the NPA doesn’t issue certificates of honorable, or dishonorable as the case may be, discharge to guerillas who leave the organization. Nobody can substantiate his claim.

And it is common knowledge the NPA frowns upon cadres who leave the movement without a valid reason. Perhaps poor health is a good excuse. But saying that he’s had enough of the hard life of a guerilla, and now wants to pursue a peaceful existence, is not acceptable, according to sources.

A former NPA guerilla told me that you can only leave the communist underground horizontally —- meaning dead. Celiz just casually walked away, as if he just told his comrades “I’ve done my part, so just keep on with the armed struggle without me.” It doesn’t happen that way, the ex-rebel told me. In fact, this ex-rebel keeps a low profile, because he doesn’t want to advertise his existence in this world.

On the other hand, Celiz continues to advertise his link with the communist underground.

Even after he was appointed as political liaison officer of Mabilog, Celiz has consistently peddled the communist line in his own writings. More than a hundred media persons in Iloilo and Bacolod who are members of the “Media” group that I established on Facebook can back me up on this.

For a while, Celiz was member of this “Media” group, and during that time, he wrote about almost nothing else but sing paeans to Jose Ma. Sison, Mao Xedong and Joseph Lenin. He wrote about the struggles of the peasantry and about how communism would save them. He didn’t even write about Mabilog. I didn’t think Celiz posted those articles as intellectual exercises. He was trying to influence group members to embrace the communist cause. It was his version of a “teach-in”.

I also stumbled upon a police blotter report about a death threat made by Celiz against a barangay councilman in Tanza Timawa, Molo, Iloilo City last April. In this instance, Celiz warned barangay kagawad Cris Decena that he will have the hapless person whacked by the NPA. Knowing that Celiz was indeed an NPA cadre, Decena went to the police to complain about the threat.

Definitely, all these are not figments of the imagination. This is not fiction. And it can’t be denied that the military and police are uncomfortable about Celiz’s access to their information.

Let me add that this isn’t a military conspiracy as Celiz strongly advocates. This is plain journalism, pure and simple. It wasn’t suggested to be by the military. What I did was solicit reactions from them to allegations from Celiz’s own former comrade in arms. However, the Philippine Army and PNP have kept mum about the issue. I just talked with friends in the military and police for their personal views.

Mabilog has kept quiet about the issue. His strategy is to make it appear it has become a personal word war between Celiz and myself. He wants to pretend he is above the fray. But if he thinks the issue will just go away, he is wrong.

The issue about Celiz being the right-hand man of Mabilog isn’t confined to the security risks it presents. The fact that Celiz apparently holds the local chief executive by the balls, so to speak, is also causing discomfort to local businessmen. The name of Celiz is synonymous with destabilization. For so long, he has done nothing but cause destabilization in the streets as a militant activist. For a business community that is predominantly conservative, having an agent provocateur in the halls of power is worrisome.

Of course, nobody can tell Mabilog what to do about the issue. As DILG regional director Evelyn Trompeta put it, “it’s a judgment call on his part.” Mabilog is responsible for his own actions. If there are leaks, and such leaks result in deaths or injury to the government side, only Mabilog will have to be held accountable for his stubborn refusal to heed warnings.