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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.

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Judge habeas corpus

(Coffeebreak, December 11, 2015)

It was a story that I had hoped would be a journalistic scoop: the story about how Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr. had won his freedom from prison despite a life sentence meted upon him upon conviction for selling an estimated 50 grams of shabu sometime in March 1989 in Barangay Tanza Esperanza in Iloilo City.

For more than two weeks since that attempt by Odicta and his group to break into the premises of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo at 12:50 a.m. on November 19, 2015, the entire legal and media community were at a loss to know how Odicta could have gotten out of jail after serving only six years at the Sablayan Penal Colony in Mindoro Occidental.

There was, as far as everybody interested in the case could establish, no pardon or parole granted to Odicta by the Office of the President. He just seemed to have walked out of prison with the gates thrown wide open for him, with no obstacles thrown his way.

But Odicta was no Houdini. He couldn’t have just unchained himself from incarceration. I knew there had to be a document somewhere that would unlock the mystery.

True enough, a source handed over to me a sheaf of old documents that included an Order from the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 276 granting the petition of Odicta, along with 49 other prisoners, for writs of habeas corpus filed sometime in March 1995.

The petitioners were mostly convicted for violation of R.A. 6425.

What made the petitions highly questionable was the fact that these were filed by batches of 20 or 30 prisoners, and not individual cases as procedure would dictate. These were lumped in two special proceedings, and disposed by Judge Norma C. Perello, then the Executive Judge, in one sweeping order granting the petitions.

Odicta’s petition was anchored on the revised schedule of penalties for R.A. 6425. Under the old law, the penalty of selling prohibited drugs, including marijuana, was life imprisonment. Odicta was meted the life sentence for selling 50 grams of marijuana to undercover narcotics agents of the defunct PC/INP.

R.A. 7659 which was enacted in 1994 lowered the penalty for selling marijuana below 750 grams . The penalty for Odicta’s case was to be lowered to prision correccional, with a maximum imprisonment of six years.

As he had serving time for more than six years at the time, Odicta argued that there was no more reason for him to spend more time in prison. He asked the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 276 to order his release from prison.

Judge Perello issued a blanket order on May 4, 1995 issuing a writ of habeas corpus and directing the Director of the National Bilibid Prisons to release Odicta and his co-petitioners without delay.

Until Odicta’s lawyer, Atty. Raymund Fortun, showed copies of these documents before the media on Wednesday afternoon after filing a complaint for libel against Aksyon Radyo Iloilo anchormen and management, nobody had known about their existence.

Only I had a set of these documents. I received them one week ago. It was only because I needed to verify their authenticity, and do more research about the circumstances behind the grant of the writ of habeas corpus, that my story that came out in The Daily Guardian yesterday was delayed.

But the story didn’t end there.

There is a deeper mystery, and possibly ground for a revocation of the release order, that our investigation uncovered.

Judge Perello, as it turned out, was not exactly the kind of magistrate who dispensed justice without fear or favor.

Based on decisions of the Supreme Court, Judge Perello had in fact been found guilty of “gross ignorance of the law” in two administrative proceedings filed against her. In the first case, she was suspended for six months without pay as penalty. In the second case, she was fined P40,000.

The investigation conducted by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) showed that Judge Perello carried a heavy load of habeas corpus case while she was Executive Judge of the Muntinlupa City RTC.

And the Supreme Court auditors discovered evidence of highly irregular disposition of these habeas corpus case covering the period 1998-2004. Among the anomalous practices was that Judge Perello didn’t even have copies of the convictions of prisoners who filed the petitions before her. In a few cases, entire folders were missing.

This can only lead to one conclusion: that Judge Perello had ran a racket selling writs of habeas corpus to prisoners in a hurry to get out of prison. As the Supreme Court established, she released prisoners who had not even served the full term of their sentences. No judge in his or her right mind would do that.

Now that there is an inordinate interest in his case, Odicta can expect that authorities will seek a reversal of that habeas corpus writ issued under highly anomalous circumstances.

The judge who issued the release order already has a track record of irregular official acts that were made ground to find her guilty of gross ignorance of the law.

Odicta should now brace himself for a legal storm that might sweep him back to jail. Judge Habeas Corpus, which is perhaps the proper title for Judge Perello, won’t be there to hand him his freedom on a silver platter, not anymore.

Journalism and technology

I feel a deep sense of contentment as I sip a scaldingly hot cup of instant coffee this morning, a Sunday.
I have just finished my column for The Daily Guardian-Western Visayasfor tomorrow and submitted it by email.
I am “back in the groove” as a full-time journalist.
Often, I look back to my early days as a journalist and find amusement in comparing the tools of the trade.
Back in the 80s, I pounded out my stories on a manual typewriter, consuming reams and reams of bond paper every year. I was the type of writer who didn’t like to see many corrections, which are typed-over with x’s. I would often rip out the bond paper on the typewriter and replace it with a fresh blank page until I am satisfied with the copy (the technical journalism term for news story).
The first time I had my hands on a personal computer was sometime in 1985. My friend Joseph Marie Maravilla Alba ran a computer training school near our editorial office in the Yuhum Bldg. and he allowed me to write my columns and editorials on a PC/XT. It had a green monochrome monitor with RAM of only 64KB! Files had to be saved on 5 and 1/4″ floppy disks.
Writing became a totally different experience when I started using a computer. Not having to type-over with x’s the errors was a liberating experience for me. It allowed me to concentrate on the thinking part of the writing, not the mechanical act of typing.
In 1991, my mom Linda Mejorada gave me a Tandy laptop computer from RadioShack as Christmas gift when I visited her in New Jersey. I felt I was in heaven. It had an LCD screen and 256-kb RAM. The files were stored in a smaller but bigger capacity 3.5″ floppy disks. Battery life was only 2 hours. I was so proud to own that.
After that, computer technology spun so fast that laptop models became obsolete in less than a year. I haven’t been without a laptop ever since.
In the late 90s, Palm rolled out its PDAs with handwriting recognition. For almost a decade, I was hooked to the brand, changing models as often as they came out in the market. I switched to Blackberry about seven years ago because I needed the push-technology for email.
I had been a Windows guy until three years ago when Rommel Ynionintroduced me to Apple. He gave me an Apple Mac Air and iPad (which was followed by a MacBook Pro). Now my loyalties are divided. I switch back and forth between my Windows gadgets and my IOS gadgets (I’m writing this on an Apple Mac Book Pro).
I dumped Blackberry last year after it failed to keep up with the advances made by Android devices. Sometime in October 2013, Samsung came out with its Note 3, and Smart offered it under a postpaid plan. Mine had just expired and I was persuaded to try the Note 3.
That switch to Samsung was one of those giant leaps for me in picking gadgets for the trade. It put me connected to the Internet 24/7 and provided almost every tool I needed as a journalist. It has a great camera. I am enamored with its S-pen technology for my notes.
At this point, I feel I have more than adequate in terms of technology needs. But those engineers at the computer and smart phone companies aren’t getting tired of making innovations and introducing new technology. 
In the end, being a journalist isn’t really about technology. These gadgets won’t make you a good writer. They do make life easier though.

 

 
 

 

‘Kuryente’

The local media was victim of the creative scams of Jed and Jepoy about so-called achievements to boost the image of the city mayor.
In media parlance, “na-kuryente”.
Jed and Jepoy had been jumping up and down like monkeys lately telling the people about a plan to rehabilitate the city’s traffic lights system with help from ABS/CBN chief executive officer Gabby Lopez.
Consistent with

their penchant for painting a rosier picture than the truth, Jed and Jepoy said the plan is likely to roll out soon because Lopez supposedly promised to bring executives of IBM Philippines to Iloilo City for this project.
Jed and Jepoy boasted that Lopez even volunteered to lend money to the city to make the project a reality.
This tall tale reached the attention of ABS/CBN, forcing Bong Osorio to issue a disclaimer yesterday.
It’s not true that Lopez offered to bring IBM Philippines over to Iloilo. Neither did he offer any loan to the city. Ka-boom!
I knew that sooner or later, the campaign of lies will collapse. No lie can ever go unexposed. Jed and Jepoy are now singing a different tune. They never said those things, they claim. So they are now lying again to cover up a lie. It’s a vicious cycle for liars.