Pressed

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IT’S NOT rocket science, and neither is it brain surgery: the country has a new President, and the press must re-examine its assumptions when it covers government. The ex-President it loved to hate is busy reinventing herself. She’s no longer in Malacanang, and with her have gone some of the most offensive public officials this country has had to pay out of public funds. The relationship based on suspicion, mistrust, and outright hostility between the press and the government ceased to exist last July 1. A new one will be, and should be, taking its place.

Will the task of getting information be hard for the press, or will it be easy? Will government officials be so transparent as to develop through the press the public awareness of what government’s doing every democracy needs? How its relationship with the press will develop and what that relationship will be like will largely depend on the Aquino III government and its officials.

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Messages

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THE speed with which the Philippine National Police has identified, and filed murder charges against, the suspects in the killing of an Ilocos Norte journalist was unprecedented.

Police investigations into extrajudicial killings and the killing of journalists, if they take place at all, usually move with the speed of flowing molasses. This time the investigation, identification of the suspects, and the filing of charges took place in one week in what must be the police equivalent of lightning speed. It is also unusual for local officials to be so quickly charged , the alleged principal being the vice mayor-elect of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. But that he has not yet taken office and established the usual networks with the police and the military could have helped hasten the process.

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But he has nothing on

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THE ADVICE, totally unsolicited, for Benigno Aquino III to be “consultative” and to be the President of “everyone including his enemies” sounded odd indeed from a Malacanang bureaucrat who was no doubt speaking on the instructions of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Being everyone’s President, after all, is the last thing Mrs. Arroyo, has been.

But Elena Bautista Horn, the current chief of Arroyo’s Presidential Management Staff, presumed to lecture Aquino on what being President of the country should be like, in belated reaction to Aquino’s saying that he would not retain Gen. Delfin Bangit as AFP Chief of Staff.

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Mother problem

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The current (and seemingly worsening) power crisis and what it could mean to the May elections, among the possibilities being that of a nation wide shut-down of the machines being put in place for the first ever automated polls.

The possible granting of emergency powers to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to address the power shortage in Mindanao. Questions over Arroyo’s last-minute appointments in the military and the executive branch. Her literally hundreds of “midnight” appointments to various positions, from ambassadors to bureau underlings.

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Let them eat dirt

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It’s no hot dog stand, but it’s no Max’s Restaurant either. Its owner Sirio Maccioni describes it in its website (www.lecirque.com) as “a place where the worlds of food, fashion, art and culture converge,” although he doesn’t say how it enables patrons to live, or even to just think about, art and culture between the soup and the entrée.

New York’s Le Cirque seats about 150 in separate dining, private event and bar areas. Its décor of yellow and orange evokes “ a circus big top that actually looks more like the inside of a humungous lamp shade.”

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