Changing the topic – Manila Standard

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It’s a propaganda tactic I’ve seen the Yellows employ so many times during their reign in the previous administration. Now, long after their do-nothing idol has left Malacañang, they’re still wagging the dog.

Some people are accusing Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre of being my source for yesterday’s column on the bribe attempt on Saldy and Lorenza delos Santos. This is a brazen attempt to divert the P2-million bribery issue, by trying to find the source of the report and, in all likelihood, to exert pressure on him or her to recant.

But to be fair to Aguirre, he merely confirmed hearing about most of the facts I’d already reported when I interviewed him on my radio show “Karambola sa DWIZ” yesterday morning. And for doing so, he is now being accused of leaking the bribery story to me.

As a journalist, I am not required to reveal my sources, for their own protection. I haven’t done that in all the years I’ve been on the job—and I’m not about to start now.

The relevant law here is Republic Act No. 53, also known as the Sotto Law or the Press Freedom Law that protects the publisher, editor, columnist or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation from being compelled to reveal their sources. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the law “is aimed precisely to protect press freedom and keep irate politicians from intimidating journalists and their sources if they do not like what they read.

“Protection of confidential sources of information is also an obligation for journalists and key to getting informants to come forward. This is particularly important in uncovering, among others, corruption in government.”

At least, I’ve gotten some confirmation from an official source of my report, from no less than the official in charge of the Delos Santos spouses, now that they’ve been provisionally included in the government’s Witness Protection Program. Someone like Senator Antonio Trillanes doesn’t even have to get any kind of confirmation or documentation to even attempt back up the wild allegations he regularly issues.

Of course, I’d like to think that I probably am a lot more credible than Trillanes. Which is a shame, really, because Trillanes is supposed to have hundreds of paid consultants who can do his data-gathering for him; instead, what we get from the senator is stuff that appears not to have been verified even using Google or Wikipedia.

I can understand why the Yellows are trying to force Aguirre to admit to being the source of the bribery story: They don’t want to have to answer the charges made against them in it.

But they’d really be expending their energies more wisely if they tried to come up with believable replies to the charge that they tried to bribe Saldy and Lorenza, in order to use them as Exhibit A and B in their quest to ultimately remove President Rodrigo Duterte from office using the death of the couple’s son Kian Loyd. That is what they should really be doing, instead of trying to find journalists’ sources of information.

And while they’re at it, they might as well answer the charge made by Saldy recently that they (it appears to be the same group, after all, that offered the bribe) also tried to bring Kian’s coffin to their rained-out Sept. 21 protest action at the Edsa People Power monument. Even if Saldy refused, it is still worth finding out why the Yellows wanted to parade the coffin and who dreamed up this ghoulish plan.

Stop wagging the dog already. Deny or stonewall, like you also often do, but don’t change the topic, which is attempting to bribe the Delos Santoses in order to use them to keep Kian’s story alive.

And being turned down again, like when you asked to borrow his cadaver for your ill-attended, rain-drenched Edsa shindig.

* * *

I am borrowing the words of Joyce Pañares, city editor of this newspaper, about the killing of a longtime friend and esteemed former colleague, Joel Palacios. Joel was one of those knifed dead by a man who went on a stabbing spree inside a condo building in Pasay City the other night. Joel was 70.

This is what Joyce wrote in her Facebook page about the incident:

“When [journalists] write about crime, there is always a sense of detachment. That is why it hits us doubly hard when the victim is someone we personally know.

“Last [Tuesday] night, we had to extend our deadline for putting the newspaper to bed because of the incident in Pasay City where a man run amuck inside a condo. Up until around 10 p.m., the only details that we have came from Metro Manila police chief Albayalde:

“At least three people dead, several others wounded. Today we learned that among the victims was a friend and colleague, Joel Palacios.

“Ang sakit. We were writing about you and we didn’t even know.

“Farewell, sir. Today, we will write better.”

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