SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago has protested a report by abscbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that described her nomination in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as an uphill climb. She accused the network of political blackmail since she is chair of the National Power Commission that is investigating Meralco for the high costs of power distribution. The electricity firm is managed by the Lopez family that also owns the network.

In the report, certain sectors raised questions about Santiago’s chances of making it to the ICJ. Questions were also raised about her qualifications and her close connection with President Macapagal-Arroyo, who has reportedly vowed to put Philippine support behind the nomination.

Network news bosses have denied they were “blackmailing” Santiago. We’rejust doing their job, they said.

“If we do our jobs well, all Filipinos will benefit. If we do our jobs well, we will help build a better nation with more transparent processes,” ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Maria Ressa. “If you don’t like the news, don’t shoot the messenger.”

“It is our duty to report on issues of public interest in a fair manner and as accurately as we can,” Newsbreak’s editor-in-chief Marites Danguilan Vitug said.

“We deeply value our credibility and we will defend this against any attempts to besmirch it,” she added.

As a senator and somebody who does not hide her desire to be a member of the international court, Santiago should know that her public acts and statements are subject to scrutiny and criticism. Her views may be challenged and contested. She’s a public official and a public figure who is fair game for the critical press.

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And definitely since she has more and more shown blatantly that she’s playing the political game, ingratiating herself with Malacanang that has been appointing her kin and wards left and right, she should not expect to be treated with kid gloves by the independent press. In the first place, the press is not under Malacanang.

If she expects the press to sing alleluias to her ICJ campaign, then she should be asked in what planet she thinks she is.

Welcome to the real world, Miriam.

****

“Mahirap iwanan, masarap valikan,” this is the statement that drew last January some 300 Varsitarian alumni to the grand alumni homecoming, Valik Varsi, which marked the paper’s 80th year.

I feel the same sentiment now as my stint with the Varsitarian has ended.

It has been two bittersweet years, loaded with work and packed with drama. But my batch and I have survived it all.

To Mitch, Alena, JC and the rest of the new shoolyear’s staff, make the most out of your remaining year in the Varsitarian and learn from our mistakes. You are a talented bunch of writers, artists and photographers. You just have to sustain your enthusiasm and drive so as to realize your potentials.

To my Special Reports family, Kuya Jordan, Ate Jam, Ate Jeannette, Carla and Eli, I owe much of my journalistic prowess to you. I would not be where I am now, if not for the experiences that we have shared in the Varsitarian’s most controversial section.

To our publication advisers, Sir Lito and Sir Ipe, I must admit your guidance and wisdom steered my journalism career to the right direction. Despite your sarcasm and hyper-criticism, you have been my special mentors.

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To the Nursing team, Celina, Raye, Myla and Ketch, I know our late-blooming friendship won’t end with the Varsitarian.

Thank you for being there for me during my trying times and, cliché as it is, for being my sources of strength when I was about to give up.

To Kristine and Hershey, we’ve been through a tumultuous year, but our friendship has lasted. May our friendship continue as we embrace the world outside.

And last but definitely not the least, to Richard, you are and will always be a very good friend of mine. I will cherish every little thing we shared in these two blissful years forever.

Five years from now, we will attend the Valik-Varsi to mark the publication’s 85th year. Perhaps by that time. we could look back and laugh at all the things we had been through. I couldn’t wait for that day.

Closing this ceremonial column is both easy and hard, easy because I know exactly what to say, and hard because deep down, something inside me is pressing me to stay.

So here it goes: Moon shadow signing out. Once a ‘V’ staffer always a ‘V’ staffer.

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