Manicad’s vain ambition, Erap’s plundered Manila

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TIME AND again political ambition makes one compromise his principles and the ethics of the profession. And once in a while, one mistakes that politics and journalism though both serving the public, can be the same.

There were Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda in the past, and this upcoming midterm elections in May, there is Jiggy Manicad.

The former GMA 7 reporter came under fire on social media after he said press freedom in the country is not under attack. He was responding to whether legal actions filed by the government against online news site Rappler –known to be critical of the Duterte administration and its policies –could be considered a muzzling of the press.

“Because of that handling, someone got angry and ordered an investigation, does it really translate to an attack on press freedom? How come in other networks, it’s not like that?” Manicad said in Filipino.

But perhaps Manicad is forgetful of how President Duterte has threatened to close down national broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirerand block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise in Congress –both of which have reported as well on his war against drugs.

He too, may have forgotten, that the killing of journalists in the country continues and that the Maguindanao Massacre, where 32 journalists were killed, will mark a decade this 2019 with no convictions yet.

As someone who came from the media, Manicad would have been expected to advocate for the advancement of the rights of the institution that honed him. But alas, by joining presidential (or should we say, unpresidential) daughter Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial slate, he has defected to the enemy side of the free press.

Comparing his situation to that of Maria Ressa and those who have been persecuted in doing their duty, Manicad has betrayed the noble profession where he once belonged and he has turned his back on colleagues who go beyond the limits of their duties to keep the public informed and informed well against the fake-news machinery and the thuggery of the Duterte regime.

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The country’s capital is bound to meet another hapless three years of nothing but traditional politics and well, old and recycled promises, with a three-way mayoralty race of no less than convicted plunderer and former president Joseph Estrada, former vice mayor Isko Moreno who was accused of plunder by barangay leaders in 2014, and Alfredo Lim, a former Manila mayor whose poor record of governance could be seen all over the place.

Seventy-four years since the month-long battle to liberate the City of Manila from the Japanese occupation, the city and its people faces its own demise, that is, its leaders.

Seemingly, these people have had the experience of leading the city for years and yet no one has solved its deep-seated problems but in fact abetted them–poverty, pollution, criminality, chaos, poor urban planning. Manila is still facing the very same problems bedevilling the country’s major cities. But things have gotten really worse since Manila has lagged behind neighboring cities in the National Capital Region.

In 2018, a report published by the Department of the Interior and Local Government revealed that 13 cities in Metro Manila passed the “Good Financial Housekeeping” report, which is based on how well cities comply with auditing standards and regulations set by the department and the Commission on Audit.

The cities of Caloocan, Malabon and Mandaluyong topped the report, respectively. Not so surprisingly, Manila, the capital of the country did not even make it to the list.

Clearly, this speaks of Estrada’s administration of the city, and as it seems, how he managed the country when he was president is how he runs  Manila: by declaring that he is the champion of the poor but doing everything contrary to the letter and spirit of that declaration. Once a plunderer, always a plunderer,

Once regarded as the “Paris of Asia,” Manila has found itself in decay and by the looks of those who will compete for its leadership, it is most likely the decay and decline will go on. Worse, one need not to even look far to say this, for the homeless and the destitute continue to live in the streets. Go to Rizal Park when dusk sets in and you will see its sidewalks and corners crammed with vagrants and the homeless retiring for the night. Go to Quirino Grandstand and you will see row after row of destitutes.

Perhaps Nick Joaquin, the great Filipino writer, put it best when he described the post-war Manila in the “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” in a sentence: Quomodo desolata es civitas Dei! (What desolation, City of God!).

Who will save the country’s capital? Hopefully, its residents need not to wait for centuries the same way the people of God waited for their Messiah. But surely, it’s just not in who will emerge victorious in this election.

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