BAD MORNING: MY VIEWS BY roger m. balanza


NOVEMBER 8, 2007



I woke up this morning to be greeted by Senator Pia Cayetano in a front page photo in the Mindanao Insider Daily with a pack of Marlboro made in Thailand in hand, painted over with the photo of a man suffering from neck cancer caused by smoking.

The photo made me puke I had to reach out to my pack of cigarettes for another stick to blow away my anger at anti-smoking campaigners who are pushing us smokers to the brink of extinction.

The Cayetano pic was shot during a press conference in Manila where she urged the same packaging be adopted by local cigarette manufacturers to terrorize smokers about the ill-effects of the habit.

I thought I had enough of broadcaster Edgar Delivo of ABS/CBN, now Herbal Doctor Delivo of the herbal medicine promoter Alternativo, who had strung in front of their clinic in Matina in Davao City, a large ugly poster of a naked human body illustrated from head to foot with all kinds of diseases that one could get from smoking.

I am angry at Pia and Edgar for intruding into the private matter of how some people choose the method of killing themselves.

I am in a bad mood, so here goes….  


Key officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas in Davao City have thrown their loud support to radioman Roel Sembrado in filing a case against Compostela Valley Provincial Board Neri Barte at the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao in Davao City.

This flip Barte in the company of his wife and daughter of the same frame of mind as the newly-elected ComVal official manhandled the Radyo Natin broadcaster inside the announcer’s booth on October 24.   

Sembrano reportedly was in the middle of a program lashing at Barte’s meddling in the barangay elections when the Barte gang arrived and grabbed the microphone from the poor mediaman.

After the female members of the family of goons pinched, slapped and scratched the face of Sembrano—he also reportedly endured a hail of coffee cups, staplers, forks and spoons and anything the itchy females found in the booth—the super goon Barte took over the air lanes for about 15 minutes.

Hooray to the NUJP and KBP!

But I envy Sembrado.We were also a victim of a top Comval politician—who miserably lost in the last May elections with her daughter politician—who instigated his wife to file libel against us but the NUJP was a no-show in giving us support.

Barte also figured in a gun-poking incident involving a female broadcaster of Radyo Natin inside a videoke bar in Nabunturan learly this year. We never heard any condemnation from NUJP or KBP to perk up the spirit of the broadcaster who had to fight her own battle alone against the same terrorist who tormented Sembrado.

Sometime ago, an official of a national government agency called for a press conference to assail a report about possible anomalies in his agency that was published by the Mindanao Insider Daily where we are the Executive Editor.

In attendance were several members of the local chapter of NUJP working for other local papers who tried to inspire the official into suing us in court for libel even as the official was clear about the presscon being held merely to air the side of the agency.

Can media truly rely on NUJP for support when press freedom is threatened?

My case shows the kind of people behind NUJP: the day after the press conference, the other local dailies—in stories bylined by the NUJP members—headlined the official’s plan to sue me for libel!! 


Karapatan led by Kelly Delgado trooped to the Regional Trial Court on Thursday to help a mother file a writ of amparo to force the military into releasing an abduction victim, her son.

It turned out that on the same day, Luisito Bustamante, who said he was not abducted but only invited to shed light about his being a member of the New People’s Army—not by the military but by an anti-communist pastor—would surface to deny he was in the hands of the military.  

A few hours after the show at the RTC, local television would report that Bustamante is not missing. Pastor Noli Ubat, the anti-communist pastor who snatched Bustamante he claimed is a member of the New People’s Army, is also turning his victim not to the courts but to the victim’s mother.

Pastor Ubat abducted Luisito Bustamante on October 27 in Malabog in Davao City.

The family of the 21-year old Malabog resident has suspected Ubat worked for the military, which was denied by Col. Alex Ambal, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion operating in Paquibato.

So the family went to Karapatan—a communist front if we believe Task Force Davao commander Col. Allan Luga—to seek help.

But Ubat has no ideological bent to kidnap Bustamante: He has a score to settle with the NPA and snatched Bustamante he suspected to be in the rebel band that ambushed him and his wife.Ubat was ambushed last year while driving home on a motorcycle to Malabog. His wife died in the attack he blamed on the NPA.

GMA Testigo on Thursday five days after the abduction tracked down Ubat in sitio Balogo where he had kept Bustamante.But Bustamante said he was treated well by Ubat and was not harmed.I want to inform my mother that I am not missing, he told GMA Testigo.Ubat said he was inviting Mrs. Bustamante to come to Balogo to fetch her son.

What now Karapatan? 


The Davao City media find city councilor Leonardo Avila’s comments on the death of Marianeth Amper incredible. Why? 

The 11-year old Six Grader killed herself by hanging “due to poverty” inside their house outside of a housing subdivision in Maa, Davao City on November 2.

The death has drawn far-ranging comments on the state of poverty in the country, gaining wide media attention nationwide after the tragedy was featured by nationwide televison and the national dailies.

Avila says: Amper’s suicide was a symbol of extreme poverty and I appeal to the government to address the problem which is a violation of human rights.

Avila is the author of the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code. He is a key actor in the Davao City Children’s Welfare Council and is a member of various groups espousing child welfare and development. Is it admitted he first won a seat in the Davao City Council on the basis of his campaign to protect street children.

Then why is he incredible?

Because until the Amper suicide, Mr. Avila has never been heard commenting on children and how poverty could drive them to extreme decisions, despite children welfare being the political platform that placed him in the local legislative body.Of late, he has been talking and talking about nothing but the preservation of the marine sea turtle.

As chair of the Pawikan Conservation Council—a local body supervising a marine turtle sanctuary in Punta Dumalag—Mr. Avila is now Mr. Pawikan, whose priority is more inclined towards the sea animals than the poor children of the city—an old cause of his that has been buried in the catacombs of his forgotten memories.                                                                                                                                        


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