Old propaganda being rehashed, resurrected
This is in reaction to the news item titled “Criminal probe vs Bacolod mayor a go” (Across the Nation, 11/2/14).
Obviously, with elections just around the corner, old and rehashed propaganda issues are again being resurrected. Let us put the issue in proper perspective.
The 2005 SEA Games was a banner year for Philippine sports. The Philippines emerged as the overall champion, thanks to the sacrifices and dedication of the people behind the Bacolod SEA Games Organizing Committee (Basoc).
The Philippine Sports Commission issued the subject checks under the name of then “Rep. Monico Puentevella/Basoc” for two reasons: Basoc was yet to attain its juridical personality to receive funding support from government; and local organizing and construction/rehabilitation activities that needed urgent logistical support were already well underway.
Had it not been for the timely intervention of then House representative Puentevella, the massive structural and organizational requirements would not have been met—to the Philippines’ embarrassment before the international community.
Take note: The checks intended for infrastructure development were only issued on July 28, 2005, Aug. 12, 2005, and Aug. 26, 2005, barely four months before the November games. The complete rehabilitation of various sports venues required at least six months, but with God’s grace and Basoc’s determination, the facilities were completed before the actual games.
Making matters more difficult, the final check intended for organizational expenses was only issued Nov. 18, 2005, just a day shy of the SEA Games opening. By then, thousands of volunteers had been tapped and comprehensive coordination activities undertaken.
The actuations of a Bacolod local daily to give credence to an obvious act of dirty politics are indeed lamentable. The Visayan Daily Star is owned by the Leonardia family. Its publisher, Ninfa Leonardia, is the sister of then mayor and now representative Evelio Leonardia whom Puentevella replaced as mayor. Carla Gomez, the author of the Inquirer article, works with the Visayan Daily Star. See the connection?
No wonder, the string of plunder cases against Evelio Leonardia are not given similar focus and attention in their local paper as well as in the Inquirer because they have to wait for Leonardia’s reply before they could be reported.
Gomez reported that Mayor Puentevella’s lawyer had not yet read the alleged order thus he was not able to provide his official position. Would it not have been fair and balanced reporting if Mayor Puentevella was afforded his right to reply based on his lawyer’s appreciation of the order? Why the rush to banner the story in a national paper and not wait for the official reply?
See the difference?
The resurrected case was filed by Samuel Montoyo, once Leonardia’s executive assistant and now his spokesperson. A similar case was already filed in 2009 by Montoyo.
On the other hand, Basoc complied with the requirements set by the Commission on Audit for the eventual liquidation of the fund. Ironically, then mayor Leonardia was a cochair of Basoc; during its successful staging, not a whimper of complaint was heard from him.
- The story I sent was based on the Ombudsman’s findings and a Commission on Audit report. I did not add any side comments or embellish the information in it.
- The story was published not just by the Inquirer and the Visayan Daily Star, but by all of the regional newspapers in Western Visayas. The Inquirer story came out a day after. I waited to get a reply from Mayor Monico Puentevella’s lawyer. I tried to get Puentevella’s answer and he asked that I get the reply from his lawyer, who did not reply to my text messages and repeated calls.
- I am glad that Sarah Esguerra, an aide of the mayor, has provided the mayor’s side in the Basoc case, which I tried to get in the first place and wanted to include in my story.
- The Visayan Daily Star for which I work is not solely owned by the Leonardia family although its editor-in-chief is Ninfa Leonardia. The newspaper is owned by 39 stockholders, including journalists, businessmen and civic leaders, among them Josefa Puentevella, the wife of Mayor Puentevella. Rep. Evelio Leonardia is not a stockholder of the newspaper.
—CARLA P. GOMEZ,
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.