GRACE POE and how NOT to damage control (UPDATE on who did it)


UPDATE: A a citizen volunteer for Sen. Poe has owned up on the error of that video. Leon Flores, former chair of the National Youth Commission (NYC), co-convenor of the Good Governance Pilipinas (GoGracePoe), a citizen volunteer for Sen. Poe. He takes full responsibility for the error. His note below, unedited. My views on her statements stand.

Dear Sen. Grace Poe,

You’ve mostly talked sense — not all the time, but mostly — since you campaigned for your current post. During that campaign, when thrown questions on popular issues, you were studied — this part right, but other parts need to be studied. You did very well chairing the Senate probes into the MRT mess. You did even better in the Mamasapano investigation — your committee report is as good as can be expected from the limits of your task.

But you were dead wrong in your statements on the Iglesia ni Cristo protest. And you got well-deserved flak for that. READ: Pandering to the INC 

Now, your PR people, whoever they are, are compounding that mistake. I’m not sure if these are professionals or close friends, but your son is apparently one of them.

Tell them this:

grace poe damage1Stop sending a truncated video — labelled “FULL Grace Poe response.” when it is actually only a portion of your remarks. 

It is a representation. The actual youtube video says “clip” but your social media label is unethical because it leads people to believe the “clip” if the “full response.”

Worse, it is being used to tell journalists that reports on your reactions are wrong. And it is being used as the basis of memes aimed at “correcting” news reports.

It is not just an error of fact or a tactical miss. It is an UNETHICAL act. It tries to mislead the public when we journalists were emailed a FULL transcript of that interview by your good office. Why don’t you just release as a note the transcript you sent us so that people can judge — based on the right information?

Just to jog your memory, here’s what your office sent. I am reproducing full transcript and highlighting the portions pertaining to the INC case.

SEN. GRACE POE AMBUSH INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

August 28, 2015

Sen. Grace Poe: ….mga estudyante marami pa talagang kailangang gawin sa kanilang mga adhikain, mga pangangailangan nila. Saka iba talaga ang enerhiya kapag mga bata kasama  mo. Yun nga edukasyon ay napakahalaga kasi nga naniniwala ako na ito ang sektor na yaman ng ating bayan. Pero hindi naman sila magiging produktibo na mamamayan kung hindi sila bibigyan ng sapat na tulong ng gobyerno. Yung unang bill ko kasi libreng pananghalian sa public schools. Hanggang ngayon ay tinutulak natin yan, sana naman ay matuloy na.

Question: Dun sa ibang interviews sa inyo, you emphasized, you always replied pagdating doon sa issue ng citizenship. Is this your way of reaching out to more audiences to explain to them ‘yung issue, rather than holding a presscon?

Poe: Oo, kasi alam mo lahat ng tao curious talaga. Ano ba talaga ang buhay nitong taong ito? Pilipino ba talaga siya? Tama lang na suriin nila ang aking pagkatao. Kaya mabuti na nanggagaling na mismo sa akin dahil hindi naman ako nagtatago ng katotohanan sa kanila. Ngayon sa batas dadaan naman tayo sa tamang proseso at hindi naman po tayo nagtatago ng kung ano pa mang kailangang malaman.

Q: Is this your way to gather more public support po?

Poe: Actually, I don’t really. Going around, I’ve been expecting people to ask me that question. But that it’s not really my intention. Hindi ko naman intensyon. Pero curious talaga sila. Yun talaga yung gusto nilang matanong kasi yun ang napapabalitaan nila na ibinabato sa akin, na ako raw ay hindi Pilipino. So at least nandito ako para ikwento sa kanila na bakit nila sinasabi na hindi ako Pilipino. Dahil hindi nila alam ang kadugo ng, kung sinuman ang biological parents ko.

Q: Ma’am, ngayon po nag-iikot po kayo sa maraming lugar ngayong linggo, bahagi na po ba ito ng paghahanda ninyo?

Poe: Kung saka-sakali malaking bagay ito kasi katulad niyan, galing ako ng Zamboanga. Kinausap natin mismo doon ang mga tao, business sector at mga internally displaced person tungkol sa BBL kung ano ang palagay nila diyan. Kasi mahirap naman na nakaupo ka sa Senado, hindi mo nakakausap yung mga taong direktang naapektuhan. Dito sa Nueva Ecija at sa Pangasinan halimbawa, apektado sila ng tagtuyot, El Niño, ano’ng kulang natin? Imprastraktura ng mga dam, ng mga water entrapment facilities. So dapat ay saksi ka sa tunay na pinagdadaanan ng iyung mga kababayan.

Q: So bahagi na po ito ng inyong paghahanda?

Poe:  Bahagi. Kasi naman pag ako ay natuloy, kapag natanong ako, ano ba sa palagay mo ang solusyon sa mga problema na yan? Eh baka hindi ko alam.

Q: Ma’am bakit dun sa mga pag-iikot mo, this week ma’am, bakit puro mga estudyante, puro bata?

Poe: Doon sa pag-iikot ko, nakakataba sa puso ko yung assurance na marami sa mga kabataan ay alam ang nangyayari sa ating gobyerno. Let us not underestimate the youth. Huwag natin silang maliitin. Huwag natin apihin ang kanilang oportunidad at pagkakataon. Katulad nga niyan, nagkaroon ng pag-uusap sa CHED. Bagama’t tumaas ang budget nila, binawasan nila ang pera para sa scholars. Eh yun ang pinakaimportante. More than other items in the budget, kailangan ay mag-invest tayo sa mga kabataan at education is the best equalizer. Nagbibigay ito ng oportunidad. E kung babawasan mo yung P300 million, sa halagang iyon parang ipinapahiwatig mo na hindi ka masyadong seryoso.

Q: Sa pag-iikot po ninyo ma’am, were you encouraged sa pagdedesisyon ninyo?

Poe: Para sa akin, ang pag-iikot kong ito, naramdaman ko ang pagmamahal. Hindi lamang nila sa akin kundi, ako sa kanila. Alam mo nakikita ko, ito yung mga pinaglaban noon ni FPJ. Kaya nga kapag sinasabi nilang inclusive growth, it means more than just, it’s not just a buzz word. Ito ang totoo na wala tayong iiwanan dapat sa ating mga paggawa ng tulong sa gobyerno. Dapat lahat ay kasama, hindi yung pipili ka lang ng sektor na uunlad.

Q: Ma’am do you have timeline po before you decide?

Poe: Before October 16.

Q: On INC

Poe: Kasi alam mo unang-una hindi ba ako’y nakikiramay sa marami nating mga kababayan.  Alam ko lalo na ‘yung pinagdadaanan nila. Kasi sa hustiya natin sa atin, marami ang nakasampa ngayon sa DOJ. Ihihingi pa natin ng resolusyon. Alam ko hindi madali. Kaya pati na rin sa SAF44 na ngayon hinihintay natin. Siguro mas makakabuti, dahil alam ko naman si Sec. De Lima, sabi nga niya ginagawa niya yung kanyang trabaho, ay humarap siya sa mga tao na nagra-rally. Mahinahon at i-eksplika, kung ano ba’ng sitwasyon bakit nangyayari ng ganun. Kasi after all, kami naman ang nasa gobyerno ang responsibilidad naming ay maipamahagi ng maayos sa ating mga kakabayan, bakit ganun ang aming mga hakbang sa pamunuan. 

Q: Pero sa tingin niyo po ba dapat hawakan ng DOJ ang kaso?

Poe: Alam mo sa totoo lamang, maraming inaasikaso ang DOJ. Para sa akin hindi ko alam talaga lahat ng detalye tungkol diyan. Siyempre magtataka ka rin bakit ang tutok doon, samantalang, halimbawa yung ibang mga kaso ng gobyerno wala naman silang witnesses pa, na naka-hold. Halimbawa, tinatanong ko mayroon na ba kayong nakuha doon sa Mamasapano massacre? Mayroon na raw mga inimbestigahan pero wala pa namang naka-witness protection at least, sa pagkakaalam ko. 

Q: Mayroon po bang fallback ang Liberal Party in case Grace Poe decides to run for president?

Poe: I’m sure naman lahat ng partido ay naghahanda sa kahit na ano’ng contingency.

Q: Ma’am yung sa INC, even if may kidnapping issue dapat ba hindi makialam ang DOJ?

Poe: Depende kasi sa lakas ng kaso. Pagdating kasi, I think dapat transparent. Ang pagkakaalam ko ng issue, ito’y isang saksi sa taong nakidnap. Pero  yung tao nakidnap diumano ay nandoon naman. Hindi ba free? So ako kasi hindi ako parte ng DOJ, gusto ko rin malaman. Kaya nga sinasabi ko, tama yung sinabi ni secretary kung ginawa niya ang kanyang trabaho. I-eksplika niya sa taumbayan kung anong merits ng case. Pero alam mo, huwag rin nating mamaliitin ang importansiya ng relihiyon. Para sa akin ang mga tao na yan ang dinidepensahan nila ay ang kanilang paniniwala. Nirerespeto natin yan at kailangan pangalagaan din ang kanilang mga karapatan. Thanks guys. #

That last paragraph is the pits. And here’s why.

Photo from Net25 TV's Facebook page
Photo from Net25 TV’s Facebook page

Ang pagkakaalam ko ng issue, ito’y isang saksi sa taong nakidnap. Pero  yung tao nakidnap diumano ay nandoon naman. Hindi ba free? So ako kasi hindi ako parte ng DOJ, gusto ko rin malaman. (You don’t know, but you throw out, “Hindi ba free?” You want to know — how do you want to get at the truth? On the streets? Coffeeshop gossip? A meeting with De Lima? You’re a lawmaker and should know better. This is a criminal complaint, filed with prosecutors. You get the truth — or what passes for it — from a formal inquiry into the complaint.)

Kaya nga sinasabi ko, tama yung sinabi ni secretary kung ginawa niya ang kanyang trabaho. I-eksplika niya sa taumbayan kung anong merits ng case. (Excuse me? De Lima referred it — a bit late, if I say so; ask the lawyers of the complainant — to prosecutors. That is where the merits of the case are scrutinized and resolved.)

Pero alam mo, huwag rin nating mamaliitin ang importansiya ng relihiyon. Para sa akin ang mga tao na yan ang dinidepensahan nila ay ang kanilang paniniwala. Nirerespeto natin yan at kailangan pangalagaan din ang kanilang mga karapatan. (Good god, I don’t care what religion you or anyone professes. This is not about religion. This is about a criminal complaint on a very serious charge. I am hoping you do not believe that HOW “discipline” is meted out is a purely internal faith matter even when such allegedly violates the laws of this land.)

As lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles notes:

Dear Ms. Grace Poe: Sec. 3 of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act states:
3. Corrupt practices of public officers.– In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
Now could you repeat your spiel about how the Justice Secretary needs to focus on other cases and not to take cognizance of the case for serious illegal detention filed by one Isaias Samson, Jr?

Again, you are dead wrong. Don’t add to your misery. People, including myself, respect people who promptly acknowledge mistakes and explain their new-found wisdom. This is beneath you.

HERE IS AN UPDATE: It was sent by Leon Flores, former chair of the National Youth Commission (NYC), co-convenor of the Good Governance Pilipinas (GoGracePoe), a citizen volunteer for Sen. Poe. He takes full responsibility for the error. Here is his note, unedited
Inday, I sought out the interview from Nueva Ecija because somehow I got a feeling that the words from Sen. Grace Poe were just taken out of context. I was able to get hold of a clip and uploaded it on our group’s Youtube account, Good Governance Pilipinas (GoGracePoe). GGP is a volunteer citizen-led group supporting Sen. Poe and egging her to run. We were lead and co-organizers of the #TakboNaPoe event last Aug. 16. I was uploading the interview video clip while I was in the middle of a speech contest yesterday. At first I titled it “Full video…” thinking that it was. I shared it on FB and asked others to share as well too. I asked for a transcript of the video thereafter and that was when I realized that it was only a partial clip. So I changed the title right away to “Clip of Grace Poe…” on our Youtube channel. Apparently when the FB post gets shared and reposted, it retains the original title “Full clip..”. Not much of a techie but my hunch is that it is a mere technological limitation. THERE WAS NO INTENTION TO BE UNETHICAL ABOUT IT. Second, it was my intention to be transparent about the whole transcript so I also posted it wholly on the video description. This effort to clarify things for Sen. Grace Poe and to seek out the clip was borne out of the request of some GP supporters (and yes even questions from the other camp). I also wish to clarify that while I do know Brian Poe, her son, he has nothing to do with our actions. GGP is a group of willing, eager, and able volunteers who believe in Senator Grace Poe. If you wish to know us more, we will be happy to have coffee with you soon. I hope this clarifies the issue on the video. All other issues pertaining to the INC case, you may officially seek from Mam Poe’s office.

Pandering to the INC (UPDATED)


You think Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero and Jojo Binay are the only ones rushing to mollify the powerful Iglesia ni Christo? Think again.

There’s been an amazing display of “Selective Justice” all around. From Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, all the way up to Malacanang.

Yes. Grace Poe was dead wrong. As was Francis Chiz Escudero​ And Binay … But they are not alone.

Everyone is tiptoeing around the INC. And we know why. a) Because deals matter b) Because you’re scared of people who know where your skeletons are c) Because you’ve knelt too long before the doors of power.

Check out the quotes from all quarters as gathered by TV5 broadcaster Jove Francisco.

Slide1

READ INC: From rag-tag sect to influential wheeler-dealer?

READ Faith, politics, Iglesia inglorious

The INC is like the Ampatuan clan, only more powerful because its tentacles extend nationwide. Like the Ampatuans, the INC accepts homage from all political parties. How many untouchables under the Aquino administration? How many surprising cringe-worthy appointments that shoved aside the meritorious? The strings will probably reach all the way back to Commonwealth Ave.

Don’t forget: The INC endorsed the Aquino-Roxas tandem in 2010. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20100505-268197/Iglesia-ni-Cristo-endorses-Aquino-Roxas-tandem

Let’s get this straight. Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members have a right to protest. They have the right to voice out their grievances. If they want to mobilize a million people, they’re welcome to that.

But numbers do not make them right. Nor should these numbers – and the prospects for votes in 2016 – scramble the brains of politicians who ought to know better. (Though it may be too much to rely on their brains on the issue of INC, since we do know that most of them grovel at the doors of that white building on Commonwealth hoping for the easy blessing of a bloc vote.)

The INC is wrong to frame its protest as a matter of defending religious beliefs.

While I’m not impressed by the dissenters – who have yet to come out and expose their Church’s involvement in systemic corruption – they have raised serious allegations of abduction and grave threats to their families. There have been news reports of a Bicolano INC minister disappearing and then reappearing in a Cavite jail.

I am not judging the INC leaders. They are entitled to a legal defense. But neither they nor their followers are entitled to command a halt to legal processes on criminal charges. And a process that hasn’t even moved that much — as opposed to, say, warrantless arrests against activists in Bukidnon.

Demanding that government ignore a legitimate plaint for justice is exactly what INC members are asking as they mass on Padre Faura.

Vice President Jejomar Binay has said a lot in defense of the INC. He makes the INC sound like some poor, down-trodden heroine in a soap opera.

The truth is, the government isn’t oppressing the INC leadership. Hell, the government pussy-footed for sometime even as desperate calls for help were being raised by the dissenters. Had it not been for a very noisy public would they have even bothered to investigate those cases? The case is at the preliminary investigation stage.

inc4

I even have a suspicion — since officials backed by the INC are being promoted across the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) — that nothing much but posturing is happening. I have no illusions either about Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Her record is sterling in its mendacity.

So, what’s the fuss all about?

An internal leadership squabble is nobody’s business. But the tactics used in the struggle – including abduction and holding entire families hostage – is our business. We cannot shrug these off just because it’s an INC matter. Just as we shouldn’t shrug off serious human rights violations because the victims are militants and suspected communists.

(On the other hand, to jump on these cases simply because the villains are INC – and thus, not of our faith – isn’t the right attitude. And many of the comments on social media reflect religious bigotry rather than an actual concern for justice.)

Not that I’d give serious thought to what Binay says. But the younger Chiz Escudero and Grace Poe truly disappoint with their knee jerk reactions to the INC controversy.

I like Grace – probably more than any presidentiable. But in this she is wrong. Dead wrong.

Since when has belief that Mamasapano is important been an excuse to ignore other important cases?

That is a line of reasoning exactly like the one used by Malacanang to justify the sloooooow pace of investigation into the pork cases.

Grace, you should know that in this country “priorities” are always used as an excuse to let friends go scot-free. Review the Freedom of Information bill and its fate under President Benigno Aquino III. You should know better than to fall for that trite and self-serving argument.

INC5555Hammer on the need to file charges against those involved in Mamasapano. Go, we’ll back you on that. (And while you’re at it, why don’t you say something about the plight of lumads being hunted down on Mindanao’s mountains or the fact that their children are systematically being deprived of the right to education.)

But do not sweep aside serious charges of rights violations against the INC leadership. This has nothing to do with religion – unless you want us to believe oppression is acceptable when packaged as part of religious belief.

That was disappointing. Hoping you change your mind.

The INC readies to rumble


Someone called some friends to a “VERY URGENT” meeting over lunch today. The big news, shared by these excited folks, was supposedly about the beginning of the end of President Benigno Aquino III.

And the chosen hammer of justice is supposed to be … the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Photo from Net25 TV's Facebook page
Photo from Net25 TV’s Facebook page

The story goes: Today, some 200,000 members of the INC will mob the Department of Justice. Yes, a big crowd was there this afternoon. They are protesting Justice Secretary de Lima’s “selective justice.”

Word is, they will stay on and on. The plot is: that more and more people will join that crowd and then a big push to EDSA takes place on Friday till Monday.

I was stunned, silent for 30 seconds. And then I burst out laughing.

Considering the source was part of the group that promised the end of days during the EDSA anniversary last year – and barely mustered enough forces to fill the shadows of the overpass – the ambitious goal seems like a joke.

But there is nothing amusing about the plan. The INC can mobilise big numbers. It has shut down cities with medical missions alone.

Any INC-backed move should raise the hackles of all those seeking genuine democratic social change in this country.

That de Lima – and the entire Aquino government — is guilty of selective justice is nothing new. It’s TRUE.

I’ve said that before. Just look at the pork cases and how their tame pets and dirty tricks folk are kept safe from prosecution. Just look at Mamasapano and PNOY trying to coddle his best buddy Alan Purisima. Just look at all the corruption in the agriculture sector and how Sec. Prospero Alcala remains untouchable.

The list goes on and on. Yes, the government practices selective justice.

But if the INC thinks we’re going to believe its leaders and allies can give us a brand new day, they can go back to the drawing board again.

The INC is a connoisseur of power. Their leaders enjoy playing kingmakers, parlaying this role  into juicy government-post quotas for their members and allies. Plus, they’re in bed with Vice President Jejomar Binay (though they have been and are in bed with virtually any powerful politician in this country).

If there is a serious feud, it’s just another elitist squabble – especially when you add the presence of Peping and Tingting Cojuangco.

Really now, can the INC by its lonesome bring down this government? No. Even if they muster a crowd of a million, they will remain isolated until and unless they are able to galvanize a genuine mass movement.

But why would the masses – not matter how angry at PNOY – go to their aid? They are an instrument of the powerful, always have been.

So some people are trying to drop some names. Good thing the people they talk to like to verify whatever they hear. No, the broad mass movement has no truck with this stunt.

But I’d take it very seriously. As am sure Malacanang is. The INC has members who can command armed men with access to weapons. If it comes to that. The government – which has its share of thugs – will have been preparing countermoves.

It can get ugly. For them. For us. Hopefully not too much for ordinary citizens. As far as I’m concerned, they can tear each other to shreds. That would give the rest of us some breathing space.

On the other hand, conspiracy theorists are starting to whisper — that it may be a ploy to make the stumbling, blubbering Aquino government look kawawa and heroic again.

Choose your plot.

When should journalists stand aside from coverage?


I’ve seen some comments re Tunying and Gerry, dzMM’s popular anchors, inhibiting themselves from commenting on the Iglesia ni Cristo mess. READ various INC reports, starting with this.

I think it’s the right decision. Very, very right.

Look, we all know by now the INC dynamics. We’ve heard both sides speak on deep-seated tendencies to obey — others say “blindly” but that’s a judgment call. It would be very hard to see our INC colleagues — and there is nothing wrong with being of that faith, as far as I’m concerned — as disinterested (never mind, objective) parties.

By the very nature of their faith dynamics, that would be very hard.

As events unravel, it’s stand with the powers-that-be or bolt with the others, or mull over the situation. I have no idea where both stand. And I will respect their personal stands.

But, face it, whatever the two will say will be construed differently, depending on where the audience is coming from.

That would be like a Mrs. Somebody commenting on Anderson Cooper’s reportage on Yolanda. Or the sister of a convict reporting or commenting on her brother.

Too near to the topic, too invested (and I DO NOT INTEND TO IMPLY financially).

This goes beyond journalists having opinions and sentiments on issues and trying their best to be fair to all sides. By the dynamics of their faith, every INC member is now a main actor — even just to themselves — in the unfolding drama. CHECK THIS OUT

An instagram post on an abs-cbnnews.com slideshow
An instagram post on an abs-cbnnews.com slideshow

If they stand with the powers or if they bolt, they become news subjects, right?

If I were their editor or director — I am not — I would ask them to desist from reporting and commenting on the issue.

Any good commentary stems from reportage. There are times you need to take reporters away from coverage.

I think Tunying and Gerry did the honest thing, whether you like them or not.