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Du30 and De5

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
…and that’s the truth


Teresa R .TunayWhether I enjoy it or not, a vital part of my work as a communicator is to keep abreast of the news. But each time I turn on the TV for the day’s first dose of the headliners, I hear myself mumbling, “Here we go again—will this ever end?”

Sometimes, there’s too much happening in one day that at bedtime I tend to suffer from news indigestion. At times I’m also guilty of talking back to an inanimate object—the tv screen.

Take yesterday, Sept. 20, 2016. There was a House probe with felons testifying about drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison. In the beginning, they said the hearing “is not about de Lima”, but as it turned out, the “star witnesses” practically disrobed and stoned her with their shocking allegations—demanding drug payola by the millions of pesos, etc. It didn’t seem like a hearing “in aid of legislation” for it nearly sentenced de Lima to a lifetime of clearing her name. And for goodness sake, did they have to go to the extent of publicizing the senator’s cell phone number? I’m not in love with de Lima but I think that was absolutely foul, tantamount to barging into her bedroom without a warrant of arrest. And why the suggestion to “call the number to see who’ll answer?” If I were the senator, seeing that I’m being barbecued in the House, why would I take the call? What a silly suggestion.

It was not the most orderly of Congress hearings. Lacked planning, it seemed. For instance, there was no holding room for the other witnesses while one was on the floor. There were not even chairs for them so they stood surrounded by their security guards (who in full combat gear and black masks bore a striking resemblance to Ninja Turtles).

The telecast of the probe was interrupted by the live coverage of an apparent airport crisis—a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane bearing 400 passengers being isolated at the NAIA for undisclosed reasons. Terrorists? Hi-jack? Sharing the tv screen was a press conference in Malacanang conducted by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar where the reporters asked a motley of questions about so many issues that Andanar was not armed to answer satisfactorily. Simultaneously, President Duterte was also holding his own press conference from Compostela Valley; it didn’t help that he rambled on, stream of consciousness style, mostly about matters he loves to reiterate.

And as though three locations were not enough for a multi-screen projection, de Lima herself came up in a fourth frame, with a privilege speech that waged a virtual war on her mortal enemies Cayetano and Duterte. “May araw din kayo,” she said. Her impassioned delivery reminded me of the saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Wasn’t she scorned the day before, when 16 senators toppled her chair in the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after she walked out on Cayetano’s privilege speech?

Following four simultaneous coverages on red hot issues could be exhilarating—but also exhausting in the long run. Especially in this gray season of unli-allegations and unli-denials, it’s our nation that stands to suffer. One party sounds sure that the president heads a death squad; a counterparty seems certain of a senator’s dirty hands. Who is telling the truth? Who is playing down the truth, or embellishing an iota of truth? Who is fabricating stories and peddling them as facts? Both or neither?

If the Philippines were a mother, she’s now a bedraggled, helpless entity. Her oldest siblings are fighting each other tooth and nail in the name of good intentions. Giyera-patani si Ate at si Kuya—they’re after each other’s neck as though the family’s fate depended solely on their pet peeves. The younger siblings cheer and egg them on, dividing the house.

Meanwhile, opportunistic neighbors are watching, in fact one of them—a mighty and merciless one—has continued to encroach upon their backyard, while the whole family in their obsessions become totally oblivious to truths that really matter. If the siblings continue to ignore their father’s warning, one day they just might find themselves homeless, and their mother abducted into slavery. I am part of this family. I am willing to believe Ate and Kuya mean well, but many times I wish Kuya wouldn’t be so cocksure and foul-mouthed, and Ate, too image conscious and self-righteous.

It’s wearying to follow the news and try to make sense of it all when the air crackles with stunning allegations that obfuscate more than clarify their origins. All that negative energy flying about threatens to erode one’s hope for the country’s leaders, and to ask in earnest—where is our country headed for? The only upside I see in this precarious situation is: it keeps me on my knees longer. And that’s the truth.

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