“The wind howled throughout the night. You could hear tree branches and twigs breaking and cracking as the wind lashed its fury. The house creaked and shuddered as it stood against the storm. The rage and the fury continued on for hours but, by the break of dawn, everything was still. With the exception of a few broken twigs, everything outside was in order as the sun was breaking through the trees. The storm left as quickly as it came. It was quick and fast that it left very little evidence that it passed through the area.”
Similar to the storm described above, the death of a 17-year old Grade 11 student in the hands of apprehending police took Philippine social media by storm. In a matter of minutes after the story broke out, SocMed platforms were ablaze with varying opinions from the condemnation of the act to the justification of the police operation. It was one fiery long weekend in the virtual world that the “heat” seeped into everyone’s virtual life.
I had my share of the action, a decent one that is, while some of my friends had to contend with the nasty ones.
As expected, politicians started appearing from the blaze. While some of these politicians were sincerely aghast with the death of the student, there were some who really had the gall to make a futile attempt to make the story their own. The call to organize was allowed to float for people to digest, with one politician even inciting that there was a call for a revolution. The call was made to organize on the day where the country was incidentally celebrating the death of a supposed hero – an Aquino.
As Monday unfolded, I was glued on my social media platforms, shifting from Facebook to Twitter and back, for updates. There was none. It was complete silence in the virtual world except for a “spurt” on the issue every once in a while. It was so uncomfortably silent that I asked friends if they were experiencing the same in their feeds to which they confirmed the same observation.
And just like how the storm came, the massive fury, or the perceived massive fury, about the incident quickly died down with only a few more taking their arms to the fight. The politicians who “rode” into the fight with their fiery chariots were suddenly silent. They were no where in sight during the gathering at the EDSA. As fast as they rode with the storm, it was in the same intensity that they faded out in the oblivion.
So with the furor and the silence of the student’s death, I picked up a couple of facts of this particular case:
Fact #1: The death of the 17-year old gave us a reality shake.
The death of the 17 year old was a reality shake of some sort for most of us. It was a long time problem that was staring at us on the face. My reality shake was two-pronged for me – the reality that the drug problem that we face transcends all ages and the reality that, despite the efforts to clean up the ranks of the PNP, we still cannot deny the existence of rogue cops.
While most of us have shown our disgust over the student’s death, we have to face the facts that the drug probem that we face has gone from bad to worse over the past years and has now creeped into the younger generations. The question whether the student was a user or a runner is still subject for proof but the truth that is in front us is that the problem is now affecting our youth. What’s worse is that the law on minors have given unnecessary power to drug traders to use minors in the trade.
Again, the guilt of the police officers involved in the incident is yet to proven by the courts but the existence of rogue cops is a reality. I seriously think that the presence of rogue cops in the system was primarily due to the negligence that the police force received from previous administrations. Personally, it is only this administration that has given me that change of behavior towards our policemen. I have full respect and admiration to the PNP compared to before. Yes, rogue cops do exist but we should not let a few of them damage those who work with honesty and integrity.
Fact #2: Investigate before judgement. Elevate your discourse.
It was interesting to find people jump into conclusions even with the smallest bit of detail given to them. Prior to the investigation, the CCTV footage presented by the media gave way to immediate judgement. I even came across a statement that the CCTV footage was enough proof to the alleged crime, even without the proper confirmation. The same arguement goes to the ones in the defense of the police. A mere social media post made the 17 year old a drug runner. Seriously?!?
Furthermore, the conflict between the parties was further aggravated by harsh, even threatening words, between supporters. The fight to seek justice does not lie with the harsh words and threats thrown around. It’s funny how people can quickly turn around with bashing and name throwing when they find themselves at the brink where they feel that they are losing their grasp in their arguements.
Elevate your discourse by discussing possibilities and not passing judgement. Let the proper authorities investigate and then you can discuss the judgement after it has been given.
Fact #3: Be watchful of those who use these cases to push their own selfish agenda.
The biggest fact that I pick up on the 17 year old student’s death was how fast politicians picked it up and use it to push their own agenda AND how quickly they also fade out into oblivion when things don’t run the way they were hoping it to be. It was interesting that the most controversial ones were the ones at the forefront and started aiming and shooting. But when their calls remain unheeded, they faded out in the dark. They were like knights in shining armor galloping but, when the rains came drenching them, they shudder back to their stables as fast as they appeared.
Be watchful of these people. They will always take advantage of the weak. They will use people to push their own agenda. They will also be quick to leave once they sense that they will not reap their “perceived” benefit from the people and the incident.
After all that was said and done by these “influential” people, not one of them showed up in any of the gatherings that sought justice for the 17 year old.
Th 17 year old victim was brought to his final resting place yesterday. I admire those individuals who are still taking the fight for justice on social media despite the sudden silence after Monday. I admire them for standing on what they believe is right and justice.
I pity those who suddenly fell silent. I pity the politicians who came out strong at the start but was silent, not even a murmur, as the body of the student was being entombed. It just goes to show where your ideals stand, not for the people but for your own vested interest.
Hindi ninyo nakuha ang gusto ninyo kaya nanahimik kayo.
You know what my biggest worry?
The 17 year old student is now resting in peace. I fear that after yesterday he becomes just part of the statistics. With his burial comes the deafening silence of injustice by the perpetrators and those who used this incident for their own selfish intent.
It was a brewing storm for the past months judging from the blind items and hushed talks making its rounds. Who would have thought that a blind item that I once heard on an AM radio show on my way to work about a Presidential appointee dubbed as “Angry Bird” would become a national headline in a matter of months? It was funny that the “item” was very precise with its details and the only thing that really stuck with me was Angry Bird’s kinky fetish. Don’t blame me but the anchor made the whole topic really juicy.
So after this Monday’s big reveal, I took the time to watch Karen Davila’s interview of Tisha Bautista and Commissioner Andy Bautista, on her morning show at ANC, to get a better grasp of what was being presented and the arguments being laid on the table for public consumption. You get a better insight of the issues after hearing both sides of the story. I took down notes that I deem valid and my own thoughts while watching the interview.
I have to say that Tisha Bautista was very composed throughout the whole interview. She acted what she was saying that she was not there to convince people to believe her. All that she pleaded was for them to look at the documents she had presented and then make a judgement. She was modest enough to steer clear of putting her estranged husband in a bad light when she reiterated that look at the documents before making the judgement. Her focus was clearly directed on the issue – what were these financial documents? She came in with a clear demarcation line of what is a domestic dispute and what is a government concern.
Tisha was right in saying that their marital woes is just a distraction on the real issue – her discovery of 36 LDB passbooks, pay envelope that go back to the PCGG years of Commissioner Bautista, commission handout reports, documents of BDO checks issued to LDB, and vital and sensitive correspondence. She focused on the issue of clarifying what these financial documents are that reflects billions of pesos that the commissioner possibly owns and was undeclared in his SALN.
As for the accusation on her alleged extramarital affairs, she categorically denied the accusation. She also raised a valid point on the allegation that she was just after the money when she said that by putting these questionable accounts forward, it will reduce the money that she could legally claim when their marriage gets dissolved. She could have easily earned half of these billions by just keeping silent. But she was very clear with what she wanted, she wanted what is rightfully and legally hers from their assets that is cleanly their ownership.
Tisha Bautista did confirm that the root of all these discoveries was their marital woes and did not deny that there were prior meetings where both parties were trying to resolve the marital issue. She did confirm that both parties were in the process of getting into an agreement but she felt uncomfortable with certain points in the agreement. Two of these clauses were her denial of the discoveries of this documents and her admittance to the understanding that some of the documents were related to a family business. I like the way her lawyer phrased it that Tisha Bautista agreed to the financial terms of the agreement but she did not agree to participate in the concealment of a possible crime.
Tisha Bautista understands that what she has presented now for public scrutiny is bigger than her and their domestic dispute but she also understands that she needs to stand up for what is right and that we should do something. I like the way she said it, stop complaining and do something about it. Her message was clear that we should look into these documents and take the necessary action based on the findings.
Commissioner Andy Bautista was a stark contrast to his estranged wife Tisha during his turn on the interview table. He sounded off like a whining brat who took offense that a broadsheet gave her wife more airtime than him. He was on that table to convince people that he was a poor victim and depicting his wife as an adulterer who is playing a part in orchestrating a demolition job against him. Interestingly, more airtime was spent on how sour their marital relationship turned out and the demolition plan against him rather than answering the allegations against him.
While Tisha came in with the stance that their marital woes was not the issue here, Andy came in with an attack that highlighted their marital problems. He started it off with a story on how his wife was unfaithful to him and what he went through when she told him that she has found her soulmate. She painted her wife, not only as a cheater, but as someone who completely turned her back to the family. He tried to paint the issue as a domestic dispute turned political at his expense by his wife and the people behind her.
When faced with the question regarding the vital documents found in his custody, he neither issues a categorical yes or no. He kept emphasizing that he needs to see these documents first. He does “subtly” confirm a couple of points to the issues raised at him:
- He does confirm that some of the 32 passbooks are actual existing and closed accounts. He confirms that these accounts were a product of family investments in forex and pyramid scheme, where he is either a co-investor or form part of the “and/or” bank accounts.
- He confirms that he recycles PCGG pay envelopes but does not categorically say that the money inside these envelopes were planted although he tries to imply that it might be and that he needs to see it first.
- Commissioner Andy Bautista confirms that SMARTMATIC is a client of the Divina Law Firm.
Despite these confirmations from the commissioner himself, he added that some of these bank passbook were probably falsified. Karen Davila was quick to retort that it would be difficult for Tisha to falsify a bank document to which he responded “I don’t know”.
Commissioner Andy also denied the allegation that he received any commission from anyone or the Divina Law Firm. He said that the checks issued to him was for the payment of a property that he sold to Nilo Divina which was being paid in installments.
In the same way as that of Tisha’s interview, he also confirms that he and his estranged wife were both on a negotiating table where he presented a document to support his claim of an initial 620 million settlement through Tisha Bautista’s first lawyer, Atty. Kapunan. He also confirms by showing the last settlement draft between him and the new lawyers of Tisha. Parts of the draft was read out loud by the host which also affirms it was the same parts that Tisha was not in agreeance to.
It is interesting to note that the focus of Commissioner Bautista was on the ongoing marital squabble with the attempt to depict Tisha as a vulture that was pouncing on a hapless victim. He never made a categorical admittance or denial to any of the allegations thrown at him but instead focused on the issue as an after effect of a domestic problem. It even came to the point that he started hitting on the new lawyers of his wife on a personal level. I had the impression that he came into the interview a bit rattled where his objective was to discredit his wife.
Tisha Bautista was on point with the fact that with our culture that is deeply embedded with too much drama similar to the soap operas that hound our television sets daily, their marital woes is really none of our business. It is their drama and theirs alone. The issue is not about their failed marriage and the issue goes far beyond that. Hence, their marital issue is theirs to settle and not for the public to meddle.
Having said that, the real issue at hand are the authenticity and the ownership of the financial documents presented by Tisha Bautista which is allegedly owned by Commissioner Andy Bautista. This is the first step in finding the truth behind these allegations. Tisha presented it very well by encouraging the public and the authorities to look at these documents before making the judgement. Are these documents valid? Once this is answered then we can then check whether this documents are really owned by the COMELEC Commissioner before we can proceed to any further action.
Based on the “subtle” admittance of Commissioner Andy that some of these bank accounts exist and some were already closed, then we can proceed with the inquiry whether these accounts are owned and/or co-owned by Andy. He already made a claim that these accounts are owned by his family and he is just part of the “and/or” management of these accounts. This is where the clincher comes in, if these accounts bear the name of the commissioner whether wholly or partly then it should have been declared in his SALN. The way I see it, the names that appear on that account are legally the owners of the money deposited even if only one really owns the actual money. If Commissioner Bautista has his name in ANY of these accounts then he should have accounted it in his SALN. If not, then Andy just committed an impeachable offense.
From my point of view, Commissioner Bautista’s best defense really is by presenting facts to the public rather than their melodramatic love story. He could have easily presented his bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank and cross-referenced it to his submitted SALN. That way, from the point of accusation, he could have easily flicked off the doubt. But his continuous tugging of “I need to see the documents” is really making me think that these documents may actually be valid. Commissioner Bautista says that he was nominated by the family to be the finance guy so I am pretty sure he knows how many, if not all 32 LDB passbooks, are valid and active, whether his name appears on these accounts, and whether he declared it in his SALN.
The “Maang-maangan School of Arts” approach of Commissioner Bautista no longer appeals to the discerning public, and you can also include in the list the drama of comparing himself to a “rape victim”. It is so lame because at this point he could have already deflected the accusation by presenting his actual SALN, which is a public document. He is at a position where he can already present the truth if he really submitted a truthful government document.
Commissioner Bautista can paint his wife as an adulterer. He can paint her as mentally imbalanced. But that does not disregard the REAL question that Commissioner Bautista needs to answer to the Filipinos – how much is the commissioner’s real net worth and where did these assets really come from?
While Tisha Bautista sat on the hot seat composed and focused on what she believes was the right thing to do, it bothers me when Commissioner Andy said that he is seriously considering on what his next move would be because it would implicate others in the issue. At this point, everyone involved in their marital and political issue have already been divulged to the public.
So… sino pa ba ng pwede ma-involve sa issue na ito, Commissioner?