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EDITORIAL: Identify Accountability

Currently airing is a TV commercial showing one apparently of mature age putting rudely into the mouth of three children slices of a cake just to stop them from crying. The sight is not only very annoying but also alarming in the sense that it is actually indicative of the trend of the times. Just to create a semblance of orderliness, one clothed with authority imposes a very authoritarian way of treating an individual. It is akin to a government which forces into the citizenry a touch of high-handedness just to project orderliness.

Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz seems to be subjected to the same kind of treatment. At the time that she was deep into preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, she was exposed to the risk of being included in a tiny group that had been rightly or wrongly red- tagged.

Of course Malacañan was quick to deny any culpability for the irresponsible pronouncements attributed to Salvador Panelo, who at that time that the controversy cropped up, was holding the concurrent posts as Presidential legal counsel and spokesperson. Apparently because the pronouncements boomeranged, Panelo was quick to deny in having red-tagged the nation’s pride based on a matrix that was allegedly fed to him by intelligence agencies.

Panelo found in the media the convenient escape goat and alleged that the information was based on a faulty reading of the matrix . He failed, however, to identify which media is he referring to – the mainstream media or the social media. If he refers to the mainstream media, he should clarify which network or newspaper committed the blunder. If he refers to the social media, the more he should be specific. Otherwise, pity the media for being a favorite whipping lad.

A manly specification in this kind of controversy is required given that the media outlets are placed in a very precarious situation. As to the case of Diaz, she should demand for a categorical statement from responsible government officials that she has indeed never been red-tagged, a term which exposes one to situations that may put her and others equally situated in great danger.

This angle highlights the risk entailed for being a subject of witch hunt. Diaz being an Olympic gold medalist and therefore already an international sports icon, may be a special case and given her sort of heroic performance, may already be spared from the red tag danger.

How about however those not being as prominent as her? Their situation continues to expose them and their loved ones, given the strong possibility of them being salvaged based merely on a yet to be verified information.

For this reason, the government owes it to the people to exercise extra caution in identifying people whose names may appear on a list of personalities being red-tagged prematurely. A huge intelligence fund has been allotted to various intelligence communities. The same should be prudently spent for the very purpose, it was contemplated.

A presidential pronouncement to let bygones be bygones is not enough to appease Hidilyn and for that matter the entire Philippine society.

A public statement of this kind cannot be taken like an insecticide, which maybe effective in driving away lice. But never can it cover up lies. If at all it will only offer temporary relief.

At the end of the day, truth remains the most effective ingredient in fostering law and order, particularly in respect to due process of law. Intelligence agencies making public classified sensitive information about certain parties without solid basis should be held accountable.


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