Conflict of interest – this is the argument being thrown around by certain people in defense of Noynoy’s speech at the TV Patrol silver anniversary last July 27. Rappler writer Chay Hofileña and self-professed investigative journalist Ellen Tordesillas are at the forefront of this “argument” with their big virtual mouths.
Conflict of interest, simplified, means using your position within an institution to gain a personal advantage for another company or firm which you are also part of or whose people in power you are related to.
Rappler and Tordesillas are asserting, therefore, that Kabayan Noli de Castro’s stint as Vice-President under Gloria Arroyo’s cabinet has seriously compromised his current credibility as a journalist. Noli de Castro has no right to complain now about Aquino’s government and presidency, because he remained silent during the 6 years of “irregularities” during Arroyo’s term. It is hypocritical of him to do so.
I think they got confused by this definition of conflict of interest on Wikipedia:
“A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other.”
In all likelihood, they got carried away by the presence of the word “corrupt” in the definition above, and they automatically thought that just because Noli de Castro used to be Arroyo’s vice-president, then there’s already a “conflict of interest” because Arroyo is “corrupt”. Therefore, he is too.
The only readily evident conflict of interest here is between Rappler’s claim to be “igniting smart conversations and a thirst for change”, and their blatant ass-kissing, pandering yellow journalism towards BS Aquino and his allies.
While I do not condone the sensationalized and oftentimes exaggerated reporting by local media outfits such as ABS-CBN, by no means do I find anything even remotely justifiable with BS Aquino’s spoiled brat tirade either.
Let’s go back to Rappler’s and Tordesillas’ original question: so why did he remain silent all those years? The answer is so simple yet so profound, but it will continue to fly over the heads of small-minded Filipinos:
Because he was the vice-president under Arroyo’s term.
Any corporate cog with even a two-bit brain knows that you should never complain about your higher-up while you are still in his/her employ. To do so would mean career suicide.
Apparently, loyalty and keeping one’s mouth shut are such alien concepts here in the Philippines. After all, Pinoys love to whine and complain incessantly just about everything. We are not exactly known for restraint, much less discipline. We are a “democracy” indeed.
Remember the loyalty pledge we were made to memorize in our Citizen’s Army Training days?
If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him. If he pays you wages which supply you bread and butter, work for him; speak well of him; stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents. If put to a pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness. If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally disparage, resign your position, and when you are outside, damn to your heart’s content, but as long as you are part of the institution do not condemn it. If you do that, you are loosening the tendrils that are holding you to the institution, and at the first high wind that comes along, you will be uprooted and blown away, and will probably never know the reason why.
The inevitable follow-up question: why isn’t he speaking up now that he’s back in the anchor’s chair? That’s a good question, actually, to give Hofileña and Tordesillas credit, yet I don’t think it is the first one we need to answer.
”What’s the point of bringing it up now” is.
For a moment, let’s forget about who the past president was and ask a few simple questions. Should de Castro’s performance as vice-president (or lack of it) have any bearing on what he has to say now? Does de Castro’s association with Gloria Arroyo negate any right for him to view his opinions and criticism today? Whatever Noli said or did not say does not change what he can say today. The most valid criteria upon which to evaluate Noli’s current criticism would be whether he can back it up with facts and figures. His performance as vice-president, and whoever was the president at that time, is irrelevant.
It’s easy to see therefore, that instead of framing whatever “argument” they had around the idea of being able to back up criticism with solid proof, Rappler and Tordesillas chose to focus on Noli’s association to an allegedly corrupt official Arroyo to make their point. This is why they miss the point yet again.
Once again, these so called “online journalists” are throwing around a highfaluting term in order to make their small ideas seem bigger than they actually are. All they want to say is that anybody associated with Arroyo has no right to criticize BS Aquino. They are guilty of corruption and loss of moral ascendancy by association, period. Never mind that as of now, BS Aquino’s government is still struggling to put a decent case together to charge Arroyo with.
If you want to complain, like Rappler did, of the “revolving door” between media and politics, Noli de Castro is not the one to hang out and dry. You can blame the dysfunction in Filipino culture that allows severely under-qualified candidates like Noli to run for the vice-presidency and win by popular vote. Before I forget, this is also the same way that Noynoy won the presidency now. So in effect, Noli and Noynoy aren’t two different from each other as politicians. Media outfits such as ABS-CBN and Rappler, whether they are aware of it or not, had contributed to this dysfunction, and this irony will simply fly over their heads.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s words ring truer than ever before:
Small minds discuss people;
Mediocre minds discuss events;
Great minds discuss ideas.
Perhaps these so-called “online journalists” and “social media networks” should leave the thinking to those who can do it properly. They’re best suited to gathering gossip at hen parties which is the level of journalism that they excel in.
That’s the Philippines for you, a society where the wrong arguments always win, and where the people willingly surrender their capacity to think for themselves because it’s much easier.