Opinion: Whistleblowers Two (Part Two)
OTHERS JUMPING SINKING SHIP? Recently, two other whistleblowers apart from the regulars Sarah Teresa Esguerra and retired Police Chief Insp. VictorEduardo, have come out with guns blazing against Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia and exposing alleged irregularities.
Both men are deemed studies in contrast; Reynaldo "Butch" Ebreo is a former Philippine Navy official, somewhat a quiet, studious-looking man, while the other voluble Romy Niere, a stormy petrel and very vocal at that, is an excitable man. But one thing I can say about Romy is that the man has lived a colorful life since decades and years ago.
I knew him possibly more than 20 years ago. Aside from his stint as the pastor of a religious denomination in later years, Romy Niere is now president of an NGO Sowers International. When I started as a mediaman, I myself was a print journalist having started with the outspoken Ang Pahayagang Malaya which was published during the period Marcos became a Filipino dictator. COURAGE UNDER FIRE. Our concept of courage had always been akin to Fernando Poe Jr. movies of yesteryears, two-fisted and with blazing guns, fist quick and ready and who cannot be penetrated by bullets.
But there was Fernando Poe Jr. when Marcos declared martial law or Presidential Decree 1081. Nobody dared cross Marcos brazenly and openly and the best weapon which one could wield against him, was definitely acting secretly without knowledge of his minions in the civil government and the military.
But slowly, when we organized the Correspondents, Broadcasters and Reporters’ Association-Action News Service (COBRA-ANS) as journalists, of course, we were open about things. As alternative journalists, compared to the "development journalism" or media puppetry to the state or of the Marcos government then, we espoused advocacy for people’s issues as those on human rights, social changes and reforms such as anti-corruption, agrarian reform, environmental advocacy and issues related to the people’s interests.
There were pressures and harassments then, of course, but we persisted until the Marcos dictatorial regime, tottered and later fell.
But earlier, after the declaration of martial law, when we were not yet a journalist, we tasted the dictator’s jail cell because as a supposed "subversive" prison was the best for us, the dictatorship thought.
FIRE AND BRIMSTONE. Thus, inspite of threats to the contrary and punishment by "fire and brimstone", we persisted not letting the present dire situation come in the way.
Under martial law, one’s steel or nerves would be tested to the limits. But one had to also consider the realities and must take steps to also preserve himself.
Each mediaman and woman had her or his experience during that period. Surely, Romy Niere and Reynaldo "Butch" Ebreo had their own brand of experience, too.
The two surfaced whistleblowers definitely have reserves of the anti-corruption spirit in them and where angels fear to tread, they have declared to traverse in. This is because in actuality, by being whistleblowers, as Sarah Teresa Esguerra and Victor Eduardo have long time ago realized, there may be some amount of glory in being a whistleblower but not lots of cash.
And what have the two, brought up, or what have they exposed a conclusion we have arrived a long, long time ago, which we have earlier concluded on about the Leonardia administration? Tell you me. But indeed!*