THE POLITICS OF TOLERANCE AND COMPLACENCY
The real story behind the commotion that happened at the office of University Police Force (UPF) around 3:40 a.m. of February 5, until now, remains unclear.
The accusations stated in the avowal of Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity to protect Eric Velasco lambasted the integrity of UPLB Perspective. First thing, for candor’s sake, it has to be made clear that your publication has nothing to do with the “WANTED posters” posted around the campus.
Perspective remains Perspective—a student publication which restoration was a result of student movement in 1974—an institution that endured with the principle of serving the people and the students. And still, after castigatory criticisms to Perspective in a defensive reprisal for a fraternity brother, we have to make it clear at the expense of plainly saying: There is a student paper. This is your official student paper.
But, Perspective believes that bringing the issue to mere they-say-we-say-statements does not really give us more of information but of opinion. Sacred to the principle of journalism, information is needed to wipe out perplexity. Consequently, to clarify their end, the office of UPLB Perspective is never closed for the statements of Eric Velasco and the two others. As for Police Investigator Jerry Pelegrina, our office is open for the transcript of investigation or the police report on the Feb 5 incident.
We had the option of releasing an article about the incident but we preferred not to release it until further investigation. It has been our thrust to preserve fairness by getting all sides of the story while remaining sharp in our stance that we must serve the studentry.
Now that the situation permits us to bring out the truth, we can confer to the studentry only the information we were able to gather that early morning, when a phone call from Beverly Christcel Laguartilla, Perspective’s Business Manager, interrupted the presswork of four Perspective editors as they toil for the seventh special issue at the Student Union (SU) building.
It was a short phone call conversation around 3:40 a.m. between Laguartilla and Liberty Notarte, Perspective’s Features Editor. The former told Notarte to cover the commotion at the UPF office. Upon receiving the call, Notarte together with Jonelle Marin, Managing Editor, Aletheia Grace del Rosario, Production Editor and Estel Lenwij Estropia, News Editor, left SU right away with only two recorders. Each carried a notebook, a ballpoint pen, and a press ID.
In the UPF office, Perspective was insistent with ano po ang nangyari, bakit po sila hinuli, anong oras po sila hinuli, ano po ang pangalan nila, bakit po ayaw n’yong magsalita. Unfortunately, Jerry Pelegrina, the investigating officer on-duty that morning, led us to naught. He was, as much as we were, consistent too in his assertion that goes ayaw nilang magsalita, hayaan natin sila, karapatan nila ‘yon, which had intervals of stooping his head and walking around as he waited for the next radio call.
Pelegrina directed the three accused to a red-plated car with SJX 282 plate number. It caused us to ask saan n’yo po sila dadalhin, ano po ang nangyari sa imbestigasyon, ano po ang mga pangalan nila. And, in an exasperated tone, the investigator said pauuwiin na, ihahatid na sa bahay nila. However, the driver of SJX 282 was not able to drive away for there were more than five individuals blocking the way while being adamant that the UPF should seize the three to an investigation before allowing them to leave. Pelegrina, not able to clear the way, brought the three to the Investigation Section (IS). We followed but were not allowed to go inside. We waited outside the IS. After a few minutes, Pelegrina went out but still did not answer any of our questions.
While the three stayed in, as they waited perhaps for the next command to dodge, Perspective took the option of going inside the IS to ask them directly what happened, ano po ang pangalan n’yo, bakit po kayo hinuli, ano po ang ginagawa n’yo sa campus ng ganitong oras. Pelegrina, who left for a while for a reason we do not know until now, returned and told us for the second time in an exasperated tone anong ginagawa n’yo rito?! then he led the three to exit, signaling their release. We followed Pelegrina and demanded at least for a transcription of investigation, but he did not show any. We followed the three accompanied by Pelegrina; we kept on asking questions while assuring them that the information was to verify what really had happened. We assured them as well that whatever statement they affirm would be recorded, that they are free to clarify their side if they deem it necessary.
They continued walking through the dirt road and took four turns until they arrived at their sanctuary—a house located near Los Baños Doctor’s Hospital that if you take one last turn to the right you’ll be heading the hi-way through Agapita. While walking, one of them said hindi lang naman kami ang nandito ng ganitong oras, uuwi na kami may klase pa kami bukas, the other said wala kayong makukuha sa amin, right to privacy, right to privacy and another said ‘tang ina ingay mo, directing his message to Laguartilla. When the three entered their refuge, Pelegrina headed to go back to UPF office. We followed him while asking the same questions we had been asking for more than an hour. Still, he did not answer; worse, perhaps to get rid of his responsibility to at least give the transcript of investigation, he rode a jeepney that headed from the campus.
This is the kind of respect that the UPLB Perspective received from their end.
As student journalists, to deny us our right to enquire on an imperative affair for the purpose of investigation and reportage is to deny the students their right to information. There is only one rule that the Perspective shall choose to live up to—serve the UPLB students and the people at the cost of honest and sharp reporting, may it require vigilance and persistence to harvest all significant information.
While being accused of something he has not done, Eric Velasco and the two others must have cleared their names, in recognition of the role of student press, either by giving us the details we tried to exhaust from them or by inducing in us that they deserved the right to privacy they had been subjecting themselves to. Each of which importance is much as our role to protect students’ right to information that he, the two others and Pelegrina, must have respected, or recognized at the least. After all, a public’s right to know is a right, with or without somebody else’s consent, that a publication cannot afford to disregard.
Nevertheless, we cannot suspend the fact that what caused the Feb 5 incident was the relentless nuisance to expose who operates behind the proliferation of black propaganda that has frequently been tagging student-leaders as terrorists and communists, putting them at the place of the trigger’s target; since this, and an almost insolent administrative power, has been tolerated under Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco.
Consequently, there is an apparent complacency and pressure imparted to Eric Velasco that gives justice to an exceptional treatment given to him and the two others by Pelegrina despite his palpable duty to probe. This is the kind of clemency that gives justice to our resentment and agitation while your publication has been flawed in its constant criticisms of the anti-student policies and tolerance for kinship’s sake that Chancellor Velasco has vowed to serve. Being the tangible institutional democratic space of the students, Perspective has to persist as the Official Student Publication of UPLB despite financial lag and certain impudence from those who find it difficult to recognize the press freedom that your publication owns.
The issue has been worsened due to lag in its investigation. We are not the ones who brought the kind of attention that the public is giving to them after the incident. They, to themselves, did. Pelegrina did. To get rid of public scrutiny, they could have done away with anything that would cause them bad name or defended themselves from accusations of felony they did not do just by telling the truth. Apparently, Eric Velasco carried a certain ascendancy that caused Pelegrina to suspend his responsibility to investigate. It was the same ascendancy, perhaps, that brought his manner to a determined impertinence to UPLB Perspective.
The outrage from the constituents of UPLB has come to almost maximum extent sustained until recently due to implementation of large lecture class policy and the two-night unexpected power interruption in the February Fair grounds after the Chancellor threatened the manager of the generator set of lawsuit. It was a certain Velasco autocracy that made all these possible. His credibility has obtained criticisms to a maximum extent from the recipients of his repressive ruling.
If, only if, one dark hour, for the sake of releasing his father from confinement to public criticism, it was Eric Velasco and his two friends who were distributing black propaganda that demoralizes student institutions, the Chancellor must already have proved his control after having his own son exalted him as a chancellor, a brother, and a father.
Eric Velasco remains complacent as his fraternity brothers protect him by condemning even the student press. However, Perspective should absolve Eric Velasco if he, as the Chancellor’s son, has gained only the reputation of a sacrificial lamb, after diverting to himself the public attention that his father owns; thus saving his father from the verdict of public fury. Nobody can be sure, unless professed, whose dignity he and his two friends were trying to protect when they opted to conceal, if not forget, their names, affiliations, and connections during the night when they were given more than an opportunity to speak and make everything clear.
Chancellor Velasco now must have surmised his pride through his own son who, in the name of brotherhood and recognition, protected his father from the trend of public scrutiny amid constant disparagements to his father’s despotic rule. And, this is how an influenced tolerance and complacence becomes a tragedy. [P] [UPLB PERSPECTIVE]
Originally posted here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=323859922304