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e-mail:rmbalanza@yahoo.com.ph

NOVEMBER 10, 2007 

BLOGS VS.CORRUPTION

MYVIEWS By ROGER M. BALANZA 

In his IT TALKS in Sunstar Davao (October 31, Bloggers Summit: Technology for Peace) superblogger Oliver Robillo wrote about the 1st Mindanao Bloggers Summit (MBS1) last October 27 in Davao City that drew 97 bloggers from all over Mindanao.

Themed “Spotlight Mindanao: Blogging for Culture, Identity & Understanding,” MBS1 was a unique bloggers’ event, which invariably focused on the technical and pecuniary aspects of blogging, according to Robillo, one of the organizers of the first-ever event that was the brainchild of Davao City councilor Peter Lavina.

Technicalities and the economic potentials of blogs aside, the summit also tackled how blogs could be used as a technology for the betterment of Mindanao’s global image, said Robillo.

I sorely missed the rare event of bloggers gathering for a common cause but I salute Robillo and the gang, and Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, one of the major resource speakers.

Robillo in his column said Fr. Alejo challenged the summiteers to use their blogs not only to present to the world Mindanao’s true cultural, social and historical makeup but also as tools in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao.

And there is more to blogs than meet the eye.

Blogs too can play the role of ombudsman to expose graft and corruption, according to the padre, an anti-corruption fighter.

“Fr. Alejo, an advocate of anti-corruption efforts through the Ehem! movement, encouraged summit participants to write about, and expose, corruption. By the power and very nature of blogging, information dissemination on the blogospheric scale will most certainly help in eventually quashing corruption, which is a form of violence,” writes Robillo.

For me this is the best part of Robillo’s column.

Sometime ago, I wrote a story detailing corruption by a group of government officials involved in shaking down a housing developer seeking approval of its application to reclassify a land into a housing subdivision.

The story came into flesh—the facts provided by very reliable sources—came just a few days after a government official threatened to slap a libel charge against me after I reported certain anomalies in his office.

Fear. That’s the devil that forced us to keep the story from publication. When something goes wrong, it will go wrong. We fear a libel threat is too much to be followed by another one in just a span of a few days.

Now I am intrigued by Fr. Alejo’s dare for bloggers to use their tools to expose corruption.

Remember, the good padre was calling on bloggers, not just one or two bloggers carrying on a lonely fight against the corrupt.

Which inspires me with an idea about testing blogs as tools to fight corruption.Now I have company.

 I have been losing sleep over the story for more than a month now, feeling guilty I lost my old courageous balls by keeping the story to myself without the wrong being exposed in a publication.

So can I please ask you dear bloggers, in difference to the call of the good Padre Alejo, in exposing this anomaly? Who knows we could be the first bloggers in the world to be charged with libel for exposing graft in the internet. Or be credited as the first bloggers to have exposed corruption and send grafters to jail. Cute, di pa no?

But let us play it safe.

I am printing the story in toto, but without the names of the devils and other pertinent information, to avoid identification of the dirty players, which is one of the elements for libel.

I suggest however you make your own research and if you are strong enough to face libel—and name the scalawags—then I could not stop you to publish the full details in your blogs.

Here goes:

Who were the city councilors who shared in the P2.6M payoff from the housing developer?                         

Four ________City councilors, who voted for approval of the ________ housing project in a highly-protected area, stand as primary suspects to have received a P2.6 million pay-off from the housing developer seeking permit from the city government.            Records of the proceedings of the regular session of the _________Council, show that the application for reclassification of the 15-hectare area lost the vote in the regular session of _________, 2007 with 19 against and only the four city councilors voting for approval.           

The city councilors who voted for the controversial reclassification were councilors _____________, ____________, _____________, and _________.            Councilor ____________ leads the 8-man “minority bloc” in the council whose votes are crucial in achieving a ¾ votes or 21 votes required for applications for reclassification to pass.           

Without the minority vote, applications could never be passed as the “majority” has only 19 votes or two votes shy of the required ¾ votes.           

Riding on this requirement, the minority could effectively hold hostage a favorable action on any application for reclassification and could easily shake down developers by using their number to stall approval.             

Majority councilors—the 19 who voted against the application, said this is the anomaly used by the ____________ group in fleecing the applicant in the deal brokered by Ms. ____________, a senior female officer of the housing development company, a week before the developer’s application was deliberated upon—and then junked.           

The pay-off surfaced after the ____________ group—which reportedly kept P2M for the minority composed only of 7 councilors—offered P600,000 to be split by the 19-member majority. The amount was rejected outright by a majority city councilor—either for reason the amount was too small or the pay-off too dangerous—who was approached by one of the councilors from the  _____________ group.

The councilor would later play whistleblower to spill the beans about the payoff and the city councilors involved in the shakedown, to other members of the majority bloc.

As a consequence, the 19 majority councilors of the _______________Council voted against the request by _______________to develop the housing project.

Sources said if the deal was carried out smoothly, each councilor would have received P100,000 each from the developer. The moolah, however, was unevenly distributed with the 7-man minority getting a hefty P2 million of the amount and the 19-man majority getting a measly P500,000 to divide among themselves. 

Did I hear the good Padre Alejo saying that bloggers who would not expose corruption would go to hell when they die? BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

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