Idiotic mistake

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Saturday, July 19, 2014


AIR TRAVEL will always have its risks but none more dreadful than the possession of anti-aircraft weapons by inept and stupid people.

Pro-Russia Ukrainian insurgents may not have intended to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 but their failure to identify a civilian aircraft from a military transport plane is just as condemnable as the former. With all the modern equipment that makes easy the task of distinguishing one from the other, the “mistake” can only be classified as idiotic.

All those responsible for this latest aviation tragedy should be held accountable. The rebel commander, who bragged in social media that they shot down a Ukrainian army plane and then hastily removed the post after he realized the stupidity, should be prosecuted and tried as a war criminal. So should also those who gave and those who executed the order to pull the trigger.

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The Malaysian government should take the lead in exerting pressure on the international community to take punitive action against the Ukrainian murderers. The loss of a second plane couldn’t have come at a worse time. Only on March 8, this year, another Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 mysteriously vanished while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane or what’s left of it has not been found despite a massive international search.

I would not be surprised if air travelers avoid Malaysia Airline like the plague. Two strikes in one year is enough to scare away customers. This is the worst nightmare a player in the transport industry can experience. I wonder how long it will take for the airline company to recover. People have generally short memories but not when it comes to unmitigated disasters.

***

The nature of the profession dictates that the lawyer asks, not be required to answer, questions. But for a change, Rameses Villagonzalo found himself at the receiving end of intense cross-examination last Thursday during the quarterly meeting of the Cebu Citizens Press Council.

Occasion was the forum on whether it is wise or ethical for a lawyer to also do public relations work for his client. To their credit, Rameses and the other resource person and lawyer, Jane Paredes handled the grilling in a way that would make our profession proud.

Rameses, who is the lead defense counsel in the Joy Pique kidnap with homicide case, said that sometimes it is necessary for a lawyer to seek the help of the media in protecting the interests of his client. Jane, Smart Communications’ chief PR person in the south, however, advised lawyers who do so, to stay away from legalese and strive to put their message across.

I think that while the lawyer is the most equipped spokesperson for a client’s cause or defense, he should come in only after the PR strategy has been determined. He should not be involved in shaping the PR plan because of his natural tendency to be legalistic instead of pragmatic.

This was what happened in the case of the baby whose lips were found taped inside the the Cebu maternity hospital. Instead of confronting the complaint directly, the hospital dwelt on the side issue of the parents complaining on Facebook rather than to them.

A good PR strategy would have been for the hospital to promise to immediately conduct an investigation and punish those who may be found guilty.

But once a case is filed, the lawyer is the one in the best position to convey the client’s side. He knows not only the latter’s cause but also the intricacies of court procedure and how far he can go to test them.

Sometimes, it can bring the lawyer trouble but as Rameses and Jane would have gladly told the audience last Wednesday if the question had been asked, it’s part of the (lawyer’s} territory.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 20, 2014.

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