THE letter that went the rounds nationwide several weeks ago and which also wiggled into my email inbox detailed the “sins” of John Manalili, head of the government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services, and one other official.

I knew John some two decades back but don’t know the person or group circulating the letter. Besides, the accusations needed confirmation aside from their being too national for a Cebu journalist like me. I deleted the email when I was cleaning my inbox.

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I talked with a Manila-based friend recently and he told me about the predicament of people appointed to positions under the unlamented Gloria Arroyo administration.

Two familiar names cropped up in our conversation, those of Manalili and another “idol” from way back, Emmanuel “Manny” Lumanao. Manny is currently general manager of the government-controlled APO production unit.

Being closely identified with the late Cerge M. Remonde, Arroyo’s press secretary, John and Manny are natural targets of some sectors eager to get a job under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. But if past records were to be made a basis for gauging a person’s integrity, then there’s no reason why John and Manny should be targeted for ouster.

I know those two to be principled, the reason why they were among the few journalists I idolized when I was a student and the country was ruled by a dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

John headed our batch that was trained by the then Broadcast Production and Training Center (BPTC) in the early ‘80s. Among our batch mates were Fides Palicte, Quennie Catingub, Mercedes “Verse” Logarta (sister of former Cebu-based journalist Viking) and, if my memory serves me right, Fred Sipalay, now a lawyer.

Some of us in the batch eventually auditioned for a slot in the then Inday Nita Cortes Daluz-managed dyRE. John, who was then writing for a local paper, got the post. That, I reckon, was his ticket to fame in local media and was instrumental in his landing a job in the government’s broadcast network when he went back to Manila years later.

Manny was with a local paper when he recruited me and other students to join them in campaigning for some local candidates in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections. But it was when he hooked up with Al Alinsug, who published the now defunct Visayan Herald, that his activism became notable. The Visayan Herald was to Cebu what Malaya and other so-called mosquito press were to Manila during the Marcos dictatorship.

I doubt if anyone of those targeting John and Manny had contributed to the anti-dictatorship struggle as much as the two did in Cebu at that time. It was not mere coincidence that the media outlets John and Manny were in---dyRE and Visayan Herald, respectively---became the leading voices of dissent in broadcast and in print.

One of the notable achievements of Manalili was his interview, through dyRE, with former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. who was then in Boston and didn’t have much of an outlet to counter the propaganda of the pro-Marcos press. Lumanao, meanwhile, covered Aquino’s return to the Philippines in 1983, feeding to a wire agency the statement Ninoy would have delivered had he not been assassinated upon his arrival.

A new administration filling the government bureaucracy with its people is not surprising in this country’s politics. I just hope, however, that P-Noy would be objective in choosing people to be purged.

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