Fellow Inquirer correspondent Julie Alipala is reportedly banned from covering military activities in Basilan. Reports said the ban came following her inconsistent report of the military encounters with the rebels in the island province, particularly on the supposed changes in the military's operational plan which was being blamed for the number of military casualties during the clash last Aug. 18 in Tipo-Tipo.

Alipala's vehement denial is understandable as much as how understandable it is for her to stick to her story and her sources. She says her sources are reliable. The supposed ban has reportedly emanated from Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon himself and is being stickly carried out by Task Force Thunder chief Brig. General Juancho Sabban.

The Inquirer report stated that Alipala's story of the supposed changes in the military's operational plan "apparently incensed Sabban." An updated inquirer.net report carried Sabban's denial.

"Hindi totoo yan. Pinakain pa nga namin siya sa officers wardroom. Sana magsalita naman siya tungkol dyan," the Inquirer quoted Sabban as saying.

I remember several years ago when I was also banned from entering the military compound in Carmen, North Cotabato to cover the military exercises happening between government soldiers and their American counterparts. While other journalists were already inside the camp, I was stopped at the gate and had to make frantic calls just for the guards to let me in.

The guards said I had to ask for permission from a Colonel who was then based in Makilala town. I could not figure out why because Carmen is not in Makilala. For one, they're two different towns. For another, the powers-that-be of the officials in Carmen are much, much higher than those being held by the Colonel in Makilala. Carmen is supposed to be the mother and Makilala is the infant.

Because I thought I had to kiss some ass just to get through, I called the Colonel in Makilala and asked why I was being banned. And he said it was because they did not like the story I wrote about a ranking communist rebel that they captured. And I remember him saying "magkasama pa naman tayong kumain sa office ni governor(We even ate together at the governor's office)..."

I can remember some details of that event. It was a press conference and in most press conferences, food are being served for the media and other guests, something that I did not really think was valid enought to be used against me. What more? The invitation did not come from the military but from the governor.

But what incensed the Colonel what the way I wrote the story. The man said he was practically awake for three nights and articulated the words "mental torture."

"Daw mabuang guid ko ya (I thought I will lose my sanity)," the cadre said.

And that was what I wrote. That while he was spared from physical brutality, he underwent intense interrogation and that it was a torture.Apparently, the Colonel wanted me to write the story the way other journalists did--announce that they captured a big fish while the military exercises was on-going and that the cadre was not harmed.

Well, yeah, the man was not harmed physically.

It's no longer clear to me how was I able to convince the Colonel to let the guards open the gate for me. Eventually I found myself covering the military exercises and submitting stories like how the rifles of the Filipino soldiers conked during the exercises.

At the eve of the end of the exercises, I crashed into the send-off party thrown by the provincial government of North Cotabato for the American soldiers. There, I saw again the Colonel who told me that a military intelligence officer wanted to have a few words with me.

Sitting beside him, the intelligence officer whispered to me: "Pagandahin mo naman kami sa mga estorya mo (Make us appear good in your stories)."


Bryan Anthony the First said...

akala ko naman sasabihin pagandahin mo sila...period... hahaha

Winter said...

hahahha.. lolz @bryan anthony.. :P well, on a serious note, something's wrong with those military men kung palagi na lang silang tinitira, it's bliss to spot a lot of good deeds they do but once a little dirt is on the way, they're much criticized... hahay.. you cannot avoid being criticized...

Tng Man said...

what's the fuss about this partaking the same meal together? does that reason enough to have utang na loob or lose one own's judgment (especially if it's sound and brilliant to begin with)?

mikel said...

mmmm.. ganon daw?

Russ Ligtas said...

the world as it is in 2007...

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

is there by any chance the faintest possibility that her sources are the militarymen themselves?

nakakaintriga yung mga intel ng mga press. i guess connections are really important ryt?

tin-tin said...

hahahaha. natawa ako kay bryan.
so dapat pala hindi ka masyadong kakain khet magserve sila ng food :)

Lyka Bergen said...

Seriously, I was not able to read the whole of this post. I was stunned with the music sa background. It gave me chills. Natameme ako.

Ang ganda ni Nena! tse!

Unknown said...

Finally!!! Me laptop na ako, actually... L.A.P.T.O.P.... high speed pa yung D-link ni Nico. According to girlito (John Kenneth) masyadong smelly daw bag ni Nico. Smelly for him means mabaho.

Read your blog. Habang binabasa ko, napapaiyak ako sa background... DRAMA!!!

Buti ka nga kumain pa. But my attitude talaga and David Santos too... deadma sa pagkain kasi me lessons na kami before, nasabihan kaming mga taga defense beat ni Colonel Tutaan na PG as IN patay gutom o MUERTO AMBRE...

Tama si ruffy nurse... its good to have strong connections within the Armed Forces kasi you will easily find out kung me umaangal o tsutsugiin ka na.

Kaya may nagsasalita from within their organization because they are aware that there are some generals pretending as "gentle warriors" pero super baho pala ng mga sikreto nila.