OF FAKE NEWS, CLAIMING VICTORY OVER RESULTS OF UNIFICATION MOVEMENT and WHAT HARMONY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? Featured

With this issue of the PCHN we put a dot to the long-winded story of unification movement that our publisher Evelyn Zaragoza began towards the middle of last year as a personal commitment, an advocacy, and a selfless cause so much so that it became the theme of the 23rd anniversary of this leading community newspaper.   .
 
As in any arduously humongous task, we paid it a great deal of attention through to the minutest details. We encountered so many encumbrances but we were single-minded in trying to complete a task: With the release of the joint statement fully endorsed by PCC-NSW on the one hand, and APCO on the other, and with The Philippine Consulate harnessing both groups solidarity into some kind of a tripartite agreement, we can at least put the matter to rest.
 
To many, this means: No more. Finito. The end. But to us, the story is not over yet.
 
Truth to tell, the negotiations are far from finished. The two sterling groups still have to dot the i's and cross the t's, so to speak. There will be other meetings and hopefully more rewarding results for everybody let alone our entire commune.  .
 
 But for us at PCHN, and for me as the principal writer-editor, two things immediately come to mind that need be expressed for mine/our own sense of distributive justice and conflict resolution.
 
WE DID IT.
 
Firstly, and without self-aggrandizing, we say, WE DID IT.
 
Whatever has been thought of against us, we achieved what we had aspired for, short of delivering what had been expected of us, although we never really promised anything let alone a rose garden.
 
What can be more convincing evidence than the two official statements that materialised out of our news documentation and editorial opinions – the separate first statements by PCC-NSW and APCO INC. both sounding all-so-defensive and belligerent. Finally, with our constant egging of the Philippine Consulate through former Consul Marford who had publicly promised to organize this historic, milestone “reconciliation meet that became an agonizing wait-and-see if it happens. At the last days of the outgoing Consul’s extended stay in Sydney, his promise was fulfilled.
 
Finally, the long awaited reconciliation meeting happened and brought forth a second, this time, and joint statement.  At first glimpse, it seemed like a very promising position paper full of motherhood statements couched in diplomatic sophistries that bespeak of classic Filipino OPM (oh promise me) and bears the hallmarks of hypocritical stances ( “pakitang tao.”) – all of which remains to be seen as well as proven and tested in the long run. .  
 
In retrospect, we take credit for our sheer herculean efforts, no matter how self-congratulatory it may sound. After all, for two giants to react on record (i.e. their first separate statements), and then eventually get them to yield to a reconciliation meet we have pressed on so as to address issues we have tirelessly cavilled about is certainly no mean feat. That said, here comes our second other conclusion – a way of a rebuttal to APCO’s argumentation (nay accusation) charging us of “fake news”.
 
FAKE NEWS, FALLACIES and CONTRADICTIONS
 
From a more scholarly viewpoint, methinks there is really no such thing as “fake news” which became a sensational buzz word attributed to US Pres. Trump who first popularised it. The whole world especially Filipinos prone to aping, rumour-mongering, and crab mentality relished it to a point that it become a favourite byword or epithet.
 
As it is nowadays, “fake news” is a two-pronged phrase taken to dismiss or legitimize any piece of information one disagrees with or intentionally deceive a desired target audience with outright lies masquerading as truth. Apart from dismissal and deception the other elements of fake news are malicious intent, causality of panic, confusion or disorder, and the awareness of the falseness of the news.
 
In our case, had we been truly at fault as duly stipulated by APCO, then we would have been the first to publish an erratum and own up to our fault, me culpa. Besides we know that free speech, expression, or press freedom as it were is not absolute and that journalists and broadcasters are bound by a sense of professional responsibility, ethics, and code of conduct. That is a given, basic, and fundamental amongst those who profess to be journalists, broadcasters and other agents of mass media and communication arts be it electronic, digital or otherwise.    
 
At the same token, this is also the main reason why we seek redress in the name of fairness and fair play. Similarly, we deserve a right of reply as well as right of correction to achieve equanimity. As well, consider this editorial response as my very own intellectual kung-fu -- the vital art of self-defense in a debate. Otherwise, if we let it pass without explaining ourselves justifiably APCO’s accusation shall remain unanswered and taken as the last word with everyone laughing out loud (LOL!)
 
But, lest you forget, he who laughs last laughs best. It is unlikely for this editor to be cowed into backpedalling by the sheer shockwaves of this public denunciation of the supposed “highly misleading, grossly subjective and untruthful reporting being disseminated by the proponents of the so-called “Unification” in a newspaper owned and staffed by “Unification” proponents who are also closely involved with PCC.”
 
In much the same breath APCO brazenly stated:
 “APCO is not in agreement with the proponents for “Unification” in many aspects; hence, the glowing reports about the “Unification” are fake, dishonest and fabricated news. We also denounce the writers for their fictitious, false and malicious reporting about the community: that the organisations lack government support because it is not united, that PCC is doing community development projects while APCO is into multiculturalism and serving only its members.
Why tell lies if your intentions are really good?
 
I cannot help but be academic in pointing out that   APCO has committed the greatest, gravest fallacy of Argumentum Ad Baculum or the "Might-Makes-Right" Fallacy. Witness their final verdict where they categorically underscore and literally underline what we have actually been cantankering away since day one  
 
 APCO is instead suggesting that the process of Unification should start with a Reconciliation
 
This is the final stroke -- a contradiction of the highest order. After all the brouhaha, they are actually in agreement with our editorialised call for reconciliation. In the first place, the impetus did not even come from us but from one Jhun Salazar, the fearless, level-headed ex-President of APCO.
 
What is beyond me is how APCO could deny recognition of their own people even claiming that “ APCO Inc has not made any official stand on the issue of “Unification” and those who attended any meeting have denied ever declaring that they were representing APCO in any capacity” thereby committing more contradictions after contradictions. Remember, in community life, we are judged by the company we keep. Thus, the notion of being officially tasked or appointed to represent of any organization, APCO, PCC or non-aligned, is immaterial in a gathering of community leaders. There is such a thing as guilt by association. You can never dissociate yourself from a group you’ve been identified with from the very start .unless you relinquish it publicly or disclaim/disown membership/affiliation altogether.   .   
 
The total effect is that APCO made fallacious statements that might sound reasonable or appear to be superficially true but are actually flawed or dishonest.
 
So who is creating “fake news” after all? PCHN or APCO?  You decide...
 
Of course it takes thinking readers to detect the so-called fake news in our reportage and editorials where there is actually none or APCO could have  underlined what they claim as “fake news” point by point to guide readers accordingly. We are getting to be repetitive here for a reason because these logical fallacies backfire by making the audience think the writer (yours truly) is unintelligent (bobo) or deceptive (manloloko). Que pobresito mio! (Oh, poor me!)
 
Our turn to ask? What happened to APCO’s boast that they were going to circulate their statement even to national dailies? Has any negligible if obscure community digest ever bothered publishing it? (Really now, please pray tell.).What publication would pick up a statement teeming with false line of reasoning to begin with?  Who are you trying to fool? Sining niloloko ninyo?  
 
Wittingly or unwittingly, APCO’s argumentation is generally categorised as Appeal to Force, using force, the threat of force, or some other unpleasant backlash to make the audience (i.e. the Fil-Oz community in NSW) accept a conclusion that what we have reported are “fake news” , in short lies.
 
This has obviously become their last resort in the absence of evidence or rational arguments that convince the reading public (i.e. subscribers and regular readers of PCHN).
 
MIS or DIS INFORMATION
 
At this point allow me to differentiate between misinformation and disinformation and whether or not the “fake news” accusation of APCO to PCHN makes sense. .
 
Several online dictionaries make disinformation the far more sinister term, one that suggests a conspiratorial institutional effort. They define it as a false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumours) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. It further adds that disinformation is deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government or especially by an intelligence agency in order to influence public opinion or the government in another nation. Sometimes this is regarded as propaganda.  
 
Misinformation is likewise information that is false or incorrect and the person disseminating it knows that precisely but is convinced otherwise for the main intention is to deceive and/or to offer a patent lie. Per one UP authority consulted on fake news hearing at Philippine Senate, she cited many kinds of “fake news” as not necessarily tainted with political colour. This include misinterpreted facts or beliefs packaged as raw information and spread throughout the networks e.g. satire posts that take the mickey out of anything but there’s really no real intent  
 
So the main difference lies in and boils down to intent whether it is malicious, real, or imagined
Often the defence, as in the case of politicians, is posited in the passive voice, "I was misinformed". This is how they rationalise their mistake in many instances when they are caught out trying to pass disinformation. In these cases however, the intent to deceive is originally and pellucidly clear except that it didn't work.
In likewise manner, APCO did the same but for all intents and purposes, it boomeranged negatively on them yet served to positively increase our readership because people became curious to find out more about the whole shebang.
..
We understand that most often than not, mis or dis information can be given innocently, negligently, or carelessly. And we go as far as sharing above vital info to point out precisely the baselessness and malicious intent of APCO in declaring us purveyors of fake news in their first issued statement following our editorial that obviously did not sit well with those who actually read them or heard them from others as second hand info.
Aye, there’s the rub! Here lies trouble for they didn’t even bother verifying, vetting or ascertaining whatever dis or mis information might have been passed on to them. The evidence we have suggests that they never bothered to quote from what we have published WHAT PRECISELY they deem fake news.
 It is one thing to accuse (easiest even to point an accusing finger), another to substantiate or prove it. It would have been our right to ban/bar APCO news whatsoever, but despite their “fake” accusation we continued publishing their press releases which more than eliminates any bias they try to impugn on us in stating such unproven statement that we were “closely involved with PCC.”
 
This kind of disinformation clearly implies that the person who wrote the statement for APCO is intentionally making a false statement that he or she knows to be false. On hindsight, this is funny pathetic given that APCO is seemingly hell-bent in proving to TPTB (the powers that be, who have decorated them with this and that award) that  indeed harmony reigns amongst the Filipino community by their obvious act of “papering the house”, (a theatre expression meaning feeling the house with complimentary tickets to give the impression of a sell-out or as applied to local event organizers and their supporters, the  closest Filipino translation is the “hakot:: syndrome).
 
So much so that APCO’s gone out of their way to subsidize part of the expensive ticket to this years’ annual Harmony Premiere dinner to the delight of unsuspecting folks until one member threw the wet blanket in an act of rightful indignation and finally cried foul:  “What harmony are we trying to prove when we cannot even harmonize with our very own community? . Or something to that effect.
 
Well said. To this person who has the balls and gall to challenge APCO’s unseen hands but intriguingly felt touches of conjugal dictatorship, we say AMEN.
For the entire community in general, it’s time to end anonymity and put a brave face to one’s stand. Let’s not confine ourselves to “bulung-bulungan” on the sides. Time is rife for people to come out and fearlessly say their piece with no strings attached.
 
And then again. Election for new set of leaders/officers is just round the corner. Everyone needs to assess and analyse, make informed judgements, and have the courage of our convictions. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

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    THERE”S MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

    Just a simple letter from the Department of Fair Trading in response to Jhun Salazar’s letter of complaint as regards his ill-boding, inauspicious, and sinister dislodgement as Public Officer , but when you break it down to the basic premise/proposition, argumentation, and conclusion -- there ‘s more than meets the eye.

    In effect, we are faced exactly with the very root as well as the bare realities underpinning the two-in-one APCO problem that has been pestering the Filo commune in NSW for two years now.

    Allow me to quote just the last sentence of Ms. Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management, which goes:
    “...Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict; I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
     
    Let’s analyse this statement well. As we say in the vernacular, “kung baga may gusot, himay-mayin natin, para mahanap ang lusot.”
    Going by the premise or proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference, it appears that...
    • APCO is regrettably a small organization
    • It now finds itself in a situation of conflict
    • All of the parties are encouraged to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.
    We can assume, rather explicitly or implicitly, that it should not be logically difficult to support the plain and simple conclusion that all parties (MUST) endeavour to resolve the situation of conflict or internal dispute.
    When all is said and done, one thing is loud and clear. The problem of APCO is not within the province or jurisdiction of Department of Fair Trading, nor is it their responsibility to interfere in internal dispute. .

    BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

    Where does this bring us? Back to the drawing board.
    .
    I take liberties to shift to our lingua franca .Mas mainam kasi kungTatagalugin na lang natin para mas higit na maunawaan at maliwanagan ng higit na nakararami.

    Una, balikan natin ang tatlong bagay na hinimay ko sa simula’t sapul na napakasimple at diretsahang sinagot ni Ms. Matheson.

    Kung tutuusin maliit na organisasyon lang naman talaga ang APCO kahima’t maraming iba pang samahang napapailalim dito.
    Kaso ang problema ang lalaki ng mga “EGO” ng mga taong nasasangkot sa mga usapin.Lahat may ambisyon. Bawat isa may kani-kaniyang ipinagpupumilit o ipinaglalabang prinsipyo kuno. Ang tunay na nangyari sa APCO ay ang pagkabuwag ng pananalig at pananampalataya ng mga dati-rating sunud-sunurang miembro sa mga opisyales na naghari-harian.
    Ang resulta nahati ang grupo at nagkampi-kampihan.
    Hindi na bago ito sa ating mga Pilipino. Ugali na natin ito. Ang pagkakabuwag ng mga partido, pag-aaway-away ng mga kampo ng maka- Kaliwa o ng maka-Kanan (halimbawa sa Pilipinas ngayon, ang hidwaan ng mga Dutertards/DDS laban sa mga Dilawan) ay ordinaryong kalakaran na sa politika.
    Bahagi na ito ng ating kasaysayan, ng ating pinagmulan at kinamulatan kaya paulit-ulit na nangyayari sa iba’t ibang panahon.
    Sa kaso ng APCO, lumalim at lumala ang di-pagkakaunawaan nang pinangatawananan ng bawat grupo ang kanilang paninindigan. Umabot na sa puntong ang mga miyembro at opisyales mismo ng APCO ay di na magkasundu-sundo dahil nag-uumpugan ang mga EGO.

    Eto ngayon ang tanong? Posible ba na magsipagbaba sa kanilang trono ang mga nagsasalpukang opisyal dahil iisa lang naman ang pinagmulan ng iisang bunga?
    Matay ko mang isipin, pwedeng-pwede kung maghaharap muli ang dalawang grupo at magkakasundong mamili at maghalal ng mga bagong opisyal.
    Balik-tanawin natin ang pinagmulan ng UNIFICATION MOVEMENT na pinasimulan ng pahayagang ito sa pamumuno ng Tagapaglimbag.
    Patapus na halos ang dalawang taon ng bawat kampo. Nairaos din ang kanilang termino kahit nauwi sa malawakang bangayan. Tuloy naisantabi ang mga tunay na simulain at nakaligtaan ang mga proyektong pinaka – raison de etre (reason for being) ng organisasyon.
    Ang dapat pagkasunduan ng dalawang kampo ay ito. Kailangang magtakda ng isang araw para sa UNIFICATION at RECONCILIATION kung saan nagkakaisa ang lahat na magsimulang muli – isantabi ang mga di pagkakaunawaan at magkasundong magbuo ng BAGONG PINAGTIBAY na APCO sa pamamahala ng mga bago ring liderato.
    Para sa akin, kalokohan ang magtumbang preso pa kayo sa Korte Suprema, gaya ng isinasaad sa sulat ng Fair Trading. Wala naman kayong mapapala. Wala rin kayong mapapatunayan. Ending, bale minasahe nyo lang ang inyong mga ego na naman. At what cost?

    TABULA RASA (CLEAN SLATE)

    Sa madali’t sabi, iminumungkahi kong magsimula sa zero, parang tabula rasa o yung tinatawag na CLEAN SLATE dapat.
    Clean slate begins with the common decision and agreed action of wiping the slate clean. It’s like starting anew, a fresh approach. But the only way to do achieve this is to get rid of the old directors. Anybody who has been elected to the Board for more than two years should give a chance to those who have never served before.

    MY RECOMMENDATIONS
    What I believe that can be done is to form a Council of Elders – composed of those who began APCO, all the past Presidents and Vice Presidents and other outstanding past officers and Board of Directors. That way there can be no place `for DICTATORSHIP.
    The Council of Elders are supposed to be respected and honoured for their experiential knowledge of the organization not to mention their actual work and life experiences. Factor in their spirituality, teachings, wisdom, and high intelligence --Elders have a deep understanding of people and communities. They are recognized for their gifts, special abilities and distinguished work that make them role models, resource persons, and advisors providing guidance and support to everyone.

    Specifically, they shall work in partnership with the various Standing Committees by providing guidance, support, plus sharing of traditional knowledge of wisdom, beliefs and values in a caring and respectful way. Whenever consulted, the Council of Elders will be actively involved in decisions respecting the direction and governance of the organization.
     
    What is more and very promising indeed, is that Constitutional Amendment is in the offing, and should by all means be the order of the day. This is the best opportunity whereby sufficient safeguards can be put in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility.

    To this end, and mindful of the lessons learned from the first-hand experience of a disintegrating organization, I am the first to suggest a structural change in the organization by demolishing the Board of Directors and creating instead a more streamlined yet very strong and encompassing STANDING COMMITTEES with a Chair and Vice –Chair.

    • ETHICS COMMITTEE need be instituted in place of the age-old and ineffectual GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE so that any and all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of APCO and its members shall significantly fall under this all-important Committee.

    Inevitably, this committee should encroach on and include Accountability of Officers and Proper Conduct of Investigations of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of APCO. Thus every APCO member is intrinsically tasked to report alleged wrongdoings of its officials and its attached agencies, including the management, control, and use of its owned equipment and facilities if any.
    B.) COMMITTEE ON PEACE/UNIFICATION/RECONCILIATION shall handle all matters relating to peace, internal conflict resolution, political negotiation, cessation of hostilities, including integration and development thru national unification and reconciliation with other Filipino-Australian organizations.
    C.SPECIAL PROJECTS COMMITTEE
    All matters relating to SPECIAL PROJECTS
    In the following areas :
    -- The preservation, enrichment and evolution of Filipino-Australian ARTS and CULTURE.
    _ ADVOCACY projects in public health in general not to mention IMMIGRATION issues, concerns, policies and programs affecting individuals and their families, as well as matters relating to the YOUTH, WOMEN, and FAMILY RELATION
    --Establishment and maintenance of libraries, mini- museums, shrines, monuments, and other historical sites and edifices; training programs and cultural and artistic programs

    BREAKING DOWN DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
    Finally my one last statement about what happened to APCO is akin to a death by a thousand cuts. This is a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems. Death by a thousand cuts could refer to the split within an organization such as APCO as a result of a tangle of individual egos concretised in the battle between two ladies each claiming to be rightful President.
    To paraphrase Hamlet, the failure to come to terms or to reach mutual agreement, that is the question! Both parties failed to begin to or make an effort to understand, accept, and deal with a difficult or problematic person, thing, or situation. As such, the problem blew up to uncontrollable proportions and resulted in spewing several small issues rather than one major one.
    Perhaps readers will understand the phrase better and my application of it in the case of APCO, when you consider the term was originally used to describe an ancient form of torture wherein the condemned person was subjected to a number of minor wounds until the accumulation of damage became fatal. This hyperbole, so to speak, refers to the idea that while a single small cut may not be all that fatal but the total cumulative effect may eventually cause a person to bleed to death.
    This is what I’m afraid may happen to APCO eventually.
    Hindi naman kasi ang mga taong napakatataas ng lipad, bilib na bilib sa sarili, at pagkalalaki ng mga ego (mas malaki pa sa organisasyon) ang sadyang nasasakal at unti-unting kinikitil ng walang pinatutunguhang pag-aaway ng dalawang kampo kundi ang APCO mismo.
    (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

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