Sink or swim

More than it is willing to confirm, the Fourth Estate owned by the ruling elites controls the minds of society writ large — ordinary men on the street, corporate individuals, bureaucrats and politicians, captains of industry, and local and national leaders. Metaphorically, mainstream media herds a viewing universe to a proverbial theater that frames people’s minds to think much alike as the data or information they consume come from the same feeding tray.

If we subscribe to BF Skinner’s Ideal Society, we would be led to believe that — what we read from newspapers, hear from the radio, and watch on TV — induce across intelligence the same thought patterns that perfectly mimic what tri-media put into the plate. Hence, hardly is there any other contrary belief, unorthodox worldview, or incentive for critical debate on matters too crucial to follow a single train of thought.

Not even social media platforms which old-school pundits mistakenly ascribe as the new wild, “Wild West” can digress much from a corpus of information that newspapers, radio, or TV throw into the wilds. Worse, the narrative that comes out first appears to be the narrative that dies last — a sad pecking order — where perspectives replace truths, accounts replace facts.

In this context, the POGO crime scare is a case in point, at least in explaining how it reached the threshold of anti-POGO sentiment via — “likely media-sponsored accounts of likely scripted-law enforcement reports”. Policymakers should bear in mind that then President Duterte himself declared POGOs clean from the start to the end of his term; a vital point of reference worth considering in any congressional inquiry. A few points beg clarification, viz:

One, the naked fact that no city mayor has cried wolf, then the alleged “social costs” or crime surge hailed against POGOs may well be “Platonic”. Since “crimes cannot be committed without a witness”, local government units or mayors should be the first to complain as they serve as “first responders” against any other threat within their territorial jurisdictions.

Two, no single mayor in all the cities or provincial capitals where POGOs operate has been ever heard of soliciting assistance from law enforcement authorities thus again, rendering the “crimes” associated with POGOs to lack a strong actual and factual basis. Ideally, before it’s of compelling concern for the PNP or the DILG secretary; the BI or the DoJ secretary; the BIR or DoF secretary, the mayors themselves, or regulatory authorities must present the total landscape.

Three, as “first responders” and a strong line of defense to protect their constituents against threats to peace and order in their territorial jurisdictions, LGUs are in the best position to echo if illegalities or criminalities are on the rise. It is unimaginable to think that they were insulated from the dreaded “high social costs” — if such exist — as to have opened doors for bureaus to interfere or department secretaries or politicians to further sow unwanted confusion.

Four, a bundle of questions has to be asked: Who do the affiliate agents or service providers of POGOs cater to; where in the first place are their clients; can PAGCOR ascertain where the wagers are placed? In truth, answers to these questions alone may constitute violations in other jurisdictions.

Five, the over-hyped argument that — “social costs far outweigh economic benefits” — doesn’t rest on solid ground. This reduces the narrative to mere rhetoric since a much earlier Senate committee report following their investigations only recommended for PAGCOR to revisit POGOs.

Six, if Senate’s acquired bias against POGOs would trigger an exodus from the likes of Cambodia, have we thought of its impact on commercial and residential real estate investments? Other businesses that thrive on the presence of POGOs (i.e. leases, rentals, “fit-outs,” commissaries, hotels, condos, restaurants, bars, and supermarkets) — will dig their own graves.

Now that the PNP declared that “there are no more POGO-related crimes”, let no one throw the monkey wrench or pull the rug under our feet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *