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wilfrido david
wilfrido david THE DICTIONARY defines a whistleblower as an "informer." Whistleblowing doesn't necessarily mean that being one leads towards a monetary settlement, if indeed you are offered such by the aggrieved party or the subject of your exposé. On the contrary, those who have attempted to blow the whistle are threatened, lose their jobs, if not get killed altogether. Very few have ever succeeded at the risky undertaking, as Erin Brokovich attests in the famous 2000 movie of the same name. Still, a good many adventurous souls will do it for publicity.

Whistleblowing takes many forms depending on your motive or inspiration. It could be revenge for a real or even an imagined wrong, or it could be a subtle threat to blackmail a person or a group of people. It may be done out of genuine concern for the well-being of people victimized by big business, or as a recourse to expose government graft and corruption. It could also mean telling on your best friend's philandering to his wife. (This, to my mind, is the vilest of all. But that is getting ahead of my story.)

A now classic example of whistleblowing is the one of Jun Lozada on the aborted NBN-ZTE deal. The case is gathering dust at the Ombudsman's office, while Lozada remains an unwilling and/or embarassed ward of the nuns and priests who have been protecting him from the start. In fact, they probably saved his life.

Joey de Venecia figured prominently in the much publicized case as well, but not so much in dramatic outbursts and weeping--just plain allegations and finger-shaking to make a point. The Senate investigation proved once and for all that the upper house can come up with grand entertainment without even trying.

Jun Lozada made liars out of the erstwhile Comelec Commissioner Ben Abalos, the then Neda Director General Romulo Neri, the then Manila City Mayor Atienza, and others who are only too aware that the case is mothballed indefinitely and so are going about their usual business as if nothing happened. They are not losing sleep over such a "trivial" matter. Nowadays, the norm is not to worry about one's image being tarnished for as long as you hear the "Ca-ching!" in the money till. If PGMA and the FG can afford to be nonchalant, when the threat of impeachment was then hanging over the head of the now outgoing president--why worry? To all appearances, the NBN-ZTE case is now water under the bridge. Jun Lozada is still trying to swim out of that water, though, while on the bridge the culprits are watching him, not with bated breath but with a sigh of relief: "Trying to be a hero by being first a whistleblower is not worth it."

Come to think of it, whatever happened to the one so-called Koala Bear's exposé, where he seemed credible enough to merit attention until Teddy Locsin threatened to come up with his own exposé on the real perpetrator--the one who sent Koala Bear on his mission? How could a potentially sensational case suddenly die down like embers in a barbeque pit doused with water and go up in smoke? Is it over just because the elections are--isn't it worth pursuing though? This Koala Bear of a whistleblower isn't worth emulating. He donned a mask, mumbled through the questions asked by the Senate panel and in the process revealed himself to be unskilled, wavering in his answers, coming in short to prove his allegations. He didn't have the required balls to be a whistleblower, no matter what one's purpose or hidden agenda might be.

Another baffling case that is yet to see closure is the killing of a well-known reporter and his driver, whose vehicle was found abandoned in some secluded spot in Batangas--which allegedly involved Ping Lacson and his men when he was Police Chief, or some such capacity under the watch of then President Joseph Estrada. It took years before the whistleblowing duo, who knew enough about the case to give Lacson the heebie-jeebies, were extradited from the United States. Suddenly, Erap and Ping were not on speaking terms--for reasons only they knew. It is presumed to have started when both of them engaged in fingerpointing. Lacson's cronies in the Senate are keeping mum about his unannounced leave of absence--for delicadeza's sake. The two would-be whistleblowers are being protected by the authorities--but is it worth the years they were persona non grata abroad, away from their families, wondering what fate had in store for them? As far as they were concerned, they were "dead," unwilling souls in limbo. They still are--back in the Philippines, and alas, their proper deposition (if not disposal) will depend only upon the return of Ping Lacson and the case properly tried in court. We shall see if it ends up in the Supreme Court--and see what happens now that GMA is out of the picture.

There are more prominent unsolved cases involving whistleblowers that have died natural deaths--with the parties involved having also gone to the great beyond. They are, in computerese, in the Trash Bin, because they are considered as Spam from the beginning.

If you must whistleblow be sure you are fully equipped, ready to tackle the bull by the horns, keep your balls intact--or you will lose them depending on your opponent's resources. If you end up in a place that you would not want to be--even if you get free board and lodging--take comfort in the thought that you have just been granted your second life. If you must blow that whistle, blow hard until you are blue in the face--but be sure someone is listening... You are not a traffic cop in Cubao chasing a traffic offender, but someone trying to bring justice to the world.

Finally, be careful in choosing your friends. If you have a secret, guard it as if your life depended on it. I found this out with much regret--when one time a lady friend visited our home unexpectedly, who in finding our maid with her hair dishevelled and me in my shorts drinking beer watching TV jumped into a "logical" conclusion and took no time to relate what she saw to---who else, but my wife. When my wife confronted me and asked for an explanation--with the best innocent look I could muster, without batting an eyelash, I anwered: "What's wrong in my sitting on the sofa watching TV with a beer in my hand and our maid insisting on vacuuming the area, afraid that you might come home with her house chores unaccomplished? That's purely circumstantial, if we must go into details ...!"

The fact that I was not "outside the kulambo" that night shows how being able to keep a straight face against overwhelming odds is an absolute plus in your character.

Indeed, it takes practice to survive something like that! (By the way, that whistleblower was my ex-friend and had her reasons!)

I've had this whistle since my Boy Scout days but never even once had the chance to use it. Now I don't even have the strength to blow it--much less in exposing my ninety-year-old uncle's shenanigans. Lest he gets sued for child-molestation and kicked out of our parish--and who's going to say mass tomorrow?

Are you insured, do you have a funeral plan? It pays to be prepared!

[About the author. Wilfrido David first retired as Computer-Analyst from the Ayala Group of Companies. He immigrated to the US in 1985, worked there for another 25 years in the Medical Field (Medical Lab Tech), until he retired for the second time. Sometime ago, he was involved with FAANM (Filipino-American Association of New Mexico) as correspondent-contributor-writer-editor, publisher—all rolled into one. He says about that stint, "I ran out of energy, patience, and money but kept on with my duties until the next set of association officers were voted in." The earliest writing he did was for his high school paper in Holy Angel University. His present writing derives from the perspective of a Filipino expat in the US who faithfully keeps up with what's happening in the home country, as gleaned from his Filipino channels on DirecTV, aside from CNN and HLN.]

-Posted: 8:39 AM 6/24/10 | More of this author on eK!