Bravo, BRAVO Philippines!
A light in the Okada blackout
August 19-27, 2023
On July 31, 2 003, a headline in Bloomberg read :
“Japan’s Universal Entertainment Accused of Improper Influence in Manila Casino Fight.”
Below it, were the two main points of the story:
“Universal Entertainment out of line in Manila fight, SPAC says.”
“Jason Ader SPAC alleges meeting with Philippine House speaker”.
The “out of line” mentioned above referred to the Japanese company (Universal Entertainment ) using methods that allegedly could be construed as bribery to influence a decision in their favor. And the “meeting with Philippine House speaker” identified who was allegedly involved as the recipient of what was delicately described as “heavy luggage”. Jason Ader is the head of the Special Purpose Acquisition Company ( SPAC) 26 Capital Acquisition, which brought a civil action case against the Okada companies in Delaware, USA.
His allegations about Romualdez were backed up by copies of emails between some very high officials of the Okada companies which included mention of “heavy luggage”, a meeting with Speaker Romualdez, a call from Romualdez to a Supreme Court Justice. This all happened sometime in late July, 2022. Last year. So now, even the Supreme Court may be involved.
Then on August 1, the Bloomberg story was carried by the Japan Times, although with a different headline:
“Japanese firm accused of improper influence over Manila casino”.
It must be said that Jef Feeley, the Bloomberg reporter, reported that before he broke the story, he had emailed Speaker Romualdez for comment on the allegations against him, but there was no response.
By the way, casino and gaming industry media also reported the story.
Don’t you think, Reader, that if Bloomberg and the Japan Times , heavyweights in their respective countries and highly respected internationally, carried the story and printed the allegations against Speaker Romualdez, it should have been worth at least a mention by the media heavweights in the Philippines?
For 18 days now, and counting, the silence has been deafening .
All mute on the Bloomberg-Japan Times story.
1.Is the silence self-imposed? Was it an individual decision by each outlet, or was there a some sort of meeting or a referendum taken?
2. Or did some government higher-up, or some spokesperson for Romualdez call the owners and turn on the screws ? They are all businesspersons of course, with other businesses to protect.
3. Was it intimidation of the owners or bribery to the editors?
4. Or is it possible that the entire Philippine media, independently and without any coercion/intimidation/bribery on anyone’s part, all thought the story was not newsworthy?
Whatever the reason, the ultimate irony is that while mainstream media did not carry it, YouTube did. Social media to the rescue. Unfortunately, not too accurate, except for one, where the host read the Bloomberg-Japan Times story out loud with some comments.
There is one small media organization, though, that brought out the story online on August 4. Please note, Reader, Its name is BRAVO, Philippines. What is Bravo? “We are journalists who write to inform, entertain and celebrate the indomitable Filipino spirit. We strive to remain true to the Journalist’s Code of Ethics.”
The report was written by Gerry Lirio, who is a multiawarded journalist, definitely neither an envelopmental nor a scaredy-cat one. Cllick and read this report, ROMUALDEZ IN THE CENTER OF A US BRIBERY CASE OVER THE OKADA DISPUTE because it adds the local flavor that is absent in Bloomberg-Japan Times.
A surprising discovery: Lirio, according to LinkedIn, is currently managing editor of ABS-CBN News. Could it be that the ABS-CBN News bosses above Lirio killed the story, but Gerry Lirio, undismayed, brought it to Bravo instead? Interesting speculation. How whipped is whipped. Whatever the case may be, the case may be, bravo, BRAVO. You give us hope.