"Some press briefing that was."
Last week, I received a text message from Manila Standard colleague Rio Araja inviting me to a press conference on supposed fake news circulating a P3.19-billion deal entered into by the Land Transportation Office.
As I had a previous commitment that day, I deliberately missed the press briefing, which turned out to be a right decision on my part. Right after the event, my social media account flared up with many of my media friends complaining how they were treated by Jose Brillantes of Integracom Public Relations Inc. who was supposed to host the briefing.
According to them, they were banished by Brillantes, telling them right to their faces that they were not invited to the event. In fact, one media friend narrated how he saw Rio being castigated by Brillantes in one corner, scolding her for inviting so many reporters. According to the reporters, Brillantes wanted only a select group of media practitioners to cover his event.
But what could he expect? Rio is the president of the Quezon City Press Corps and he happened to course his invitation through her. Did he expect Rio to withhold the invitation form other reporters particularly from the members of her own press corps? That would be a mortal sin on Rio’s part. Presidente ng press corps, nang-iiskup sa mga miyembro niya? Mr. Brillantes should have known better.
Actually, the invitation itself was dubious. The invitation, which Rio said directly came from Brillantes read: Press briefing on Fake News on 3.19-B LTO Contract—Sep 3, Tuesday, 11am, Muang Thai Restaurant, Malakas Street, Diliman, QC (near McDonald's)—Joey Brillantes.
There was no mention of who was hosting the press conference. And since it mentioned “Fake News on 3.19 B LTO Contract,” one could assume the briefing was organized by the LTO. Thus it was no surprise that there were many reporters who showed up for the briefing.
It was only when the briefing proper commenced that reporters came to know the event was being called for by Dermalog—a Germany company which was to take the place of LTO’s former IT service provider, Stradcom.
As I said, while the invitation was not fake, it was obviously dubious.
Anyway, was the press briefing a success on the part of Brillantes and his client? Apparently not.
According to one of the reporters who remained to cover the event, Brillantes had to give them specific instruction “not to hit Dermalog,” which is a clear indication that he had doubts on whether he effectively delivered the message of his briefing.
In fact, no matter how they tried to picture Dermalog as an efficient IT service provider to take Stradcom’s place, there was no way they could get the reporters on their side , according to the reporter.
While Dermalog claimed they had not received a single centavo yet from their contract, veteran Journal reporter Jun Legaspi reportedly refuted them, saying that LTO advanced P1 billion to its new IT service provider despite its failure to deliver any of its commitment for the past eight months.
Also, Dermalog has yet to answer the allegations lodged against it by several civic groups, led by Bayan Makulay Foundation, for supposedly failing to comply with the agreed delivery of goods and services stipulated in the contract even if it already received P1 billion in payments.
The groups have called on the House transportation committee to investigate the alleged irregularities in the LTO contract.
Dermalog was also a respondent to a complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman over the driver’s license card program. The complainants alleged that there were anomalies in the awarding of a P830-million contract to Nextix, Dermalog and CFP Joint Venture for the supply of 8.36 million pieces of driver’s license cards with a five-year validity.
Clearly, Brillantes has a lot of work to do to clear his client’s name. Instead of addressing the issue head on, he opted to antagonize the media.
What a foolhardy act!
* * *
Is Gilas really a program?
A friend, Neil Brilllantes (yes, another Brillantes), who is a true-blooded basketball enthusiast and who coaches his own team in his company’s inter-department tournament, believes otherwise.
Frustrated with the Gilas debacle in the FIBA World Cup, Neil sent this corner a letter sharing with us his analysis of the Gilas program.
His letter reads:
“Gilas program has been here for a nearly a decade. We were made to believe that boss MVP is the next Danding Cojuangco of Philippines basketball.
But why is it that until now, the perennial outcry is still the lack of preparation and time? This issue has already been our chicken and egg concern since day one of the 1990 Asiad in Beijing, long before Gilas program came.
Now we begin to wonder, where is the program? All that we saw really are those Chooks-to-go and smart Gilas-Puso PR ads making the Filipinos believe that our great fighting heart is what will bring us great results with Filipinos from all walks of life proudly wearing jerseys of these glamorous pro superstars.
The Filipinos are being fed with a wrong guiding principle that our so-called PUSO would spell the difference in this high level of competition. And now that the FIBA league is over, how do we, as a proud basketball loving nation, see the bright side of having the worst record of 0-5 and has the biggest negative in quotient with minus 147 points placing us on the last 32nd spot?
A colossal disaster. Where do we draw the line between pride and humiliation? How come lack of preparation has been our recycled issue for almost three decades? To make matters worse, last year, SBP decided to skip the Asian Games crying the same perennial issue that earned them the ire of all basketball loving netizens including The Living Legend himself. Kada apat na taon nalang, hindi nyo pa napaghandaan?
Some players including coach Yeng himself had been bashed even with their great sacrifice where in fact [the SBP hierarchy] should be the one receiving those tirades. You are useless and a disgrace to Philippine basketball. You should resign! Because it's crystal clear that Gilas, for a very long time has never been a program.
There was never a program. It's just a PR stunt concocted by SBP using PBA players, ex and current NBA players as sacrificial lambs to sell their merchandise and to gain lucrative sponsorships.
Lastly, contrary to what Gilas apologist Richard del Rosario was saying that there is no blueprint to succeed in international games, there was the Ron Jacobs-led Northern Cement Consolidated. An all-amateur squad that qualified for the FIBA World Cup in July 1986 in Spain by winning the gold medal in ABC by beating South Korea and the Great Wall of China in January 1986 via a 6-0 sweep. That is what great basketball blueprint is all about.
Take that, Mr. Gilas apologist.”