THE PROBLEM with pseudo investigative reporters is that they never verify any claims, especially if these are provided by their own boss. You may have recently seen a new tabloid in the market that â€œreportedâ€ on events that another newspaper had published, which happened to be us, Balita.
To set the record straight, we are providing here a copy of a Peopleâ€™s Tonight story, (â€œThe High Price of US Visaâ€) dated July 22, 2006. In the story, you can see that Allan Bergonia wrote that the complaint was filed before the â€œManila Prosecutorâ€™s Office.â€ The complaint was filed, according to the story, â€œyesterdayâ€ or July 21, 2006.
Unlike what the other paper had printed, Bergonia didnâ€™t write any other city or place other than Manila. Maybe the pseudo investigative journalists have a different Peopleâ€™s Tonight copy because they had stated that the complaint was filed in a fiscalâ€™s office that â€œdoes not exist.â€ Also, Bergoniaâ€™s story didnâ€™t say any word about â€œillegal recruitment chargesâ€ as published by the other paper.
But the next document that Balita possesses and that we are providing to you here tells a story that such person that the other paper said was â€œfictitiousâ€ may be a real person when she filed the complaint.
How, you may ask?
1. As stated, the case was filed at Branch 27 of the Metropolitan Regional Trial Court, City of Manila as so stamped. The case is docketed as Criminal Case # 433318 and filed on Oct. 17, 2006.
2. The case says â€œPeople of the Philippinesâ€ versus â€œJoel Banderâ€ with the address Imperial Bayfront Tower, 1624 A. Mabini St., Ermita, Manila. As stated, Joel Bander, who Bergonia wrote wasÂ â€œAn alleged trader who assists applicants in securing United States visasâ€ is the accused.
3. 2ndÂ Assistant City Prosecutor Rector E. Macapagal, Chief of the Eight Division, so stated that the â€œundersigned Assistant City Prosecutor, upon sworn complaint filed by the offended party CRISTINA SAN JOSE Y ALERâ€¦hereby accuses JOEL BANDER, of the crime of ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS…â€ In case you missed it, UPON SWORN COMPLAINT.
Now, for the benefit of all pseudo investigative reporters, before any prosecutor files a case, a police report is required.Â According to Bergonia, Ms. San Jose filed the complaint before the Manila Police District.
Bergonia wrote that Bander allegedly molested the complainant and that the incident allegedly took place on July 15, 2006. This means that the prosecutor and the police investigator worked for three months to verify if such complaint merits the filing of the case. To understand this better, perhaps an episode of Law and Order would be helpful, especially for those who never even covered the police beat (where most if not all cub reporters begin their professional careers to become full-fledged journalists) and the courts.
What weâ€™re trying to say here is, the prosecutor doesnâ€™t just invent a person to criminally prosecute any person, let alone a foreigner, which the Philippines has been courting to conduct business in theÂ Philippines, invest there and spend their dollars in the country. (But then again, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas revealed, albeit carelessly, that almost half of all Americans who come to the Philippines go there to engage in sex, but that is another story.)
In the Peopleâ€™s Tonight story, Bergonia wrote that Ms. San Jose said â€œshe gave Bander $100 as partial payment for the visa application.â€ The story goes that Ms. San Jose had sought Banderâ€™s â€œhelpâ€ in getting a U.S. visa.
Several years later, the case was dismissed and Bander claimed that Ms. San Jose was fictitious and because the complaint was based on â€œtrumped up charges.â€
It should be noted, however, that Ms. San Jose was seeking Banderâ€™s help for a visa five years earlier, back in 2006. This could mean that Ms. San Jose has been wanting to leave the country for greener pastures.
Balita, which, as mentioned by the other paper, had gone to the Philippines â€“ because this isÂ how an investigative story is conducted â€“ had inquired from the prosecutorâ€™sÂ office about the Bander case. Indeed the documents showed that there was a caseÂ filed, that a certain Ms. San Jose swore before a prosecutor, and a Peopleâ€™s TonightÂ story was published.
Five years may have been too long and perhaps Ms. San Jose is no longer in the Philippines. Besides, how could the case progress when the accused was never present in the Philippines? And this we will present why in our next issue.
(Next week, we will publish here a copy of the warrant of arrest. We will also present more legitimate and legal documents in succeeding issues.)