Cause for concern, or grandstanding
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - May 25, 2020 - 12:00am

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia is a friend who has balls, bigger even than some of our mutual male friends. So, if I must wade now into her latest controversy, it is not because she needs friendly help. I am just sick and tired of how the Commission on Human Rights, her new adversary, carries out its mandate, which I must say is neither here or there. And that is a kind way of saying it is a complete waste of public money and expectations.

A female netizen riled Gwen by going to town on Facebook about how government was handling the coronavirus crisis and then getting personal by calling the governor "bogo," "kurakot", and "nagki-at." These are Cebuano words for dumb, corrupt, and careless, very stinging and hurtful personal attacks no Cebuano woman is going to simply ignore and turn the other cheek for.

Not wanting in opportunities, Gwen called out the woman netizen in one of her regular press conferences, naming her, showing how she looked on Facebook and detailed her personal circumstances. Everything is par on social media, especially if, beyond your accountability as a public official, you were attacked personally first. Public office does not deprive an official of her own right to dignity. She has human rights, too, CHR.

But like I said, the CHR is not up to its job. It is totally clueless as to what it is supposed to do. And so the first thing it did, which is always the first thing it does, was go to the media, as if it is a prior requirement for anything it does. The CHR promptly distributed press statements calling the action of Gwen as a "cause for concern" for "shaming" the woman on social media by disclosing her personal circumstances.

But what the heck is a cause for concern? Is it an actionable offense? Is it a step toward a process? By whose measure was cause for concern weighed, the commission's as a whole, just one commissioner's say-so, or one over-eager spokesperson's knee-jerk attempt to show CHR has not decomposed from lack of self-preservation?

I am pretty sure the mandate of CHR does not vest on any member of the organization the power of self-righteous primacy over the rest of us mortals. Employment with CHR involves no miraculous transformation of character that now makes them angels. Except for their payslips and IDs, they are still just as human as we are, prone to the same failings that trap all of humanity every now and then. Hence, they cannot be judgmental.

So unless there was a process by which things were properly and fairly weighed, that cause for concern characterization was, for all intents and purposes, just a shallow attempt at grandstanding. Otherwise, why go to the media first? Since when does a bureaucratic mill get to turn by getting a kickstart first in media? The problem with CHR is that after going to the media, that probably will be all there is to it. That is all the job takes.

And by the way, when a person goes to war on social media, that person should be prepared for a counter-attack. And not just by the one attacked but by anyone who has any device on hand. It is anything goes on social media and the woman who started it was both foolish and naive. As for the CHR, it cluelessly dived in, for show as always.

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