Me and Customs Security

I was asked to attend the dialogue between the media and the business community on reporting corporate social responsibility on Wedensday at the Marco Polo.

It was organized by Newsbreak. Since I have to come in late after filing my share of news stories of the day, I planned to enter the session hall, which was at 3rd level, with another reporter.

I went straight to the sofa at the hotel lobby to wait for him. Before I could plunge into my relieving seat, however, a man in white security uniform, asked me what am I doing.

“I’m trying to sit down before you stopped me,” I said. What will you do? Who are you?” he asked sternly.

“Why is it your business to know what I will do?” I asked, trying to equal his stern tone.

He then pointed to the man in suit sitted across the lobby. “We have cleared this area for now,” he said. I have to ask you vacate this seat. He was trying to say it politely.

The man was Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales. He was being interviewed by NBN reporter Ethyl Constantino.
” Ah OK. So? I cannot sit down? I asked. “Who are you?” I’m a reporter,” I answered. “Will you interview him?” he answered back with a question!

I told him a big NO.

I didnt want to figure in a situation. I know the hotel lobby is a public place.  But it is owned by the hotel –its private property so I know my limits. I have to back off.

As I pulled out of the scene, I was still wondering who they were guarding against me. For the first time, I felt like I didnt know where to go. I zeroed my silent anger on the man who caused my forced migration to elsewhere.

I only learned later from Ethyl that it was Commissioner Morales. ok … %$#@#$%.

This week Davao City played host to the First Heads of Customs Meeting of the BIMP – East ASEAN Growth Area. Morales was like king, as he said it was him who convened the meeting.

I do not really have earthshaking insights from the experience. Just this one thing: I didnt like being driven away from public spaces just because another citizen, albeit an official, is sitting there.

Personally, I wouldn’t feel OK if my presence would mean another’s displacement. Period.


About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

6 responses to “Me and Customs Security”

  1. Rey says :

    Sadly, this is what makes our country so backward. People who gets into government positions becomes an airhead thinking they’re so important forgetting that they’re supposed to serve the public and not the other way around. I really wonder why so many of us filipinos are like that, and to think he’s only a customs commissioner so what’s the big fuss about security and in a secured hotel yet? Who is he afraid of?

  2. Waltzib says :

    Thanks Rey for dropping your take.

    Exactly how I felt at that time I was being shoved away. I personally think officials and ordinary citizens like us are equal in the the public realm.

    Anyway, maybe in the advent of terrorism etc. our lenses change on looking at public security BUT I still do not think its fair enough.

    I forgot to mention that an acquaintance figured in the same incident, which gave me a validation of posting this.

    I got this impression that airheads think that having so many security personnel around them makes them “secured” and look powerful in public. Does it really work that way?

    I’m sure the commissioner’s security details were well-meaning enough just to follow an order –and probably there was really a threat to the official’s life to provide such cordon.

    However, that doesn’t erase the question on propriety.

    And having posted this experience, I expect others to share or discuss their own experiences as well.

    Meantime, I’ll borrow from the Rotarians’ Four way test to assess this incident.

    Is it the Truth?

    Is it Fair to all concerned?

    Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?

    Will it be Beneficial to all?

  3. kengkay says :

    airheads talaga 🙂 tama ka dyan, hotel lobbies are public places, kahit sino pa andun, public place pa rin yon. buti sana kung you are threatening peace and security ano, hmmp. ano ba yan, padaan lang ako e naki-asar na rin, hehe.

  4. eric conrad epie says :

    hello walter, charge that to experience, We just moved in 3 weeks ago and I have something to share, up here in Edmonton, Alberta,l can’t find any security or police guarding any entrance of any establishments. Perhaps you are right, its all because of the terrorist threat, but its a global threat, even here. But mind you, its really fascinating and uncommon to find no one guarding any establishments here. Everyone is free to do and roam around without the thought of someone frisking you. Regards and keep up the news, bring it on…

  5. Peter says :

    That’s the problem with our customs police. They are over zealous in guarding their principal, the smugglers at the port have their hey days. Their principal must be afraid of it own shadows or shadowy deals.
    You should have made a big fuss of this situation. Not just as a journalist but as a citizen.
    I’m pissed off myself.

  6. bananachoked says :

    he’s probably afraid of his own fatass.

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