CONTEXT | Of Ben, Bing, and banning: The unpaid actors saga

First of four parts

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BACOLOD CITY – The unfolding controversy stemming from alleged unpaid actors that led to an interview by broadcaster Ben Tulfo of Mayor Evelio Leonardia, which, in turn, sparked calls to declare Tulfo persona non grata here has called public attention to the issue of journalism ethics.

Reactions vary, from those calling out Tulfo for his “arrogance and rude behavior” towards Leonardia to those who are pointing out that the real issue is the “failure” of Councilor Al Victor Espino to pay alias Norma, the organizer of the charity basketball game last 26 October 2019.

One former city councilor, lawyer Caesar Distrito, said the Tulfo brothers’ tendency to “malign their subject persons or resource persons” showed Ben’s “arrogance and abusive tendencies.”

The city council here is mulling to declare Tulfo persona non grata, a possibility to which Tulfo said: wala akong paki (short for pakialam in Filipino. I don’t care) in his broadcast last night.

The issue is not about to simmer down yet as Tulfo continues to discuss it, interviewing today actor Jeric Raval, one of those who took part in the game, who called on Leonardia to step into the issue.

DNX is taking a step back to know the basics: the what, when, where, why, who and how of the issue. This also includes the questions we are seeking answers to.

WHAT:

What is the main issue? Alleged non-payment of at least half a million pesos to a group of actors who took part in an exhibition game last 26 October 2020 at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in the middle of festivities for the MassKara Festival.

What are the other issues? Perceived shabby treatment by Tulfo of Mayor Evelio Leonardia during his interview of the chief executive over his program, Pambansang Sumbungan, Aksyon Ora Mismo (National Complaint Center, Action Immediately) posted on Bitag Official’s YouTube account.

Plans to declare Tulfo persona non grata here.

What is the nature of involvement of the persons who were named by the complainant to have taken part in the event?

WHO:

Who are the persons involved based on the testimony of the cimplainant and those to whom Tulfo reached out?

Ben Tulfo, broadcaster, program host of Pambansang Sumbungan, Aksyon Ora Mismo (National Complaint Center, Action Immediately) that airs on YouTube, Facebook and one terrestial TV channel.

Alias Norma, the complainant who appeared on Tulfo’s show and claimed she was the one representing FPJ Productions in dealing with officials here for the holding of the charity basketball match. She was identified in the video’s lower third as “event organizer.”

Cong. Greg G. Gasataya, one of the officials here who sponsored the event and whose photo was one of those printed on tickets for the game.

Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, the official whom Tulfo called to help alias Norma and the players of FPJ Productions.

Councilor Al Victor Espino, partymate of Mayor Leonardia in Grupo Progreso, chairman of the city council’s committee on ways and means, who alias Norma identified as the one who offered to organize the event. Espino, she claimed, even issued a blank check of Banco De Oro to her, an image of which was shown by Tulfo. It bore the account name “Al Victor Espino.”

Police Col. Henry Binas, city director, and Lt. Col. Levy Pangue, deputy city director for administration. Alias Norma identified them as the two officials who were involved in the preparation of the event and the ones who she sought help from for the release of their payment.

TOMORROW: When did Norma arrive in Bacolod? Who did she talk to first? All these and more on the second part of “Of Ben, Bing, and banning: The unpaid actors saga”

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