Like Cheking Seares usually starts his columns and his editorials, let’s start with a definition.
“Stonewalling” is “stalling or delaying especially by refusing to answer questions or cooperate”.
And that is just what Cheking Seares, speaking on behalf of CCPC, did in “response” to our challenge to address a forum on the video documentary “Corruption of Media: The Cebu Setting”.
Not a word about any forum, or any response to the challenge.
Instead, Seares offers a “closed door meeting” of the CCPC to discuss the video.
Puzzled by the “closed door” statement, Onion-skinned asked Cheking Seares about it. After all, since when have CCPC meetings been “closed door”?
Thru SMS, Onion-skinned asked if we could be invited to that “closed door” meeting, to give our side to the controversy. This is Cheking Seares’ response:
“It’s an internal meeting to consider, among others, your proposal for a forum.”
Not satisfied, Onion-skinned replied that we understood it was an internal meeting, but asked if we could be invited “as guest, to present in detail our complaints re the video”. Onion-skinned said we were sure “other members of the board would not object to hearing both sides”.
Onion-skinned pointed out that it would not be unprecedented, because the CCPC usually had guests during their meetings. Records show, for instance, that in the September 2006 meeting, there were 43 guests; March 2007, 27 guests; June 2007, 24 guests; September 2007, 23 guests; December 2007, 14 guests; and March 2008, 12 guests.
Cheking Seares replied:
There will be a few guests but they are all from media who will help CCPC look at the issue.”
Meaning, that Onion-skinned would not be invited. So much for it being a “citizens'” press council.
More puzzling: It was inconsistent with Cheking Seares’ earlier statement that it was a “closed door” meeting and an “internal” affair. How would it be “closed door” or “internal” if you had guests?
So it becomes clear that it is “closed door” only to Onion-skinned, and to all those who complain about the video. It is “internal” only to Cheking Seares’ cronies, apologists and avid defenders.
It is ironic that Cheking Seares and the CCPC, who would be the first to complain about stonewalling public officials (they even have a video documentary about media access), are now taking out the brick and the mortar, and building a high wall they hope the public could not climb.
“Being accountable comes with being free,” the CCPC says.
The other members of CCPC should be reminded that this wall that Cheking Seares is building, to protect himself from accountability for his actions and ambitions, will also — if they allow it — wall them in.