Ombudsman Gutierrez’s Media Miss

In the Philippines, taking the media ‘high road’ won’t always convince the public.

In a recent statement, country ombudsman and government official Merceditas Gutierrez—one of the suspects in the $16.8 million fertilizer fund scamhas stated that she won’t engage in a word war with President Benigno Aquino III, who’s been openly calling for her impeachment at recent speaking engagements.

In the Philippines, word wars waged in the media have become something of a standard practice amongst politicians, government officials and celebrities—with opposing sides trying to outdo each other in taunts, wise-cracks and oftentimes Ad hominem attacks. It's like watching a school playground at recess, except the quarrels are acted out by lawyers, doctors, economists, public servants, etc. on a national stage. Sometimes it can even be highly entertaining for us observers, but tends to achieve little if nothing in resolving the actual issues being debated upon.

So what about those who don’t engage in such public tirades, preferring to take their battles to proper venues like the courts? Are they seen to be the wiser ones for having some sense of decency, propriety and professionalism? In the Philippines, although politicians who take this route may think it makes them appear more dignified, the public might not always agree.

Take for instance Gutierrez' latest attempt at playing the ‘taking the high road’ card—it isn’t working. The public simply sees it as a desperate attempt to gain as much political points in the run up to her impending impeachment trial.