Joe America: “Did Peter Wallace just call me a coward?”
“There was specific rebuttal by an entity called Joe America, but I won’t respond to someone so gutless as to hide behind a pseudonym. Publicly identify who he/she/it is, and I will. But I’ll say one thing to him/her/it: Yes, I am probusiness . . .” Peter Wallace, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 21, 2016
That was what Peter Wallace had to say about the blog published here (“Rebuttal to Peter Wallace column on government contracts“) that responded to his criticisms of the National Government’s handling of a number of government contracts. Upon reading Wallace’s rebuttal to my rebuttal, I’m inclined to think:
“Peter Wallace can dish it out, but he can’t take it”
Clearly, the audacity of some entity questioning Peter Wallace’s motives and conclusions pissed off the tabloid Inquirer’s literary giant and keeper of all Filipino/Australian business acumen. He lost it, and in the doing, missed the point entirely.
Well, he missed several points, actually.
Let’s set my anonymity aside for now and come back to it at the end of this article. For now, let’s deal with the issues. Here are three important points:
- The Government has a responsibility to the people of the Philippines. Businesses do not. They have a responsibility to their shareholders.
- Peter Wallace is representing one side of the issue, but arguing both sides. He reacts angrily if opposed. Intimidation mode, just as when he subtly threatened President Aquino in one of his articles.
- Wallace likely has vested interests influenced by the article, but has not told us what they are.
Peter Wallace is asking government agencies to be more responsive to the needs of businesses. His criticisms of several contractual arrangements led readers to a simple, stark conclusion that:
The Aquino Government can’t be trusted to deal honorably with businesses
He sets out his case in five front page articles like the prosecutor before the court of public opinion with no defense attorney present. He exaggerates, he embellishes, he struts his stuff. He leaves important information out.
What is the information he leaves out in each and every case?
How the government is fulfilling its mandate to serve Philippine citizens.
Why was an airport guidance system put on hold? Because every Arroyo project was scrutinized for corruption and bad dealings. That’s the government’s job when moving from an era of bad governance (during which Peter Wallace enriched himself) to an era of good governance. Of course it conflicts with Wallace’s interest if he represents the company granted the contract to install that air-guidance system. It is the government’s JOB to certify that projects do what they are supposed to do. It is NOT government’s job to make sure the company and Peter Wallace are paid well and soon.
Why was the court-mandated PIATCO payout delayed? Because the government was appealing the case to the Supreme Court. In a nation of laws.
Why does Peter Wallace believe that is negligent? That the people of the Philippines, as represented by their duly elected government, are not entitled to all legal remedies available to them?
Peter Wallace is representing one side of the issue
While pretending he is also the judge . . .
Peter Wallace wrote his articles as the prosecutor and denied the government it’s rights to defense.
The entity Joe America offered up a defense.
Peter Wallace was offended and did the royal rant, descending to the kind of character slurs one would expect to see in wild and woolly reader comment threads, but not the articles of a respected columnist.
Perhaps Mr. Wallace has circled in the fields of entitlement, favor and impunity for too long and does not recognize there is a new player in town, and he is called “the social media writer who calls it straight” rather than for personal gain. I’m only one. There are others. I hope there will soon be legions.
Well, his is an opinion column . . . or series of columns . . . so Wallace is entitled to blow it out any way he chooses.
The editors of the Inquirer, however, chose to feature the series on the front page where opinion columns can be mistaken as “news” and where they are given a credibility which, in this case, was simply not deserved. The Inquirer editors did a disservice to the National Government as they continue to perform the style of journalism they and other media do in order to sell papers . . . undermine the reputation of the Philippines, Filipinos and the National Government rather than portray them as reasonable, earnest, and productive institutions and people.
Wallace was doing what he is entitled to do. Blow smoke in favor of an idea that favors him and his business pals. However, the Inquirer was treading the edges of journalism ethics by putting such stuff on the front page five days running. By rights, they should have picked up the JoeAm column and put it on the front page to balance things out. Or a rebuttal by someone from the Aquino Administration.
The Philippine media have such awesome power, and they use it so poorly to represent the Philippines and Filipinos.
Wallace likely has vested interests
Peter Wallace touts his 47 years in business. He must surely be aware that an investment banker or columnist is generally required by regulation to disclose his stock ownership if writing about a stock pick. Why? So that the public is not misled into making buying decisions that have no purpose other than to benefit the investment banker.
In my rebuttal to Wallace, I suggested he disclose his connections with companies involved in the cases he reviewed. Does he represent firms resident at Camp John Hay? Does he work for or with any of the water companies? Did he represent PIATCO in their relationship with the Philippines? What about the other cases? MRT maintenance company? Airport system?
Why is this important? Because citizens of the Philippines are shareholders in their government, and ought to know if there are ulterior motives for a columnist to criticize their President and his government.
A columnist ought not have free rein to undermine the reputation of a government for personal gain. Ethically, it is bad business.
What’s in a name, eh? Why did that ardent advocate for Philippine independence, the famous American author Mark Twain, choose a pseudonym? Do we care who Samuel Clemens is? Or do we care about the amazing works of writing done by Mark Twain?
Well, I’m no Mark Twain, but I have over 900 blogs to my credit dealing with the Philippine condition, and, friends, THAT is all that you need to know about Joe America. Do the writings make sense? Are they entertaining? Do they do the job of provoking healthy discussion? Are they responsible to Philippine well-being?
I use a pseudonym for two reasons:
- I have on two occasions been threatened by live fire from guns for the simple reason that the shooters wanted to make a point about power. I don’t live in a gated community. I live in the field. I want my family to remain anonymous so my kid is not harassed at school and so my wife and I can have a quiet, ordinary life. I don’t think Peter Wallace has any accountability for the security of my family, and I’d ask him to just worry about his own life, and not mine.
- Joe America sells better than Ron Hegenberger, the name is a clear statement of the biases I may bring to a blog, and it is a subtle wave back to all the young people who greet me with “Hey Joe”, a smile and a wave. Also, there is some mystique to the name. It’s become an institution (ha, boosted by President Aquino). It’s cool
So as for that, Peter Wallace ought to simply mind his own business. Read if he wants, not if he doesn’t. The discussion thread to the blog is always open, and is among the most robust, intelligent and earnest in the Philippines.
He can stop by any time.