We, the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila Batch 2005 Social Work graduates support our good colleague, Mr. Jose Paulo Catacutan, a registered social worker from the Community Builders Foundation Inc., and who was charged for allegedly murdering his officemate Ms. Cecilia Lancion last 08 November 2010 at the premises of the their office located at 70 Scout De Guia St. Bgy. Laging Handa Quezon City.
We are asking the media to rectify the errors that have been committed in the course of reporting the incident to the public. We appeal to the media – as institutions of good faith and as promoters of justice, peace, integrity and freedom of expression, to look at the basic facts of the case, and consider that while there might be sufficient doubt over Mr. Catacutan’s innocence, there were essential details that were grossly overlooked, and the disregard of such details have unfairly – if not maliciously portrayed a monster out of the good person we all came to know for the past ten years. In our hearts, we believe that Mr. Catacutan – our Kuya Pau did not – could not commit such atrocity. And while we know that it would be difficult to appeal to the public and the family’s victim of his innocence based on such beliefs, we appeal that – at least for the sake of balanced reporting and a commitment to professional and truthful journalism, these essential facts be published.
We hereby issue the following clarificatory statements on behalf of Kuya Pau and his family:
– Contrary to the news report of Ms. Erica Tapalla aired at TV 5’s Aksyon Ngayon, which was anchored by Mr. Tulfo last 08 November 2010, Mr. Paulo Catacutan is NOT a client of the center. He was NEVER “kinupkop” at “tinulungan” because he is in fact, the ONLY social worker of the Community Builders Foundation. He is instrumental in implementing the programs and services of the CENTER. He helps people. He is NOT a client. Hence, it would be the height of injustice to label him as INGRATO, like what the TV show placed on its screen, while Ms. Tapalla reported the incident. As a matter of fact, Mr. Catacutan has been working in the agency for the past two years. Being the only social worker of the foundation, HE WAS OVERWORKED and UNDERPAID. He is a vulnerable worker, exposed to the unfair working conditions of the foundation. For two years, he did not even have an SSS, or any such form of benefit, which could have helped him and his family in situations like this. We appeal to TV5, to Mr. Mon Tulfo and Ms. Erica Tapalla to rectify these glaring errors in the name of professionalism and public accountability. We also appeal to this certain tomcodytv5 to remove this episode from youtube to avoid further damage to Mr. Catacutan and his family.
– Mr. Cecilia Lancion is an administrative officer, NOT a social worker. This basic fact was overlooked by the GMA News Report, published in their website last 08 November 2010. While this could not have affected the case, we still appeal for GMA to correct its statement. It puts undue assumptions on social work as a profession and as social workers in general. Most of our colleagues thought that the media have misbranded the involved as social workers, thus discrediting Mr. Catacutan’s professional identity. If they think that Mr. Catacutan is not a registered social worker, then they would most likely believe the TV5 report.
– We appeal to Pilipino Star Ngayon, Abante, and other minor tabloids to be more prudent in labeling the subjects of their news. Words such as “kinatay ng kapwa social worker,” and “inutas ng mga kabaro,” are not professional journalism lingoes. We appeal, not only for Kuya Pau, but for all people in such circumstances be spared from such unfair labeling. After all, everyone is innocent unless otherwise proven without a doubt by our courts. Imagine what it could have done to people you know. Even after being acquitted or vindicated from the crime, such branding would forever be in the news archives and web pages where they were so thoughtlessly published. We believe that such labeling violates the fundamental rights of all human beings to live decently and with due integrity.
We are gravely concerned that such inconsistencies only make matters worse instead of finally settling them. We appeal to the police to launch a serious manhunt operation of this certain Rommel Sagiste, who would be able to shed light of the incident. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Cecilia Lancion, and we hope that true justice may indeed prevail on her passing. We condemn the manner for which she was murdered, and we all pray that her true perpetrators be put behind bars and suffer the consequences of their actions. This being said, we appeal to all good social workers of our country – to not put out the fight in believing on the basic philosophies and principles of our profession. We know that Kuya Pau, even in his condition, still believes on the inherent worth and dignity of all person – that is why we’re optimistic that he will soon receive the merits of due process and fair legal procedures.
PLM BSSW Batch 2005