I was quite shocked to read the news this morning that one of the presidential choppers went missing. One of the passengers, Joe Capadocia, was someone I’ve known since the 80s, one of the few colleagues in media who eventually got appointed to sensitive positions in government. Prior to his untimely fate, he was Press Undersecretary of the Arroyo administration who treated his job of supervising media coverages like he was still tenaciously covering the beat.
Joe Capadocia was one of the first grizzled veterans I saw in the newsroom of the old Roces-owned Manila Times, back when I was a third year journalism student and just starting to get my feet wet in the media. As our defense reporter, he was so serious with his job and pursued it with a passion. There was a time when I wasn’t pleased because I wrote a typhoon report and it was only his byline that made it. JoeCap always wore a vest with many pockets in them and smoked cigarettes like crazy. I recall those days when the internet was unheard of, or even unthought of and news stories were dictated over the phone, then transcribed in the noisy typewriters of yore.
As media is such a small world, I’d bump into JoeCap every now and then in events. Even in his bureaucratic position, he looked every inch the busybody, so busy and dedicated, in fact, that he’d be the last person you’d think would enrich himself while in office. His job came first.
Judging from news stories, media was abuzz with the missing chopper – confirmed, as of press time, as “having no survivors.” Somehow, you’d wish that someone like JoeCap escaped through a parachute. The old man certainly had it worse pounding the defense beat, riding AFP’s old Tora-Tora’s around the country and covering numerous coup attempts.
Actually, the greater question is: why did the group continue to fly, despite the legendary cloudy weather in Baguio City’s environs? We are pretty sure the pilots knew this, but had to follow orders to fly anyway. Safety should still be the prime consideration, even if they had to accomplish their work as the President’s advance party.
I am sure everybody’s still shaken and along with this incident comes a painful lesson learned.
This humble space condoles with the families of the fatalities of the presidential chopper crash. So long, Joe Capadocia.
P.S. And oh yes, it is still dangerous to use your cellphones for calling and texting while in flight. It is simply not safe. Uh huh.