By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Kandit has struggled the past few days with this decision to publish this story. As we perused the casino's vendor list, we came across two entries for Taro Leaf, each marked $15,000.
It is purportedly a monthly fee for public relations services.
Taro Leaf's sister company is the Marianas Variety.
Before the rush to judgment, may we first state that we have tremendous respect for the role Marianas Variety has played both in the CNMI and in Guam. For years, the Marianas Variety Guam was the bastion of good journalism against the sophists at the Pacific Daily News. The main publication's coverage of the Fitial scandals and of countless eye opening schemes throughout the Commonwealth over the years has brought an unprecedented measure of justice and light to the dark corners of corruption and social injustice.
But things seemed to change over the past couple years as the bodies stacked and the casino's corruption of government officials went unreported and without account.
We at Kandit, upon our beginning coverage of the Federal investigation into the Torres family and the casino, were quite surprised by the editorials in support of their racket. We are beside ourselves about the fact that the Variety has not covered easily accessible-documents showing an enormous and arrogant level of corruption and misuse of public funds by Gov. Ralph Torres and other public officials and figures.
Our hesitation to cover this story the past few days is about our commitment to finding the truth; and the Marianas Variety is an agent of truth-finding. In fact, it has been this agent far longer than Kandit has been around. The more, the merrier. We decided to publish this because journalism deserves a good name. It is the beacon of light, where all else goes dark on the troubling seas, where hope is just one wave from capsizing.
And we're not saying we're the lighthouse of all, either. Kandit also has a public relations arm called Kandit PR. As a matter of fact, we have been tempted in the recent past to take tens of thousands of dollars to provide 'PR services' for political office holders here on Guam who also happened to be the subjects of Kandit News Group's coverage. It was tempting, yes. At the time, we struggled to pay our rent and our power bill.
The Torres family even sent an emissary to name our price, not just to curve our coverage, but to report great things about them. I've been on that side of the fence. I kept my mouth shut for years, when I worked for former Gov. Eddie Calvo and saw the corruption. In my mind I thought, 'What can these little obstructions of justice mean against the backdrop of such progress by this great governor?'
I was wrong; and I only realized when I, myself, was a victim of that corruption.
We're all sinners; truth is our redemption. The answer, in this case, is not to refuse to read the Marianas Variety, but to demand that its editor begin covering these stories. Help them to find their way back, because the more of us who choose this side of history, the stronger the cause.
People fall on bad times. We do; all the time. We wish we could cover more stories faster; but we don't have the money to expand our team. We wish we could give our children nice homes, private educations, and the games they want, but it's not easy. I wish I could get my old dog the surgery he needs, and it would be so easy to do if we accepted even one of the many offers we've received to shut our mouths or go easy on some of the powerful.
In the end, Taro Leaf is a victim, just like everyone else. They're doing what they can to survive. The people behind it have families to feed.
Corruption is corrosive and unrelenting. Its hunger is fueled by greed, and its appetite is stronger than the waking bear from winter. It will eat profits without remorse, executing schemes decorated by niceties and an army of tricksters who don't know better. Its desire is so corrupt, it will infect agents of Truth and turn them into legions. No force on Earth causes more war, genocide, or treachery than corruption. It preys on the suffering of men, turning the most honorable among them into economic hostages, robbing them of their integrity.
We weep for the Marianas. We weep together; and there is nowhere we would rather be than by your side in the refuge that is our strength. Perhaps our tears may one day ignite the Phoenix.
You cannot serve two masters, Jesus once said. It's His birthday in just a few days, so what better homage to Him than to remember the reason for His birth into this world. In one of His sermons, he taught that it is not possible, no matter how hard you try, to serve money and God. One will overcome your conscience; the choice always is yours. Who do we choose?
The medieval philosopher Augustine, also one of the early doctors of the Church, said that God is one in the same with Love, Wisdom, Number, Truth, Justice, and Light. You see, Kandit doesn't simply mean Light.
We either serve money, or we serve the Truth. Our name is the light. Our purpose is the truth. We serve He whose light comes into this world.
Otherwise, we would be among the common variety. There is nothing common about the Marianas Variety. It has always stood for justice and against corruption. Let's hold our lights up to her, in this time when forces of evil want to sink what she stands for; and let's stand for truth together.