Tuesday , June 19, 2018

Seares: 2 broadcasters in legal trouble

AN A.M. radio station manager, Juniño Padilla of dyRC, is sued for libel because he allegedly maligned Gerry Carillo, a lawyer-former city councilor who was billed for an unpaid P100,000 broadcast fee during the last election campaign.

An FM radio program anchor faces the prospect of being charged with rape for sexually molesting last July 4 a 13-year-old girl who went to the radio station to collect money for her mother from another broadcaster. A lawyer and instructor in two colleges, the program host lured the girl to his car where he allegedly raped her.

While the offenses are thinly related to the media work of the two broadcasters, they didn’t involve stuff they said on radio.

Facebook caper

Juniño, against whom the prosecutor found probable cause of libel under the Anti-Cybercrime Law and the Revised Penal Code, is sued for what he wrote in four Facebook posts. Not tied to his journalism work and not a public-interest issue. He was doing a bill collector’s job.

It’s doubtful if Juniño can use defenses to libel that a journalist routinely puts up when sued: privileged communication, absence of malice, public interest. Had he been sued for a news report or a commentary on a matter of public interest, things would’ve been different.

Carillo, though no longer a city official, is still a news person. Like Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña when he sued broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro for libel, Carillo cannot say he is already a private person. He has remained a public figure though the news spotlight now infrequently focuses on him.

‘Plot’ vs. media

The news anchor who hasn’t been named in mainstream media -- though he unmasked himself in social media and is now known by netizens and his fellow broadcasters and lawyers -- wasn’t publicly accused over what he said on air. From the available facts, he apparently couldn’t help unzipping his pants when he was alone with the girl. A matter of controlling an erotic surge, not a journalism issue.

And indications abound that it wasn’t a plot to attack media and the law profession, a foil he had the gall to raise in denying on Facebook the talk about his having raped a child.

With the disappearance of the girl and her mother, it’s highly probable they have been induced by plea and favor to desist. But the crime’s prescriptive period has barely started (15 to 20 years still, depending upon the nature of the rape charge). And the cloud hovering over his person as broadcaster-lawyer-teacher won’t go away until his guilt or innocence is satisfactorily resolved.

Not using mic

The accusations didn’t arise over their use of the microphone. No journalism issue was raised. Like many people in other lines of work, journalists can get entangled in situations that have nothing to do with reporting and commenting on the news.

Just as their being journalists shouldn’t be used against them, they shouldn’t also use it as shield against wrongdoing.


Not naming rape suspect

Why was the lawyer-broadcaster not named in reports of mainstream media? Because the mother reported to police the alleged rape of her daughter, 13, which was recorded in the police blotter, but she didn’t sign a complaint?

Perceptive news consumers may recall that in many instances, especially on radio, names of suspects in rape and other crimes are routinely copied from the police blotter and publicized on air. Do they have a different rule for a colleague or friend?

But more incongruous is that the FM radio anchor already identified himself on Facebook. He was thus explicitly identified and yet mainstream media still withheld his name. Once the cat is out of the bag, you can’t put it back. Same thing with a secret released online. The guy couldn’t conceal it again though he took down the Facebook post that put his name out there.

Could be good for justice -- if he didn’t do it.