Closure of Sugbo TV, Sugbo News-A A +A
Friday, January 4, 2013
FR. JOAQUIN BERNAS, a known constitutionalist, seems to be the only one interested in the fate of Sugbo TV and Sugbo News, the first casualties in the takeover of Capitol by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale following the suspension by Malacañang of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. In his Philippine Daily Inquirer column Sounding Board, Bernas took note not only of the governor’s suspension but also the “closure of a television station and a newspaper office.”
“The acting governor,” Bernas wrote, “justified the closures by saying that the objective was not to restrain speech or communication but to review the operation of the outfits. In other words, her defense is the jurisprudential distinction between content-neutral regulations (i.e., concerned not with the message but merely with the incidents of the speech, or one that merely controls the time, place or manner of speech, under well-defined standards) and a content-based restraint or censorship (i.e., the restriction based on the subject matter of the utterance or speech)...
“(T)he Cebu media outfits in controversy are, I am told, run by the government. And owned by the government, I suppose. Acting Governor Magpale’s argument therefore comes down to saying that the province, in the exercise of its right not to speak, simply decided to gag itself. There is, after all, a constitutionally recognized right not to speak.
“But her supporters seem to be undermining her defense by giving the added reason that the outfits were being used to support the candidacy of opponents. Presumably, therefore, those running the closed media outfits were not exactly friends of the acting governor. They too have been effectively gagged. And this makes reliance on the right not to speak less than credible.”
Incidentally, I read the Bernas column only a day after I discovered an e-mail sent to my Yahoo account (one that I do not open often) by a friend. I found the content of the letter interesting because it talked about things not reported in the media during the takeover. And it concerns the Capitol website, Sugbo TV and Sugbo News. Here are portions of the Dec. 23 letter (I won’t name my friend for obvious reasons):
“They chanced upon the IT guy downstairs, and they escorted him and the police to the server room. Imagine, Magpale guys and police escorting you to shut down the website, and warning him, ‘Bantay i-on na nimog balik ha?’ I just wondered, kinahanglan gyud police ang mangita sa tawo?
“...Another incident: the Sugbo News reporters, ang mga under ni Bugsoy. Magpale guys went to their office ug gipapanghipos sila. They requested, ‘pwede ba ugma na lang’ kay daghan intawn ilang personal things dili madala og usa ka bira. And to think Dec. 31 pa mo-end ang contract nila...hinginlan jud before Christmas?
“You know what's worse and what struck me most? Magpale guys told them: ‘don't express your sentiments on FB or twitter, don't post any status sa Facebook about the Capitol situation.’ Then they carried their boxes of personal belongings that night...only to be met by policemen downstairs who checked these!
“And gihimulbulan nila ang mga computers sa Sugbo TV, gikuha ang mga hard discs ug gikapyutan ang satellite/parabolic antenna. Mora silag mga savages, sila man unta ang new admin kunohay. Ayuhon unta ang satellite, dili pasudlon sa police ang technician. So PJ (Rep. Pablo John Garcia) told the police, ang nagguba wa ninyo sitaha, pero ang moayo dili pasudlon?
“Na-shock ko sa mga happenings...(But) I told myself, dili ni si Magpale, this is not her. Then again, Magpale still allowed herself to be used. Sad for somebody like me who really liked her a lot....”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 04, 2013.