Judicial challenge-A A +A
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
THERE is something in the court’s decision that needs to be carefully looked into and studied by most, if not all, concerned media practitioners and members of media organizations like the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
The issue should be of utmost concern to all of us as it affects not only our concept of free speech and free press, principles of human rights embodied in our Constitution as a free, independent, and sovereign people.
Under those political notions which most, if not all of us Filipino citizens subscribe to, it is only fitting that KBP members should rally behind the cause of the “convicted” broadcast practitioner.
But rather than jump immediately into the melee and do battle for the beleaguered member of the media group, there is instead a measure of hesitancy coming from it, perhaps, in the sense that it is not sure whether the court has, indeed, a justifiable reason and basis for making such decision.
And thus, at the risk of being charged of nit-picking on an issue as serious and significant as this particular libel case is, there seems to me a deep cautious sense that has descended on the media community and on those who are concerned with our constitutional rights.
The situation on the KBP’s part and those who are with practicing media is therefore like being between the mythical “devil and the deep blue sea.”
There is no doubting the fact that the court may have been too harsh, close-minded, and without a sense of human compassion in giving such judgment.
But then, the judge sitting in the court may have in conscience saw the sense of “malice aforethought” enshrined, so to speak, in the column that Leo wrote. Readers may even contend that the title of the article, “Si Doling Kawatan,” was a definite giveaway.
And so it is.
Even if the complainant was not named in the column, the name “Doling” could be clearly be considered as derived from Gwendolyn (Garcia, the former governor), and thus “Si Doling Kawatan,” or “Doling the Thief,” is simply libelous if clearly linked to a person living or dead.
At any rate the court, in assessing the case, considered its significance against the backdrop of the state of our nation’s being as a political democracy where the media is openly taken as an arbiter of the constitutional guarantee of our rights to democratic freedoms as we are now openly enjoying.
For the court to ignore the clear and tacit personal malice embodied in the column “Doling the Thief” is to allow perpetuation of unjust attacks on those who do not write columns.
The way the other members of media may have shared similar judgments but chose to keep silent in deference to a “beleaguered” colleague is something we may deeply regret.
But it is better to do so now than later when even a much worse circumstance presents
Regretting now is better than regretting later.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2013.