CEBU

Bzzzzz: Heated ad words in Mandaue politics. Who is Reynaldo Santos Jr.? Maria Ressa's co-accused in libel case.

(From left) Reynaldo Santos Jr., Cebu Representative Jonas Cortes, and Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing. (Photos from Rappler and SunStar File)

PEOPLE are talking about...

* "I-TAKE-IT-BACK" ENDORSEMENTS from President Rodrigo Duterte to Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, dropping them from his list of preferred candidates for senator. It was worse than being quietly rejected outright. The public endorsement and its subsequent cancellation magnified the fact that they did not deserve Duterte's support. In Cebuano-Bisaya, it was "hatag-bawi," like it was a mistake giving it to them and he was taking it back.

Jinggoy and Bong were detained in jail for their alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam in 2014. Mayor Sara Duterte's party endorses both former senators, among the 13 aspirants in its list.

Repeating defamatory words

An attack political jingle aired in a radio program repeats the words "kawatan" and "korap" several times (so many times the listener gives up the count), along with the first name of the candidate defamed.

It is defamatory (an essential element of libel) and may not be difficult to prove in court. The question: How many counts of libel will they constitute? By the word or by the bundle? Their lawyers should know.

What's interesting, for now, is that this may be the first in recent local political history that a broadcast jingle lumps in a less than two or three minutes the two defamatory words.

The jingle, recorded by apparently professional singers to the tune of classical music, is answered in a live mimic of it by a radio commentator, replacing the defamatory words with "butakal" and "kiyod," also repeated many times. Far inferior in quality to the recorded jingle, the rival camp's return fire, which suggests the person defamed is over-sexed and lustful, still manages to sting.

Issues in Mandaue City

Listening to the partisan radio programs, one can tell that the major issues in Mandaue City are: on one side -- thievery and corruption; on the other -- sexual excess. The other issue, but getting less intensity from the propagandists: one was born in Mandaue while the other was not.

How the issues will influence Mandaue voters this time will depend on the propaganda and the city electorate's memory: which accusation sticks in their mind.

They should know better. Many voters were around and heard what went on at City Hall when each served as mayor.

Jonas Cortes served for three terms as mayor and is now serving as congressman: Luigi Quisumbing served as congressman for two terms and is now completing his first term as mayor. Their respective records should tell whether the jingles are defamatory but true.

Maria Ressa's co-accused

The Manila RTC judge who issued a warrant of arrest against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa also ordered the arrest of Reynaldo Santos Jr., the senior researcher/writer who wrote the May 2012 story, basis for the libel charge heard round the world.

Santos Jr., a 2007 UP Diliman graduate in journalism, joined Newsbreak as writer/researcher. He co-authored the 2010 book "The Seven Deadly Deals: Can Aquino Fix Arroyo's Legacy of Costly and Messy Projects?" and did research for the book "The Enemy Within: An Inside Story on Military Corruption" in 2011.

A Rappler note about Santos Jr. said he is intrigued by the number of people (scores) who bear the same full name as he. Maybe it's the reason the NBI couldn't locate him.

His role is almost forgotten. He is not talked or written about. The NBI who arrested Ressa didn't bother to look for him, or the agents didn't say they were looking for him. Santos Jr. was the one who showed up in court last Friday (February 15) to pay the P100,000 bail, the same amount Ressa posted.

It's all Maria Ressa, getting the brunt of the offensive and the bulk of attention. If she goes to jail, Santos Jr. goes too. Santos Jr. resigned from Rappler in 2016 (his third resignation from a media job) and seven years after the story was published, he said, "I stand by my article."

A senior reporter, Aries Rufo who has since died, gave additional inputs for the article, Rappler said.

Sara: 'if it's God's will'

On the "I-won't-be-surprised" comment of Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on the "possibility" of Sara Duterte-Carpio, the Davao City mayor indicated she will be what God wills her to be.

"I studied to be a doctor," she was quoted as saying, "then I became a lawyer. I wanted to be a housewife but I am now a politician. I have learned that my life is not mine, it is always God's will, in God's time, and planning is futile."

But she must believe, if inwardly, that some planning is needed, ah, to make God's work easier. The creation of Hugpong ng Pagbabago Party and her being all over the country, forging political alliances and endorsing candidates, must be an exercise in planning and execution.

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