Seares: Brigada FM and two anchors -- ordered to pay P50,000 by Cebu City treasurer as CAIB fine over controversial child interview -- can protest and appeal but must pay first. Other takeaways from controversy over breach of broadcast ethics.

Photos of anchor persons Juril Patiño and Dennis Tabar, and the seal of Brigada News FM.
Photos of anchor persons Juril Patiño and Dennis Tabar, and the seal of Brigada News FM.Contributed photos

[] KBP Standards Authority in Manila still has to decide after it ordered last March 18 Brigada Media Corp. and station DYAC in Cebu to show cause and explain why they should not be sanctioned for violating KBP Code on news coverage of children.

[] KBP Cebu chapter issued March 28 a statement but it’s not clear if its public declaration that two broadcasters were “unfit to broadcast” disqualifies them from being on the air. They were still broadcasting, as of July 11.

[] Atty. Juril Patiño continues to stay silent on the new development, saying their head office speaks for them.

[1] WHAT JUST HAPPENED. Friday last week, July 5, 2024, Cebu City Treasurer Mare Vae Reyes sent a “demand notice” to Atty. Juril B. Patiño, “station manager” of Brigada News FM Cebu, to pay to the city treasury P50,000 as “administrative fine” earlier meted out by the Cebu City Anti-indecency (CAIB) board against the radio station and two of its anchor persons: Patiño and Dennis Tabar. Atty. Patiño signed receipt of the notice last July 8.

The treasurer’s notice cited CAIB Resolution #001-01 series of 2024 dated March 21 and the July 5 endorsement from the city’s Legal Office. In sum, it said CAIB had found that Brigada FM’s broadcast of an interview with a child rape victim violated the city’s anti-indecency ordinance and the treasurer would now collect the fine.

[2] LOCAL RADIO STATION’S RESPONSE. Asked about the demand notice, Atty. Patiño told me Wednesday, July 10 he had “referred the matter to the head office” and “for now I maintain my silence.”

Earlier, regarding the KBP Cebu chapter resolution issued last May 28, 2024, which declared the Brigada interviewers were “unfit to broadcast,” Patiño gave the same line, about Manila having the say and the task of answering the complaint. He told me then: “(Much) as I want to comment… I don’t have any authority from our head office.” Besides, he said, the case for violation of the KBP Code was “still pending before the KBP Standards Authority at the national office.”

[3] TREASURER’S COLLECTION; BRIGADA’S OPTIONS. The city treasurer will “exhaust administrative remedies” by levying on personal properties of the would-be payors. A judicial remedy is to encumber real properties of Brigada News and the broadcasters, assuming that the liability is solidary. The City Government may also decide not to issue a permit or to padlock the radio station.

Treasurer Reyes wasn’t available but Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva told me Thursday, July 11 the payors’ options, namely: protest against the fine within 30 days after the penalty was assessed, presumably from receipt of the notice, with the treasurer having 60 days to reply to the protest. After the 60-day period, Brigada News may take the case to the Regional Trial Court for the refund of the penalty, Oliva said. Pretty much like the treasury going after a taxpayer.

Oliva talked of appeal from the treasurer’s collection demand. What may need to be clarified is whether the question of the legality of the fine, on a matter of law and fact, may be raised in court, separately from the issue of paying the fine. In Brigada’s case, the City, through CAIB, might argue that the issue of guilt or innocence became moot when Brigada News, through its broadcasters, admitted fault before the board and in public.

[4] FINE SLAPPED LAST MARCH YET. The city’s CAIB or anti-indecency board penalized Brigada News and two of its anchor persons after it had met on March 18 with Atty. Patiño and Dennis Tabar and radio reporter Jonalyn Jomabis regarding the complaint against a March 10 interview with a rape victim who was 4 years old. CAIB chief Dr. Lucelle Mercado later told media the three broadcasters admitted before the board their fault.

CAIB or the treasurer’s office must have secured the opinion of the City Legal Office first before Treasurer Reyes sent the notice along with CLO’s endorsement. The route took so long, which must have been caused by the City Legal Office. The treasurer issued the demand notice on the same day it was endorsed by CLO to her office.

[5] PENALTY CARRIES APOLOGY. The amount of P50,000 was publicly disclosed only when Treasurer Reyes’s demand notice surfaced this week. Not in the treasurer’s demand is the public apology from Brigada News and broadcasters Patiño and Tabar, which Dr. Mercado said last March was part of the penalty.

Obviously, the apology part of the penalty is for CAIB to be content with or follow through. It’s not known if Brigada FM News and the two anchorpersons already aired on radio and posted their apology on their social media pages, the terms of the apology. It’s also not known whether CAIB enforced a real apology and not conditional or explanatory.

[6] TOSSING THE ISSUE TO MANILA. First, on the statement of the Cebu chapter of KBP -- which declared Brigada FM anchorpersons Patiño and Tabar as “unfit to broadcast” -- Tabar earlier questioned authenticity, pointing out that it didn’t bear a date, didn’t name the broadcasters involved, and wasn’t signed by the KBP chapter chairman.

Even assuming the document was genuine, what was its value actually? Could it confirm or reject the finding of the KBP Standards Authority in Manila? Could it even enforce a sanction, such as preventive suspension, against Patiño and Tabar, pending the decision of the KBP Standards Authority in Manila? Under KBP procedure, it would seem the Standards Authority decides on sanctions within the organization.

There is no more claim that Brigada News in Cebu is not a KBP member. It is a KBP member. Apparently, it is Mareco Broadcasting Network that operates the Cebu station and other stations “under an airtime lease agreement” by/with Brigada Mass Media Corporation. Still not clear? Whatever, Brigada News FM Cebu is a member of the KBP although the “head office in Manila” represents the local station and speaks for it.

[7] WHERE CONSEQUENCES COME FROM. On the CAIB concern, which arises from the city ordinance creating CAIB (#2436, as amended by #1408), broadcasters Patiño and Tabar, along with the local Brigada station, are the ones made to account for its alleged violation of the city’s anti-indecency ordinance -- and they are the ones ordered to pay up.

RELATED: Seares: Activated Cebu City ‘morality police CAIB seeks tougher ordinance, March 13, 2023

It has been a three-pronged consequence of the interview: (a) from the public, through statements of a number of advocacy organizations; (b) from the City Government, which helps enforce community morality; and (c) from the industry’s self-regulation mechanism.


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