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Gordon’s bullshit

I remember complaining how, everytime the Supreme Court rules against someone, the media always plays it up as a slap-on-the-face. That, of course, has roots in the idea that being slapped on the face is one of the gravest forms of insult possible, implying that the person doing the slapping has tons of disapproval and contempt for the person being slapped.

I mention this now because i find it curious that ever since the SC’s decision to grant JocJoc Bolante’s petition for habeas corpus over the Senate’s objections has not been characterized by media anywhere as a slap on the Senate’s face.

And now, Gordon – the same moron who gave insult to Thais and later on tried to weasel out of it – is trying to salvage things

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Gordon said the Blue Ribbon committee decided to release Bolante in the spirit of Christmas.

“We want to do this out of justice, out of humanitarian interest because of Christmas,” he said.

HAH! Whatta load of bullshit. Gordon secured the release of Bolante to moot the habeas corpus petition because he knows that the Senate’s actions would not pass muster. 

And so, from ordering Bolante’s arrest to force him into ‘telling the truth,’ Gordon ordered

 … Rodolfo Noel Quimbo, Blue Ribbon committee Oversight Office Management director general, charged Bolante with the crimes of disobeying summons issued by Congress, and false testimony yesterday.

Which begs the question, if they could file charges after all, why didn’t they do that in the first place? The answer ought to be obvious. It was much easier, more convenient, and more telegenic to just trample on the guy’s basic right to due process, which – as some smart guy once said – was designed to protect the presumption of innocence accorded to even the most hated person.

Gordon, for all his bullshit and bluster – not to mention spit spraying – seems to have forgotten that, and so (hehe) he got a slap on the face from the SC.

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Filed under: judiciary, media, politics, , , , ,

Right to reply violates free expression

Last June, the Senate passed on third and final reading Senate bill No. 2150. The House is set to deliberate on second reading House bill No. 3306 and may pass it on third and final reading before the Christmas break.

The House measure, which is authored by Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, seeks to punish the publisher and editor in chief of a publication, or the owner and station manager of a broadcast medium if they fail to give equal treatment to a complainant’s reply to a specific report.

Of course Malakanyang supports the bill. Hell, it’ll prolly be the biggest beneficiary if the law is ever enacted. But that’s really beside the point. This is the point:

Media organizations have vowed to challenge in court the right to reply bill if it is passed in Congress, saying the measure violates the freedom of the press and free expression.

My initial reaction was WTF? A law that forces media outlets to give equal right to reply to those aggrieved by their reports violates press freedom? I don’t get that. The bill doesn’t prevent the press from writing about the whatever the hell they want; it just tries to guarantee that the freedom isn’t abused. 

But then again, free expression? Well, yeah, I guess. After all the freedom of expression includes the freedom not to express, ergo – if you have the right to publish or air anything you want, it logically follows that you also have the freedom not to publish or air anything you feel shouldn’t or need not be published or aired. 

On the one hand, I can’t accept that the right to reply bill is going to muzzle anyone. At least to the extent of making people – people like Mon Tulfo and Cristy Fermin – think twice about throwing out unsubstantiated allegations. But then again, they shouldn’t be indulging in that kind of vicious gossip mongering anyway.

On the other hand, I’m thinking that media outlets are commercial endeavors and they will do whatever is best for their bottom line. The right to reply might end up eating up so much space that it won’t be good for the outlet financially. 

If you approach it from this point of view, you can see how the first argument might actually be valid. Think about it: If accomodating right to reply demands becomes too costly, news outlets will ramp down their production of hard-hitting articles. That’s called a chilling effect, and yes, the chilling effect does have an adverse impact on the freedom of the press. If not due to external pressure or prior restraint, then certainly through a financial vice-grip. 

I have as much against libelers as anyone, and if you look at the right to reply bill simply as a protection against libel, well then it’s okay. But it would be wrong to simply focus on one effect of the concept, especially if it is about to be enshrined in law. That would be what Jess Dureza is doing when he pimps this bill; and it is intellectually dishonest for him to be doing so.

Future laws must be viewed holistically; with an objective assessment of its many ramifications. You take the good effects – like providing extra protection against libel – and the bad effects – the chilling effect – and then you weigh the two. In this case, I would much rather inconvenience people by forcing them to file libel suits than to dampen the press’ zeal to expose the truth. I say we’re just gonna have to tolerate the crack-pots and hope that they can be taught their lesson in responsible journalism by the Penal Code.


Filed under: journalism, judiciary, law and order, , , , , , ,

Who’s telling the truth?

When the big news about Sabio’s accusation broke, I was dumbfounded. Seriously. Why would an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals wreck the reputations of his peers and his peerage? I understand the need for whistleblowers, but to my mind, the benefits of blowing the whistle in this particular instance are friggin de minimis.

Think about it. Suppose Sabio’s revelation does expose shennanigans in the Meralco case – is that case so important that it justifies destroying the credibility of the entire institution? The CA handles thousands and thousands of other cases of varying degrees of public interest – some even more significant than the Meralco controversy. By accusing fellow AJs of corruption, Sabio has done nothing less than throw into question the integrity of ALL Justices and the validity of ALL CA decisions. Is the Meralco case worth it?

I think this dust up between Sabio and de Borja amply illustrates Filipino society’s current infatuation with scandalous revelations and its inability to see the forest for the trees. We as a nation have become too obsessed with the idea of ‘personal crusades’ that we ignore the damage caused by loose cannons riding roughshod over our institutions.

Believe it or not, those institutions do have mechanisms for dealing with corruption; believe it or not, not everyone is corrupt; and believe it or not, taking every thing to the bar of public opinion often does more harm than good.

Especially when, as in this case, the whistleblowing seems not to have been because of a patently wrong decision, but more the result of pique.

But Sabio said in a previous interview with abs-cbnnews.com that his complaint focuses on the process by which the decision came about. He and another colleague in the 9th division previously issued a TRO that favored the Lopez-led board in May and heard the oral arguments in June.

Both justices, however, were eased out when the case’s ponente, or the designated writer of the decision, was transferred to the 8th division, which eventually issued a decision that favored the Lopez-led board.

Simeon Marcelo, the lawyer of Meralco’s Lopez-led board, earlier said there is nothing irregular about the transfer of the case to the 8th division since it was in accordance to the internal rules of the appellate court.

Sabio, however, said something was “fishy” since he was offered a P10-million bribe to let go of the case.

For the sake of exorcising the smell of fish, Sabio was willing to tear down the credibility of the second highest court in the land? Would it have been too much to ask him to have something more substantial than something that wafted up his nose? Or if the smell of hengeyokai were truly unbearable, couldn’t he have had recourse to whatever internal mechanisms the Court may have? Kinda makes you think that the closest thing to his nose is his own mouth.

Oh well. Of course, now that the whistle has been blown, the question is who is telling the truth?

Mesself, I think both Sabio and de Borja have in their possession different parts of the same truth. Which means, I suppose, that the best either be capable of are telling half-truths. Which everyone understands to be nothing less than whole lies.

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