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Libel-free media necessary in fight vs. plunder

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(BY: ATTY. BATAS MAURICIO) LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one…” (Psalm 14:3, the Holy Bibl).

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LIBEL-FREE MEDIA NECESSARY IN FIGHT VS. PLUNDER: Ray Constantine U. Abagat, the editor-publisher of Tarlac Forum who is asking the Supreme Court to nullify existing laws on libel in the country, listed down his reasons for doing so in his 19-page petition with the tribunal, saying that libel-free media is now a necessity to combat plunder and graft and corruption.

Here are Abagat’s arguments, contained in the Prefatory Statement of his petition: “Petitioner is not unaware of the various pronouncements of this Honorable Court recognizing, in effect, the legality and Constitutionality of the Revised Penal Code provisions on libel. Petitioner is aware that, up to this point, the state of the libel law is such that, there is as yet no prohibition against its enforcement and applicability.

“Yet, Petitioner is seeking the kind indulgence of this Honorable Court and of the People of the Philippines and of the Private Respondent in the filing of this case. The objective here is no longer just the nullification of existing libel laws to favor journalists and media personalities facing libel suits across the land.

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MEDIA HAS DUTY TO FIGHT WRONGDOINGS: “(The justification is) the realization of a more important objective which even this Honorable Court in a way recognized no less in its nationally and internationally well-applauded and well-received decisions on the controversial pork barrel cases of Philippine lawmakers, and on the cases involving the disbursement acceleration program or DAP of the Aquino government.

“This more important objective is this: stopping the scourge of corruption in the wrongful disbursement and utilization of government funds, which basically come from the taxes of ordinary Filipinos who literally have to shed their blood, sweat, and tears, just to earn a few pesos. Corruption indeed bleeds the nation dry, economically, financially, morally and spiritually.

“While it is the duty, province, and responsibility of the various agencies of government having something to do with law enforcement, prosecution, and trial of cases involving graft, to pursue everything they legally can to fight graft and corruption, it has become likewise the duty of each and every citizen, particularly the sector of media, to do their share in fighting all forms of wrongdoing anywhere and by anyone.

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EXPOSES OF MEDIA HELPED SC IN DECLARING DAP, PDAF, ILLEGAL: “This is best demonstrated by two recent examples. The first example pertains to the reporting undertaken by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the abuse by members of the House of Representatives, of the Philippine Senate, and even of Malacanang, of billions and billions of government funds given to them as `priority development assistance funds’ (PDAF) or disbursed as DAP, or disbursement acceleration program. 

“To say that the Inquirer reporting helped a lot in exposing the corrupt use of government funds culled from taxes of ordinary Filipino citizens would be a big understatement. For the truth is that, without that reporting, the nation would not have been alerted about this monumental wastage of billions of government money by two great branches of government, and would not have resulted in the decision of this Honorable Court holding that PDAF and DAP are unconstitutional, and in stopping these practices altogether.

“The second example… is the online reporting of a daring and very public assault by a group of heavily armed men of two hapless citizens right in the center of EDSA in Mandaluyong City. Were it not for the fearless posting of a picture of the incident in the Internet, nobody would have known that the armed men who carried out the assault were in reality policemen… some of whom had previously been accused of staging similar assaults for handsome financial profit, it now appears…” More of this next issue.

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REACTIONS? Please call me at 0917 984 24 68, 0918 574 0193, 0922 833 4396. Email: melaniolazomauriciojr@outlook.com, batasmauricio@yahoo.com, and mmauriciojr111@gmail.com. -30-




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