Punchline

Judas 9 on Holy Week

EFG

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THE unrepentant and incorrigible Judas 9 in the Dagupan City council, many of whom are in the MadiLIM and MakuLIMLIM ticket, tried but failed to reenact Judas’ biblical betrayal of Jesus in observance of the Holy Week.

Reminiscent of their perceived successful attempt to railroad the cheap sale of MC Adore properties, Mayor Benjie Lim hastily called for a special session last Wednesday, confident that he had the numbers to duplicate their shameful April 2012 sortie, this time to railroad the passage of the P47 million supplemental budget.  The agenda was to expedite its passage in spite of irregularities in the draft that are patently violative of government audit rules.

Obviously, they had no qualms about being obvious in their intent to grab more than the 30 pieces of silver that the original Judas got for betraying Jesus. That they had the gall to attempt a second betrayal of the city during Holy Week makes them the worst kind the city ever had.

Fortunately, Onor-onors Karlos Reyna and SK chair Chester Gonzales skipped the special session leaving their 7 compatriots high and dry with no chance of projecting another largesse in their bank accounts before their term expires in May.  Why the two failed to attend is not as important as the consequence of their absence.  The city was saved!

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GODLESS GOVERNMENT. Thank God for Archbishop Soc Villegas! He dared say what thousands of Dagupeños had long wanted to say but were afraid to:  “Where is God in this government?”

Indeed, Mr. Lim! Where is God in your government? Greed and materialism have already made every occupant in the city hall power mad not only giving no thought to the hallowed church grounds but violating the city’s own ordinance just for an opportunity to rake in another million from the Baratillo rentals that they can pocket.

Where is God in your government, Mr. Lim? How dare you attempt to play another Judas hand with your conspirators in the city council during the Holy Week,

using your template for corruption, the same one you used to make the city lose the 30-hectare land in San Jacinto and the premium lots of MC Adore?

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WANTED: FAMILY HONOR. What bothers many in the community no end is how councilor- wannabes Saysi Samson and Marilyn Manaois-Reyna, candidates under the Belen Fernandez ticket, can claim adherence to good governance when their own father and daughter (Onor-onors Chito Samson and Dada Manaois-Reyna, respectively) continue to do their worst as members of the Judas 9.

(Perhaps Karlos Reyna is ready to shed his onor-onor stigma by his absence in last week’s special session, this we have to confirm).

While a tolerant community may dismiss these political aberrations involving family members as harmless, one cannot help but wonder – doesn’t family honor and integrity matter anymore where political convenience is concerned?

If son Saysi and mother Marilyn win seats in the council, people wonder if they will be like the father and daughter that preceded them who betrayed the city for their share of 30 pieces of silver?  Will Karlos of the highly respected Reyna political family continue to drag the family honor to the pits as a mainstay of the Judas  9?

I surely hope that should Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez win a mandate to lead the city government, her brand of leadership will restore the once deeply-respected values in the community: honesty, self-respect and family honor.

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LESSONS IN LIBEL. The recent attempt of four local broadcasters to impugn the integrity of Lyceum Northwestern University, it’s president Atty. Gonzalo Duque, its faculty and students may yet provide an opportunity for broadcast practitioners to learn what constitutes ethical practice, and how one can avoid being charged for libel. But the caveat is, the precious lessons can only be learned if LNU and Atty. Duque file libel cases against the four irresponsible broadcast practitioners and the radio networks. 

The libel cases will also instruct the public of their legal rights as private citizens against irresponsible journalism, when no public interests can be invoked by unfair and malicious reports and commentaries.  On the other hand, public officials or public persons can learn what to expect when seemingly unfair commentaries are made about their official acts.

It is only regrettable that the lessons for the four will be a wee too late to save them from both criminal and civil prosecution.  The damage has been done and someone must be made responsible. Unfortunately, the only material defense they can invoke is to claim there was no malice in their commentaries but from what I gathered, as the series of taped commentaries would show, the respondents will have a difficult time convincing the court that that malice was absent.

Their serious allegations in their commentaries that LNU and Atty. Duque were selling masteral degrees to undeserving students was not backed by any witness or evidence except an unsigned letter.

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The jurisprudence from the decided civil case of Ago Medical and Educational Center-Bicol Christian College of Medicine and its dean vs. Filipinas Broadcasting Network, Inc. and its broadcasters Hermogenes Alegre and Carmelo Rima filed in 1990 makes for a good case study. It detailed how our courts determined that defamatory statements aired over radio are libelous per se.

The decision of the Supreme Court that ultimately resolved and determined the culpability of the radio station and their broadcasters with some modification in the awarding of damages is easy to understand but complex for anyone who pretends to know the law.

The broadcasters acting supposedly on “students’ complaints”, alleged that the school, motivated by greed, was offering courses not authorized by DECS, that “AMEC is a dumping ground, garbage, not merely of moral and physical misfits,”. That its dean was unfit to teach being “old”, that “the students will become liabilities instead of assets in the society. “

The respondents invoked being “plainly impelled by public duty to report the “goings-on” in AMEC, (which is) an institution imbued with public interest. “

The trial court rejected the broadcasters’ claim because it had no factual basis. The broadcasters did not verify their reports before airing them to show good faith.  In holding FBNI liable for libel, the trial court found that “FBNI failed to exercise diligence in the selection and supervision of its employees.”

Back to the local broadcasters’ case, I believe the root of their problem stems from their own ignorance and literal interpretation of the law. They were naively gullible to believe that libel only pertains to a printed word, and not broadcasted reports. They thought that being licentious on radio, absent any printed word, exculpates them from any liability for uttering defamatory statements. Believing this to be so, it would not be farfetched to conclude that the unsigned letter was actually prepared by someone known to them, believing it could justify use of defamatory statements.

They aggravated their situation by reportedly insisting their defamatory statements were not covered by libel law. How can they now convince the court that there was no malice in their commentaries?

In the AMEC case being a civil case only, the Supreme Court ruled that the radio station and one of the broadcasters should pay the complainants damages. One of the broadcasters was acquitted because she “only agreed to the other’s expose.” No one was sentenced to jail because complainants did not file a criminal case.

From what I gathered, LNU and Atty. Duque will likely file both criminal and civil cases against the four and the two radio networks. Translation:  The four broadcasters and officials of the two radio networks face the possibility of spending time in jail and paying the moral and exemplary damages that could run into millions!

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