My heart sank this morning seeing a visibly nervous journalist posting bail for her temporary liberty at the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The journalist is one of those accused of libel, a criminal offense, by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
I was running late for my hearing at the old ombudsman building near the Manila City hall this morning.
I parked at the SM mall nearby.
While on my way I met Jason, my law school classmate, who apparently did not know where he was headed.
I took time to greet him, and asked him where he was headed.
He asked where the ombudsman building is.
I told him that was where I was headed, so he tagged along.
I asked him what his hearing was.
He said he will accompany his client who was to post bail.
Upon arrival at the building, we split as I was already late for my own hearing.
After my hearing I noticed a number of media persons loitering at the second floor.
The nosy journalist in me asked one of them what the story was.
One of them, a reporter of ABS CBN, said that a reporter Mia (or was it Mimi) Gonzales of the Daily Mirror was arriving to post bail.
I got curious and stuck around.
Later emerged Jason, my classmate and his client, the Daily Mirror reporter.
A group of reporters were close behind them.
The reporter was visibly nervous. It was apparently her first time as an accused.
I told my self, these libel cases filed against journalists are getting ridiculous.
The reporter was most likely just doing her job.
She was accused of a criminal offense, and had to under go a criminal process, just like any one else accused of any crime.
Journalism is perhaps one of the very few professions were one can be accused of a crime for merely doing one's job.
But as they say, its part of the territory.
It is really time to undertake a re-thinking of our penal libel laws in orer to accord explicit protection to member sof the working press.
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