Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Libel continues to haunt the new House Speaker

If you are a public official, you should be wary about using libel as a tool against journalists.
Libel was used by the new House Speaker Prospero Boy Nograles in pinning down the beleaguered, but courageous journalist named Alex Adonis of Davao.
(If you want to know more about the tragedy of Alex Adonis, just Google his name)
Adonis stands out as the only journalist of note who has been convicted, and jailed for libel.
A number have been convicted of libel, but when it reaches the Supreme Court, either the convictions are reversed, or the penalties reduced to fine.
Perhaps, the new House Speaker had once felt relieved after seeing Adonis in jail.
He was wrong.
You see, long ago when Nograles was not yet speaker he sued Alex Adonis for criminal libel.
Adonis corageously reported that incident involving a well known politician from Davao who was running around naked in a hotel after the husband of the woman the Davao politican brought to a hotel caught them in flagrante delicto.
By the way, somebody---most likely a basketball fanatic---translated in flagrante delicto as "flagrant foul" (not a bad translation).
According to The Pinoy Press website, Adonis reported on the “Burlesque King” issue in 2001, where, according to Court records, Adonis had alleged Nograles was the man caught running naked in a Manila hotel after the husband of the woman Nograles was allegedly having an affair with caught them inside a hotel room.
This became known nationally in many reports as the "burlesque king" incident.
Adonis was convicted, not because of lack of defense, but the absence of it.
Adonis lost by default, because he could not afford a lawyer to defend him.
It was like a boxing match where the other boxer lost by default because he could not afford to buy boxing gloves.
Now, the publicity about the new House Speaker Nograles, good or bad, almost never fails to make reference to that "burlesque king" event years back.
The incident, which is better left forgotten, almost always earns a line or two in news items about the new House Sepaker.
The sex episode until now fails to elude the lubricious embrace of news articles about Nograles.
This unsavory incident trails him like a lurking shadow beneath a sunshine.
It is a story as salacious as the incident itself.
I will not be surprised if in the quiet depths of Nograles' conscience, he could be regretting having had to file that haunting libel case.
This episode could very well have been buried a long time ago, if he had just let go of it.
Now, at the pedestal of power, Nograles seems to be suffering an eternal backlash.

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