Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dgte. Press forms legal team

The Dumaguete Press Club Inc. has formed a legal team that will address the legal concerns of its members.
I have volunteered to be the team's legal counsel. Hopefully we will be able to invite other lawyers to lend us a helping hand in promoting the legal interests of practicing journalists.
The Dumaguete journalists, members of the Dumaguete Press Club Inc. met at our Dumaguete law office last week, to organize and adopt a framework to fulfill the team's objectives.
I asked the members of the press if there have been legal actions taken against any them.
Fortunately, there have yet been none lately.
However, their concerns are the constant harrassments they encounter when they write their stories.
The harrassments most expectedly come from local officials who are the subject of their stories.
They relate their stories about how mayors "scold" or berate journalists during press conferences.
I am not surprised at these stories.
Some are parochial, the local chief thinks he lords over his little kingdom.
Some local officials also have a burgeoning egos.
So instead of giving his side of the story, the local official lets out his personal emotions, and scolds the journalists for writing the story wrong.
I sense that the only correct story is when the the official is placed in a good light.
If the official is placed in a bad light, then the story is wrong or "libelous".
That is a challenge for journalists---dealing with these kind of public officials.
Fellow journalists related the story of a southern mayor, who in a fit of madness, drove the journalists away from his turf.
"Pamahawa mo diri!" (Get out of here!), the journalists were told.
It was as if the mayor owned the town.
This mayor was formerly a political errand boy in the past.
He continuously licked the asses of political bosses until his tongue dried up, he got his chance, and eventually became mayor.
Now that he is mayor, he thinks he has all the right to scold people, including journalists.
Such are stories I heard during our gathering.
I opined that we really cannot avoid ego-tripping public officials.
Diskartehan na lang. Pasensiya lang.
Public officials should not cross the line though, by doing something that would give rise to legal cause of action.
If there arises a cause of action against journalists, then the journalists must assert their rights, assisted by this legal team, and take action.

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