Sunday, June 28, 2009

Defamation suit by Bais mayor dismissed

The Supreme Court second division has dismissed the civil defamation suit filed by Bais City Mayor Hector C. Villanueva against two national dailies, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Bulletin, and its editorial personnel.
Villanueva sued the two newspapers when it erroneously published, just before the 1992 elections, that Hector Villanueva had been disqualified as a mayoralty candidate. This false news reporting, Villanueva alleged, resulted in his electoral defeat.
Penned by Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, the Supreme Court ruled, among others, that the erroneous news report constituted part of what is known as qualified prvileged communication, therefore the newspaper cannot be held liable for defamation.
The Supreme Court cited the case of Arturo Borjal versus Court of Appeals (G.R. No.126466, Januay 14, 1999), which said that the enumeration in Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code is not an exclusive list of qualified privileged communications since commentaries on matters of pubic interest constitute a valid defense in an acton for libel or slander.(G.R. 164437, May 15 2009)

JID observation:
The Borjal case involved an opinion article. The Villanueva case involved a news report. The difference is that news report is not a "commentary". A news report is a narration of facts obtained by a news oganization. So in this case, even straight news reports, or narration of facts (as oppposed to commentaries/opinons), despite being erroneous, are considered qualified privileged information, which negates any liability for damages.

Tata Villanueva can pursue this discussion in the high court. I recall that the Supreme Court in the Borjal case said that commentaries, to avoid civil liabilities, must be based on established facts. Factual correctness is a pre-condition to justify defamtory commentaries. Let me quote that particular Supreme Court statement in Borjal: "In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be inferred from the facts." But in this recent Villanueva case, even publication of factual incorrectness itself would defeat a defamation suit.
Has the Borjal ruling (requiring factual correctness as a pre-condition) been overturned?
As journalist, this decision is a victory. As a student of the law, I think this should be clarified.

Mandatory Legal Aid deferred

June 28 2009---The Supreme Court deferred until December 31, 2009 the implementation of the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service, which should have taken effect on July 1. Instead, the Rule will take effect on January 1, 2010.
Under the Rule, every practicing lawyer will be mandated to render a minimum of 60 hours of free legal aid services to indigent litigants yearly, among others.
The Rule is aimed at enhancing “the duty of lawyers to society as agents of social change and to the courts as officers thereof by helping improve access to justice by the less privileged members of society and expedite the resolution of cases involving them.”
This rule was deferred as the implementing rules have yet to be finalized by the integrated Bar of the Philippines

Friday, June 26, 2009

Heal The World

I Just Can't Stop Loving You

I Just Can't Stop Loving You.

Michael Jackson: Gone to soon...

This morning Friday June 26, 2009 I woke up hearing the news that Michael Jackson has died.
I was first infomed about Michael Jackson's death via text message and I immediately turned on CNN.
I felt a prick in my heart upon hearing the news.
I never admitted it but I was, I am, a Michael Jackson fan.
Who isn't?
Michael Jackson's superstardom spanned generations.
I am one who grew up in radio.
I was a spinner and disc jockey for a quite a time in my young life.
I have so much memories of playing Michael Jackson songs on radio.
Michael Jackson had so many hits.
He had many dance tunes.

But many of his ballads were, I think, songs that defined him, and gave the world a peek of his own life.
The ballads he sang in his young life were so full of emotions.
You can feel he was singing the story of his life.
I believe one of Michael Jackson's greatest songs was "Ben" (a song about a rat).
It's genius was in its simplicity.
I think when he sang about having a friend like Ben, Michael was talking about how great it was to have a friend like him.
So many nasty things have been said agasint Michael Jackson.
But we can never deny the fact that in life, he used his talent and influence responsibly.
While sitting at the top of the music world in the 1980's he gatehred America's pop elite.
He spearheaded a global humanitarian mission.
He was the moving force behind United States Artists (USA) for Africa which came up with "We Are The World".
Proeeds of the song were given to others who suffered.
"To whom much is given, much is expected," we are taught.
Michael complied with flying colors.
Michael could've done more for humanity.
But it was an abrupt end.
He was "Gone Too Soon..."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Citizen Journalism

There is a fresh buzz world in the world of journalism ---citizen journalism.
The phrase citizen journalism hogged the spotlight recently during the political upheaval in Iran.
The theocratic government is trying to suppress the flow of information in Iran.
Foreign journalists are booted out of the country, while the locals are arrested.
That is why demonstrators, protesters, are trying to report the news themselves by uploading fresh, raw videos to sites in the internet particularly, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, among others.
They are branded as citizen journalists.
But are citizen-journalists really journalists?
Not so.
I went to Wikipedia and the concept of citizen-journalism is stated this way: Citizen journalism or street journalism is the concept of members of the public "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,"
Freelance writer Mark Glaser said of citizen journalism: “The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others.”
Citizen journalism is not new.
Even the Negros Chronicle has very much welcomed citizen journalism.
We have continued to receive and published photo contributions by concerned readers of newsworthy events in sports, politics etc.
Before the internet, of course the polaroid, film-based photos were personally delivered.
Now, it is sent by email.
It’s the same thing.
In Iran, while there have been many videos capturing the events in that country, the mainstream journalists have to fact-check, verify these raw videos so that the most accurate presentation of the event is attained.
From my view, while citizen journalism is not mainstream journalism, nevertheless citizen journalism plays a vital role in the ensuring the free flow of thought and information.
To my mind, citizen journalism complements---not competes with--- mainstream journalism.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The turmoil in Tehran

The turmoil in Tehran could likely escalate.
Blood may continue to ooze on the streets.
The Ayatollah may crush the street protests, but such would only be a pyrrhic victory, as it would come at the heels of international condemnation, and the further isolation of Iran not only from the west, but from its neighbors in the middle east.
The bludgeoning of demonstrators by the Iranian government reveals not the gathering strength, but gradual weakening of its grip on power.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Remollo boys set Philippine baseball record

A Philippine baseball record was set last June 12, Independence day, when 14 year-old Felipe Claudio "Dio" Remollo, became the youngest baseball player to hit a homerun in a regulation game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
The historic Rizal Stadium hosts the same field where baseball greats like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig made their respective homeruns when they played in the Philippines in the 1950's.
Dio is the son of former Dumaguete mayor Felipe Antonio and Cristine Remollo.
Picture shows Dio being awarded the symbolic homerun ball by head umpire Ronaldo Siacor.
Meanwhile, Dio's elder brother Pelos Remollo, was recently awarded baseball's Most Valuable Player in Japan.
Japan is home of baseball talents who have advanced to play in major leagues in the United States.
Photo shows Pelos Remollo congratulated by Mr. Matsofuji, President of the KB Baseball Federation of Japan, in the recently concluded KB Baseball Federation Kinki Invitational held last May 4-8 in Osaka.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mouthful at Meisters

My wife and I had a pleasant, and surprisingly sumptous lunch at Meisters today.
It was 1 p.m. and coming from a meeting, I was hungry.
We walked from Paseo deo Roxas to Greenbelt 4.
We had decided to have lunch at Meisters (by Almon Marina) at the food court.
I was about to order the footlong, but decided to shove it upon seeing the 6-inch-with-pasta combo.
I was surprised both tasted so delicious.
It was a mouth-watering meal.
I surmised the store name is "Meisters", but the products are Almon Marina.
The roast beef sandwich was jaw-dropping.
The bun seemed soft as 'Mamon' of Red Ribbon.
Then it crunched as my teeth reached the middle, owing to fresh letuce sprawled between.
The pasta was a delight.
The footlong cost P115. A full meal.
But I was swayed to take the combo at P145.
Indeed, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
But it was all worth the walk and the money.

Reaction on Tambobo

Randy Bugarin shared his thoughts about Tambobo Bay in Siaton. Here are his thoughts"


In the June 7 issue of the Chronicle you cited a law giving local governments the right to levy fees on use of natural resources and the public domain i.e. Tambobo Bay. Problem is these fees would apply to all and sundry, not just foreigners. Otherwise the imposition would be discriminatory. What would local fishermen say about a fee for using the bay? What about Filipinos not from Siaton? Also, collection would be a dicey thing unless a gate and lock a la Panama Canal would be installed at the mouth of the bay.

In the same issue a photo caption on Tambobo as fishing center says, all sectors consulted about a docking/loading facility posed constructive objections.. We can guess the root of these objections would be the expected fees payable by fishing vessels, and the burden of maintaining the facility if fees collected could not support it.

If local fisherfolk do not want to pay for docking facilities, why would they pay a fee for just hanging around the bay? A better idea would be a marina (charging fees, of course) which foreigners and locals alike could use. If that would be too much at this time, locals could be encouraged to invest in onshore cafes, laundries, massage and other services seafarers would need.

Making money from thin air is seldom enforceable. Are there places in the world that charge local and foreign boats just for anchoring in bays and inlets with no docks? Tambobo is of public domain in Philippine territory, which is why the foreigners said they had already paid immigration dept. fees which are essentially toll for entering a political territory. The local government at the Balinsasayao lakes charges entrance fees, but physical improvements and services have been added and entrance and exit are easily controlled.

R. Bugarin

Postcript by JID:
I guess what I am saying is that from point of law, local governments are empowered to impose/levy fees. From point of public policy though, I don't know. It is up to the people of Siaton, through their duly elected representatives in the municipal council, to determine the policy. To determine the soundness of imposing fees in Tambobo is a public policy question, rather than a legal question. Perhaps this is an issue that should pre-occupy the municipal councilors of Siaton.
Here in Dumaguete, since we do not have something like Tambobo, the city council spend their time talking about buying brand new cellphones, buying T-shirts, and killing the proposal of their rival councilors.
And then they claim they are the best candidates for the upcoming elections.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

NTC hearing application

I attended the hearing this morning at the National Telecommunications Commission for the application of Negros Broadcasting and Publishing Corporation to install and operate a 1 KW FM station in Tanjay City. There being no oppositors, I proceeded to present the witnesses in the same hearing. Formal offer is due within fifteen days.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tambobo, crown jewel in the south.

The last time I visited Tambobo Bay in Siaton, I was mesmerized by the beauty of this natural resource.
I will say without batting an eyelash that Tambobo Bay stands as one of the province’s crown jewel for tourism.
Perhaps, we will leave it to another generation of political and economic visionaries to cultivate this rich natural resource.
Tambobo Bay, in case you may not know, uniquely formed shore with natural curvatures.
The dictionary defines a bay as “a body of water forming an indentation of the shoreline, larger than a cove but smaller than a gulf”.
This definition can hardly be visualized.
Just think of Tambobo bay as a U-shaped shore.
I am encouraging everyone to visit one of our own natural resources and discover its richness, before you explore other areas within the country, and beyond.
We marvel at the natural resources of other provinces. But we fail to recognize the potentials of our own.
What is tragic about Tambobo Bay though, is that the locals aren’t the ones reaping and enjoying the benefits.
It is heavily being used as a stop-over point by foreigners on sea adventures, mostly riding in yachts.
They use Tambobo to make stop-overs to rest, re-charge, get food and water, to prepare for another rendezvous in the high seas.
And I cannot be sure if all trade activities going on there are legal.
How unfortunate.
It is up to the local governments to rise to the occasion to make sure that the benefits to be derived from Tambobo Bay should first be accorded the locals, before it is offered to outsiders.
For instance, Tambobo Bay can serve as a natural refuge or safety zone for local fishers, big and small in case they encounter rough seas due to inclement weather.
Because it is uniquely shaped, the waters in Tambobo always lay still.
But most important, Tambobo Bay is a potential tourist attraction.
Perhaps, the local governments, particularly the municipality of Siaton can regulate the activities going in Tambobo Bay, specially those by non-Filipinos.
There are legitimate issues there that need to be addressed.
First, peace and order.
Who are these foreigners staying in yachts in Tambobo Bay?
We hope they are not fugitives in their respective countries using Tambobo as perfect refuge.
We pray none of these foreigners in Tambobo are criminals, nay hibernating terrorists, using Tambobo Bay as a safe haven.
But are we sure?
Second, environment. We must not allow anybody, be they foreigners or locals to destroy the environs surrounding the bay.
Where do these international visitors throw their trash when they visit Tambobo Bay?
Third, income generation. How is our government compensated for the use of our natural resources?
Needless to say, the local government code grants authority to local government units to regulate and create sources of revenues for the use of our natural resources.
Section 18 of the local government for instance, grants local government units the power to generate income and apply natural recourses.
Section 447 of the local government code, authorizes local governments to levy fees.
They are authorized to prescribe reasonable limits and restraints on the use of property within their jurisdiction.
By the way, it is not correct for visiting foreigners to deflect local fees by claiming they are already paying fees to immigration authorities.
Local government fees are for a different purpose.
Local governments have their own powers.
We hope our local leaders will initiate a development plan for Tambobo Bay.
We have no reason to say we suffer from a lack of natural resources.
We have that crown jewel in the south.