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Tag Archives: #Senator Franklin Drilon

We mourn Boy Mejorada’s conviction for libel

“If you call your opponent a politician, it’s grounds for libel.”

–Mark Russell

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — As a community journalist, I am personally saddened by the decision of Pasay City, Philippines Regional Trial Court Branch 188 Presiding Judge Rowena Nieves A. Tan to convict former Iloilo Press and Radio Club president Manuel “Boy” Mejorada for libel.
The case was filed by Senator Franklin Drilon in 2014 after Mejorada, a former Iloilo provincial administrator, criticized the “overpriced” P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and the “anomalous” use of the senator’s pork barrel fund in his Iloilo City projects.
A libel case in the Philippines carries a penalty of imprisonment.
A convicted journalist will be cuffed like an ordinary criminal, a blot in the image of a democratic state that prides itself as having the “freest press” in the world.
Mejorada, who lives in Iloilo City, has been sentenced to spend time in prison for up to four years.

MOTION

If the Motion for Reconsideration to be filed by his lawyer within 15 days since the sentence was out will be denied, a warrant for Mejorada’s arrest is imminent.
He will have to travel from Iloilo City to Pasay City just to be placed behind bars.
This is the kind of “agony” and inconvenience enemies of press freedom would like to happen to purveyors of truth and adherents of transparency in government.
We are worried because Mejorada, who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years now and a senior in media profession, will have to deal with his case in a faraway Pasays City in Metro Manila, considered as “a lion’s den.”
If this could happen to a veteran journalist, any media practitioner who will anger with commentaries and reports powerful and influential political figures in the country like the former senate president, could also suffer the same fate.
In a democratic country like the Philippines, the last thing people would want to see is a news or opinion writer or anchorman being manacled and padlocked in jail for exercising his freedom of speech and expression.

PROSPER

We are aware that a libel case is not supposed to prosper against members of the Fourth Estate in the Philippines.
We are not prejudging the Motion for Reconsideration to be filed by Mejorada in the sala of Judge Tan, and, possibly in the Court of Appeals (CA), but there have been so many Supreme Court rulings in the past that reversed libel convictions involving journalists in the lower courts–from RTC to CA.
Even public officials like Drilon know that in Philippine jurisprudence, no Supreme Court decision was ever decided with finality against newsmen accused of libel.
Even the late former President Corazon Aquino, who hauled to court the late famous journalists Max Soliven and Luis Beltran in one of the most celebrated libel cases in the country, lost in the Supreme Court.

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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in MEDIA, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS

 

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What Mabilog needs to hear from Drilon

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”
–Blaise Pascal

15231687_10208345768707238_507859276_o-copyBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — When President Duterte called Iloilo City as the “most shabulized” city in the Philippines and named Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as among the 159 local government executives in the entire country allegedly linked to narcotics trade in August 2016, Senator Frank Drilon expressed “hurt” and “sadness” that the City of Love has been “tarnished.”
Drilon never exonerated his second cousin Mabilog.
“Let me state that I am saddened and hurt that the perception that Iloilo local officials are involved in the drug trade became the basis of such a sweeping description of Iloilo,” Drilon sharply reacted.
“All the efforts of the Ilongos for the past five years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livable city is negated by a sweeping judgment of the city and province of Iloilo.”
Ilonggos have been waiting for Drilon to at least vouch for Mabilog, who had to agonize once again when he and fellow mayors faced his tormentor in Malacanang for another round of admonition on January 12, 2017.
The former senate president has been mum over Mabilog’s predicament.

DINAGYANG

Last January 22, 2017 before the start of the ati-ati tribes contest of the Dinagyang Festival at the Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City, Drilon reiterated his concern and love for the city, but never mentioned anything that could buoy Mabilog’s spirit in as far as the mayor’s dilemma with President Duterte is concerned.
Drilon announced: “We made a vow that in five years time, we will change the face of Iloilo. Today we are proud. Iloilo is the most progressive city in the whole country.”
“We made this change possible because of everyone’s support, because of a united leadership. This is why we’re able to move forward.”
Although the Liga ng Barangay (League of Barangays) headed by Reyland Hervias as well as Hervias’ colleagues in the Iloilo City Council have rallied behind the embattled Mabilog, it cannot be denied that he is still hurting from President Duterte’s tirades.

HIGHER

If there is any public official who holds a higher office in the country today who knows Mabilog so well, it’s Drilon.
Any statement from a highly-regarded politician like Drilon that would at least contradict or belie the accusation made by President Duterte against the No. 5 World Mayor, can more or less mitigate the burden Mabilog has been carrying inside his heart.
It can also help disabuse the minds of those who swallowed President Duterte’s allegations against Mabilog hook, line, and sinker.
For many Ilonggos who follow the issues on narco mayors in the country, only Drilon’s sympathetic words can help assuage Mabilog’s frazzled emotion; and, perhaps, influence the thinking of some of those who have written off Mabilog politically as a result of that negative tag.

 

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