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EDITORIAL

Be warned of laws on libel, slander cyber-libel

AS the local campaign period approaches, we are beginning to read and hear black
propaganda, i.e., defamatory statements and fake news in both the traditional media (print
and broadcast) and social media by supporters of opposing candidates.

The recent radio broadcast that slandered the Inang Mahal party-list aired by a regular
(blocktime) commentary program over DWIZ is indicative of how freedom of speech is
widely being abused not only by media practitioners but by netizens on Facebook.

It seems many are not taking the laws on libel, cyber-libel and slander seriously. Judging by
the rate of inflammatory and insults being aired and printed, we could very well discern
that over a hundred media practitioners and netizens are already candidates for conviction
and commitment to jail.

Slanderous statements aired over the radio need not be heard or recorded personally by
aggrieved parties at the time of the broadcast since the evidence can be sourced from the
host radio stations who are required by law to keep a recording of all broadcasts over a
period. Failure or refusal of a radio station to produce the recording can be made
accountable for obstruction of justice or a ground for cancellation of franchise.

Like published libelous statements in newspapers, the postings on Facebook that remain
posted for everyone to read and share makes the poster and those who shared the posts
accountable to the law. In fact, libel committed on internet provides for double the penalties
prescribed for libel in print publications.

To our colleagues in media and friends on Facebook, we urge you to stop tempting the
situation. Making defamatory statements and insulting others by their physical appearance
will have their comeuppance and one’s momentary braggadocio may end up as one’s most
serious regret in life.

Go apologizes to Kris

BONG Go is learning the ropes of the political game faster than Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1
racecar. After cracking a joke at Kris Aquino, Go made a 360-degree turn when the actress
cried foul. The senate-seeking Go, making a dig at the failed romance between Kris Aquino
and actor Phillip Salvador, sort of pricked a raw nerve. The usually self-absorbed SAP
(Special Assistant to the President) told Salvador on stage in a campaign sortie this week
that “you tricked Kris into falling in love with you.” That immediately angered Kris, she of
the onion-skinned Aquino trademark. “I sincerely apologize and I didn’t mean to hurt you,
Kris,” said Go. “Please forgive me.” With that, Go earned praise nationwide for acting the
gentlemanly way. The lesson learned? When running for a public position, never make fun
of anyone—particularly women. It can backfire.