Garalde, Maria Margarita

SY 2011-2012, First Semester

  • What is this CRAZE?
  • WikiLeaks: Pinoy Style
  • Let’s Keep It Private

What is this CRAZE?

People are curious. People are interested. People are probing. People are hungry for information. These are just few of the reasons why people have succumbed to being a part of the social networking craze. People want to know about a bit of everything. Everything: as in any thing under the sun. Admit it or not, these things are mostly found in the Internet – in the social networking sites. Facebook provides all sorts of advertisements, from fan page of celebrities to fan page of companies or products. It helps people find their long lost friends. It can even be used for stalking other people. There is even a wide range of choices for online shopping for bags, clothes, shoes, and the like. Instead of websites, travel agencies or companies would just have their Facebook account and voila instant promotion and advertisements! There is also this crazy addiction to Twitter. People every now and then update, or should I say, tweet their every move and every thought on Twitter. Twitter is actually very useful. It is an avenue for effective information dissemination. Information on who’s pregnant or not, who killed who, the latest news about the world, or even about the latest tsismis. These popular networking sites seem to have taken over the lives of most people. Even broadcast journalists – news anchor, media personalities, TV hosts and the like. Watch or read the news and listen to the radio, these media personalities would almost always invite their viewers and listeners and even the readers to “like us on Facebook” or “follow us on Twitter”.

Recently, the French TV and radio presenters have been banned from mentioning social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter on air (BBC News). It is that big of a craze that even the French government thought it should be banned. But that is to be discussed elsewhere. As for this entry, this “craze” posits a question on whether or not these media personalities are acting inappropriately when they invite viewers, listeners and readers to like their show on Facebook or follow them on twitter.

The objective of 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines, Section 1 provides that News and public affairs programs shall aim primarily to inform the public on important current events and issues rather than merely to entertain. Yes, it may be true that people are entertained by these media personalities but it also cannot be denied that with these social networking sites, Twitter most especially with regard to news and public affairs, people are also informed with the current events. “To invite” is different from “to advertise”. Besides, these media personalities only invite the people and do not compel them to do so. If viewers, readers and listener are interested with what these media personalities’ accounts have to say, they may freely follow. But if not, then they won’t. See, it is still a matter of choice for the people. No one is being compelled here.

The French government sees it as a form of advertising the American social networking sites. In one article, the French government found it unfair for other social networking sites not mentioned in broadcasts – why give preference over Facebook and Twitter when there are other existing social networking sites. Section 11 of 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines provides that:

11.a. Advertisements must be clearly distinguished from the news.

11.b. Advertisements in the guise of news are prohibited.

I don’t see this as a form of an advertisement for the social networking sites. If not all, almost everyone is acquainted with these sites and it is actually very popular. It even has become a habit for most people to check and update their status on Facebook and Twitter. So these media personalities are not advertising the site, maybe they are advertising themselves or their networks. Regardless, I don’t see anything appropriate with that. It just so happened that they are on TV or radio while we are on the other side of the spectrum. We sometimes “advertise” to others to do the same for us. Follow us or add us in Facebook or Twitter. This cannot be regarded as a form of marketing strategies as against other networks. Again, the choice lies on the people. Media personalities mention the invite ones. There is no product launch or whatsoever to entice people to follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook. What entices people is the urge to be informed.

Moreover, the 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines encourages the public to participate in discussions. To air whatever concerns they have. These social networking sites are actually very effective in letting the people communicate their thoughts and sentiments regarding the news or information disseminated. May it be absurd or not, it gives people the chance to participate. Unlike before, when the media exposes the mishaps of the government, all people do is curse while watching at home, now, people can tweet their thoughts on the matter and like or dislike the issue.

I don’t see this as a disadvantage to other networks. That’s why they have ratings. A person who is interested follows them on Twitter and likes them on Facebook. If they are not satisfied, they can always unfollow or unike. That is the beauty of these sites. No permanency. Other networks, if they feel they are behind, they can always do the same. Create an account and advise the people about the existence of these accounts.

Lastly, these social networking sites are created mostly for personal use. It is not far from blogs and news articles posted on the Internet. It just so happened that they are called Facebook and Twitter. News anchors can put anything about their lives. However, for TV networks that are tasked with responsible journalism, they shall be liable for the news and information they will disseminate. It is not really a question of inappropriateness, but maybe a question of reputability.

References:


WikiLeaks: Pinoy Style

Everyday, from televisions, newspapers, tabloids and radio stations, we acquire information on government anomalies i.e. corruption, bribery, malversation of public funds, plunder, and the like. Every single day, there is an article published attacking the government; media personnel reporting on the anomalies done by Mr. or Ms. Government Official. So far, there is no news of a writer or publisher being charged with and actually convicted with and to suffer the penalties of the crimes of Libel, Defamation or Inciting to Rebellion or insurrection, or Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances.

WikiLeaks.org is a website that promotes transparency of governments around the globe. Transparency through the revelations of published articles sent by the contributors. Taken from the website verbatim, it’s objectives and purpose are:

“WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. We are a young organisation that has grown very quickly, relying on a network of dedicated volunteers around the globe…”

“The power of principled leaking to call governments, corporations and institutions to account is amply demonstrated through recent history. The public scrutiny of otherwise unaccountable and secretive institutions forces them to consider the ethical implications of their actions. Which official will chance a secret, corrupt transaction when the public is likely to find out? What repressive plan will be carried out when it is revealed to the citizenry, not just of its own country, but the world? When the risks of embarrassment and discovery increase, the tables are turned against conspiracy, corruption, exploitation and oppression. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it. Open government exposes and undoes corruption. Open governance is the most effective method of promoting good governance.” (http://wikileaks.org/About.html)

Now, do you think this would be allowed here in the Philippines? Can we create our own WikiLeaks.org and publish certain government anomalies in this website? I think YES. Definitely. We can create such website. BUT soon enough, charges left and right will be thrown to the creators of this site and maybe, just maybe…this would probably increase the mortality rate of journalists. Cause of death: UNKOWN. And one day, the site can no longer be found.

Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution provides that No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. However, this freedom of speech and expression is not absolute and does not apply to all kinds of speeches and expressions. It must be strictly applied and interpreted. There are specific provisions of the law the prohibits defamatory words, or words that may incite violence or riots amongst the people, or words or written expressions that are obscene or lewd. The Revised Penal Code penalizes the crimes of Libel (Article 353), Defamation (Article 358), Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances (Article 154) and Inciting to rebellion or insurrection (Article 138).

If we are going to create a website like WikiLeaks.org, it is actually no different from the news articles and news clips published in the newspapers or aired on national television. It still falls under the law on freedom of speech and expression under Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution. The only difference is, it would probably be more raw and unedited as compared to newspaper articles and news clips.

The government and its representatives are and will be the subjects of scrutiny no matter how private they want their lives and actions to be. That is accountability and transparency. People have the right to know about their actions because it is the people that will be greatly affected by these actions.

Yes, this can be created. The creators of the site cannot be charged with libel nor oral defamation, neither can they be charged with Article 154 nor Article 138 of the RPC. If so, then ABS-CBN, GMA, ANC, TV5 and other news networks, and Inquirer, Star, etcetera should be charged with these crimes as well.

WikiLeaks.org Pinoy version should limit the anomalies to actions that have direct relation to the government functions or offices of the tortfeasor. If the site publishes articles that do not in any way have relation to the government or is not of national interest and involves the private lives of the subjects, then by all means, this site should not be allowed.

Yes, we can definitely create this kind of site. BUT we must be very very brave and courageous enough to stand all sorts of threats to our lives. In this kind of situation, it is not the law that we must fear but the people behind the government itself.


References:


Let’s Keep It Private

“On April 27, 1999, while AAA was sleeping in the living room of her grandmother’s house, her father (the appellant) woke her up and told her to go to their house at the back of her grandmother’s house. On reaching their house, the appellant told her to go to the room. While inside the room, the appellant removed her shorts and underwear, and told her to lie down. The appellant then undressed himself, kissed her, and inserted his private organ into her vagina. Two days later, on April 29, 1999, while AAA was watching television at her grandmother’s house, the appellant told her to go home. The appellant once again told AAA to go inside the room. The appellant then kissed her on the neck. Two days later, on May 1, 1999, while AAA was playing in the street, the appellant called her home and told her again to go to the room. The appellant then undressed her, made her lie down, kissed her, and inserted his private organ into her vagina. When BBB, AAA’s mother, discovered what happened, she brought AAA on May 27, 1999 to the Burauen District Hospital for a medical examination. The medical examination revealed an old healed hymenal laceration.”

People of the Philippines vs. Nilo Rocabo is a rape case involving a minor. The facts of the case do not show the identity of the victim. The reason is there is a law that provides for the protection of the identity of the victims of children or women against violence. Section 40 of Republic Act 9262 provides that:

All records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children including those in the barangay shall be confidential and all public officers and employees and public or private clinics to hospitals shall respect the right to privacy of the victim. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer, or other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member, without the latter’s consent, shall be liable to the contempt power of the court.

But what about the name of the accused? Can he ask the Court or Lawphil.net or Chanrobles.org to remove his name from these cases posted on the internet? Can he invoke his right to privacy?

In 1998, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile asked the Court to issue an order stopping the production of the movie, The Four Day Revolution. Senator Enrile alleged that if the movie would be shown, it would violate his right to privacy. However, the Court ruled that:

The right of privacy like freedom of expression is not an absolute right. A limited intrusion into a person’s privacy has long been regarded as permissable when that person is a public figure and the information sought constitute matters of public character. The right of privacy cannot be invoked to resist publication and dissemination of matters of public interest (160 SCRA 861 [1988]).

Well, this is not far from publications of jurisprudence, laws and statutes. Court decisions are kept in the records and the Court allows the public to access them. Laws are required to be published in the Official Gazette. President Fidel V. Ramos issued an Administrative Order directing agencies to allow the public an access to public records and documents that are of public interest. That is transparency. However, up to what extent should this “transparency” be applied and availed of by the public? Doesn’t this also violate the right to privacy of the people mentioned in those public documents? Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that:

The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

Right to Information does not extend to all information. What the law grants is the right to information that concerns public interest. The example cited above discloses the identity of the accused but not of the victim. The case is of public interest because the crime committed is against the millions of Filipinos versus the accused. As for the case of Senator Enrile, he cannot invoke his right to privacy because Filipinos have the right to information as to the Philippine revolutions. It forms part of history, thus forms part of the lives of the Filipino people.

The right to information as against the right to privacy, the former supersedes the latter when it is of public importance. Court jurisprudences are of public interest because not only it is the basis of future cases but it informs the public of the possible harm the persons in the case may cause. It does not however include transparency to bank accounts of private citizens, names of Rape victims and those violations against children and women, and matters that are personal and does not in any way involve the public. Right to information has its limitations and the laws and statutes provide such.

Victims of rape and violence against women and children may invoke their right to privacy. But the accused cannot invoke such right. It somehow forms part of his punishment; his commission of the crime humiliates his person in return. For plaintiffs of civil cases, they have submitted themselves to the court and they form part of the records of the court, thus accessible to the public.


References:

  • People of the Philippines vs. Nilo G.R. No. 193482 March 2, 2011
  • Ayer Production Pty. Ltd. v Capulong (160 SCRA 861 [1988])
  • Republic Act 9262: AN ACT DEFINING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN, PROVIDING FOR PROTECTIVE MEASURES FOR VICTIMS, PRESCRIBING PENALTIES THEREFORE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
  • Article III of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines
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