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Column: The Greatest Strength
« on: October 17, 2016, 07:14:56 PM »
The Greatest Strength
By Atty. Aleck Francis Lim
Published on Sept. 3, 2006 - Bohol Standard

Media practitioners can now start seeing light after a long travail in a dark tunnel.

A House Bill, “predicted to lessen the use of libel suits to harass media by requiring charges to be filed at the regional trial court of the province or city where the journalist, publication or broadcast holds its principal office,” is already on its way to the Senate for deliberation.

For most of the people, this development may appear insignificant, but for us who are in the mission of exposing the workings of darkness so the light of truth can shine on our community, this report is a lovely respite.

Cebu Representative Raul Del Mar, who authored the bill, must be commended for his sensitivity to the plight of media practitioners.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its elation over the passage of the bill.

IFJ has been alarmed over the skyrocketing number of defamation charges filed by public or private individuals against journalists so they keep their pen sleeping and their mouth shut.

In a statement, IFJ president Christopher Warren said that “criminal defamation charges are getting out of control in the Philippines.”

Aside from the fact that slaughtering of our comrades has been getting out of control, the other setback of being in the media, the possibility of being haunted by libel for life, has also gone haywire.

And for a democratic society like ours, this condition threatens our freedom of speech and it threatens the propagation of truth.

What a huge headache for a journalist or mediaman for that matter when he has to travel to a distant city just to answer a libel suit. With this bill filed by Del Mar, this travel requirement can now be eliminated.

However, Del Mar’s bill is not a guarantee that we mediamen have a perpetual rest from useless libel suits. Those who hate truth can still unleash their venom until a mediaman chokes to a deathly exhaustion of his profession.

Again, for most of the citizens of our country, they may not care of the implication of the rising number of libel cases against journalists and the ascending statistics of our comrades being sent to grave.

But let me tell you this, if our country becomes an inhabitable place for journalists, you will see our society getting worse and worse everyday.

You will see more blatant corruption in the bureaucracies. You will see more evils mutating from one form to another.

One reason why corruption is sometimes kept at bay is that those who perpetrate it are afraid of being put in bad light. Those who sponsor ghostly deals are still afraid of being exposed.

The media still has a considerable power to push back the spread of fraudulent acts.

We at the Bohol Standard are ready for anything. We do not know who may blink first and attempt to harass the ideals we believe in. We keep our commitment to our readers that we will only serve the truth and the public interest no matter what the cost is.

While we welcome Del Mar’s bill and appreciate his effort, we will exert our own efforts so that we can always serve the public even when we are challenged by libel or any form of harassment.

Having two lawyers in this paper may be a strength so that we can be shielded from the flying arrow of a libel suit but our greatest strength is found in our commitment to stick to truth.

Nothing else.

Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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