Over the past few days, I have been queried by bloggers about the possibility of facing a criminal case for libel for something they post online. It seems their anxiety, in part, has been fueled by the reported filing of a libel suit by Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. against Bambee De la Paz before the Lanao del Sur Prosecutor’s Office in Marawi City. It was Bambee’s blog which brought public attention to the mauling incident at the Valley Golf Club, for which Mayor Pangandaman and his companions, including his father DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Sr., are allegedly responsible.
I have previously written about the legal ramifications of libel on the internet, which can be read here and here.
The Unlawyer has also written a lucid overview on the nature of libel as it relates to the Pangandaman-De la Paz feud. Likewise, the Cebu Daily News previously carried a comprehensive two-part article on libel, it nature, remedies and venue by Judge Gabriel T. Ingles, which can be accessed here and here.
The legal aspects of libel having been covered extensively elsewhere, I need not repeat them here. But to address the question posed by some bloggers on whether there is possibility that they can be sued for libel for something posted online, the answer is yes. There is always the chance that they might publish something (blogging is a form of electronic publication) which will offend some person or institution for which they will be hailed to court. Continue reading “The Pangandaman Libel Suit Against Bambee”→
No less than a dean of Philippine journalism and incisive political analyst Amado Doronila has acknowledged that bloggers have become a potent force for disseminating information and shaping public opinion. Writing in his regular Inquirer column, Doronila tackles “Blog Power” and what this “new” element has done to influence the direction of public discourse. He uses the example of the De La Paz – Pangandaman feud to point out the advent of a new era of citizen journalism which he considers an aspect of ” a new people power movement, lodged in the Internet, (which) has emerged and has intervened forcefully to seize the public opinion initiative“.
The encounter marked for the first time the clash between the denizens of blogdom inhabited by users of Cyberspace and the official holders of power in the formal structures of government. The golf club encounter unveiled the constituency of this new and powerful force in public opinion which was mobilized to join the fray by a blog report written by De la Paz’s daughter, Bambee, 18, who narrated the details of the assault. The report became the basis of the criminal complaint lodged by the De la Paz family ahead of the counter-complaints also alleging physical injuries and child abuse on the part of the family victimized by the Pangandamans. The counter-suit lodged by the Pangandamans, which came within hours of the complaint filed by the De la Paz family, was reduced to copycat versions after Bambee jumped the gun on the use of new technology and stole the initiative from the Pangandamans, whose experience in counter-suits has been defined by the nomenclature of old politics which favors people holding power. Continue reading “Blogging Comes of Age”→
L’ affaire Pangandaman, ten days after the incident at Valley Golf, refuses to leave the front pages. The Inquirer carries an item on page one in which Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman appeals to the public, particularly bloggers, “to stop vilifying his family” and says that he is “hurting“. He states that “the past few days have been very painful” to his family and allegedly refers to bloggers who have posted angry comments against them as the specific source of their distress. This is no doubt true, up to point. That the blogosphere played a key role in bringing the narratives of the parties to public awareness can hardly be disputed. But Secretary Pangandaman gives too much credit to the bloggers in explaining why the issue refuses to abate.
Even persons who have never heard of blogs and wouldn’t know a blogger from an illegal logger have been kept well informed of the incident and its developments, via the traditional media. Why so ? Apart from the fact that the story of the golf course fracas is compelling in itself and therefore newsworthy, there may be social and cultural factors which influence why such a relatively minor episode has grabbed a lot of attention. The factual and legal aspects of the incident are already the topic of much debate, pro and con against either party, and need not be discussed here. Just a few observations, though, on context in which the controversy rages. Continue reading “Why the Pangandaman Issue Refuses to Die or At Least Abate”→