Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Silence of the Lamb... err, Gonzales

After the long-delayed and much awaited decision in Chavez vs. Gonzales, the Supreme Court on February 15 finally laid to rest the issue on whether or not to air the "Hello, Garci!" proceedings. The ruling: the tapes can be aired.

Kaya pala tameme si Raul Gonzales the past few days at si Sergio Apostol na lang ang medyo maingay. Kala nga ni Tikboy, nasa hospital na naman ang lolo kasi biglang preno ang machine gun mouth sa panahon ng krisis. Yun pala, nabingi din ang Supreme Court dahil sabi ni Chief Justice Puno: We slide to the issue of whether the mere press statements of the Secretary of Justice and of the NTC in question constitute a form of content-based prior restraint that has transgressed the Constitution. In resolving we hold that it is not decisive that the press statements made by respondents were not reduced in or followed up with formal orders or circulars. It is sufficient that the press statements were made by respondents while in the exercise of their official functions. Undoubtedly, respondent Gonzales made his statements as Secretary of Justice, while the NTC issued its statement as the regulatory body of media.Any act done, such as a speech uttered, for and on behalf of the government in an official capacity is covered by the rule on prior restraint. The concept of an “act” does not limit itself to acts already converted to a formal order or official circular. Otherwise, the non formalization of an act into an official order or circular will result in the easy circumvention of the prohibition on prior restraint. The press statements at bar are acts that should be struck down as they constitute impermissible forms of prior restraints on the right to free speech and press.

There is enough evidence of chilling effect of the complained acts on record.The warnings given to media came from no less the NTC, a regulatory agency that can cancel the Certificate of Authority of the radio and broadcast media. They also came from the Secretary of Justice, the alter ego of the Executive, who wields the awesome power to prosecute those perceived to be violating the laws of the land.

Ang tanong lang, matututo kaya si Gonzales sa nangyari? That we don't know. Pero me kasabihan: You can't teach old dogs with new tricks.

Sabagay, di naman aso si Gonzales. Pero yung kapitbahay ni Tikboy na si Aling Gloria, me aso na ang pangalan Raul. Kumahakol din yun lagi pero hindi sa may-ari. Lagi kasing binibigyan ni Aling Gloria ng buto si Raul, eh.

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