World Press Freedom Day. The Dissent.

Norman Posecion, “Untitled II”, Oil on Canvas, 122 x 91 cms., 2003. Downloaded with express permission from the site of the Kulay-Diwa Gallery at www.kulay-diwa.com , maraming salamat po!

The Dissent. From then Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato Puno Jr., Dissenting opinion, In Re Emil Jurado, A.M. No. 93-2-037 April 6, 1995:

XXXX

Quote “XXXX Indeed, nothing in the record show that any person lost faith in our system of justice because of his (Emil Jurado’s) said report. Even the losing party in G.R. No. 94374. Eastern Telephone Philippines, Inc., (ETPI) does not appear to have given any credence to the said false report. I submit that it is not every falsehood that should incur the Court’s ire, lest it runs out of righteous indignation. Indeed, gross falsehood, vicious lies, and prevarications of paid hacks cannot deceive the public any more that can they cause this Court to crumble. If we adopt the dangerous rule that we should curtail speech to stop every falsehood we might as well abolish freedom of speech for there is yet to come a man whose tongue tells only the truth. In any event, we should take comfort in the thought that falsehoods cannot destroy only truth does but only to set us free.

Quote “XXXXX Respondent is a columnist and he does not only write straight news reports but interprets events from his own distinct prism of perception. As a columnist and like any other columnist, he has his own predilections and prejudices and he bends his views in accord with his own slant of faith. I see no reason to penalize respondent for the slants in his views, however, unpleasant and irreverent they may be to the court. When we start punishing a columnist for slants in his views, we shall soon be seeking slits to look for witches among them.

XXXX

Quote “XXXX There is an appropriate remedy against abusive press newsmen. I submit, however, that the remedy is not to be too quick in wielding the power of contempt for that will certainly chain the hands of many newsmen. Abusive newsmen are bad but laundered news is worse.

Quote “Eight. Again, with due respect, I submit that the majority misappreciates the role of the press as a critic of government in a democratic society. The Constitution did not conceive the press to act as the cheerleader of government, including the judiciary. Rather, the press is the agent (footnote 29) of the people when it gathers news derogatory to those who hold the reins of government. The agency is necessary because the people must have all available information before they exercise their sovereign judgment. As well observed: “The newspapers, magazines, and other journals of the country, it is safe to say, have shed and continue to shed, more light on the public and business affairs of the nation than any other instrument of publicity; and since informed public opinion is the most potent of all restraints upon misgovernment the suppression of abridgment of the publicity afforded by a free press cannot be regarded otherwise than with grave concern.” (footnote 30). As agent of the people, the most important function of the press in a free society is to inform and it cannot inform if it is uninformed. We should be wary when the independent sources of information of the press dry up, for then the press will end up printing “praise” releases and that is no way for the people to know the truth.

Quote “In sum, I submit, that the equation chosen by  the majority has the pernicious effects of hobbling the writing hand of newsmen and of chilling the sources of information of the press. The majority can snicker against the “bleeding heart” liberalism but this is a vain attempt to use a fig leaf to conceal its niggardly regard for freedom of speech and of the press. In a large measure, I fear that the majority opinion will weaken the press as an informed and informative source of information of the sovereign people. In so doing, it will unwittingly erode the people’s right to discover the truth. The protection we give to the sanctity of the sources of information of the press is for the benefit of the people. It is designed to benefit all of us, keep us above the cloud of ignorance. Democracy cannot bloom where sovereignty is rooted on the top soil of an ignorant mass.

Quote “I vote not to hold the respondent in contempt of court.” Closed-quote. – then Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato Puno Jr., In Re Emil Jurado, A.M. No. 93-2-037 April 6, 1995.

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