Out Of My Cubbyhole To Engage Estrada-Supreme Court!

Q: How come Senator Jinggoy Estrada was confrontationalestrada towards Senator Teofisto Guingona III but not towards Ruby Tuason?

A:  Because he cannot afford to stand in the same frame with Ms. Tuason — one is credible the other, incredible.

Senator Estrada hunkered down somewhere during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing instead of joining the session so he can grill his accuser,  only to complain later that Senator Guingona had prejudged his case already. His presence in the hearing was crucial but he opted to snob it then only to prevaricate when Ms. Tuason was through accusing him of pocketing millions of PDAF kickbacks.

In a lighter note, Senator Estrada has a very unhygienic eating habit — that of gorging “pansit” and burgers with meat cake wrapped in public money bills.

Q:  How come the SC did not strike down cyber libel as unconstitutional? –

A:  Because our legal luminaries are incapable of reaching the intellectual heights of Thomas Jefferson.  The SC should have distinguished “libel” against “public officials” and “libel” against “private individuals.”  Because if it is a public servant who was at the receiving end,  Jefferson does not believe it is to be encouraged by giving teeth to it.jefferson

Prior to becoming the 3rd U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809), served as Governor of Virginia,  Delegate to the Continental Congress, wrote the Declaration of Independence of 1776,  Vice President under John Adam’s Presidency,   Minister to France, and Secretary of State under Washington.  He was a public servant most of his adult life.

Jefferson was pilloried by the press during his time.  But his firm belief in the capacity of the people to sift through the lies and calumnies of the press  will bring him in good stead. He does not believe that public officials should get back at the press and looked at its venom as a risk a public official must condone.

At the very early period of my life, I determined never to put a sentence into any newspaper.  I have religiously adhered to the resolution through my life, and have great reason to be contented with it. Were I to undertake to answer the calumnies of the newspapers, it would be more than all my own time & that of 20 aids could effect. For while I should be answering one, twenty new ones would be invented.  I have thought it better to trust the justice of my countrymen, that they would judge me by what they see of my conduct on the stage where they have placed me, & what they knew of me before the epoch since which a particular party has supposed it might answer some view of theirs to vilify me in the public eye. Some, I know, will not reflect how apocryphal is the testimony of the enemies so palpably betraying the views with which they give it. But this is an injury to which duty requires everyone one to submit which the public think proper to call into its councils. I thank you, my dear Sir, for the interest you have taken for me on this occasion. Though I have made up my mind not to suffer calumny to disturb my tranquility, yet I retain all my sensibilities for the approbation of the good & just.  That is, indeed, the chief consolation for the hatred of so many, who without the least personal knowledge, & on the sacred evidence of Porcupine & Fenno alone, cover me with their implacable hatred.  The only return I will ever make them will be doing them all the good I can, in spite of their teeth.”  (Letter to Samuel Smith, Aug. 22, 1798).

Note:  Porcupine and Fenno were the lampooners and satirists during Jefferson’s time.

Press freedom, according to the wisdom of the ages is better abused than curtailed.

Contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court is not the zealous guardian of the civil liberties of the people.

Letter of Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Ritche, Dec. 25, 1820 with a heading:   “Judicial Subversion”

Compared to Congress,  the Judiciary is more fearsome.

 “But it is not from this branch of government  we have most to fear.  Taxes and short elections will keep them right. The judiciary of the United States is the subtle  corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” 

Jefferson does not believe in censorship which would be the  ultimate objective of the cybercrime libel fleshed recently with constitutional muscle by the Philippine Supreme Court.

“I am persuaded  myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but soon will correct themselves.  The people are only the censors of their governors; even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution.   To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty.  The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people.  The basis of our governments being the opinion of  the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it be left to me to decide whether we should have a government  without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

4 thoughts on “Out Of My Cubbyhole To Engage Estrada-Supreme Court!

  1. Good to have your modest and mild voice back, soothing – or is it seething? – our interesting times. I think on libel, the Supreme Court took the easy road, looking at the established libel law and saying the cybercrime section is merely a clarification of that law. Challenge about libel and public office holders should probably have been made to the original law when it was passed, or when the first libel case was filed by a public office-holder. I think a public official would be lunatic to file a libel case against anyone (like an outspoken blogger) unless the attacker is making the most malignant and tangibly harmful of slurs because the backbite would be horrid, from the press and academicians and free-speakers such as yourself and myself.

    • Joeam, When something is constitutionally reprehensible prescription does not run. The long unchallenged RPC libel must be reexamined in this age of technology. The SC must encourage debate rather than discourage it. Most States in the U.S. treat libel as a tort, not a crime.

      According to Thomas Jefferson, the calumny of the press is a necessity of life, like a dish of a tea in the morning or evening cannot be digested without this stimulant. “The culprit is not the slanderer who prints, but he who pays for the printing.”

      “Where reason is free to combat the calumny, the press should be let alone in its business.” paraphrasing T. Jefferson.

      • Oh, I agree entirely. But it seems to me the ball is with the legislature or parties injured under RPC accusation, not the Court. Someone other than the Court has to initiate the challenge. I think the Court did a good job dancing between the various interests on cybercrime. I also think new laws will be passed (decriminalization).

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