Nueva Ecija radio station slams raps filed by local government officials
This satellite image shows Guimba in Nueva Ecija
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Nueva Ecija radio station slams raps filed by local government officials
(Philstar.com) - August 20, 2020 - 7:14pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:03 p.m., August 23) — A community radio station in Nueva Ecija slammed the filing of charges against the management and its staffers by local government officials as a clear case of harassment.

“Hindi kami mananahimik (We will not stay silent), ” Gie Herrera, Radyo Natin Guimba station manager, said in a briefing Thursday.

Radyo Natin Guimba, a community radio station under Manila Broadcasting Company, is facing a complaint for cyber-libel and violation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act filed by Guimba Mayor Jose Dizon.

The complaint stemmed from the radio station’s report on the municipality’s supplemental budget for its COVID-19 response, which was posted on RNG’s Facebook account. RNG reported that the town’s Sangguniang Bayan deliberated a supposedly approved supplemental budget worth P16 million.

Dizon, in his complaint, claimed the report was inaccurate and misleading, causing “undue chaos, confusion, panic and angered our constituents.” But Ericson Dela Cruz, RNG’s legal counsel, said they have a record of where the alleged false report was discussed.

“The story was basically a mere transcription of a video record of the April 20 municipal council session where they deliberated on the P16-million fund, which was approved as ‘savings.’ No libel here, unless the intention is to harass and silence the critical media,” Dela Cruz told Philstar.com in a text message.

The mayor’s camp over the weekend denied that filing the compaint against Radyo Natin Guimba was a form of harassment and suppression of media freedom.

“Paano natin nasabing sinikil ang kanilang press freedom samantalanag matagal na silang panahong umeere sa Guimba, binabatikos ang admin pero never naman kaming nag-file. This time nung nag-file kami, harassment na?” Sherwin Jonathan Guiuo, Dizon’s spokesperson, said.

He added it was the town’s Sangguniang Bayan that authorized Dizon to file complaint against the radio station.

Relief ops

The town mayor also took issue with the radio station’s relief operations, saying these were conducted without proper coordination with the LGU. He also claimed photos of senior citizens holding placards containing words such as “Help us,” “Nasaan po ayuda sa amin,” among others also caused undue chaos and confusion in the community.

The provision of RA 11469 that was alleged to have been violated by RNG provides:

Section 6 (f) of Republic Act 11468 punishes “individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear or confusion.”

Those found violating this provision may face two months imprisonment or a fine of not less than P10,000. Courts may also impose a fine of up to P1 million.

RNG and other community leaders who were part of the relief operations are also facing a separate complaint for the alleged violation of Bayanihan Act filed by Rolanda Domingo, the chair of Barangay Manacsac in Guimba.

But Dela Cruz stressed the words written on the placards were legitimate calls and demands of the people, and did not constitute the act of spreading false information about the COVID-19 crisis.

“Nakakatuwa ‘yung pagsasampa ng kasong ito sapagkat ang ginawa lamang ng ating kliyente ay magpahayag ng kanilang nararamdaman alinsunod sa mga batayang karapatan nila na sinasaad ng ating Saligang Batas,” the legal counsel said.

(The filing of the case was funny because what out clients did was to express their feelings and was well within their rights as stated in our Constitution.)

'Silencing the messenger'

Dela Cruz said his clients will file administrative and criminal complaints against the LGU officials.

Herrera is also hopeful that the charges against the radio station will be dismissed because of the “weak” grounds of the complaints.

“Ang katotohanan ang siyang lalabas sa aming mga bibig. Sa tulong ng mikropono at ere, maririnig ang salaysay ng mamamayan at malalantad ang mga programa’t proyekto ng gobyerno,” the radio manager said.

(The truth will come out of our mouths. With the help of microphone and airwaves, the plight of ordinary citizen will be heard and the programs and projects of the government will be bared.)

“Kung titigil at mananahimik ang media siguro mas lalong matatakot at mananahimik yung mamamayan natin,” she added.

(If the media will stop and be silenced, the ordinary citizens will get afraid and keep quiet.) — Gaea Katreena Cabico 

BAYANIHAN TO HEAL AS ONE ACT CYBER LIBEL NUEVA ECIJA
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