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The significant role of media in the society today

By GINA DEAN-RAGUDO
September 7, 2010

“Liberal Party’s Legal Adviser Roger Casurao said that the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is the most convenient and appropriate way of approaching the problem in order to prevent the province from releasing the budget. The passage of the 2010 budget was declared null and void because the procedure adopted by the board members present was improper and illegal as it failed to meet the necessary requirement for approval which requires the majority vote of all the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.”  [ Majority pushes TRO to block budget release ]

This paragraph caught the attention and produced an adverse effect on the part of the respondents Gov. Sharee Ann Tan, et al as represented by their counsel during the hearing for the extension of the TRO filed by the petitioners Majority Floor Leader Charlie Coñejos et al in the afternoon of September 3, 2010 at RTC Branch 31 in Calbayog City.

Who would have thought that my article, a banner story of Samarnews.com published on that very day would be the last subject of argument during the TRO hearing?

I would like to share how they deliberated on it:

Respondent’s Counsel: In this press release your honor, it was stated that Liberal Party’s Legal Adviser Roger Casurao said that the TRO is the most convenient and appropriate … Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Your honor please, this is very prejudicial to our client. There is no showing that the 2010 budget was declared null and void; and also your honor, that is misleading to the public and to the constituents of the province. For that purpose your honor, may we please request the parties to give the issue for the decision of this honorable court and never give misleading information to the public.

Court:  Who wrote that article?

Respondent’s Counsel:  I believe your honor that the author of this press release was Gina Dean-Ragudo.

Then the Counsel asked the writer…

Is the statement in paragraph 2 a correct statement?

Writer’s Answer:  Yes, as stated by the legal adviser of the Liberal Party based on the interview I conducted.

Respondent’s Counsel:  Your honor, may we request the parties to prohibit them from giving press release.

Petitioner’s Counsel:  You read very well the article Mr. Counsel. Is there any showing that I said it was declared null and void by the court?

The court read the article…

Petitioner’s Counsel:  Who declared it null and void?

I will make the clarification. I said that the most convenient way of approaching the problem on this impasse now on the budget is a judicial relief. My saying… that is null and void because the board made it.  I was referring to a Letter of Disclaimer. The 7 board members declared it null and void. Is there any gag order for the board members from declaring it null and void? I never used the name of the court in declaring it null and void.

Respondent’s Counsel:  I never said that…

I would like to manifest that this be submitted for record purposes.

The use of the term press release by the respondent’s counsel is incorrect. Said article was taken from the statements of the interviewee on the interview conducted by the writer 2 days after the filing of the petition for TRO. In my own understanding, a press release is an announcement distributed to members of the press in order to supplement or replace an oral presentation, or a public statement containing information about an event that has happened or is going to happen; the announcement appeared in several newspapers or radio/television stations.

What I am trying to convey here is that – the name of the writer is posted in the article published only in Samarnews.com and the writer’s Facebook Account unless another colleague in the industry has copied (plagiarism) it verbatim.

Anyhow, the intention of the story was not to preempt the decision of the honorable court because the petition was already granted when the story was published in the website. In fact, no issue ever came out on the day when the petitioners filed the “Injunction Declaration of Nullity of Appropriation Ordinance # 13-002 Series of 2010 of the Province of Samar with a Prayer of Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order” before the court.

Furthermore, the source of the story was the Letter of Disclaimer signed by the majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan addressed to the Provincial Budget Officer. The source and the story itself did not implicate the name of the court when “null and void” issue was mentioned. The source, as the legal adviser of the Liberal Party was just conveying his legal opinion based on the Letter of Disclaimer issued by the petitioners the day after the controversial budget was approved. [ Letter of Disclaimer ]

The judiciary’s cloistered way of independence and established anti-political shield is highly regarded by the media as we are aware of our responsibility when delicate and complex issues evolve.

The intent of the story is not to mislead the public and the constituents of Samar because there was no exaggeration or “embellishment” when it was written.

Notwithstanding the effect of bringing the issue in court, the media is pleased how the people reacted to a particular subject matter. It upholds the significant role/s of media in the society. Responding to President Noy Aquino’s call in his SONA that media should be fair, truthful and elevate the level of public disclosure, we are encouraging the constituents of Samar to exercise vigilance and participation. Regardless of your political preference or “color”, we should adhere to a pattern of advocacy – take part in matters involving the “coffers” of the province. It’s not THEIR (politicians) MONEY; it’s OUR MONEY that is being deliberated upon.