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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Someone has to take a stand

"Freedom of expression is not absolute."

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Before the not-so-merry month of May ended, television-comedian Arnell Ignacio filed cases of Inciting to Sedition, Violation of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and Bayanihan to Heal as One Act against singer Mystica (Ruby Rose Mauanay Villanueva in real life).

However, most news items on the subject dealt mainly on only one aspect of the Arnell’s basis for filing the cases – Mystica’s incessant cursing and cussing against President Rodrigo Duterte.

In fact, most used in the news articles, to quote Arnell, was the television host’s own post in the social media, which goes, “Kapag seryoso ang issue e file na ako ng case. Hindi talakan lang sa FB. Hindi mo puede mura-murahin si presidente nang ganun-ganun lang at aatungal ka pagkatapos. Mas malala, nagyaya ka pa na pabagsakin ang gobyerno imbis na tumulong ka na lang. Yung pagmumura mo naman e parang personal ang kasalanan sa iyo, e. Kahit man lang sana sa edad nung tao e binigay mo na kahit katiting na paggalang.”

Arnell supposedly even told PEP columnist Gorgy Rula the following: “Hindi lang nila alam kung gaano kahirap ang ginagawa ngayon ng mga nasa gobyerno, tapos guguluhin niyo pa,” even surmising that the possible reason for Mystica’s rant on social media was because of her desire to attract more likes and followers.

But if those were the only basis for Arnell’s complaint, even non-lawyers like me would be inclined to believe these cases are as good as lost even before it has yet to be heard, as even the Supreme Court had ruled cussing and cursing don’t constitute criminal acts.

In its 1969 ruling on a case involving Rosauro Reyes, a terminated employee of the Navy Exchange, Sangley Point, Cavite City, the SC said “put*ngina” is “a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother.”

But browsing through the 35-page affidavit complaint filed by Arnell, who served as assistant vice president for community relations and services of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation before accepting the post of OWWA Deputy Administrator, all under the Duterte administration, Mystica, if she really uttered those words, could have been actually inciting the people to revolt against the government.

Below are some of the words, Mystica allegedly said, which Arnell used as basis in his case against the singer:

“Kaya kung sino yung sumusuporta ngayon kay Vice President Leni Robredo, let’s get out to be in full force, labanan natin itong put*nginang gobyernong ito lalong lalo na sa ating put*nginang Presidente.”

“Pero put*ngina, kung ilolock down nyo lang kami, you have to provide what we need. Otherwise, lalabas kami dyan, patayan kung patayan.”

“Go out there! At makipaglaban na lang. At kung sino ang hahadlang sa inyo para mabuhay, patayin na lang kung kinakailangan. Total pinapatay na tayo di ba?”

“It is time for Vice President Leni Robredo to fight for us.”

I understand Mystica’s frustrations. Maybe she’s disappointed with the President’s handling of the Covid-19 situation in the country based from what she supposedly said in her videos. Me, too. We’re on the same page as I am also disappointed with the government. I have been critical of the government both national and local over its relative weakness in handling the community quarantine it had ordered and the way it had prepared for the transition to the new normal.

I have criticized Duterte on the way he is tolerating Health Secretary Francisco Duque’s shortcomings in the handling of this situation, which I think could be comparable to how Noynoy Aquino spoiled Alan Purisima during his time.

I have criticized the government over alleged corruption in the distribution of the P275-billion social amelioration fund, and its earlier disregard of the middle classes.

I am cursing the government over its failure to come up with a solution to the transportation problem everyone was expecting to crop up even if it had almost three months to draft a plan.

And many of my friends, journalists or not, have also been criticizing the government and even the President. But never for once, had we called on the people to revolt or even ask them to kill someone or anyone. That’s utterly insane and outrightly seditious.

The problem sometimes with this bloggers and vloggers who like referring to them as journalists, is that they don’t know their limits. Maybe they are trying to pattern their styles after the Tulfos, hard-hitting and cussing at will. But never had any of the Tulfo brothers asked anyone to revolt or kill.

Arnell’s move to formally charge Mystica, who has taken vlogging as an alternative career to her singing, is but timely. This alone will make other blogger and vloggers realize that freedom of expression is not absolute. That as they are trying to portray themselves as alternative to mainstream media, they too must be governed by proper etiquettes, that they too must assume responsibilities for whatever they write or say.

Someone has to make a stand and make them realize those things. Arnell did just that.


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