Philippine blogger facing libel suit filed by former Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary

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Januray 2010- In the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a libel complaint against blogger Ella Ganda upon the request of former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Esperanza Cabral, over a blog post, published on October 21, 2009, that exposed stockpiles of unprocessed relief goods intended for victims of supertyphoon Ketsana. Blogger Ella claimed that “employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development had hoarded relief goods that were donated for the victims of the devastating Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (Ketsana) and Typhoon “Pepeng” (Parma)”.

In her blog post Ella also posted “photos of imported blankets and mats supposedly donated by foreign agencies stored in the alleged DSWD warehouse”.

According to the Inquirer.net, the libel case against Ella was “for claiming that relief goods were left to rot in a government agency warehouse“.

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On her blog, Ella reacted by saying:

It was never my intention to villify Sec. Cabral, or the good people at the DSWD. My reaction at the sight of tons of relief goods which were apparently not moving was one of anger, of helplessness and dismay.

6 comments

  • opiniononissues

    In the interest of fair play, we may want ro factor these details in when we weigh the matter at hand:

    http://jlp-law.com/blog/libel-e-internet-libel/
    In Philippine jurisdiction, the truth is not always a defense. While something is true, if the purpose is to besmirch, then liability still exists. To be liable for libel, the following elements must be shown to exist:

    (1) the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;

    Here are some photo captions in Ella’s blog:

    – Marami pang pabubulukin

    – Sige, ideretso ‘nyo ulit ‘yan sa DSWD warehouse. Para AMAG naman ang abutin ng biskwit… at sapot ng gagamba.

    – Do you mean “do not delay ang dati nang delayed”

    – Sabay tatahiin na ang sako. O di ba, parang asong tinapunan ng buto ang mga nasalanta?

    – Relief goods na ayaw yata ibigay sa mga nasalanta. Halatang-halata.

    Her Conclusion:
    Susulpot din siguro ang laman ng mga mahiwagang kahon at mapapasakamay din ng mga tao…sa ARAW NG ELEKSYON.

    (2) publication of the charge;
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (3) identity of the person defamed; and
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (4) existence of malice.

    Legal malice is a term that refers to one party’s intention to do injury to another. Malice can either be expressed or implied.

    – Expressed malice occurs when the party gives outward notice that they intend to commit a crime or some other wrong towards another.

    Nagpalabas ng directive ang pangulo. Individuals, private companies and other nations were ENCOURAGED to send their donations to DSWD. I blogged about it here (blog entry not found ).

    This PGMA directive sounded suspicious to me then. Now I know why.

    Here’s the story.

    A group of eight people, your ate Ella included, went to one of DSWD warehouses to help in repacking relief goods. We know they need volunteers pero hindi namin akalaing WALANG TAO TALAGA SA LOOB NG WAREHOUSE!

    ***Ella suspected PGMA’s directive. She went to volunteer and took photos expressly violating the instruction not to do so. She displayed these on her blog with the captions earlier mentioned.

    – Implied malice occurs when one party causes death or injury to another during the course of unlawful or disreputable actions.
    Pinagbawalan kaming kumuha ng pictures sa loob ng warehouse. I wonder why. (She took photos and published those with the abovementioned captions on her blog.)

  • opiniononissues

    In my online readings of the DSWD-blogger brouhaha, I came across two online personas who are quite insightful in the way they dissect the issue, the way they try to be balanced in their views and the way they zoom in on details that prove material to the issue at hand. Let me share them with you.

    Here are links to Danny Arao’s Posts:
    http://risingsun.dannyarao.com/2009/10/24/pahaging-sa-responsableng-blogging/
    http://risingsun.dannyarao.com/2009/11/01/pahaging-sa-responsableng-blogging-2/
    http://risingsun.dannyarao.com/2010/01/26/filipino-bloggers-should-help-decriminalize-libel/

    and Jigs Arquiza’s comments.
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/07/philippines-cabinet-member-sues-blogger/
    http://tonyocruz.com/?p=2773&cpage=2#comments

    With the media furor this issue has created and the resulting reactions from solons, it is perfunctory that we allow more room for this type of in-depth analytical blogging approach. Our reactions and non-reactions will help contribute to the Cyber Law platform these influencers (media, solons, and the blogging world) may later shape, and this DSWD-blogger case may be one benchmark they’ll base it on.

    ***I posted the links which I have come across so far regarding this timely national issue, on their sites as well.

  • @Opiniononissues,

    I am in awe at the extensive research you have done in an attempt to discredit Ella.

    Do you have a stake on this issue? What do you get from doing this seemingly ‘demolishion job’? Don’t you have other things to do than try to dismiss ella’s points in every website that supports her?

    I hope you’re not from DSWD. I do hope you’re not some spin doctors for Sec. Cabral either.

    On this post, I say, government post is a public accountability. Do your responsibilities, you make people happy and satisfied. Otherwise, bear with public scrutiny and criticism.

    Had ella not posted her “controversial” blog, would ordinary citizens care to check DSWD during that time? I guess not. People have been used not to rely solely on government agencies to do their jobs well. Proof of this is the number of volunteers NGOs and TV stations got.

    Truth is, no one completely trusts the government. In the first place, if those goods were immediately distributed those goods, this issue would not have came up.

    Now, I’m thinking, why are there people who, in their effort to SAVE FACE, need to do it at other people’s expense.

  • I am in awe at the extensive research you have done in an attempt to discredit Ella.
    Discredit? Wait, are you saying Ella’s discrediting herself? Because the truth is, if you look at the post, I just presented details viewable on her blogs and links relevant to the expose presented.

    Do you have a stake on this issue?
    Yes, the same basic stake that any net user (including you) or those affected by net users have. Interested to know what that is? Properly drafted cyber laws and and freedom of speech and expression laws founded on justice, fairness and responsibility.

    What do you get from doing this seemingly ‘demolishion job’?
    Demolition job? Oops, stop right there. Don’t project your intentions on me.
    Would hope for a better cyber law platform and responsible blogging and net ethics be a good enough answer for you? Because certainly that’s my primary motivation. And yes, fairness and discussions based on facts and not just plain outbursts.

    Don’t you have other things to do than try to dismiss ella’s points in every website that supports her?
    So researching and posting on a critical issue for the cyber arena automaticall translates to dismissing Ella’s points? Did that post dismiss her points for you? That question’s meant not in a sarcastic way. I really wanna know because truth be told, the only reason I shared it with people is for them (you included) to weigh matters, balance things out, in the light of all available details on the net.
    There are different ways of looking at those details, it just depends on how you are wired, and what principles you hold. I wouldn’t go as far as thinking for other people and imposing my views on anyone. If for you, it seems like the post dismissed Ella’s points, that’s your view of it. I’ll respect that. I, on the other hand have a different take.
    I’ve seen a lot of points and opinions and sides on the DSWD issue by surfing and researching and I know whatever I know about the issue would still be lacking as compared to what Ella, Sec. Cabral and the courts know, and that the issue will all be up to them to settle. They have all the necessary details, we only have the net, our mind, our heart and our sense of responsibility to back us up.
    If you notice there, I didn’t include any opinion, there was no conclusion. I just pasted the details I gleaned from my research, no hee-hawing about what I think it means because my only purpose is to study the issue.
    Why do I want to study the issue? Because I want to see discussions based on details and facts, i want to see discussions borne out of didactic reasoning and careful weighing of matters rather than spiteful and baseless repartees borne out of emotion or anger or flock-mentality alone.
    It would be careless to pit one side against another: bloggers vs. govt., powerful vs. non-powerful, freedom of speech vs. libel… No use in inciting anger from any of the factions. It would just compound the problem, involve more people, and distract and veer us away from the real issue.
    Bloggers vs. govt., powerful vs. non-powerful, freedom of speech vs. libel… those are really critical and general areas we shouldn’t tread unless armed with much research, studies and strong will and convictions. As I see it, we have too much of the two latter and we’re a bit lacking on the two other.
    If nobody’s gonna do the research and studies, then I will. At least the icing on the cake will be, there will be more fair and responsible discussions weighing the different sides to see, less baseless, rumor-mongering or hate-inciting discussions from ANY faction to tire my eyes on .
    It’s more interesting to read different views, different takes when you know they’re grounded on a careful dissection of the matter. Though I did but a simple research, the additonal insights I would read from those sharing opposing views doing analytical discussions would be the bonus. More insights, more learning.
    Sad that the post is being quashed because you find fault in the information being presented.
    I wonder why though when they are actually but quotes from the actual site itself and links and details on the peope who released the story to us. That would even strengthen the veracity of the report, if you choose to see it that way, wouldn’t it?
    Why quash the information if there’s nothing wrong with the story presented?
    I don’t see why you teetotalled it as dismissing Ella’s points.
    As I stated my primary premise, we all have our own opinions and take on the issue.
    I just did your research for you.
    You can do the thinking.
    You have your own mind.

    I hope you’re not from DSWD. I do hope you’re not some spin doctors for Sec. Cabral either.
    I defintely am not. Neither of the two.
    Just curious, since you’re pointing at them, are they they only ones capable of researching? Of being concerned? Of wanting fair and didactic discussions?
    For quite honestly, these were but my motivations.

    On this post, I say, government post is a public accountability. Do your responsibilities, you make people happy and satisfied. Otherwise, bear with public scrutiny and criticism.
    I’m with you on what government post should be. Not with you entirely on the logic of people approval and criticism though. You’re half-right, but half-right shouldn’t be enough, should it? We can consider the other half, too, can we?

    Had ella not posted her “controversial” blog, would ordinary citizens care to check DSWD during that time? I guess not. People have been used not to rely solely on government agencies to do their jobs well. Proof of this is the number of volunteers NGOs and TV stations got.
    No problem with Ella posting on her blog the DSWD issue, she could have done it more responsibly though, if I may say so{bracing for more attacks}. But then again that’s just my opinion . That’s as far as my opinion goes. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Stop. Fin. Mouth zipped. Peace, man, peace.

    Truth is, no one completely trusts the government. In the first place, if those goods were immediately distributed those goods, this issue would not have came up.
    Err, YOU have YOUR generalization right there. First premise, ergo, second premise. There, o, see, o?

    Now, I’m thinking, why are there people who, in their effort to SAVE FACE, need to do it at other people’s expense.
    I don’t know. Not a fan of jumping to conclusions.

    Anyway, you can just look at : http://issuesopinions.wordpress.com
    And I do hope you see that just like you, I too, have my opinion on the issue.
    It’s just that it was blown out of proportions, for what reason, i know not.
    Not fond of watching A vs. BCDEFGHIJklmnopqrstUVWxyZabc… to infinity battles.

    • Boots

      Free Speech is free speech. We are not all ‘properly trained’ in public speaking and writing. This is about using the legal system to stop free speech. this is clear and simple. Maybe someone died because the food was just left for show? why else stock pile it? photograph session. It is also interesting that only the rich and powerful use the legal system in this way. Us simple folks can’t.

  • True. Free speech is Free Speech!

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