Of leftist ‘scoundrels’ and ‘fascists’

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Leftist partylisters who are constant critics of the Duterte administration really should stop trying to create a molehill and turn it into a mountain mostly just to get media mileage and, of course, yet another opportunity for them to demonize the current government where the opposition is a minority and remains in such minority groups for a long time.

Their latest salvo against President Duterte echoes the salvos of both human rights groups and other international agencies, such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, all of which have condemned the President and his administration for the move to arrest journalist Maria Ressa for the alleged violation of the constitutional freedom of the press and expression without basis, as well as the two leftist lawmakers, stating that “harassing journalists and putting critics in jail were the refuge of fascists and scoundrels.

The two leftist partylisters, ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, in separate statements issued to media, condemned the Duterte administration for its alleged violation of the “freedom of the press and expression” and that “harassing journalists and putting critics in jail were the refuge of fascists and scoundrels.”

Ressa’s Rappler, Tinio said, is not the only target of government but other newspapers and broadcast media Duterte does not like.

Villarin, the other partylister, issued a statement saying “the arrest warrant issued against Maria Ressa was a sure sign that the Duterte administration wanted to throw this country into obscurity and darkness.”

In his bid to portray himself as a libertarian, Villarin added: “I stand with Maria Ressa and Rappler against this obnoxious tax evasion case,” as he referred to the charges that were filed against her.

These leftist partylisters even included other non-journalist critics, such as their leftist colleagues who were charged with kidnapping and trafficking of schoolchildren. They crab about this arrest, yet they were even given bail by a judge even before charges were filed against them. That’s bringing the country to darkness?

Truth is, these leftists don’t seem to know the difference between freedom of the press and expression and a legitimate right of the government or anyone else to file cases against journalists.

To cite a very clear example: how can they claim that Ressa and Rappler are being harassed by Duterte and his administration though the filing of tax cases against her then claim that such a government move is violating the freedom of the press and expression and putting critics in jail, even term such acts as the refuge for scoundrels and fascists?

A tax case has been filed against Ressa. There was a warrant of arrest issued and bail was granted. She was never arrested as she voluntarily surrendered and paid for her bail bond. She cannot be jailed as the alleged tax offense is a bailable crime which means she enjoys temporary freedom and can only face jail if convicted by the Supreme Court.

Ressa’s alleged offense, however, is not a case of a constitutional violation of press freedom. Far from it. The tax case has nothing to do with press freedom and expression.

But if such is how these leftists translate a violation of press freedom, then they and all other politicians in the House and the Senate who sue journalists for criminal libel are, to quote Villarin, “scoundrels and fascists,” since leftists see this as a violation of the freedom of the press. And to think that they ensure criminal libel suits against journalists and refuse to decriminalize this while they enjoy immunity from libel and other lawsuits.

The reason of most of the congressional “scoundrels” and “fascists” is merely to harass journalists who criticize them. Then, too, they file criminal libel suits against their Manila media critics in some faraway province or municipality instead of their residences in Metro Manila where they work when they could easily sue them using the address of the newspaper concerned.

Moreover, these congressional “scoundrels” like filing criminal libel suits against journalists because they don’t spend a single cent in such cases while demanding tens of millions in damages. They hardly ever file civil libel against journalists because they have to pay a percentage of the damages they seek, plus, plus.

These critics whose political life appears to revolve around thinking up ways and means to bring down a government they dislike and whose burning ambition is to be in power and position should remember their silence when a real case against press freedom was so violated by the claimed “icon of democracy,” the President the yellows elevated to political sainthood, Cory Aquino, who was a confirmed violator of press freedom. She, an absolute dictator then, ordered the closure of an opposition newspaper, the then Daily Express, never to be reopened, as the broadsheet was a fierce critic of her administration.

So, did all these international critics, these other media rights group and even the local media that had turned yellow ever condemn the “sainted” Cory Aquino for violating the freedom of the press under her “Freedom Constitution” which was a sham?

They should think first before they speak or at least look at themselves in the mirror and realize they are the true scoundrels and fascists.

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