Duterte backs decriminalization of libel; planning to help Adonis?

Nov. 16, 2007

By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed to help the Davao broadcaster
jailed for libel now that a full blown war has erupted between him and
close administration ally Congressman Prospero Nograles over what
people perceive as the first salvo of their fight for the 2010

Duterte, who is now on his last term as mayor, had spewed diatribes on
the air as he lashed at Nograles, a political rival for years although
both are allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, over issues
ranging from the recently concluded barangay elections, the Apo view
hotel casino, and the recent death of the 12-year-old girl Mariannet
Amper. He called Nograles a “liar” for putting in prison a broadcaster
who reported on the politician’s alleged affair.

“Naay uban nga motira, bastos (there are some broadcasters who don’t
choose their words when they attack you on air) but at the end of the
day, you have to ask kung nagsturya ba og tinuod (whether or not
they’re telling the truth),” the mayor said. “What’s difficult is when
you go to prison just for telling the truth.”

Duterte said he is planning to help out former Bombo broadcaster
Alexander “Lex” Adonis, jailed for libel in February this year for
reporting on the Burlesk King scandal, where, according to Court
records, Adonis had pointed to Nograles as the man who was running
naked in a Manila hotel when the husband of a woman alleged to be his
paramour caught them inside the hotel room. “I’m planning to help
out,” Duterte said, six months after Adonis was put to jail, “Just
watch out. I’m making some moves but I’m not going to reveal it now.”

The mayor, who is also an administration ally, said that his rift with
Nograles could no longer be patched up even by President
Macapagal-Arroyo, herself. The rift had started out when Nograles ran
for mayor against him twice and lost. Nograles is perceived to be
eyeing to run for mayor in the 2010 elections, when Duterte steps
down, but Nograles denies this, himself.

Adonis, who had already spent the last six months at the Davao Penal
Colony prison, has been admitted to the hospital in October and has
recently been applying for parole,” according to his wife Gladys
Adonis. His wife said Adonis was admitted to the Dapecol prison
hospital for a month after he was found “positive of some rashes in
the lung.”

His wife told reporters early last month that her husband, weak and
weighing 40 kilos now, has been feeling abandoned, depressed and
“thinking of ending his life.”

The information requiring him to appear for interview for his parole
only reached only up to the gate and never reached him on the
scheduled date, said the wife. He learned about the date twice but it
was already too late, said Gladys Adonis. “He said everybody has
already abandoned him,” she said. “He was so depressed, he wanted to
end his life.”

Adonis’ case has revived calls for the decriminalization of libel, a
law which according to the National Union of Journalists of the
Philippines (NUJP) has been increasingly used by powerful politicians
as a tool to suppress freedom of expression in the country.

“It’s different when a person tells a truth and he goes to jail,” said
Duterte, who claimed to be among the signatory for the
decriminalization of libel when he was still a legislator.

He said he is willing to help the broadcaster but he is still studying
his moves because the case has already been decided in Court.
(Germelina Lacorte/davaotoday.com)

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