Jailed Davao broadcaster too poor to afford a lawyer asks for help

Dec. 08, 2007

Davao Penal Colony, Davao If media persons in Manila are raising a howl for being detained for hours without committing a crime, imagine how hard it would be for one to be sentenced to about six years in prison just because one could not afford a lawyer.

Thus, former broadcaster Alexander “Lex Adonis has brought his case to his colleagues in Manila, Davao and all over the country now that the media industry is raising a collective protest over the temporary detention of about 30 journalists and media persons who covered the Nov. 29 coup at the Manila Peninsula Hotel.

“Now I know that you know how it feels to be jailed for no crime at all against a person or the society. That was what happened to me when I was convicted of libel filed by Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles of Davao City, Adonis said in a letter sent to his media colleagues.

In January, a court in Davao sentenced Adonis, 43, to five years and six months in jail after he absconded his right to present his side on the libel case filed against him by Nograles in 2001.

The case stemmed from the reports and commentaries on the part of Adonis and other national reporters and broadcasters relative to the “Burlesque King scandal. Court records show that the reports tagged Nograles as the congressman allegedly seen running naked in a hotel in Manila after the husband of the solons paramour caught them in bed.

The libel case filed against the others who reported the incident was dismissed, but Adonis was convicted because he was tried and sentenced in absentia. Adonis later claimed that he went on absence without leave (Awol) as a Radio Bombo-Davao broadcaster because he could not afford a lawyer.

He also said his salary of P7,500 could hardly make both ends meet because he had to balance his limited time and resources providing for his familys needs and his court appearances.

“Although I did not rape, kill or commit any crime, Ive been languishing in jail for six months now because I only performed my duty to report to the people matters involving public issues and public officials like Rep. Nograles.

“I appeal to you that as you go to court to fight for the right of media persons to report the truth, please bring with you my case because I have about four years more to spend in jail he said.

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