January 10, 2009 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

It started out as a young woman’s personal Blog; of Bambee Dela Paz, it has became a chain email that has reached tens of millions of people all over the world. Such is now the power and reach of citizen journalism.

From The BBC, Fox News, SkyNews in London to most of the worlds major news papers – all quoting a gripping account – albeit – her view of the alleged beating incident now a world famous account that has in a eyes of some become a battle versus David and Goliaths.

I believe that this story will now go to another level. After the filing a libel suit versus the blog writer – which – as expected is shortly also to be major internaltional news story all over agian.

[] … Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. on Friday said his son, Nasser Jr., has already filed a libel case against the daughter of Delfin de la Paz over her blog entry about the golf course brawl in Antipolo City last December 26…. GMANews.tv []

The law suit; is the  legal right of person who seeks a redress of a grievence – in real political terms in small towns and cities a move that a local political figure must do to prove to his or her constituents in far flung areas that they are fighting back versus the alleged article or thought that hurt thier name or image. It is not the first Blog ever sued in the Philippines – but – this case is certainly the in my view going to be one of closest watched.

It is the Mayors legal right to do so – while it may not be the best action in terms of public opinion management tactic- in local terms for him and others in public office it is course of action that in their eyes their way to right a wrong

See the Mayor like most public figures believes Libel is way to balance out what was done to him or her. Most libel cases in the Philippines are dismissed for a lack of a key element of ‘malice’, Lawyers will tell you truth is actually not a legal defence – but malice a intent to malign or destroy the ‘the good name’ of a public figure.

A elected official normally does not stand a good chance to in libel as since they often are criticized over actions or policy while in public office. Hence, most judges are fair in viewing critics. But that is in media terms for newspapers and broadcasters who aside from what they learned in college in journalism 101 are taught the first day on the job the rights of people in stories they write.

Fairness, is often the rule in media followed being biased or slanted in ones views often results in legal issues that can create conditions for libel cases. Libel is also something every journalist worth his or her salt faces at least once in the career they do  — it is legal forum to ensure that media personalities follow the law and if you wrote or reported fairly in most cases you hae nothing to fear.

What makes this different in this case it is a blog – personal diary one shares with the world. Also there are jurisdictional issues since the blog is published on a website owned by Google who owns Blogger the venue issue exists. Yes the individual can be sued but also the publication or means used to disseminate the alleged libellous act must also fall under the venue of the court. Internet Libel cases are not new – published stories can face lawsuits all over the globe technically. But it is difficult and long process as shown by other past cases many of which are on appeal.

Take for example if a blogger on public domain like well – blogger registered his or her blog from a URL internet address outside of the country where they encoded the article where then does the issue of venue fall on the case. The servers of blogger are all over the globe. The article is not really printed. Also the use of a blog creates an entirely new forum that indeed must be addressed by law. Since the powerful tool can also be used to abuse people with the cloak of anonymity. Hence while this is not the case here in point – nor am I discussing a mater before the courts but rather the general principal of this – law suits verus new media are a interesting development and one that is complicated.

I am sure in the next 24 to 48 hours those who speak out on behalf of free speech will take up the case of the University of Cincinnati golf team member, Bambee, who is described as a ‘promising’ young golfer in the USA and her  ‘first person account’ will  now facing tough battle for writing the blog item about her version of the encounter between her family from her point of view and that of a member of the Philippine Presidents cabinet and his son a Mayor of a small town in Mindanao.

[] The world has gone crazy. So, I just had the worst day of my life.
At around 1:30 PM today, at Valley Golf and Country Club, Antipolo City, …[] Vicissitude

But in light of this I did not see Bambee’s blog searching the web – it was sent to me in an email – cut and paste from her blog the words were moved onto emails and zoomed all over the world about the chilling albeit still alleged encounter on a golf course that is now in the court.

“This is a golf course. I have been a golfer all my life, and I have never seen anything like this. NOTHING. This is hard to comprehend. And it happened to my own father and my own brother too. Right in front of my eyes….” were  among words she used to describe the events from her perspective. This became the subject of major news reports that then went on all major websites in the country in hours, picked up by the international news agencies the story has now put two groups of golfer next whose next round is in the courts.

We will monitor this story and the developments from time to time – as indeed whose-ever view you chose to believe it is a story that has interesting implications for all sides.

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