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Credibility in Blogging and the Libel Suit Against Blogger, Bambee de la Paz

Credibility in Blogging

Edit- Added January 14
If you came here because of an entry written by Manuel Viloria in “Credibility in Blogging”, let me make it clear. I don’t give a hoot if I have credibility or not. You can have it, Manuel Viloria. I can stop blogging today and still continue on with my goals in life. (edit on January 16, 2009Watch the Media in Focus episode on de la paz and Blogging, as I talk more about Credibility in Blogging.)

Manuel Viloria, author of that entry, Obliterated and “Credibility in Blogging” should offer a disclosure as well. (edit- January 17, 2009- Manuel Viloria and I discussed things personally and I felt he need not disclose anything if there is nothing to disclose. There is no feud. We agree to disagree. )

And now the main entry….

If I am not mistaken, I believe this is the first libel case filed against a blogger because of their blog entry. Another blogger survived a libel case but it was not about an entry he wrote but as the webhost of a libelous entry. The latter case was dismissed.

Now I am not a lawyer but let’s define libel.

For an imputation then to be libelous, the following requisites must concur: (a) it must be defamatory; (b) it must be malicious; (c) it must be given publicity; and (d) the victim must be identifiable.

Does your blog fit those requisites?

A link baiter insinuated that I edited an adjective to avoid defamation charges. Let me refer to this person as Mr. Link Baiter. Why? A certain Baycas posted comments in my blog entry that a Mr. Link Baiter was talking about me. Baycas made sure I read the entry by commenting twice. I went to Mr. Link Baiter’s site and was about to comment but noticed that the comments section was closed. ( Update: Read one of the defenses against libel — the right to reply at the Jester in Exile’s The Right to Bitch…) Now, how did Baycas, the anonymous commenter know it was my blog when no hyperlink of my site was on that entry.

Oh well, excuse me, Mr. Link Baiter, this is my blog and I have every right to edit and change adjectives as I deem fit without changing the essence of the sentence. (Mr. Link Baiter does not deserve a link love but I am sure an anonymous commenter will soon post the link in your blog.) I have also every right to edit, delete and filter comments as I please.

Yes, I changed “equally dysfunctional” to “Peacemaker Appointee” to show the irony of the situation as the DAR Chief looked on as his son beat up the kid and the father. I found out the DAR chief was a Peacemaker appointee only the following day so I thought it was an even better description. I also forgot to edit my Multiply but who cares? Mr. Link Baiter took it the wrong way. Taken alone, the “equally dysfunctional” sounds a lot bolder than the “Peacemaker Appointee” but the context of my sentence did not change.

The edited sentence is as good as the original.

I want to hear the mayor’s side and why his father (a Peacemaker appointee) looked the other way. I’d like to know why the mayor should not be charged for violating the RA 7610, the anti-child abuse law.

Original sentence was:

I want to hear the mayor’s side and why his equally dysfunctional father looked the other way. I’d like to know why the mayor should not be charged for violating the RA 7610, the anti-child abuse law.

(Edit:Placed original sentence for comparison. Incidentally, Valley Golf Club suspended DAR Chief’s membership for two years because he “was held liable for allegedly allowing the actions of his two sons” Those people who love to nitpick on my usage of words above and how they claim my stand is softened and so with my “pre-judgment” , really now, the Valley Golf findings affirm that the DAR chief just looked on. It’s what you call a mother’s gut feeling. So nitpick all you want, the truth will come out in the end.)

Whether I changed a word or not, my stand remains. It never changed.

I condemn the action taken on the 14 year old boy trying to defend a father.

I condemn the abuse of authority.

On a final note, Mr. Link Baiter needs to read more on defamatory imputation before judging my blog entry.

Philippine law also presumes every defamatory imputation to be malicious, even if true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown (Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code). Malice exists when there is an intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause.

But let’s see how the libel suit against Bambee prospers. This will surely set a precedent case for libel and blogging.

My husband has more to say about the libel suit in his entry The Pangandaman Libel Suit Against Bambee and here’s an interesting read on one of the defenses against libel — the right to reply at the Jester in Exile’s The Right to Bitch…

Valley Golf expels Dela Paz, suspends Pangandaman Sr

The Valley Golf Findings are relevant. As reported by Valley Golf expels Dela Paz, suspends Pangandaman Sr:

1. The golf course’s board of directors sanctioned Dela Paz for ““disorderly behavior” when he instigated the brawl with Masiu town Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr., his brother Mohammed Hussein and their bodyguards.

2. The Valley Golf officials banned non-members Nasser Jr. and Hussein for “unruly behavior” inside the golf course.

3. Pangandaman Sr., a member of the golf club, was held liable for allegedly allowing the actions of his two sons.

Valley Golf’s resolution seems fair. Right now, I’d like to see government take the same decisive actions.

Edit January 12, 2009- Dela Paz says Valley Golf decision unfair

Dela Paz says Valley Golf decision unfair

“It’s too unfair. We were expelled. What will be the future of my 14-year old? What will happen to his golfing career? They (Pangandamans) have a lot to pay to golf courses, we don’t have that much money. Valley’s decision is too unfair, they should’ve been objective in their investigation,” dela Paz told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

“What they did to us was very vindictive, they made it appear that they’re only believing the testimony of the other side, which is nothing but lies,” he added.

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33 thoughts on “Credibility in Blogging and the Libel Suit Against Blogger, Bambee de la Paz”

  1. I followed BLEEP’s link on his “Obliterated…” blog post when I was Google Blog searching.

    Google “dysfunctional pangandaman” and it will lead to Filipina Mom Blogger’s blog. Not contented with that, please try googling “dysfunctional bambee.”

    Google still has a cached link of the unedited multiply version. Who knows until when…

    edit- link removed no link love here.

    1. People can accuse me of so many things but in the end, my gut feel got affirmed. The Peacemaker appointee just looked on as his sons misbehaved and beat up the de la paz TWICE.

      Now Valley golf is just an internal investigation so criminal proceedings are another aspect.

  2. I didn’t think you changed or softened your stand, Ms. Noemi. The issues were very clear from the start as you pointed out. I read the papers today and saw that sanctions were already applied to the DAR chief, the de la paz and the two sons. It’s just an internal report but it shows the boy and father were mauled and Pangandaman Sr allowed the actions.

    1. Those criticisms are all water under the bridge after Valley Golf released its conclusion. However,

      de la paz thinks it is unfair

      “It’s too unfair. We were expelled. What will be the future of my 14-year old? What will happen to his golfing career? They (Pangandamans) have a lot to pay to golf courses, we don’t have that much money. Valley’s decision is too unfair, they should’ve been objective in their investigation,” dela Paz told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

        1. if they feel my sentence is libelous, let them file a case.

          People think that just because of one word, they can judge already that it is defamatory. Look at the big picture. The whole entry took both sides into consideration because of the comments.

  3. Noemi, I agree with a lot of what Viloria has to say. Blogging has always been criticized for the lack of accountability for its publishers and writers ever since its early years. All these criticisms are just repitions.

    But anyway, about the Valley Golf findings. Please be reminded that Bambee’s blog was very critical and even accusatory of the Valley Golf staffs. NO ONE has pointed it out yet so allow me to do so. Valley Golf I believe is settling score with the banning of the father. He said in an interview he was berated by VG people. I think it has a lot to do with Bambee’s entry, what she pointed out there.

    I dunno why I’m always the one who has to be completely fair 🙂

    BrianBs last blog post..Nevena Tsoneva

    1. I value your comments BrianB because you are a regular reader of my blog. However, you don’t know the history of the person who wrote that entry and let’s leave it at that. not to mention the other people who love to pick that kind of story angle about me and create more drama in their lives.

      I made my stand and stand by it. And people will try to dissect my words all the time, tear it to bits…but at the end of the day, the essence remains….but geesh,

      Hello, the real issue is NOT about me. It’s the Pangandaman versus de la paz. Suddenly , credibility in blogging is questioned. My goodness, I don’t give a damn if I am not a blogger tomorrow. I don’t need this affirmation.

      One more thing, I might have made the blunder of not disclosing my edits…wow big deal! but never will I invade your privacy. I am really annoyed right now that someone violated my privacy in plurk. Not a nice thing to do. And I have every right to be annoyed.

      Now about the Valley Golf, I am not very privy to the investigation. If their investigation was done right, I believe their decision is fair.

  4. Well, if findings were fair wouldn’t that make Bambee truly liable for libel? Her account would be a total falsity. She can’t simply reason it’s her take on the event because the details are all wrong and certainly malicious.

    Besides, police investigation wouldn’t be any better than the internal investigation, meaning the internal investigation, give or take a few choice phrases could easily become the official police findings.

    BrianBs last blog post..Nevena Tsoneva

    1. Honestly, even if it is libelous, Bambee will have to prove that she wrote the entry for a justifiable reason. Just cause.

      Have you read Jester’s entry?

      Reading all those posts about libel vis-a-vis blog posts, I think that perhaps some folks have forgotten about one of the defenses against libel — the right to reply. Here I’ll talk a little about that.


      See, one of the defenses of any publication is that they provide space for aggrieved parties to refute the contents of any story, via Letters to the Editor spaces or similar. Providing such a space ensures that news reports and opinion columns can and have been corrected and contradicted by ordinary people, involved or otherwise, about whatever has been published.

      I believe that had the Pangandamans demonstrated that they had exercised their right to reply in a timely manner, their libel case would be strong and very difficult to assail. As it stands, the judge could very well say, “What took you so long to react?” and the libel case could be construed as merely a means of harassment.

      the Mayor had all the time to reply to those allegations from Bambee’s blog but apparently, all we heard were statements from his father.

  5. About Jester’s comment. It’s uninformed. No judge expects complainants to give their side immediately. Kaya nga may mga abogado. The police may do that during investigation but for the judge the sides are weighed not by the “timeliness” of the response. Only consistency, credibility and plausibility matters (and why should speediness matter at all to Jester boggles my mind, daming taong mabilis magsinungaling, may istorya kaagad) and I don’t think a complainant is less credible to the judge just because he used lawyers. Besides, as far as the real event Bambee’s blog post is already moot and academic considering the VG findings. Pangandamans could even say in their defense the post was so unfair and malicious they saw no point trying to correct the POV.

    Pangandaman could also merely state that blogs are Greek to him. Being Internet shy is a good enough defense for not replying via the medium. Bloggers cannot simply insist the Pangandamans reply on blogs. What’s wrong with statements on radio?

    And didn’t I try to make the case early on when this thing blew up that bloggers should focus on the wider angle, including a specific law protecting citizens against trigger happy bodyguards. Ordinary citizens shouldn’t just rely on the militaristic “rules of engagement.” Dapat meron talaga tayong sariling batas laban sa mga armas na tayo mismo gumawa based on our own perspective. Ang rules of engagement, that comes from the military. No one says we cannot make our own laws regarding how guns should be used in public, never mind these rules of engagement.

    BrianBs last blog post..Nevena Tsoneva

    1. I believe before the case even goes to the judge, it passes through a prosecutor. They will establish prima facie evidence that indeed, the libel suit is valid. But I am not a lawyer and I just know how cases are brought to court. I have seen a libel case thrown out even before it reached the courts due to lack of evidence. The burden of proof lies on Bambee or her lawyer.

      The wider angle is abuse of authority which I already established but didn’t get down to the details about rules of engagement. About guns, I think each establishment sets those rules. I see them in every country club, banks, restaurants etc. I don’t know why Valley Golf didn’t ask them to surrender their weapons. The Valley Golf seems to be silent on that matter.

  6. Actually the bigger issue here is the pathetic state of politics in the Philippines wherein those in the cheat errr seat of power can get away with abuse of power and get away with it…….. Although, I believe there is grounds for libel when there is a malicious imputation…. no, I don’t mean the Pangandamans… I meant the gorillas are unfairly portrayed as the Pangandamans when A. Doronilla states that gorillas are cavorting in the green………

    1. You’re right about the state of politics in our country. The abuse of authority in this incident is what struck the public minds.

      I am not a lawyer but Amando Doronilla is a veteran journalist and should know what defamatory imputation means. Words taken alone look like they are malicious but the libelous material should be taken as a whole.

      For instance, the word “equally dysfunctional” which I removed seems to most ignoramus as defamatory but my whole entry takes in account the two sides fairly because of the comments section. So where are the grounds for libel?

  7. Noemi,

    I am actually joking when I say Doronilla is liable to the Gorillas not Pangandamans….. because the libel case is a big joke. What can I say, the Philippine libel law is just one of the instruments available to those in the seat of power to intimidate those who dare stand against them.

    As far as bloggers credibility is concerned yes the credibility of those who think they are fair should have their moral compass examined and not the bloggers collectively expressing their outrage over the barbarity.

    Who the aggressor or who started the brawl is not important but a high ranking official not only did not prevent the beatings but if Fortun is right that the elder gorilla errr Pangandaman was hurling invectives against the victim is truly a disgrace and unworthy to be a pubic servant. In civilized society errant behavior such as shown by the Pangandamans would merit resignation but not in the Philippines because they have more than “willing” or perhaps gullible enough to fall for the unjustifiable rationalization of the mauling.

  8. Pingback: A Disproportionate Response?

  9. 1. Blogging is a right to self expression. Your blog is yours.Your opinion is yours. Your sources are yours. Everyone has a right to blog whatever he/she/whatever wants. If some people are “offended” they can start their own blog or go to… nevermind.
    2. I am so sick about the fact that bloggers are “upset” by other blogs. I think a mark of a really GREAT blog is one that can upset btw…
    3. Libel? duh? This is the internet. George W Bush couldn’t do anything about bloggers nor did he try because at least, he was wise enuf to know that no person can control cyberspace.
    4.I say that if one is upset or offended about another’s blog,he/she/whatever should not go to THAT blog. It’s that simple.
    5. It is always assumed that the one in power is more prone to do more abuse. Do I need to say more?

    See — know your bloggers rights!

  10. Try and get a US server. I doubt the “libel” thingy however because if this were trur, can you imagine how many bloggers would be arrested or sued for libel for urging Philippine President Arroyo to resign? I say go on blogging because it is therapeutic and it does more good than harm. After all, what do you guys have against those wackos in power except your blogs?
    I wish, really wish, there were words I can say about the case of your son. I wish to find “comforting words” but I know that NOTHING I can say can comfort you. I wish you justice..peace and closure.

  11. Blog is good, can bring out something within you, as blogsurd said its “therapeutic,” good for the health and giving you a sense of freedom. However, let us be careful as well in choosing our languages, it must be libel-free. We can point out something in the blog favoring the other but shouldn’t be defamatory against the other.

    Let us be reminded that we are a free country that anybody can file a libel against you regardless of the nature basta maka kita ng butas, kagaya ng ginawa ni Bambee, lawyers are good at that. But the point is, it’s time consuming and distressful and very expensive kahit sabihin mo you have a freedom of expression.

    I agree about your ideals on the usage of blogging but in reality, we must also be aware of the repercussions. We know Pres Bush or GMA can handle attacks in the blog, no wonder they are Presidents, highest position in the land, it takes to have a very strong of sense of understanding to be one. But let us take into consideration that not all blog readers are president.

  12. “We know Pres Bush or GMA can handle attacks in the blog, no wonder they are Presidents, highest position in the land, it takes to have a very strong of sense of understanding to be one. But let us take into consideration that not all blog readers are president.”

    So we can all pick on presidents only and not mayors? What if the two are equally abusive? We exempt the mayor because he is a “little oficial” and we go on attacking just presidents? I don’t get IT????

    1. Blogsurd, you really don’t get it becoz I really don’t expect any reaction on that about the pres, its just a rethorical one. No further discussion on it.

      My point is, we just be careful on our expressions that we might offend libelously to somebody else, so lets treat everybody equally regardless of the status, meaning going back to the basics.

      Mag set ka ng basic rule na pang kalahatan sa pamamagitan ng pag iingat, nagkataon lang na me mga taong mga malakas ang pag unawa na gaya ng mga presidente, sa bagay, hindi ka naman magiging presidente kung mahina ang pag unawa mo, yun yun!!!!

      gets mo na?

  13. On the libel law, fair comment destroys the presumption of malice.

    Fair comment is defined as a statement based on honest opinion about a matter of public concern.

    The lawyerese is to say that fair comment gives the blogger a qualified privilege. But the injured party can still win in a criminal libel action if he can prove malice beyond reasonable doubt, which is not easy since malice in a libel suit is difficult to prove. You need evidence other than the alleged defamatory piece. .

    I would guess that Bambee is protected by qualified privilege. So are bloggers blogging in good faith, who can also use Art. 11, para. 6, of the Revised Penal Code (it is a justifying circumstance if you are lawfully exercising a right). You can have an honest though extreme opinion. That is protected by the free speech clause of the constitution.

    But we don’t really know, since there is little jurisprudence on libel by blog.


    1. Thanks Atty, for the sake of law and legal matters, is Bambee’s blogging a fair comment or honest opinion about the matter? Or maybe a false accusation as proven by the witnesses and the results of the investigation?

  14. To cvista:
    This is not legal advice, but opinion. We have that right under free expression. Disclosure: I haven’t taken the bar (yet).

    On Bambee, false accusation is a strong word (or words). As has been laid down in cases, extreme opinion may be untrue and still be fair comment. If it is fair comment, and I believe it is, Bambee comes under qualified privilege. This simply means that she can be accused, and the case cannot be dismissed outright. But it is the burden of the other side to prove her malice.

    Malice is Intent, without justification or excuse, to commit a wrongful act; reckless disregard of the law or a person’s legal rights; ill will, or wickedness of heart (Black’s). In criminal law, malice is also known as “mens rea,” which is an essential element of all crimes not committed by negligence.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “false accusation.” If you mean perjury, that is a crime, but the prosecution has to prove mens rea. And I’m not sure that witnesses or results of investigation prove anything. Proof is a matter of evidence, weighed by an impartial judge, who decides the credibility of witnesses (after all, there are two sides), and strictly speaking, “investigation” shows up in court only as “evidence.”

    But maybe the important question for bloggers is this: If you blog with an opinion that is untrue, are you liable?

    Answer: Not if it is fair comment. So, if you blog because you intend to someone’s reputation, that is not fair comment and you are liable. In a few instances, truth is a defense that leads to acquittal regardless of the intent of the accused, as when the matter proved to be true is related to the discharge of official duty of a public official (Art. 361, penal code). So, there is in fact a good-faith requirement imposed by law on all bloggers.

    The funny thing is the law books are sometimes circular. What is good faith? Absence of bad faith. What is bad faith? Malice. What is malice? Absence of evil intent. And what is that? Good faith. Go figure.

    orlando roncesvalless last blog post..Sample quiz questions in criminal law

  15. Strange that I now find reading various blogs therapeutic… of course I do not mean the libelous variety (pun intended).

    I came from a meeting to join another meeting. Then I replied to a few emails, reviewed some drafts of pleadings, prepare for my class…and what do I do in between while “resting”? What else but reading blogs 🙂



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