Bloggers unite! – blogger Ella Ganda faces libel for being “too concerned”

In the midst of the Ondoy rush last year, one blogger made it to the lime light: Ella delos Reyes a.k.a “Ella Ganda” as her blog is named.

Philippine Daily Inquirer reports:

(DSWD Sec.) Cabral asked the NBI last year to investigate the identity of the blogger after reading a blog entry entitled “Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo (What good is help that comes if it is too late),” posted on ‘Blog ni Ella’ on Oct. 21, 2009.

The former social welfare secretary claimed the blog entry contained “malicious imputations against her, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and its employees.”

“The article alluded that she and the DSWD employees are corrupt, having diverted donated goods for personal gain at the expense of the typhoon victims and downright incompetent,” the NBI said in its referral.

A few things:

– I saw the blog during its height. There’s nothing libelous about it. The blogger stood with nothing to gain — other than the unsolicited fame the blog resulted from. If there was anything Ella was about during that time, she was sincerely bothered by the fact that people were hungry and homeless and without clothes and the government doesn’t seem to care.

– Sec. Cabral has an onion skin. As the saying goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”

– This sends a chilling effect on bloggers. Blogging — and social networks — as we now know, is the future of media. It may not be as formal as the print or even TV, but I will argue that it’s the fastest and even more accurate source of information nowadays. Just take a look, for instance, on this report from PDI. It says, “It also checked with the hosting company of the domain name www.ellaganda.com and found out that the hosting contract with “Ella Rose delos Santos” or “Ellaganda” has been terminated since December 2008″ Duh? If it was “terminated” since Dec. 2008, why has www.ellaganda.com able to post the alleged libelous blog last Oct. 2009? So who has the accurate information now?

As a blogger, I feel for her. Do you think freedom of speech can still be exercised in this country — even in a free platform such as blogging?

Bloggers, unite! Make some noise. Defend your rights.

  • http://foolawecon.wordpress.com/ Orlando R

    Calling someone "onion skinned" can be defamatory. Fortunately, if that someone is a public figure and the matter is one of public concern, the libel jurisprudence is on your side.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/arnoldgamboa arnoldgamboa

    If someone will sue me for being called "onion skinned", they will have just proven me right.

  • http://foolawecon.wordpress.com/ Orlando R

    @ Arnold. Whoa.. Ordinarily, the truth is not a defense in libel. Even if it is admitted by act, or even if you can claim res ipsa loquitur.. Funny but legally true.

  • wieghingmatters

    In the interest of fair play, we may wanna consider these links in weighing the matter at hand:

    http://jlp-law.com/blog/libel-e-internet-libel/
    In Philippine jurisdiction, the truth is not always a defense. While something is true, if the purpose is to besmirch, then liability still exists. To be liable for libel, the following elements must be shown to exist:

    (1) the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;

    Here are some photo captions in Ella’s blog:

    – Marami pang pabubulukin

    – Sige, ideretso ‘nyo ulit ‘yan sa DSWD warehouse. Para AMAG naman ang abutin ng biskwit… at sapot ng gagamba.

    – Do you mean “do not delay ang dati nang delayed”

    – Sabay tatahiin na ang sako. O di ba, parang asong tinapunan ng buto ang mga nasalanta?

    – Relief goods na ayaw yata ibigay sa mga nasalanta. Halatang-halata.

    Her Conclusion:
    Susulpot din siguro ang laman ng mga mahiwagang kahon at mapapasakamay din ng mga tao…sa ARAW NG ELEKSYON.

    (2) publication of the charge;
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (3) identity of the person defamed; and
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (4) existence of malice.

    Legal malice is a term that refers to one party’s intention to do injury to another. Malice can either be expressed or implied.

    – Expressed malice occurs when the party gives outward notice that they intend to commit a crime or some other wrong towards another.

    Nagpalabas ng directive ang pangulo. Individuals, private companies and other nations were ENCOURAGED to send their donations to DSWD. I blogged about it here (blog entry not found ).

    This PGMA directive sounded suspicious to me then. Now I know why.

    Here’s the story.

    A group of eight people, your ate Ella included, went to one of DSWD warehouses to help in repacking relief goods. We know they need volunteers pero hindi namin akalaing WALANG TAO TALAGA SA LOOB NG WAREHOUSE!

    ***Ella suspected PGMA’s directive. She went to volunteer and took photos expressly violating the instruction not to do so. She displayed these on her blog with the captions earlier mentioned.

    – Implied malice occurs when one party causes death or injury to another during the course of unlawful or disreputable actions.
    Pinagbawalan kaming kumuha ng pictures sa loob ng warehouse. I wonder why. (She took photos.)

  • weighingmatters

    In the interest of fairplay, we may wanna consider these links when we weigh the matter at hand:

    http://jlp-law.com/blog/libel-e-internet-libel/
    In Philippine jurisdiction, the truth is not always a defense. While something is true, if the purpose is to besmirch, then liability still exists. To be liable for libel, the following elements must be shown to exist:

    (1)the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another;

    Here are some photo captions in Ella's blog:

    -Marami pang pabubulukin

    -Sige, ideretso ‘nyo ulit ‘yan sa DSWD warehouse. Para AMAG naman ang abutin ng biskwit… at sapot ng gagamba.

    -Do you mean “do not delay ang dati nang delayed”

    -Sabay tatahiin na ang sako. O di ba, parang asong tinapunan ng buto ang mga nasalanta?

    -Relief goods na ayaw yata ibigay sa mga nasalanta. Halatang-halata.

    Her Conclusion:
    Susulpot din siguro ang laman ng mga mahiwagang kahon at mapapasakamay din ng mga tao…sa ARAW NG ELEKSYON.

    (2)publication of the charge;
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (3)identity of the person defamed; and
    http://www.ellaganda.com/?p=1759

    (4) existence of malice.

    Legal malice is a term that refers to one party’s intention to do injury to another. Malice can either be expressed or implied.

    -Expressed malice occurs when the party gives outward notice that they intend to commit a crime or some other wrong towards another.

    Nagpalabas ng directive ang pangulo. Individuals, private companies and other nations were ENCOURAGED to send their donations to DSWD. I blogged about it here (blog entry not found ).

    This PGMA directive sounded suspicious to me then. Now I know why.

    Here’s the story.

    A group of eight people, your ate Ella included, went to one of DSWD warehouses to help in repacking relief goods. We know they need volunteers pero hindi namin akalaing WALANG TAO TALAGA SA LOOB NG WAREHOUSE!

    ***Ella suspected PGMA’s directive. She went to volunteer and took photos expressly violating the instruction not to do so. She displayed these on her blog with the captions earlier mentioned.

    -Implied malice occurs when one party causes death or injury to another during the course of unlawful or disreputable actions.
    Pinagbawalan kaming kumuha ng pictures sa loob ng warehouse. I wonder why. (She took photos.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/arnoldgamboa Arnold Gamboa

    I guess the question whether the case has merit or not is already in the hands of the proper authorities. I'm not here to discuss the merits of the case. I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a blogger.

    The only point I'm trying to make is simple: how can freedom of speech be affected by this, especially against bloggers? Blogging has becoming mainstream, so it must be the reason why, like the traditional media, it's also being under attack. It is now a sad reality that this sends a chilling effect to "brave" bloggers who wants to air out their own take on issues that matter.

  • weighingmatters

    3.Do you base it on the snowballing imputations the blog entry has spawned?

    a.Such as the blog entries of her fellow bloggers like: http://gurlalien.blogspot.com/2010/01/para-kay-el

    Wow… di maka get over? bakit kaya? well… ang sabi niya, hindi daw dapat palampasin ang mga ganitong 'paninira' sa gobyerno. huh? pero bakit? Alam mo madam, kung di ka talaga guilty, dapat madali kang makaka move-on. eh bakit parang hanggang ngayon eh hurt na hurt ka pa din sa mga nabasa mong blog post? dahil ba the truth hurts? at kahit pa na hindi na ikaw ang mei hawak ng DSWD eh nag file ka pa din ng kaso?

    yung mga againsta kay ella, obvious na obvious na related sa DSWD. kung makapag post eh damang dama nila every word.

    Whose alias appears here:
    http://forums.seo.ph/showthread.php?s=81b8794c583

    b.Or the published articles of media men like:
    Ramon Tulfo
    Whose article: It pays to be honest
    http://services.inquirer.net/mobile/10/02/01/html
    states:

    FORMER SOCIAL WELFARE and now Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral is reportedly using her office to harass a blogger…

    The same group also allegedly went to the Parañnaque residence of the Dolor family, as Cabral was reportedly convinced that Ella was a member of that family.

    Same Tulfo who happens to appear here:

    42 Journalists kinasuhan ng Libelo

    Bandera (six counts, Tulfo's column"On Target" inilabas noong Jan. 26, May 23 at 27, June 6,8 at 17)
    27. Eileen Mangubat (publisher)
    28. Beting Laygo Dolor (editor-in-chief)
    29. Jimmy Alcantara (associate editor)
    30. Raymond Rivera (circulation manager)

    http://zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp

    As confirmed from this column:
    http://tulfo.net/column1.htm

  • weighingmatters

    How do we determine malice? How do we determine intention?

    When do we call on online freedom of expression?

    Do we make way for the truth thru responsible blogging or do we redefine freedom of the press as freedom that recognizes no borders, overlapping the rights and freedom of others notwithstanding?

    http://www.zumel.com/index.php?option=com_content
    http://tungkab.wordpress.com/2007/06/17/peryodist

    Who defines truth? The one accused? …Or the accuser?

    Who defines freedom? The one who exercised it? …Or the one denied of it?

    Who actually exercised it? Who’s denied of it?

    Where does freedom start? Where does freedom end?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/arnoldgamboa arnoldgamboa

    What's your point, dude?

  • weighingmatters
  • http://www.pong0105.blog.com Pong

    I thought un-seating Among Ed Panlilio as the governor of Pampanga as affirmed by the decision of 2nd Division-COMELEC is the saddest news that I read for today. Unknowinglly the “DSWD” issue until now is alive with a libel case by a cabinet member after her transfer to another government agency. I hope and I pray that these people be enlightened by our God who mandates them and seated them on their post.
    With regards to Ella’s post and her libel case God will vindicate her!

  • http://google.com tommy

    Just wanted to say I appricate the site. You have really put a lot of energy into your article and it is just wonderfull!

  • Antonnette Mira

    Sometimes
    people misunderstood on what we say or write. They didn’t know what is all
    about and like what you said this is a freedom country and we can say whatever
    we want, but for me if it can damage a reputation it is better not do it.
    Thanks for posting this.

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