Saturday, January 23, 2010

With great blogging power comes great responsibility

Remember the controversial blog entry of Ella regarding the relief goods "rotting" in DSWD warehouse? It turns out that the issue isn't over yet. Former DSWD Secretary is suing Ella for libel.

A blogger who wrote about relief goods stored in a warehouse that allegedly did not reach victims of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” last year has been charged with libel for the malicious accusations on her website.[Source]

I don't know Ella personally but I am familiar with her blog even before that controversial post.

A bit of background is in order here.

My friend Niko initiated a campaign to raise funds for Baby Daniel, a 5 months old baby who has biliary atresia with cirrhosis and is in immediate need of liver transplant. Daniel is the son of our schoolmate from The Sisters of Mary School and most of helped in the campaign by blogging about it, solicitations, fund raising activities, etc.

Now comes Ella in the picture. She also blogged about Daniel but not to help. Worst, she insinuated that the case of Daniel couldn't be real and it could just be a scam.

Her basis? She found out that the letter used by Clarissa (Daniel's mom) is exactly the same (save for the names and addresses) to the other letters she found from the net - from mothers whose children are also in similar situation. She even questioned the grammatical errors in that letter.

When Clarissa read Ella's post making insinuations that Daniel's case could just be another scam, she was so hurt. Here's a mother worrying about her son whose life is at risk, doing everything she can to save him. Only to be questioned by this blogger because of the mother's grammar?

There's an explanation why those letters that Ella found were identical. Those mothers actually know each other and they have this little support group. She could have verified it first before publishing her entry.

It that malicious? No. But I find it irresponsible.

Now back to the libel case against Ella by former DSWD Sec. Cabral.

Here are excerpts from Ella's controversial post.

“Para sa mga “special victims” kaya ito? Ire-repack kaya ang mga “imported” camp pads na ito ever?”

“Sabagay, may BANIG naman para sa “ordinary victims”. Ito ang kasama sa inimpake namin. Sayang ‘yung imported.”

“Hindi rin ito kasali, of course. Hindi namin alam kung ano ang laman nito. “Imported” are not included, we have concluded.”

“Naaah! “Imported” pork and beans from Spain po ito. Sorry, hindi pa rin included”

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

Whether those comments and the blog entry she made are malicious and that Ella committed libel is for the court to decide. But here's my take on the issue.

We should be thankful that Ella exposed the situation. No question about that.

But was there malice in the way she published her entry? I think those comments are sarcastic and irresponsible but not necessarily malicious. But how Sec Cabral and DSWD employees perceive it is entirely a different story. If they find it malicious, well, they can file a libel case. That is an option provided by law. But is it necessary? I don't think so. Sec. Cabral shouldn't be too onion-skinned, being a public official.

If there's a lesson learned here, it's this - With great blogging power comes great responsibility

By the way, Daniel did not make it. He died before her family could raise the P 3M needed for the operation. Clarissa returned
to our Bayanihan Fund the money we raised for Daniel .

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