Agriculture Secretary: Government men cannot be eternal media punching bags

Hindi napigilang maglabas ng sama ng loob ni Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol sa paratang sa kanya ng isang mamamahayag na taga-Baguio na si Frank Cimatu dahil sa malisyosong Facebook post nito.
Manny-Pinol
Ani Cimatu,

Agri sec got rich by P21-M in 6 months. Bird flu pa more
Agad itong pinabulaanan ni Sec. Piñol. Sa isang Facebook post, sinabi niya na hindi daw totoong nagkamal siya ng P21 milyon sa loob lamang ng anim na buwan. Dahil dito, magsasampa diumano ng kasong libel si Sec. Piñol laban kay Cimatu. Ipinaliwanag din niya kung saan nanggaling at paano nagsimula ang paratang na ito ng mamamahayag.

Dagdag pa ni Sec. Piñol, nakalimutan na yata ng mga mamamahayag ang mga pangunahing panuntunan sa journalism. Ito ay ang pagdo-double-check at triple-check ng mga impormasyon bago magsulat ng isang kuwento.

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Narito ang kabuuang pahayag ni Sec. Piñol sa usaping ito.

Libel charges forthcoming!

"GOVERNMENT MEN CANNOT BE
ETERNAL MEDIA PUNCHING BAGS"

By Manny Piñol

Common friends have now started interceding on behalf of Baguio City newsman Frank Cimatu following my announcement that I will file libel charges against him.

The libel case being prepared by my lawyers against Cimatu stemmed from a Facebook post he made which claimed that I became richer by P21-M in just six months in office because of the bird flu crisis.

"Agri sec got rich by P21-M in 6 months. Bird flu pa more" the post said.

The post was based on a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism which said that my Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN) filed in December 2016, reflected a difference of P21-M compared to the last SALN I filed in 2009 as a government official.

Cimatu may have forgotten that I was out of government from 2010 to 2016 and that during the period I was involved in agricultural activities funded by a Land Bank loan.

So malicious was the post that Cimatu failed to take into account that, while there was really no P21-M in cash or properties acquired during the first six months that I was with government, the SALN in question was filed.in December 2016 while the Bird Flu outbreak occurred in August this year.

I cannot be dissuaded by common media friends to amicably settle the Cimatu libel case, even if he is a former colleague being a former journalist myself.
This has to be done.

Over the years, Philippine Journalism has gone through a scary metamorphosis and maybe more appropriately, a mutation.

Reporters have become careless, advocatorial and self-righteous.

Forgotten are the basic rules in journalism which require reporters and editors to check, double-check and triple-check the information before writing a story.

Today, many so-called newsmen carry advocacies making it difficult for them to be objective.

Inaccurate stories are published in the front pages with screaming headlines and when found to be untrue, the erratum is hidden in the inside pages more often beside huge commercial ads.

Worse, many media entities are actually owned by groups with vested or business interests to protect.

The media's favorite punching bags are government officials, especially those vulnerable to blackmail or those who have skeletons in the closet.

I am a government official but I will not be a punching bag to reporters like Cimatu.

It is time to teach people like him a lesson.

One cannot just destroy a person's reputation with innacurate and malicious reports causing anguish and embarrassment to the official's family and children.

Let me say this very clearly: "Hindi na puede ang kalakaran na tira na lang nang tira pagkatapos mag-sorry lang, okey na."

Freedom of the press carries with it a heavy burden as well and that is the obligation of newsmen to exercise their profession with utmost prudence, caution and objectivity, without an iota of malice.

Sorry, my friends but Cimatu will have to face the consequences of his malicious post.

#DiKamiPunchingBag! #NoMoreLies!