is that the issue when it comes to libel laws? Well, the Philippine definition of libel is (link) as per Article 353 Revised Penal Code: Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. Causing dishonor, discredit, or contempt is the main thing, it seems.
Shaiming the shameless
The Philippine Penal Code is an old Spanish colonial law in spirit, so Filipino libel sounds a bit like one Don Bigote making it impossible for any paper to write that he and his goon Pancho Tarzan actually stole grain from some windmills, unless Art. 361 applies: Proof of the truth. — In every criminal prosecution for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the court and if it appears that the matter charged as libelous is true, and, moreover, that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the defendants shall be acquitted. Well, what does good motives and justifiable ends mean? And besides, seems the one accused of libel is considered guilty until he has proven the contrary.
There was this famous misspelled poster “Stop Shaiming President Duterte”. Certain public officials in the Philippines, it seems, do not want to be “shaimed” or exposed. Those who expose seem to be considered bad by the supporters of the entitled one. This is very much unlike Japanese shame, where those whose wrongdoing is exposed are very ashamed and sometimes even commit suicide. Bong Revilla is the opposite. Well, let us be “happy” he is not trying to use libel law to cover up that he did get 124.5 million pesos (link) though he acts as if he did not know about the money’s dirty origin. The absence of the vanity necessary for “shaim”, the peculiar desire to appear saintly when one isn’t, might be the old hypocrisy disappearing – but in an undesirable way.
Bricks and honor
Germany also still criminalizes libel. But (link) §186 (Defamation) of the German Criminal Code says: Whosoever asserts or disseminates a fact related to another person which may defame him or negatively affect public opinion about him, shall, unless this fact can be proven to be true, be liable..” while § 187 (Intentional defamation) goes even further: Whosoever intentionally and knowingly asserts or disseminates an untrue fact related to another person..” with substantially higher penalties for intentional defamation. Only facts count, whether they are true of not, and whether unproven negative speculations or untruths are intentionally and knowingly spread – not fuzzy stuff like “motives” and “malice”. Harder to abuse such a law.
But enough to protect honor. Because someone who does a bad thing has already damaged his own honor whether people find out or not, point it out or not. True honor is like solid bricks as opposed to an “Honorable” entitled Filipino hiding behind libel laws, whose “honor” is like hollow blocks easily destroyed by a few stones thrown, or by wind. Though what the Filipino public believes and who it respects sometimes puzzles me. Picture like these (link) do show VP Leni’s true (good) colors. Why adore Imee (link)?
Truth and bilib
Pepe Diokno – Chel Diokno’s Dad (link) – said that “Filipinos seek God’s help because we have been made to believe we cannot help ourselves”. Or they seek a trapo’s help. Unlike the Swiss who started their freedom off by ridding themselves of local tyrants. Some Filipinos see certain “strong” figures they can hitch a ride on – even if that ride is funded with money stolen from other groups of Filipinos or even the whole country – as a way to get by, as a way to survive. Imee Marcos with her brazenness fits that profile.
Someone who says (link) “I entered Princeton and as far as I know, I graduated.” though Princeton itself says there are no records of that (link) and calls herself Manang gets the bilib (admiration) of those Adings who want to hitch a ride on her gravy train. Defining a false truth, a house made of hollow blocks and GI sheets, is much easier than a house of solid brick walls and brick roof. Wind that huffs and puffs is not wanted. And if it does come like the Big Bad Wolf and one is without a house, blame Mar Roxas! Exaggerated libel laws, fake degrees, lowest common denominators like being rude, fake news like pictures of Iloilo faked as Davao are signs of people who fear the truth as they might not really “bilib” in themselves. For some it is too late. For others maybe not.
Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 17 February 2019