A blast from the past
DOJ orders release of Adonis
THE Department of Justice (DOJ ordered the release from prison of a former radio broadcaster who was earlier convicted of libel from a case filed by Speaker Prospero Nograles years ago.
Ordered released from detention from the Davao Prison and Penal Farm was Alexander Adonis, a former broadcaster of Radyo Bombo.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez approved Adonis’ release based on the Supreme Court Circular No. 08-2008, which directs judges to choose the imposition of fines over imprisonment in convicting a person and, in part, through the representations made by the National Press Club (NPC).
The High Court directive was due to the initiative of Chief Justice Reynato Puno who, during one of his public speeches, said he placed a premium on freedom of the press since he considered this to be one of the touchstones of a healthy and vibrant democracy. In fact, he pointed out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights assures each and every individual the right to express an opinion without interference.
The libel case against Adonis was filed in 2001 by Nograles before the Davao City Regional Trial Court and stemmed from the sensational “Burlesk King” controversy which rocked Davao City.
It was alleged that the “Burlesk King” referred to Nograles. Media reports then alleged that Nograles was inside a hotel room in downtown Davao City together with his paramour when they were surprised by her irate husband, supposedly a military officer, prompting Nograles to run out into the street without any clothes.
Nograles said he was obliged to file suit in court to salvage his honor and reputation, as well as that of his family, which Adonis had allegedly savaged over his radio program.
Adonis was later sentenced by the Davao court to a jail term of up to four years because he jumped bail, saying he didn’t have the means to hire a lawyer to defend him in court.
Int’l group appeals for radioman
An international journalists’ group appealed anew for the decriminalization of libel in the Philippines, after a Davao City-based broadcaster was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
“It is an affront that a journalist is in prison because he could not afford legal representation, to fight a conviction that should not be part of the criminal code to begin with,” International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) President Christopher Warren.
Alex “Lex” Adonis, a radio commentator of Bombo Radyo, was convicted by a court in a libel case filed against him and several other journalists by Davao City Representative Prospero Nograles.
“The Philippine government must take immediate action to rectify this draconian legislation,” Warren added.
Nograles’ complaint stemmed from a series of exposes on the “burlesk king” issue, which identified the lawmaker as the man who reportedly ran naked through a Manila hotel after being caught by the husband of his paramour.
Adonis was imprisoned after he failed to get a lawyer, saying he could not afford one.
Radioman cleared of libel
After about seven years of legal battle, broadcaster Jun Digamon was cleared of the libel charges filed against him by former local TV celebrity, the alleged paramour of Speaker Prospero Nograles, over the controversial Burlesk King scandal of 2001.
“God is good…I am vindicated,” Digamon said after Judge Renato Fuentes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 17 here read the verdict.
In the decision, Fuentes said he found no evidence against Digamon in connection with his reports and commentaries over Radyo Bombo about the alleged scandal, wherein Nograles was supposed to have been ordered to run naked in a hotel by the woman’s angry husband when they were allegedly caught there sometime in 2001.
Nograles and the TV personality sued several media men, including Digamon.
One of those charged, Alex Adonis of Bombo Radyo was convicted and jailed at the Davao Prisons and Penal Farm (DPPF) in Davao del Norte.
Nograles withdrew the case against Digamon “after much thought and in the spirit of forgiveness and out of my own goodwill,” but the alleged paramour pursued it.
Digamon, who now works for GMA Super Radyo, said he considered the trashing of the case against him as the “end of my agony…the end of the suffering of my family.”
The acquittal, he said, only proved that justice still works.
Digamon said the charges filed against him served a lesson but it also strengthened his resolve not to be cowed in pursuit of truth.