LIBEL was Ricky Carandang's subject on the Big Picture this week. Ricky was certainly a paragon of equanimity on ANC's Thursday night show while interviewing one of Mike Arroyo's many lawyers in the fourteen cases filed against 43 of Manila's top editors, columnists and reporters, himself among them. The Lawyer said they were filing libel charges only against persons who were wrongfully accusing the First Gentleman of crimes but not "responsible critics" like Conrado de Quiros [sic!] or even Federico Pascual, whom he said called the First Gent "juvenile." The Consigliere was saying it was OK to insult the hypocritical fat-headedness of the First Gent (I am paraphrasing!), but that anyone accusing the First Saint, err, Gent of a crime without proof would be hit with a charge of libel. Hmm, since being stupid is not a crime, some might prefer to ridicule Him for that.
Tonight Dong Puno's Viewpoint had yet a second of the First Gentleman's most eloquent consiglieri whose main point was that the suits were being mounted both for their punitive as well as deterrent effect. Ellen Tordesillas, a columnist and blogger also on the First Gent's Libel List complained to Dong Puno about the "chilling effect" of the legal offensive mounted by an obviously resource-rich plaintiff like Mike Arroyo. But were these 43 "chilled" into submission by the lawsuits? I doubt that very much. I know it's Ellen's first time to be charged with libel and I wouldn't really wish it on anyone. But I also think that Mike Arroyo has picked a fight he just cannot win short of getting his wife to declare martial law.