News on Puno showed lack of professionalism | Inquirer Opinion

News on Puno showed lack of professionalism

/ 09:06 PM October 01, 2012

In recent days, the name and person of Rico E. Puno (now former undersecretary of the interior) has been subjected to relentless attacks in the media. The attacks are based on his perceived attempt to take possession of documents supposedly linking him to shady government deals.

Given media’s wide reach and influence on the public, it is not surprising that such accusations against Puno have been accepted as gospel truth by an unsuspecting public and that no amount of explanation from him, or even from President Aquino, suffices to redeem his tarnished reputation.

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We say this not because Puno is our brother in the Upsilon Sigma Phi, or because he is our friend and colleague. This we say as citizens of a democratic state which derives its existence and authority from the people. A democratic state adheres to principles that guarantee every man his basic rights, among these, that no matter what or how grave the accusation against a person, he has the right to face his accusers in the proper forum, and there be afforded ample opportunity to answer the charges against him—principles that presume one’s innocence until proven otherwise.

The late Edward R. Murrow stated, some 60 years ago, that “accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.” This remains true and relevant to this day.

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Recent events, including Puno’s resignation and decision to attend and participate in the Senate investigation chaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, should be sufficient proof that Puno had nothing to hide: He was ready to face his accuser/s at the proper time and place. It was his statement that as a self-respecting individual, he would not allow himself to be shoved into the trap that irresponsible media persons had laid for him.

The resignation of Puno should now put to rest whatever lingering doubts people have as to why he was in public office. He was not there to advance his own agenda. Rather, like any true soldier, he accepted his government posting as a faithful and loyal lieutenant of the President, as all presidential appointees should be.

While Puno can very well defend his actions, this experience of his has shown the herd mentality of Philippine media at its worst: Pursuing a story hook, line and sinker based on a highly biased lead story shows the lack of professionalism among our media practitioners today. If there is anything to be investigated, it should be the seemingly callous attitude of the local press in crucifying Puno despite the lack of information and the statement from the President himself exonerating him.

In this country, invoking one’s right to remain silent is seen as a sign of guilt rather than as a basic assertion of a person’s fundamental right.

Now that Puno is back to being a private citizen, it is but fair and proper that he be spared from further baseless accusations and personal attacks—for the simple reason that these have no place in a democratic state.

—REYNALDO LASERNA, chair, Upsilon Sigma Phi Alumni Association (USPAA), FERNANDO MALVEDA, president, USPAA; BOY VILLENA, chair, Upsilon Sigma Phi Los Baños Alumni Association, (USPLBAA), KEATS YAPCHIONGCO, president, USPLBAA; JAKE PUNO, illustrious fellow, Upsilon Sigma Phi (Diliman), TRACY QUILA, illustrious fellow, Upsilon Sigma Phi (Los Baños)

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TAGS: DILG, letters, Media, Rico E. Puno, upsilon sigma phi
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