On right of reply: There is another side of right–duty
I am no defender of Vice President Jejomar Binay. He and I parted ways some years back after he abandoned PDP-Laban for the lusher pastures of United Nationalist Alliance. And the unbridgeable gap remains.
But on the issue of whether or not he—or any other person who feels maligned by the media—has the basic right to reply, I submit that, yes, indeed, either of them possesses that basic human principle to do so.
This is not to say that the people’s freedom of speech or the media’s freedom of the press should, therefore, be curtailed.
As an advocate all my life of free speech and of free press, that is the last thing I want to see in this country. Because I know that without such freedoms, life itself would be unduly shorn of its substance.
To clarify, the principle being put forward simply means that the freedom of speech or of the press in a democratic setting is not absolute.
Those twin freedoms, then, have built-in limitations, the most basic of which is that their exercise has to be responsible.
Put simply, people hit by print media, as is the case of the Vice President, have the right to get their side published—by the same media outlet that publicized the article in question; and, hopefully, on the same page where the article being responded to was printed.
For in a democratic society, the other side of right is duty.
As the famous Frank Sinatra song in our time put it, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage,” one cannot just exercise any right in this country without the corresponding duty to see to it that it is responsibly done. Or, without recognizing that other people are entitled to that same right.
Otherwise, trouble, not peace, would envelop our society.
Of course, we have libel laws that provide redress for free speech-and-free press abuses.
But the aggrieved parties need not go through that more tedious process of getting redress for their grievances if they can do so in a more friendly manner. That is by airing their side to a controversy published by the media outlet concerned.
That said, I salute the Inquirer, and the other media outlets in the country for making press freedom in this country a reality and for enabling the people to enjoy it now and, hopefully, forever more.
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