Adonis entered the room. At first he seemed to be no different from any other man you meet on road or during a dinner. But then he began to tell his story. And you already know that it is our individual story makes us unique, interesting and in gives us a brief glimpse of the different shades of light we call life.
Adonis was a radio-journalist in Mindanao. His life changed when he was sued for libel. He had a lawyer represent him in court. Adonis thought that was the end of that. It was at this time he was transferred to another city. He thought everything was fine. Adonis was right and wrong. It was fine until one day a letter arrived informing him that he lost the libel case and was to be sent to a penal farm, a penal colony – jail.
He was sentenced to 5 months and one day to four years, six days and one day imprisonment for his crime , the malicious, arbitrary, abusive, irresponsible act of maligning the honor, reputation and good name of the complainant.
Now the thought of going to a penal farm penal was bothersome enough. To make it worse it was a jail in the Philippines where the conditions were not ideal (unless you were lucky – rich and powerful) and to add further problems Adonis was a radio-journalist – he had taken part in sending to jail a number of its presents guest. This was what awaited the Davao Penal Colony’s new guest – Mr Alexander Adonis.
Adonis survived the fears and threats with the help of those inside the Penal Colony. He survived but perhaps at time as time passed by he would think were in the world would you go to jail for libel? Only in the Philippines? Free press? Perhaps those thoughts entered his mind.
Indeed time passed and eventually Adonis was up for parole. But this was not to be.
Another libel lawsuit had been filed and Adonis stayed in the Penal Colony. Eventually Adonis issued an apology for the second libel suit. The said libel suit was withdrawn and some time after, longer than sooner Adonis was released on parole.
Adonis spent more than two years in the penal colony.
Adonis came home to his family with a bagful of stories and tuberculosis. But at least he did not worry about them or suffer the separation from them.
But the story does not end here. The case of Adonis was filed at the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the committee declared that Adonis’s rights under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – in which the Philippine is the only Southeast Asian country that signed and ratified the ICCPR – was violated and the Philippines had to compensate – ie pay – Adonis,
But the story does not end there. The said UN body also declared that Philippines was obliged prevent similar case from happening and one of the steps was to review present Philippine libel laws – which had its origins from an old Colonial law that was used to silence Nationalists and enemies of the colonial government.
And this is the story of Adonis and Libel in the Philippines … but it does not end there.
How much will Adonis received ad more importantly will libel law be decriminalized?
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.