Anybody who speaks in a television interview and passes off his distorted views on an important political controversy as gospel truth does a big disservice to the general public.
When such an interview takes place and is disseminated online to an unsuspecting public, it is the duty of the mainstream media to comment on the same, and to make sure that the distortion does not prevail over the facts.
Last October 18, a certain trustee of a non-government organization which professes to espouse media freedom and responsibility in the country was interviewed about his views on the arrest of the son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla for possession of cannabis.
I watched the interview on a cable television news program identified with an erstwhile powerful broadcast network which, in 2020, failed to get a legislative franchise from Congress.
It was very obvious that from the start of the interview, the newscaster’s queries to the trustee consisted of leading questions. A leading question is one the answer to which is already mentioned in the question itself.
From the way the interview questions were asked, one does not need to be genius to see that the trustee was practically coached on how to answer them. The questions were manifestly designed to trigger the trustee into putting Remulla in bad light.
I was not surprised. The network responsible for that interview has an ax to grind against Remulla.
In May 2020, the legislative franchise of the network expired. Although the network applied for a new franchise, the committee on legislative franchises of the House of Representatives of Congress rejected the application.
The network brought its case to the Supreme Court but the latter ruled that the Constitution vests in Congress the unbridled discretion to reject an application for the renewal of a legislative franchise.
At that time, Remulla was a member of the House of Representatives, and was a member as well of the House committee on legislative franchises.
Citing the network’s numerous violations of the law and its own franchise, Remulla led the committee to reject the network’s application for a new franchise.
For the network, the controversy about Remulla’s son created an opportunity for it to get back at Remulla. That ought to explain the leading questions.
Be that as it may, the interview was a total farce.
First, the trustee had a serious credibility problem.
Although he said many unflattering things about Remulla, the trustee virtually admitted that his remarks were either speculative or hearsay (“I heard …”), or based on his failure to understand the essential facts of the controversy (“I cannot quite understand …”), or his limited knowledge about the controversy itself (“All I know is …”).
Next, the trustee punctuated his remarks with loud laughter, as if he was actually amused by his answers to the interviewer’s leading questions.
Third, the trustee made sweeping accusations that Remulla’s position is untenable; that Remulla lost his credibility and moral right to continue heading the Department of Justice; and that Remulla should resign from office because a criminal case is now pending against his son.
Those accusations have been belied by Remulla himself, who told the media that he will not intervene in his son’s criminal case.
They are also belied by the fact that, as every lawyer knows, a criminal case filed in court cannot be withdrawn by the Department of Justice without the consent of the court.
Evidently, and contrary to the sweeping insinuations of the trustee, the fate of Remulla’s son’s criminal case is with the judiciary, and not with the DOJ.
The trustee also conveniently failed to mention that the DOJ prosecutors have recommended that the court should deny bail for Remulla’s son.
I was further appalled to hear the trustee criticize Remulla for limiting his press statements to those he made in a television interview by evangelist-pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
As every sound-minded journalist knows, nobody, government official or otherwise, has a legal obligation to grant an interview to every journalist who seeks one.
The highly-opinionated trustee also made defamatory statements against Quiboloy. He said Quiboloy pretends to be a pastor and journalist, but he did not provide proof for his libelous remarks.
Equally revolting is the trustee’s sweeping but non sequitur allegation that Remulla allowed himself to be interviewed by Quiboloy only because Remulla’s son and Quiboloy are both in trouble with the law.
A trustee of an organization that supposedly advocates media freedom and responsibility should not be making such unfounded and irresponsible statements.
I believe that if Quiboloy learns about the nasty remarks the trustee said against him, Quiboloy will take legal action against him.
There should be a limit to what irresponsible personalities like the trustee, who pretend to be knowledgeable about everything, should be allowed to get away with.