IN making the audacious claim that The Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dante A. Ang was behind the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s pork barrel expose, lawyer Lorna Kapunan not only resorted to squid tactics, she also displayed a total misunderstanding of how media organizations work.
First, Kapunan did not produce one iota of evidence. She couldn’t. Not unless she is the Philippine version of Criss Angel, and is therefore able to come up with something concrete where nothing exists.
As a lawyer, she should know that hearsay does not qualify as evidence. Kapunan could not even identify the source of her improbable claim, leading any rational person to conclude that she made it up herself. Or paid a second rate spin doctor to spread a rumor that she hoped would be picked up by mainstream media. Or worse, believed a barefaced lie that was told her by someone with a hidden agenda.
In an interview over Radyo Inquirer – the radio station owned by the broadsheet – Ang asked in the vernacular what kind of lawyer Kapunan was, since she readily believed and spread a rumor concerning a person whom she had never met.
It reeks of paranoia when the lawyer claims that “someone” is orchestrating the appearance of the valid news item on print, radio and television.
Ang may be an influential man, but there is no way that he can dictate to the other media organizations and their owners whether to cover a story or not.
Note to the lawyer: Media organizations compete with each other. The bragging rights when a media org breaks a mega story like the pork barrel scam is priceless.
Kapunan committed what media practitioners consider a cardinal sin of giving The Manila Times chairman credit for what may well be the story of the year, one which the Inquirer broke.
All of Philippine media was scooped by the Inquirer, and all of Philippine media is both envious and proud that the country’s biggest newspaper is keeping the flame alive.
That flame is to sustain the role of media as the Fourth Estate.
As Ang said, Inquirer reporter Nancy Carvajal “deserves the people’s collective thanks for her painstaking effort to do the research and publish what could be the scam of the decade, if not the century.”
The Manila Times and all media organizations picked up the story for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the strong case presented by the Inquirer series. It was beyond shocking that billions of pesos worth of the Priority Development Assistance Fund of the country’s senators and congressmen could go to ghost non-government organizations set up by Janet Lim Napoles.
The story stoked the public’s anger and outrage, and led to the scrapping of the pork barrel. If not the pork barrel itself, then at least the system that made it so easy to divert the people’s tax money to the “businesswoman” who has chosen Kapunan to represent her.
Since what Napoles allegedly committed is tantamount to plunder, she faces life in prison if found guilty by a court of law. She desperately needs the services of the best lawyers that money can buy to get her off the hook. As Kapunan seems to enjoy spreading wild and unfounded rumors, perhaps she can confirm or deny that her acceptance fee for taking the case was a mere P20 million.
Since her very life is at stake, Napoles may want to reconsider her choice of who will represent her when her case finally goes to trial.