But presses ABS-CBN to first disclose name
MANILA, Philippines- The Nacionalista Party (NP) is stepping up the pressure on ABS-CBN News to identify the party member who supplied the spurious psychiatric report on Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Last Friday, the NP challenged ABS-CBN News to name names.
On Monday, they went a step further, freeing ABS-CBN from any confidentiality commitment to protect its NP source.
"We're saying it's not the NP officers, so we are lifting whatever it is we have to lift to allow ABS-CBN to please reveal the source," said NP spokesman and senatorial bet Gilbert Remulla.
NP officials vowed to punish any member behind the spurious document in as much as it has backfired on the party and its candidates.
"We can expel him from the NP and with a provision that he can never go back. Number 2, we can file cases against him. First, you can file a case for damages, you can file civil, moral and exemplary damages. We can also file a case for falsification of a private document," said NP senatorial bet Adel Tamano.
Another NP senatorial bet Susan "Toots" Ople said they can also publish the person's name and photo on newspapers.
'The standards we live by'
Earlier, ABS-CBN News rejected NP's demand to name names, saying this violates the sacred rule of journalism.
"We respect the confidentiality of our sources. While it's tempting to take the Nacionalista Party's challenge, it violates a sacred rule of journalism," said Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.
ABS-CBN reiterated this statement in light of NP's new appeal.
In an opinion piece published Monday on abs-cbnNEWS.com, Ressa said: "Frankly, it’s shocking to see such blatant distortions of the truth. Oh, how I wish we could disclose our sources, but those are the standards we live by." (Read: Black ops and the nature of the 2010 campaigns)
'A wrong thing to do'
For his part, Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial candidate Raul Lambino defended media against attacks from the Nacionalista Party, and even the Liberal Party, which has demanded an apology from ABS-CBN for exposing the fake psychiatric report.
Lambino said demanding an apology for a legitimate report or forcing journalists to break their own rules is a wrong thing to do.
The former Constitutional Commissioner said such demands go against the constitutional provision on freedom of the press.
Despite being dragged into the controversy triggered by the fake psychiatric report, the Nacionalistas challenged rival candidates to undergo a psychiatric test.
Martin Querubin, spokesman of NP senatorial bet Ariel Querubin, said that if an ordinary cadet is required to undergo a neuro-psychological exam, it should also be a requirement for a presidential candidate and possible commander-in-chief.
Nacionalista standard-bearer Manny Villar has declared his willingness to prove his mental fitness.
'Yes to lifestyle, no to psycho test'
Aquino, for his part, said he was willing to undergo a lie-detector test and lifestyle check as suggested by other quarters, but not a psychiatric test.
"Pag ginawa ko po iyon ay talagang ako na po ay magpapasundo doon sa National Center for Mental for Health," Aquino says. "Bakit po yung mga katungali natin, ipinipilit tayo na paniwalaan yung di po, di ba, not real? So dun e, baka tayo ay dapat mag-alok sa kanila na kung kailangan nila ng assistance to retain their mental health, na we will gladly escort them."
Mudslinging and dirty tricks notwithstanding, it cannot be denied that the mental health of presidential and other top candidates is a legitimate issue in any election campaign.