BOHOL, Philippines – A Boholano top-notch lawyer has said anyone is free to criticize public officials as long as criticisms are legal and fair.
Atty. Lord “Popot” Marapao IV, in a radio interview, pointed out people must realize that they cannot wantonly (unlimited) criticize public officials as criticisms may be construed as “libelous.”
Marapao said that libel is not a protected speech in the constitution.
The highly-in-demand lawyer said the libel charge filed against Willy Ramasola, in what analyst Joseph Lamdagan described as rabid attack dog of the political enemies of Governor Art Yap, is a just measure for the governor to protect his dignity.
Marapao said Gov. Yap would not attempt to silence critics as long as criticisms are done within the bounds of law.
The governor’s personal legal counsel said this statement during a radio interview over DYTR’s Open Forum program hosted by Ardy Araneta-Batoy and Dave Albarado.
Marapao said that the governor would rather let the people criticize him and lose the election than to win the polls but tyrannically suppress the right of people to lawfully criticize the provincial administration.
He added that allegations being hurled against the governor is expected given that the elections are just around the corner.
The lawyer made the comment as he and the rest of the governor’s legal team say that they are ready to answer any charges hurled against the governor and companions if they are asked by the Ombudsman to reply to the allegations.
However, Marapao maintained that the accusations leveled against the governor and other provincial officials are meant to generate black propaganda and bear a similar pattern to what happened to Vice Gov. Rene Relampagos.
It can be recalled that Relampagos was unseated as governor in 2001 after losing in the elections and one of the factors that led to Relampagos’s downfall was the black propaganda orchestrated by then Second District Congressman Erico B. Aumentado using Bohol Chronicle and station DYRD as Aumentado’s attack dog.
In his opinion, Marapao said the complaint filed against Yap and others is not going to hold water and will take time to progress due to absence of evidence.
Last week, former Tagbilaran mayor Dan Neri Lim filed a complaint against Yap, provincial administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto and members of the Bids and Awards Committee of the Provincial Government alleging irregularities in some transactions at the Capitol. (The Bohol Tribune News)