By Ali G. Macabalang
Amid growing online social media ventures laced with high susceptibility to legal suits, Filipino journalists and even bloggers can now access protective reference at cheaper cost, courtesy of a crusading lawyer-journalist from South Cotabato.
What makes the option more interesting is the author’s desire to muster funds from the proceeds of selling his book – “Simplified Libel Law in the Philippines” – for the sustained medication of ailing sister, and the rest for his own health concerns and those of others who have no money for medical needs or protection from libel and cyber libel cases.
Berteni Cataluña Causing, a humble alumnus of the Mindanao State University (MSU) who became a lawyer while in media practice, sent to fellow journalists (like me) some salient lines in the second edition of his book on the eve of the 2020 Christmas Day, a meaningful moment for humanitarianism.
Fellow long-time scribe Nash Maulana, in his Facebook post, said: “The Philippine Libel Law made simple in a book written by lawyer Berteni Cataluña Causing.”
The author, more popular among peers and friends as “Toto Causing,” is a former sports writer, beat reporter and copy editor in the group of Journal publications, which include the Times Journal and People’s Journal.
Causing’s book “timely provides guidance” to journalists, reporters, bloggers and even subscribers of online-based emailing and social media accounts and pages on FB, Twitter, as well as to individuals linked by short-messaging (texting) “to be more aware of the facts about libel; the law pertaining to it and the Supreme Court interpretation and definition of libel and its elements, from decided cases or jurisprudence (now) part of the laws of the land,” Maulana said.
“Toto writes in such a popular style that effectively reduces the language of the law into lay terms easily understood by non-lawyers like most journalists, writers and social media subscribers are,” Maulana added.
He said what touched him most in “Toto’s endeavor this time, is that he is publishing and selling online (at a very low price-tag) this (second) edition of his book to help raise fund for a cancer patient, his sister, of Arlene Priscilla ‘Ging’ Cataluña Causing, who is undergoing sessions of chemotherapy and Herceptin.
As a widow to a cancer-patient wife, I feel more sympathetic in Toto’s cause.
Toto also touched me more ins his saying that the rest of the proceeds of his book sale will be kept for the use of other journalists’ concerns in health and in facing pressures from libel suits amid lack of money. AGM