Boy Mejorada’s SC conviction

By: Alex P. Vidal

“In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press.” – Tzipi Livni

NO journalist in his right mind would be happy to learn that a colleague has been convicted “with finality” by the Supreme Court for libel even if in many cases we disagreed with the convicted colleague’s views.

Thus while enemies of Manuel “Boy” Mejorada were rejoicing over reports that “the Supreme Court has affirmed with finality his conviction and imprisonment for libel” filed by Senator Franklin Drilon, we felt sad.

From the point of view of crusading community journalists, we consider Mejorada’s defeat in the SC as a defeat for freedom of the press and expression.

Regardless of who was involved in the case or cases decided by the Supreme Court that would result in Mejorada’s trip to the calaboose, we always believed that jailing a journalist in a democratic state is wrong.

His having participated in the litigation where he was given the opportunity to clear his name from any criminal culpability, wasn’t enough to justify a punishment behind bars especially since the Philippines adheres to the freedom of the press and expression, one of the basic rights under the constitution the Filipinos hold dear.




Mejorada has offended a lot of people, mostly politicians, cops, and bad elements in the society he tore apart in his newspaper columns, blog, social media and YouTube accounts, among other media platforms.

But he has also befriended a lot of political, business, and even military heavyweights, including some national figures; he has managed to maintain a good relationship with some media colleagues despite his bitter tiffs with former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and former Iloilo governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., both darlings of the press.

While many of those he offended hate him, many people who understand his role in our society sympathize with him.

Whatever is the genesis of Mejorada’s troubles with those who sued him for libel, a criminal offense in the Philippines, we must remember that his mission, as well as the mission of all journalists, has been to keep the public informed and aware of what is happening in the government.

Despite mounting challenges we journalists meet every day, we must continue to keep the public informed; we must continue to be always antagonistic and aggressive and not kowtow to any administration, no matter what party they’re part of.

We need to uphold the freedom of the press and expression and support all crusading journalists. An independent press is one of the essential pillars of any democracy all over the world.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)