Morato cries foul over news report on raps
Former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Manuel Morato has described as “one-sided reporting” the Philippine Daily Inquirer news story announcing his arraignment by a Quezon City court on the electioneering charges filed against him by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“The Inquirer did not bother to get my side on the four counts of electioneering offenses filed against me by the Comelec, which were actually initiated by current PCSO Chair Margie Juico and her husband, Philip, through Bonifacio Alentajan, his lawyer at the Philippine Sports Commission,” Morato said of the news story titled “Morato to be arraigned this week on poll case” (August 26, PDI).
The story was simply a report on his scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Branch 87 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
“They’re just hitting back in their attempt to silence me after my revelations about the PCSO anomalies,” said Morato, who was also PCSO chairman during the Ramos administration.
In a text message to the Inquirer, Morato dismissed the charges against him as a “curtailment of my freedom of expression, the same freedom of expression that the entire media industry has been fighting for.”
On July 20, multiple charges of violation of Republic Act No. 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, were filed against Morato for allegedly using several episodes of his public affairs television program, “Dial M,” to campaign for former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro in the 2010 presidential election.
The Comelec earlier junked a motion for reconsideration filed by Morato.
The alleged election-related offenses included the use of public funds and government equipment and facilities for an election campaign, two counts of prohibited forms of election propaganda, and broadcasting of political advertisements or propaganda.
Morato denied spending government funds for his TV program, saying it was a station-produced show, with the PCSO putting its commercials on it.
“It was an exchange deal. It was an in-house production and PTV-4, then NBN-4, earned from the show to pay for the salaries of its employees whose pay were delayed for months,” he said.
Morato said the “Dial M” tapes presented by lawyer Alentajan supposedly showing his endorsement of Teodoro were “tampered with” tapes from IBC-13.
Noting that he was a political appointee, Morato also said he was “not subject to the Civil Service Commission prohibition on government employees” on election-related matters.
In May, Morato disputed the Comelec order on the filing of the 2010 presidential election-related cases against him, asserting that “there is no clear line dividing press freedom and the ban on electioneering.” Jerry E. Esplanada