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The Nasser incident: Is the Internet to blame?

Along with the Internet came the birth of blogging, a tool that allows any computer-literate individual to broadcast his or her point-of-view in any topic available. Blogs are now widely used for any reason—from something as trivial as one’s daily rants to something as important as hard-hitting world news brought to you as it happens in real-time.

However, this phenomenon comes with it a very important fine print: the information you get online can be ranged anywhere from completely accurate to misleading, biased and blown out of proportion. Because of this, its readers are left with the important task of intelligently forming their opinions based on what they think are valid sources.

Take for example the Nasser Vs. Dela Paz incident. According to various news reports, Secretary of Agrarian Reform Nasser Pangandaman, Sr. and his son, Mayor of Lanao del Sur Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., allegedly beat up 56 year-old dela Paz along with his 14 year-old son. Due to emotional distress, the Dela Paz party did not file a complaint at once. However, Bambee, dela Paz’s daughter, blogged about the incident and garnered many sympathetic readers. With the incident now the center of popular discussion over the World Wide Web, dela Paz pushed through with their complaint.

Though the court responsible for this case saw the Pangandamans as innocent until proven guilty, the damage done to their reputation online pushes reasonable doubt aside. It seems that whether or not the Pangandamans are guilty, the freedom of expression brought by the Internet has already shed a bad light on the politicians, strengthening the cause of the other party by a small margin. The counter-suit they filed complaining of physical injuries and insisting that they weren’t the ones who started the fight are now seen as a feeble attempt at trying to save face instead of it being given credit.

Though blogs are protected by the same law protecting the freedom of the press, it is up to us people on the outside to keep the sanctity of the justice system by being responsible bloggers. Some situations can be retold online without meriting disastrous consequences, some situations require a little bit of decency and due process because of its adverse affect on the people involved. Some are factual news with the right amount of sources cited to make it legally binding, some are solely based on first-person point-of-view, hearsay and opinion.

In the end, it is still up to the reader (and blogger) to know the difference.

(Winner, 1st Place, Campus Journalism Awards 2009 under the Editorial Writing - English category)