More bovine ordure, this time from Edu Manzano
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-07-26
You don't need to traipse all over cow pasture to get bovine ordure, our polite term for bull shit. You can actually harvest a good heap just by watching the news. ABS-CBN's TV Patrol does professional reporting but it can't change what comes out from the mouths of the Arroyo regime's appointees.

I thought that despite his showbiz background, Edu Manzano of the Optical Media Board (OMB) was a sensible guy. During the election campaign, Manzano had advised showbiz people who ran for the Senate to first prove their mettle in lesser elective posts.

But my opinion of Edu Manzano changed when I heard him on TV Patrol last July 12 threatening mall owners with lawsuits and closure if they continue allowing pirated DVD videos to be sold in their establishments. He also berated the Catholic Church for not doing anything about the open sale of pirated videos outside churches. Worse, he even took a foolhardy snipe at Muslims — accusing them of engaging in the illegal trade of pirated DVD videos and going so far as to even cite the Koran.

Whoa, I said to myself when I heard Manzano say all that. Does this guy realize the implications of what he just uttered on national television?

He had threatened to impose penalties and sanctions that are not even covered by existing laws and ordinances. Mall owners cannot be responsible for what their independent concessionaires and lessees sell as long as they have no business links with their trade.

Mall owners have no way of preventing a lessee or concessionaire from selling illegal items, especially as these are usually sold surreptitiously. The law recognizes this limitation and does not penalize the mall owner for such misdeeds of a tenant. The illegal act is attributable to the seller and to the seller alone.

Can you imagine what would happen if we had such a law that makes mall owners answerable for the clandestine sale of illegal items inside their establishments? I am sure mall owners want their tenants to be law abiding. But we can't expect them to do the job of cops — to snoop on their own tenants and turn them in for wrongdoing.

I doubt if malls will want to operate under such a stupid law that not even the most repressive regimes enforce. It will only recast the image of the Philippines as a Gestapo state where business enterprises are made to answer for the offenses of private entities they clearly cannot control.

Testing the limits of his almightiness, Manzano then points his finger at Catholic Churches where sellers of assorted goods, including pirated DVD videos, line the fringes outside the church grounds. This time, Manzano wants to impose criminal liability resulting from proximity to the commission of the offense.

Following the principle behind Manzano's self-styled decree-making, you can be liable for the sale of shabu or any illegal merchandise outside your house or office even if you have nothing to do with the goods or the transaction. Again, there is no law making a citizen liable for the commission of a crime for reasons of proximity.

CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) Spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio quickly dismissed Manzano's allegation, saying that the Catholic Church does not have the police powers to prevent such transactions.

Indeed, Church accountability can only be limited to the confines of church premises and the involvement of the clergy. And even if an illegal item is sold inside the Church — the fact that it is a public place — the clergy cannot be held accountable for the transaction.

After dishing bovine ordure on mall owners and even more bovine ordure on the Catholic Church — Manzano reserved his greatest production of bovine ordure by committing a religious slur on Muslims. If the Muslim world went up in arms over Danish cartoons, they would have gone on the path of Jihad, or Holy War, if they heard what Manzano uttered.

Manzano cited the Koran in castigating Muslims for the sale of pirated DVD videos. He gave the impression that only Muslims engaged in the illegal sale of pirated videos and that the Koran allowed such illegal activities.

From where I sat, wrecking another chair, I thought that this man was not only way out of line but also very dangerous.

I sensed that Manzano may just be grandstanding and covering up for his failure to curb the video piracy problem, a classic case of diverting the issue and passing the buck.

Movies are the second biggest export of the US and we can expect the US to go to great lengths to protect their movie industry. The US pressure is understandable but it gives Manzano no excuse to re-write the laws of the land in his desperation to curb video piracy.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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