23 September 2015

Observers Decry Martial Law-Like Ban on Badua

The Snowy Revenge
Shortly after the PBA Commissioner announced that they will indefinitely ban sports journalist, Snow Badua, from all of the league’s activities, online sports enthusiasts were up in arms in criticizing the league for mishandling the issue without any due process.

Badua is not allowed to cover PBA and interview its players and officials because Commissioner Chito Salud found him "making incessant and baseless attacks against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel governor Alfrancis Chua."

“It has come to my attention that you had used different media platforms to malign, embarrass and mortify a person of authority of this association. Your incessant attacks on Twitter on Mr. Alfrancis Chua, team manager of Ginebra San Miguel, has caused distress, embarrassment and disharmony with his family,” Narvasa said in his letter to Badua hand delivered last 18 September 2015.

Badua incurred the ire of Commissioner Salud after he repeatedly featured the allegations of model Abby Poblador in his articles. Poblador admitted during Mo Twister's show that she and Chua had an illicit affair. Badua also made several snide remarks and agitating tweets about the San Miguel governor, which might be considered irresponsible and reckless.

However, instead of helping keep the credibility of the league afloat, Commissioner Salud and the PBA as an organization was criticized mercilessly. Here are some of the remarks made by well-known basketball personalities:

Lawrence Chongson, former UAAP and PBA-D-League coach
"For me personally, today is indeed a very sad day in PBA history. Wala tayong kina-kampihan o hinu-husgahang mga personalidad pero yung pag-sanction ng ganong ka-bigat sa isang manunulat... parang overkill. It seemed like press freedom just died today.

A wiser man would've just allowed it to die a natural (natural ba?) death. But instead, what we witnessed was a kumpadre coming to the aide of another kumpadre ... rightfully or wrongly."
Jay P. Mercado, Author of PBA Rewind and Pinoy Exchange's resident Basketball Expert
"... the reason was all wrong. The ban was imposed in the aftermath of the Chua incident. Had the ban been imposed because of a multitude of factors, like irresponsible reporting, maligning of PBA personalities in the past, tussles with the PBA statistician and other personalities in the league, etc., then topped by the twitter rant on Chua, then, perhaps, the ban would have been arguably acceptable.

But Narvasa only cited the Chua incident. It's no secret that majority of the Board dislikes his style, including the team owners. It's also no secret that he isn't popular with them. But being unpopular doesn't merit such a sanction. It will never be.

The PBA will get burned here badly. And it will prop Badua's persona even more, making him easier to "hate even more" by critics and non-fans. Imagine, one of the first memos released by the Commissioner was this sanction. And the first memo that came out from the CEO's office was justifying the Commissioner's act."
Dodo Catacutan, Spin.ph Editor-in-Chief and Snow Badua's Supervisor
"This PBA ban is being sold as an action against one person, yet there is no way this ban can be taken in isolation. It is being marketed as the league’s righteous anger against one website, yet this ban cannot, in whole or in part, be justifiable in a country and a time when press freedom has long been fought and won.

This ban sets a bad precedent. It delivers a threat to all media persons, whether from the print, broadcast, or digital platform, who write and comment about the league, its officials, its corporate participants, its teams, its players, its coaches, and its games.

The ban is saying: “Be careful what you write, you could be next.”

Add to that: "We did it once, we can do it again."
Francis TJ Ochoa, PDI Assistant Sports Editor and Author of Sportswriter Blog
"... by censoring Snow, the PBA set a precedent, a subtle warning of what it is capable of doing when it deals with journalists who are antagonistic to the league. I have always been pro-PBA, by choice. Still am. But what if by circumstance, I am to take a vociferous stance against a league policy? Do I get an indefinite, sweeping ban too? I don’t think Snow is a member of the PSA, but every sportswriter worth his salt should be disturbed, even mildly, by this turn of events.

You may think “That’s never going to happen to me; I’m better than Snow Badua” but in reality all it takes is one disgruntled PBA governor to point to this incident and say you should get banned for writing negative things about him, too. I understand that there is a certain sense of irony that the PBA has turned someone like Snow Badua into an inadvertent poster boy of the battle for a free press. While I respect the groundbreaking, haphazardly fast-food manner by which he delivers his journalism, his less-than-savory work process leaves much to be desired."
JB Baylon, Former PBA Vice-Chairman
"That Snow Badua may have exceeded certain "limits" in his pursuit of this story is arguable, but is principally a matter between him and his subject.

For the PBA to ban Badua from covering its activities seems to me a little overboard . To warn players, coaches and other individuals connected with the PBA not to give interviews to Badua lest they be sanctioned is stretching things even more.

I think any review of jurispudence on free speech and freedom of the press will show a bias for freedom despite potential excesses (for which the offended can take legal action), but the PBA clearly preferred the heavy hand of censorship."

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