‘Press freedom assault’ Gwen denies hand

Posted on January 8, 2013

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SUSPENDED governor Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday denied having a hand in Sun Star’s decision to suspend the column of her frequent critic, Bobby Nalzaro.

“Wala ko’y labot ana kang Nalzaro kay sa mga elder Garcia na nga decision ug ako wa ma-belong sa ‘elder’ (I’m not involved in Nalzaro’s case. It was the decision of the Garcia elders and I don’t belong to that circle),” she said.

Liberal Party Cebu spokesman Democrito Barcenas condemned the removal of Nalzaro’s column as curtailment of press freedom.

“They (Garcia’s camp) keep saying there’s martial law. Yes, there is and it is in Sun Star. That’s an assault on freedom of the press,” said Barcenas.

Nalzaro, a popular radio-TV anchor, confirmed on Sunday to Cebu Daily News that he had stopped submitting columns since the new year after he was advised by his editors to discontinue writing columns in Sun Star Cebu and its Cebuano tabloid Superbalita as the management had to accede to the request of elders of the Garcia family who had complained about him.

Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said she was “saddened” by the development.

“Mr. Nalzaro is very independent minded. I was sued for temporarily closing Sugbo TV which is not even an independent media outlet and now here’s this development,” she said.

Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia yesterday said Nalzaro’s attacks against his daughter in his columns were too personal.

But he said they have nothing to do with the suspension of his columns.

“Ila kana nga decision, igo ra ming mi-express sa among dissatisfaction anang iyang mga columns nga personal kaayo (That’s their decision. We just expressed our dissatisfaction with his columns that had become too personal) but we had no influence over the management of Sun Star,” he said in a radio dyLA interview.

The elder Garcia said he did not know about the suspension of Nalzaro’s column until the radio station called him to seek his comment.

Isolde Amante, editor in chief of Sun Star Cebu, earlier confirmed that the decision was made by the newspaper’s board of directors which is headed by Jesus “Sonny” Garcia, a first cousin of the suspended governor.

In his radio program over dySS yesterday, Nalzaro said he was told of the board’s decision right after New Year’s day.

He said he revealed the reasons only now in answer to queries from column readers who asked why his pieces no longer appear in the two papers.

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Cebu secretary-general Aaron Pedrosa described the suspension of Nalzaro’s column as a curtailment of press freedom.

Pedrosa said he did not entirely agree with what Nalzaro writes in his columns, recalling that Nalzaro would tag their group as “walhon” or leftist.

“But this is a matter of grave public concern that even press freedom is being curtailed. Asa pa man diay padulong kining padayon nga standoff sa Capitol? (Where is this Capitol standoff heading?)” he said./Renan Alangilan, Ador Vincent Mayol, and Jhunnex Napallacan

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