Faulty assumptions and unproven hunches risk ruining not only someone’s reputations but also their lives, let alone their future. This is the so-called, trial by publicity. Yes, we can always be swayed by our emotions opting us to judge quickly without looking if the evidence is accurate. But should that be the way we look at things?
While we can’t invalidate the emotions involved, that what happened can really cause an outrage. Those hurtful comments can also cause depression to the other party involved. The best way is to inquire, to be logical, and to ask questions and not prematurely judge. There should always be a presumption of innocence until there is credible evidence of guilt. Remember that there are always two sides to each story.
This is what happened most recently when social media exploded after some known celebrities and influencers have thrown judgment quickly to what would have eventually be found out as premature investigation on Christine Dacera’s case. What happened backfired as the official autopsy indicated that the cause of death is a ruptured aortic aneurysm and that there was no evidence of rape nor sexual assault. That means those who have been thrown into the pit of baseless fury was wrongly accused and misjudged. Many have even thrown curses and malicious allegations. Good thing some are quick to send an apology quoting the PNP as misleading.
I, too, over reacted. I got triggered by the news that a young woman died and was presupposed to have been a victim of rape. I also shared a tweet bearing the names of the suspects without looking into their backgrounds. And when I did, it was too late.
I sincerely apologize.
— Mela Franco Habijan (@missmelahabijan) January 5, 2021
before i sleep i’d just like to reiterate how absolutely sorry i am for helping to spread misinformation :(( the authorities’ statements were misleading and confusing (and still are) so i hope you can understand. regardless, rape will never be okay, though
— kakie (@kakiep83) January 6, 2021
What should we do?
As we carefully watch the development of the case, what we need to do is open our minds. We have to be receptive to what will be presented. Remember that hearsay is not admissible and can always be misleading. As observers, we should look closely, be vigilant, or listen to inconsistencies. Don’t be easily manipulated by what’s being given on the news. We should look for facts and not hearsays. Remember that words are as sharp as a sword. You can always say things that you might regret in the end.
Yes, I agree that we should punish the perpetrators but how about those innocent lives that are being dragged into this mess? Are we suppose to persecute them too? Imagine their reputation is being torn into pieces. This is causing them sleepless nights and so much torment. Even if they know that they have nothing to do about the case, their names are being butchered on social media with so many harsh words and vile comments. Come to think of it, they might have been dealing with a mental health issue as a result. Relationships must have been tarnished, it has led to a questionable future and even job loss. There are so many elements at play.
Imagine the threats that they have received too, there’s even a reward on their heads tagging them as at large. There’s even a threat to hunting them down, would you be confident to easily present yourself if your life is being threatened? What if they are just waiting for the right moment, to explain themselves in the proper venue and that is the legal courts, not in the kangaroo courts of social media. Silence doesn’t always insinuate guilt because there’s always a proper venue for everything. Remember that what you post can always be found libelous if it’s baseless especially now that we have a Cyber Crime Law.
When there is intense public interest, there is emotional and legal turmoil. We all seek the truth but that process should not destroy innocent lives. Let’s continue to be vigilant as we watch the wheel of justice roll but we should not turn a blind eye to manipulation and dirty tactics.
In the end, even if the innocence is proved, the damage has been done and can never be given back. Let’s continue to pray and hope that Christine and her family will find their peace. As for the innocent victims, whose names have been tainted, may their names be vindicated.
Arthur Tolentino is a creative who has diverse interests from creative writing to hairstyling and pageant coaching. Being passionate that he is, he loves pop culture and loves to talk about anything and everything under the sun.