I met Madam Cheche Lazaro 2 years ago at The VENUE here in Davao City together with the staff of Probe Media and Kabataan News Network when I used to be one of the KNN young reporters. I ate with them. Chatting. That was the first time I figured her out not just a popular broadcast journalist but a humble individual. She talks softly with meat on her words. She is indeed a perfect journalist who speak truth with evidences.
Cheche has been charged for wiretapping by GSIS, when her Probe Team tried to do a story on unfair compensation practices. Cheche had explicitly told GSIS that she was recording their conversation beforehand. She had offered them all the airtime to present their side of the story. In the end, because the story was negative, GSIS chose to charge her with wire-tapping.
It is mind-boggling why I am being singled out for prosecution for following the tenets of responsible journalism. If raising the concerns of underpaid public school teachers deprived of their benefits by a publicly accountable government institution and giving my accuser the airtime to explain her boss's side of the story are now considered crimes under our laws, then I plead guilty.
This is a small price to pay for bringing a perfectly legitimate public interest issue out in the open. Probe will not be intimidated into submission. I just wish my accuser will play fair and hire private lawyers instead of using government lawyers (from the GSIS), whose salaries are incidentally paid for by, among others, the teachers shortchanged by the questionable policy of the GSIS and private citizens like me who pay taxes.
In the last 22 years, Probe has carved a niche in the industry and won recognition here and abroad for consistently adhering to time-honored journalistic values of accuracy, fairness and objectivity. My team and I have no plans of changing the way we work just to accommodate the personal agenda of people in power.