Antique congressional aspirant wants to decriminalize libel

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – An Antiqueño lawyer aspiring to represent his province’s lone district in Congress will push to decriminalize libel against media practitioners once elected in the May 2022 elections.

Lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, former national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) under the Liberal Party (LP) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office here on Wednesday.

“My father and I had since been advocating for the decriminalization of libel against media practitioners, so hopefully I would win in the election so I could pursue it,” he said in a press conference that followed.

“Due to fear of libel suits, media practitioners could not freely express their opinions for they might be committing public and malicious imputation of a crime, or a vice or defect or to have caused dishonor on a person,” he added.

A media practitioner found to have committed libel, as provided for under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, has to face prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from PHP200 to PHP6,000 or both.

The media under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code may also face civil action, which may be brought by the offended party.

“The media, who are already almost struggling in their economic existence also, would of course be cowered in expressing their opinions so as not to get a libel suit,” Fajardo added.

He said those who are also usually filing libel against media practitioners are only after the civil action because of the damage caused on their reputation and not really imprisonment of the media so there is a need for the decriminalization of libel.

Fajardo is the eldest son of the late Daniel Gumban Fajardo, who published the regional newspaper Panay News and served as president of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC), a media organization. 

PACQUIAO FILES P100M libel cases vs. Quiboloy

Libel case mere propaganda

 September 14, 2021

DAVAO CITY – The libel cases filed by Senator Manny Pacquiao are retaliatory and politicalin nature considering that election season is coming, said the legal counsel of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.Pacquiao filed PHP100-million libel and cyber libel cases… Read More

THE DAVAO DE ORO LIBEL CASE: Fake radio broadcasters, fake radio station

By ROGER M. BALANZA

PART II – Kapisanan ng mga Pekeng Brodkasters ng Piipinas (KPBP)

In the libel cases filed by Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy and his father Provincial Board member Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy, the Davao de Oro government officials were not only facing up to radio broadcasters whodo not play the media profession by the rules.

THE OTSO INIDORO FAKE BROADCASTERS GANG. Clockwise, Bogat Saliot, Jongjong konko aka Pader Lamotak, Edward Macapili, Rowell Sembrano, David Pac aka Dodong David, Renan Dumapi aka Ka Mario Bobby Lagro aka Doc Bobby and Emie Gorgio aka Doc Emie

The Uys were also up against an eight-man band of fake radio broadcasters brutally firing unfounded defamatory missiles from an unlicensed radio station, without regard whatsoever to even the barest requirement of media ethics.

The gang calls their group as the Magnificent 8, but critics gave them an obnoxious name, Otso Inidoro, to do justice to the garbage that spews out of their mouth.

Since early May this year the Uys endured a barrage of brutal commentaries fired early morning, noon and evening by the Otso Inidoro gang from two FM radio stations (InfiniteRadio FM 96.1-Tagum City and Power Radio 94.7 – DavaoCity) accusing them of corruption and other irregularities.

The black propaganda being fired just months before the May 2022 elections, the Uys can only suspect that the Otso Inidoro was hired by a Davao de Oro politician who wanted to challenge Gov Uy’s reelection and a Davao del Norte politician whose reelection could be challenged by an Uy.

Talks say the Davao de Oro politician coughed up half-a-million pesos to the Otso Inidoro to conduct the smear drive against the Uys.

LIBEL RAPS FILED VS. DAVNOR CAPITOL BROADCASTERS BEHIND SMEAR DRIVE VS DAVAO DE ORO’S UYS

Records also show that the Otso Inidoro gang are listed in the payroll of the Davao del Norte Office of the Govvernor receiving as much as P30,000 per month.

The Otso Inidoro gang members are also not accredited by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP), the agency that police violations of media ethics in the broadcast industry.

Mainstream broadcast media players consider the Otso Inidoro gang as fake broadcasters and jestingly tag the group as members of the Kapisanan ng mga Pekeng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KPBP).

One of the two radio stations, Tagum City-based Infinite Radio 96.1, where Otso Inidoro broadcast its defmation against the Uys, is also not licensed, operating as a branch of another station with an expired franchise.

The Otso Inidoro gang vowed to send the Uys to jail for alleged overpricing in government purchases and other irregularities, but they may find themselves soon behind bars courtesy of their foul mouths.

The Uys have already filed against the Otso Inidoro more than a hundred counts of libel and cyber libel, based on two months of their morning, noon and evening scurrilous and defamatory assaults on the person and reputation of the Uys, in their radio commentaries and in social media.

The Uys’ legal counsel, Glen Carnicer, said the Uys have never filed a libel case against the media in their long years in government.

The Uys respect the role of media in government, said Carnicer in an interview in the Bakbak program hosted by anchorman Kid Libunao on Tagum City-based RPFM 99.9 radio on Monday, July 5.

But the Otso Inidoro was different. (NEXT – PART III – The Governor’s paid hacks)

EU THREATENS PH WITH ECONOMIC SANCTIONS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

No reason to revoke PH’s GSP+ status

The Philippine government does not see any reason the European Union (EU) would revoke the trade perks it granted to Manila, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday. “So far, we are able to explain objectively the Philippines side on issues that are raised and we don’t see any reason why our… Read More

EU should check own glasshouses before throwing stones

A political analyst took to social media her stand on the recent recommendation of European Union (EU) lawmakers to impose economic sanctions on Philippine goods entering their markets because of an alleged violation of human rights, closure of a broadcast network, and cases of a… Read More

RAPPLER JOURNALISTS MAY RAISE CYBER LIBEL CONVICTION TO COURT OF APPEALS

Rappler executive editor and chief executive officer Maria Angelita Ressa and writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. who were found guilty of cyber libel by a Manila court may raise an appeal with the Court of Appeals (CA), their counsel said.

Defense counsel Theodore Te, in a press briefing after the promulgation of the verdict on Monday, June 15, said they are studying their options including possibly appealing the case to the Court of Appeals CA.

Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa sentenced the two to imprisonment ranging from six months and one day to six years. READ MORE

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS: Ressa, Santos conviction an assault to media freedom

Conviction highlights the ability of the Philippines’ abusive leader to manipulate the laws to go after critical media 

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday slammed the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. for cyber libel, saying it is “a devastating blow to media freedom in the Philippines.”

“The verdict against Maria Ressa highlights the ability of the Philippines’ abusive leader to manipulate the laws to go after critical, well-respected media voices whatever the ultimate cost to the country,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement following the issuance of the decision.

“The Rappler case will reverberate not just in the Philippines, but in many countries that long considered the country a robust environment for media freedom,” he added.

HRW noted that the cases filed against Rappler only show the Duterte administration’s determination to intimidate and shut down the online news site. READ MORE

Originally published in GMA News Online

NUJP: RESSA, SANTOS CONVICTION KILLED PRESS FREEDOM

Media organizations stand with Rappler journalists

A dark day not only for independent Philippine media but for all Filipinos

MARIA RESSA

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Monday called the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. for cyber libel charges a “dark day.”

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, NUJP said the conviction of Maria Ressa and Santos killed freedom of speech and of the press but journalists will not be cowed.

“This is a dark day not only for independent Philippine media but for all Filipinos. The verdict  basically kills freedom of speech and of the press,” NUJP said. READ MORE IN GMA NEWS

COURT FINDS RESSA, SANTOS GUILTY OF CYBER LIBEL

Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa and former Rappler researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos were sentenced on Monday, June 15,  to up to six years in jail by a Manila court  over cyber libel charges filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng.

The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46 allowed bail for the journalists and ordered them to pay P200,000 in moral damages and another P200,000 in exemplary damages.

In a decision, Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa sentenced Ressa and Santos to 6 months and 1 day to up to 6 years in jail.

Commentary: THE CYBER LIBEL RAP VS. RESSA, RAPPLER

VERDICT ON CYBERLIBEL RAP VS. RESSA, RAPPLER OUT TODAY

“I am embracing the fear”

RESSA

Journalist Maria Ressa said this chilling line as a Manila court was set to announce its verdict on Monday, June 15, on the high-profile cyber libel case of Rappler, its CEO Ressa, and former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr.

Rappler said the verdict will have a big implications on the young Philippine cybercrime law and the freedom to publish online.

VERDICT PRIMER: Legal and factual issues in Rappler, Maria Ressa cyber libel case

Ressa faces 7 other criminal charges in different courts, all related to Rappler’s Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), over which the news company was ordered shut in 2018. READ MORE

PANELO TO FILE LIBEL RAPS VS. RAPPLER, INQUIRER

panelo 2

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo is filing libel charges against the online news site Rappler for reporting that he “endorsed” and “recommended” the early release of convicted rapist and murderer former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.

At a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Panelo said that he is also filing libel complaints against Inquirer.net for a tweet that carried the same malicious tenor.

Sanchez is serving seven life sentences for the 1993 rape and murder of  University of the Philippines Los-Baños student Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez. Panelo was one of  Sanchez’s lawyers in the case.

The online stories revolved around a letter he wrote to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) referring a letter of the Sanchez family that requested clemency  for Sanchez.

Panelo said that he  did not “endorse” or “recommend” the early release of the former Laguna mayor, but merely “referred” the letter to BPP.

“Those articles are reeking with malice and it’s libelous in nature because they tend edto impute an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor,” Panelo said.

“I am filing a libel case against net Inquirer and Rappler for publishing these malicious articles,” he told reporters. The presidential spokesman said the charges would be filed “immediately” as soon as his office is ready with the complaints.

Inquirer.net used the word “recommended” while Rappler used the word “endorsed” when Panelo said he only referred the letter to the appropriate agency or department.

Because of the words used in the report, Panelo said that “people are saying now that I really did something about the so-called release.”

He reiterated that he merely wrote a referral letter to the Board of BPP to act on the request of Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie, to grant her father pardon but “never recommended anything.”

“The application was referred to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole  for their evaluation. We have nothing to do with it. But then they’re writing an article saying I recommended, I did not,” Panelo said.

He said he asked both Inquirer.net and Rappler to correct their reports but they have not tried to do so.

“I demanded rectification but I have not received any report from them. I sent a text earlier just before the press briefing. I also texted Pia (Ranada of Rappler) and I told her no intervention, I explained to her but she has not responded. She just said ‘got it.,’” Panelo said.

Panelo, who was a former broadcaster himself, said journalists “should be writing accurately.”

“The letter says I’m just referring the letter and when they said it was denied, I said ‘Thank you for your prompt response, nothing more,’” Panelo said.

He said he did not feel the need to inhibit from writing a referral letter despite being Sanchez’s former lawyer since he was only performing official duties by responding to all letters by referring it to the proper agency or department.

“It doesn’t matter to me because you cannot discriminate otherwise you will also be accused of discriminating them because you were a former lawyer of 27 years. The president said is you have to respond to all,” Panelo said.

“In the first place, the letter was not even in reference to Republic Act No. 10592, it refers to their applying for clemency,” he added.

R.A. 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law provides new guidelines on how to compute good conduct time, including a 20-day deduction for each month of good behavior during the first two years of imprisonment.

No influential person

Panelo also rejected the claim of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, who said the Palace official’s letter of referral could be interpreted as “intervention to act favorably on the application of early release” of Sanchez.

“In the first place, it was not a referral letter to act favorably. The letter speaks for itself, it was an ordinary referral of them to do something about the request. That’s for them (BPP) to decide, we have nothing to do with it,” Panelo said.

He said there is no influential person to President Rodrigo Duterte and that a letter bearing his signature and his office’s official seal should not put pressure on any department to act favorably.

“My name does not carry weight because the president’s policy to all of us, walang (there are no) sacred cow dito (here). Kaya lahat kami alam namin yun. Walang makaka-impluwensiya kahit kanino (We all know that. Nobody can influence anyone),” Panelo said.

Panelo said all letters of referral are sent to heads of agencies and departments who are “responsible, competent, and intelligent enough” to follow the President’s policy.

In a statement, Inquirer.net said it respected Panelo’s right to sue for libel “if he feels aggrieved by the report.”

“We shall refer the matter to our lawyers when he files the suit,” Inquirer.net said.

In a separate statement, Rappler described Panelo’s libel threat as “pure diversionary tactic”, noting that the Palace official should have just answered questions about his possible conflicts of interest instead of “shooting the messenger.” (with PNA report)