Posts Tagged ‘Decriminalize Libel’

2013 World Press Freedom Day: The Press is all of Us


 

Tomorrow is World Press Freedom Day and there is no more opportune time to highlight the contradictions between the name of what we are supposed to celebrate and the real happenings in the flesh.

This year, several killings and harassments of media practitioners have already been documented. Last February, a photographer and correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer were hit by policemen while covering the protest action in Davao City of the Typhoon Pablo victims. Also, criminal libel continues to threaten the work of several journalists in the country. Last March, two Southern Luzon correspondents of The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon were charged with a libel case by a gold trader from Camarines Norte. In the campus press, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop continues to face a legal battle because of an allegedly libelous lampoon article that came out during her term.

The murder of Gerry Ortega, an environmentalist and journalist from Palawan, continues to be unresolved up to now. The same lack of justice applies to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, 30 of which were journalists and their families.

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, let us bear in mind the grim happenings that sadly taint our cause of celebration. More importantly, let us continue our fight for a more genuine Press Freedom all over the world and for a Press that will not be harassed, intimidated, charged legally, surveilled, abducted and murdered for what they write and what principles they uphold.

Ultimately, the Press is all of us; the Press is not just the people behind the newspaper articles and the news programs; the Press also includes the people who are the producers, consumers and analysts of information that is shown in the media.

 

 

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915

 

Days before start of oral arguments: CEGP-BB urges register of opposition against Cybercrime Law


Press Statement

January 08, 2013

 

A few days before the oral arguments on the controversial Cybercrime Law begin on January 15, CEGP Baguio-Benguet urges the continuing campaign against the law that can make libel “Instagram an insta-crime” in the Philippines.

The controversial law created a buzz last year when it took effect on October 03 and with its inclusion of online libel among the punishable acts, it threatened to make a crime out of mere sharing or liking or deemed “libelous” statements or images in the internet, particularly in social networking sites. The law was then greeted with an avalanche of protests and legal petitions clamoring for the suspension of the law. As a result of the vigorous protests launched by different organizations from various sectors including CEGP, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous vote, issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the much-opposed law.

The Guild sees this as the triumph of the collective action of the different groups of people who registered their protests on the Cybercrime Law. While the Guild commends this decision and more importantly the people who have not failed to show its oppositional stance regarding the issue, CEGP Baguio-Benguet is prompt in reminding that the people must not be complacent after this initial triumph. The battle against the repression of “online freedom of expression” is only beginning and we call on the everyone to continuously act together towards amending the questionable inclusions in the law, specifically the Libel provision, if not the outright junking of the law. With the TRO expiring in February 06 and the oral arguments beginning on January 15, it is opportune to reorganize and once again register our arguments against the law. Scattered oppositions led by various groups can be harmonized into one in order to achieve a more striking formation that will echo the interest of the people and can bring a stronger message to the Aquino regime and its cohorts who are behind this repressive law. As earlier evinced by the SC issuance of TRO, the collective action of the people truly brings forth positive outcomes. This should be the lesson to be put in mind as we continue the battle for freedom of expression not only in the internet among our other constitutional rights.

 

Repeal Cybercrime Law!

Fight for Freedom of Expression!

 

College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, Chair

09268105915

 

With the approval of Cybercrime Law: Libel, now “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines


Statement

Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) asserted that the criminal sanction for libel in the country is “excessive.” Libel being a criminal case in the Philippines is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in which the country is a signatory.

While the campaign to decriminalize (diminish from being a criminal to a civil case) libel in the country continues, CEGP Baguio-Benguet sees the approval of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Law as a backward step in the campaign to decriminalize libel. With the inclusion of online libel in the punishable acts under the content-related offenses, the limit to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information already caused by the criminal libel can now take effect in the internet as well. To put it satirically, it seems like libel has become “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines.

In the past, criminal libel cases were filed against journalists, mostly from the community or alternative press, who expose the anomalies of and criticize influential people.  For instance, Alexander Adonis of Bombo Radyo Davao was accused of committing criminal libel by then Congressman and eventual House Speaker Prospero Nograles and convicted after failing to defend himself in court due to financial concerns. This came about after Adonis reported of an incident where the Congressman was caught with a mistress in a Manila Hotel.

At present, a member of the Guild, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is facing a libel case in the Regional Trial Court. The case ensued from a section of a lampoon article criticizing acts of powerplay in the university.

With the approval of the Cybercrime Law, the Guild is wary of it posing a limitation to the freedom of expression and free flow of discourse in the internet. Undeniably, the online medium has proven to be one of the more efficient ways of disseminating information and participating in the discourses in the society especially among the youth. The possible implementation of the Cybercrime Law can only curb the potentials of the online medium for sharing information and shaping public opinion. With numerous campus publications setting up online version of their newspapers, any content that can be deemed “libelous” by authorities can lead to undue penalties.

In the end, CEGP Baguio-Benguet perceives the approval of the Cybercrime Law to be another manifestation of the Aquino regime’s stifling of the rights of its people.  With its continued blundering in addressing the issues confronting the basic people such as access to basic social services, employment, land distribution among others and the resulting outcry from more and more of its constituents, the Aquino regime seeks to systematically repress their expression of dissent through various means. The Cybercrime Law is clearly one of these tactics. To this, the Guild sees nothing more apt a response than continuing dissent. Silence cannot be condoned when it is the rights of the people that are at stake.

An update on the libel case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Outcrop Editor-in-Chief (3)


August 28, 2012

As of now, the libel case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the UP Baguio Outcrop is put into halt as it awaits the next scheduled hearing which will be on the third of September 2012. In this hearing, the defense will get the turn to present its witnesses.

At this stage of the legal battle faced by one of the members of the Guild in her work as a campus journalist, CEGP Baguio-Benguet maintains its support to the former Outcrop EIC. We continue our call to decriminalize libel as this criminal case proves to be commonly used by powers-that-be to stifle the journalistic practice of the mainstream, local and campus press alike. We echo the call of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to diminish the status of libel as a case from the present criminal to a civil one. We acknowledge the importance of having a libel case that can contribute in guarding against the irresponsible practice of journalism but this must not be a criminal case. We believe that our journalists, from mainstream to campus, do not play with the press freedom attributed to them. Moreover, we believe that the public’s right to know is much more important to our journalists for them to practice their profession responsibly and NOT “abuse” their press freedom as often charged against them.

We continue egging on our fellow members of the campus press and of the mainstream media to show their support for a fellow journalists’ battle. We reiterate that taken on a larger level, this is not just the battle of Paquibot; this is also the battle of the entire press for their press freedom and most importantly, a battle of the entire populace for their right to know.

 

UPHOLD CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM!

DECRIMINALIZE LIBEL!

 

College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet

 

For related articles on the Decriminalization of Libel, check out these links:

http://www.philpressinstitute.com/2012/03/22/decriminalize-libel-now/

http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2012/02/17/decriminalizing-libel-un-declares-ph-libel-law-excessive/

http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=65&articleid=790639

Support Statement for Outcrop Libel Case: CEGP Kalinga Chapter


A campus paper writer is an artistic activist and partisan in some struggle for power. Like an artist, he molds, paints, draws and sketches words about what is happening around her in the school or in the community where he lives. Like a partisan, he is often mistaken as a shrewd oppositionist who writes or comments against the faculty or administration of the school he is connected. It is just but natural and perhaps even healthier that some divergence of view sets in.

Every student journalist has the right to express her feelings, ideas and observations but has to be responsible enough to seek and present only the truth for journalism should be promoted as a way literature that is not one-sided and baseless.  Press freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Philippines, where it is enshrined in Article III, Section 4.

Hence, we, the members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Kalinga Chapter, affirm our support for Ms. Jesusa Paquibot, Editor-in-Chief of the Outcrop, and the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is facing a libel case filed against her by a faculty member of UP Baguio.

 

DECRIMINALIZE LIBEL

FIGHT FOR CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM!

UPHOLD STUDENT’S DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM!

 

Nineteen year-old campus journalist facing possible conviction for charges of libel: an update on the libel case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Outcrop Editor-in-Chief (2)


The task of the journalist, be it mainstream or campus-based, is to write the truth. Whether it is the rising prices of commodities, the poverty in urban areas, the latest gadgets, the movies that everyone is watching at the moment, a teacher rebuking someone who merely does her job as an event documentor or a new infrastructure in town, as long as it is grounded on reality and backed up by facts, the journalist must write what he or she thinks is most relevant to the readers.

Due to limitations in the space of a newspaper or time slot for audio-visual programs, journalists can only choose some of what they deem to be most relevant and most significant among the numerous events happening around which they can write about. Moreover, given a democratic space that is being limited by factors like legislations, editorial policies leaning towards private interests and most severely, security threats, the journalists have to be more careful and creative in delivering the issues in the community and influencing the thinking of the people. One of the ways by which these limitations can be undermined is through types of writing that can vary tones and writing styles, explore linguistic forms and generally go outside the rigidities of structure usually found in more traditional types of journalism articles like news and features. One example here is lampoon writing. Without bypassing the principles of responsible journalism and in the case of Outcrop, without digression from its pro-student and pro-people orientation, lampoon writing can be effectively used to tackle issues which otherwise cannot be tackled in a setting abounding with repressive codes and regulations. Sadly, even this tapping of alternative forms to deliver truthful events is being attacked especially if they threaten those who cling to and benefit with their power. This is what happened to a lampoon article, entitled Yupiang Yupi, which is published in Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio.

Around November last year, upon arriving at her boarding house, the Editor-in-Chief of UPB Outcrop received a subpoena requiring her to submit a counter-affidavit in defense of the complaint that a Professor in UP Baguio filed at the City Prosecutor’s Office on August 25, 2011. On November 25, together with her legal adviser, Paquibot filed her counter-affidavit at the City Prosecutor’s Office. Four days after, The City Prosecutor’s Office filed a resolution stating that the article was not libelous due to the lack of the element of specificity.

On December 19, 2011, the private complainant filed a motion for reconsideration. The case was then considered libelous after a student and a professor from the CAC officially declared that they think the fictional character in the said Yupiang Yupi article to be professor. However, the Outcrop was not able to respond to this since it was the period of Christmas break when most of the staffers come back to their homes.

January of this year when Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio and member of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, received a notice from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) prosecutor indicating its decision to continue the libel case filed by a professor of UP Baguio to Jesusa Paquibot as Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop. This was after the earlier charge of libel was dismissed on November 2011 by a different prosecutor.

On January 19, 2012, Outcrop filed cash bond to recall or set aside the warrant of arrest. The original amount of ten thousand was reduced to five thousand five hundred after a motion to reduce bail was made. The amount of money raised and used for bail was garnered overnight through donations from the UP Baguio students, Outcrop alumni and others.

On February 07, 2012, in the scheduled arraignment, the respondent pleaded not guilty.

On March 07, 2012, the pre-trial was held.

On March 08 and 09, 2012, the defense requested the Court for a mediation process with the complainant. While the process went on, the complainant and the respondent were not able to settle the terms of mediation. The complainant wished that the respondent apologizes for the lampoon article it approved of publishing and which intends to defame her. The respondent and her legal advisers disagreed to these terms for they find it to be self-incriminating and similar to a guilty plea.

With the failure of the mediation process to settle the case, the initial trial was set on April 23 where the Professor testified as the private offended party.

On May 15 and 16, 2012, Professor Anna Christie, now Dean of the College of Arts and Communication of UP Baguio, testified as a witness.

On May 22 Joshua Anne Therese Tan, a Communication student at UP Baguio testified as a witness. The next day, May 23, Ms. Tan was cross-examined by the defense then the side of the private complainant presented another witness, Nelly Rae Castro, also a Communication student at UP Baguio.

On June 19, Amer Amor, an instructor at UP Baguio was presented as the last witness of the private complainant. The side of the private complainant was given ten days to a summation of its evidences to which the defense will have seven days afterwards to make comments on.

As of now, the defense planned to return the case to the Judicial Dispute Resolution where again it will try to settle the case with the complainant by agreeing on the terms of the public letter. Ms. Paquibot of Outcrop and CEGP together with her legal advisers and confreres are open to apologizing to the Professor but only for the distress the lampoon article caused her and nothing else. However, the legal adviser of Outcrop clarified that instead of a “mediation” with the complainant, a “settlement” seems more likely to happen. Whereas in the case of a mediation, the two parties can meet on mutually agreeable terms, a settlement would allow the complainant to compel the respondent (Ms. Paquibot) to abide by the conditions she will demand. Considering the heavy toll a conviction on libel would generate – at least six months of imprisonment and a fine of up to 500 thousand pesos – the Editorial Board of Outcrop is now considering to abide by whatever demands the private complainant will make if a case of settlement takes place. Similar to the plight of the mainstream media, particularly from community papers, who are also prone to charges of libel, Outcrop is being daunted by the possible consequences of a conviction. Lacking the financial capability to shoulder such fines and to miss a period of their work in the case of imprisonment, many mediamen charged of libel are forced to succumb to the conditions given by the complainants just for the case to be dismissed. In the case of Paquibot, the situation appears even bleaker as she is only a student, who unfortunately, was charged of a criminal case by a professor in the university.

To clarify this further, while this scenario is being explored by the Editorial Board of Outcrop and its confreres, it is still very open on pursuing the case. Since it is now the turn of the defense to present its witnesses, Outcrop is already preparing for this stage. It already has its line of witnesses that shall present the other side of the case. Hence, while it already looks at the possibility of conviction of one among its ranks, the defense’ determination to continue the trial is not even slightly dampened. It is in this relation that CEGP Baguio-Benguet keeps on gathering support from fellow campus journalists, mainstream media practitioners and other concerned groups for our victory in this case.

This is when the unity not just of the members of the press but of everyone who cares to know the things happening around them is being urgently called for.  We are seeking the support of the mainstream media which is likewise prone to the threats of powerplay in the current system where libel is only one manifestation. We are also uniting with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in its call to Decriminalize Libel and prevent this from limiting the freedom of expression of the media, and as a consequence, limiting as well the public’s freedom of information.

In the final note, CEGP Baguio-Benguet reiterates that this is not just Outcrop’s battle. This is a battle for the entire press – be it campus or mainstream. This is a battle against the various elements – state institutions and policies, powerful and influential figures – that stifle not only the right of media practitioners to freedom of expression but more importantly, the right to information of the public.

 

For other related materials, check on these links:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-baguio-outcrop/rootcrop-anatomy-of-the-libel-case-against-outcrop/256939927708783

https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-baguio-outcrop/no-backing-down-a-statement-for-jesusa-paquibot-current-outcrop-editor-in-chief-/255314551204654

https://cegpcordillera.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/loquitor-statement-regarding-the-libel-case-against-outcrop/

https://cegpcordillera.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/support-statement-for-jesusa-paquibot/

 

An Update on the Libel Case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-Chief, UP Baguio Outcrop


 

July 10, 2012

January of this year when Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio and member of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, received a notice from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) prosecutor indicating its decision to continue the libel case filed by a professor of UP Baguio to Jesusa Paquibot as Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop. This was after the earlier charge of libel was dismissed on November 2011 by a different prosecutor.

On January 19, 2012, Outcrop filed cash bond to recall or set aside the warrant of arrest. The original amount of ten thousand was reduced to five thousand five hundred after a motion to reduce bail was made. The amount of money raised and used for bail was garnered overnight through donations from the UP Baguio students, Outcrop alumni and others.

On February 07, 2012, in the scheduled arraignment, the respondent pleaded not guilty.

On March 07, 2012, the pre-trial was held.

On March 08 and 09, 2012, the defense requested the Court for a mediation process with the complainant. While the process went on, the complainant and the respondent were not able to settle the terms of mediation. The complainant wished that the respondent apologizes for the lampoon article it approved of publishing and which intends to defame her. The respondent and her legal advisers disagreed to these terms for they find it to be self-incriminating and similar to a guilty plea.

With the failure of the mediation process to settle the case, the initial trial was set on April 23 where the Professor testified as the private offended party.

On May 15 and 16, 2012, Professor Anna Christie, now Dean of the College of Arts and Communication of UP Baguio, testified as a witness.

On May 22 Joshua Anne Therese Tan, a Communication student at UP Baguio testified as a witness. The next day, May 23, Ms. Tan was cross-examined by the defense then the side of the private complainant presented another witness, Nelly Rae Castro, also a Communication student at UP Baguio.

On June 19, Amer Amor, an instructor at UP Baguio was presented as the last witness of the private complainant. The side of the private complainant was given ten days to a summation of its evidences to which the defense will have seven days afterwards to make comments on.

As of now, the defense plans to return the case to the Judicial Dispute Resolution where again it will try to settle the case with the complainant by agreeing on the terms of the public letter. Ms. Paquibot of Outcrop and CEGP together with her legal advisers and confreres are open to apologizing to the Professor but only for the distress the lampoon article caused her and nothing else.

In relation to this, CEGP Baguio-Benguet conducted a Round Table Discussion on Libel last June 29 at the Session Hall of the Baguio City Hall. Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines served as the main speaker. CEGP and NUJP Baguio-Benguet also relayed the situation of the campus press in the region and the synthesis respectively. Members of CEGP Baguio-Benguet and the local media (Bandila, Northern Dispatch, Sunstar Baguio, Bombo Radyo) also participated.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet is still calling for support statements from its member publications in the region and other members of the Guild nationwide. It also seeks the support of the mainstream media which is likewise prone to the threats of powerplay in the current system where libel is only one manifestation. It unites with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in its call to Decriminalize Libel and prevent criminal libel from depriving not only the right of media practitioners to freedom of expression but more importantly, the right to information of the public.

For other related materials, check on these links:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-baguio-outcrop/rootcrop-anatomy-of-the-libel-case-against-outcrop/256939927708783

https://www.facebook.com/notes/up-baguio-outcrop/no-backing-down-a-statement-for-jesusa-paquibot-current-outcrop-editor-in-chief-/255314551204654

https://cegpcordillera.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/loquitor-statement-regarding-the-libel-case-against-outcrop/

https://cegpcordillera.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/support-statement-for-jesusa-paquibot/

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