Posts Tagged ‘Libel’

Outside Kafka dwells the collective resistance of the people: a statement against the harassment of student leaders and campus press freedom violations


One day in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Joseph K. woke up just to find out that he was under arrest for a crime he – and even his arresters! – could not identify. Outside the Kafkaesque world where the bizarre is rational and the rational unusual, violations of rights are being committed but accusing fingers are being vehemently directed and names are being explicitly called. Just as the rights violators are direct in taking charge of the “criminals;” the “criminals,” unlike Kafka’s Joseph K. are unflinching in condemning such malicious accusations from their tormentors.

It was January 18 when Marben Panlasigui, Governor of the Student Council School of Humanities (SoH), was harassed by SoH Dean Lilian Gandeza. As reported in this statement by Anakbayan Cordillera, Gandeza accused Panlasigui of commanding the underground movement Kabataang Makabayan. Gandeza also questioned Panlasigui’s effectiveness as a leader and warned him to beware for the SLU Administration can trace his activities. Notably, Panlasigui is a member of the youth organization Anakbayan, an organization known for its consistent campaign not just for the rights and welfare of student but also of the greater people. By conducting activities that raise the awareness of the community to issues like Tuition and Other Fees Increase, Anti-Student Policies, Oil Price and other basic commodities’ hikes among others, Anakbayan continually achieves its objectives of educating and mobilizing the people in relation to the issues that affect them.

In the incident involving Governor Panlasigui and Dean Gandeza, we can see the clash of interests which underlies Gandeza’s assault on Panlasigui. It is the classic and recurring tale of the powerful and privileged playing on their subordinates. This is only symptomatic of a larger scheme of things which manifests itself in a lot of venues in a lot of ways. In schools, the press freedom of campus publications is being violated. The former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is still facing a libel case filed by a Professor in the University for a lampoon article. This is almost Kafkaesque, but Kafkaesque does not exactly mean utterly ridiculous, if not foolish. The Loquitur of the King’s College of the Philippines is still chained to an Administration-appointed adviser who meddles with the internal affairs of the publication. The operations of school and college-based publications in SLU and BSU are hampered by inadequate facilities. In the society at large, the Aquino administration sanctions the Oplan Bayanihan which is merely a sanitized name for the ‘legal’ silencing, prosecution, if not extirpation, of anyone who questions or criticizes the government. Even media practitioners whose job is to tell the truth about the things happenings in the community are not spared of this self-serving program by Aquino. As of November last year, at least 24 journalists have been killed in Aquino’s term. When he banked on the rhetoric of the “tuwid na daan,” Aquino did not reveal all; he did not tell us the “tuwid na daan” is a road filled with blood.

This scheme of things – where a progressive student leader like Panlasigui is being harassed by a school official, supposedly its ally in protecting the rights of students — is in effect because the powerful does not want anyone to have the proper venues to voice out its concerns, criticisms and recommendations.

This scheme of things – where campus journalists, supposedly the mouthpiece of the students, are being charged with libel cases and not being provided with the necessary equipment for their operation — is taking effect because the powerful does not want to mold critical, curious, proactive and independently thinking individuals.

This scheme of things – where the government itself not only condones but initiates the massacre, be it physical or spiritual, of its people – is in effect because the privileged and the powerful will try in all its might to keep the status quo where they rule and benefit at the expense of the larger people.

At the end of Joseph K.’s “trial”—a truly befuddling, if not senseless, or maybe philosophical one, Joseph K. was left musing about everything that just occurred to him.  Until the end, he did not know what he has done for his tormentors to do what they did just do to him. Good thing we are not in Kafka’s universe. For while the powers-that-be are trying us, trying how far our being vigilant, our being critical, our being revolutionary can go, we have the benefit of understanding the systemic origin of this “trial.” We shall not find ourselves merely musing about this hopeless fate at the end. This is not a hopeless situation we are in, after all. This is not the pages of Kafka. With our collective strength and efforts, we can put an end to this system where the powerful few are exploiting and tormenting the greater populace.

Advertisements

THE BUTTRESS’ SUPPORT STATEMENT FOR OUTCROP LIBEL CASE


 

The Buttress, the official student publication of the School of Engineering and Architecture, Saint Louis University, affirms its full support for Ms. Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-chief of Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is reproached with libel by a certain faculty member of UP-Baguio.

The Buttress recognizes the role of student publications as a medium for fair, honest and fearless news and views and as an agent for better relations among the students, faculty members, school administration, and the employees of the school they belong through responsible ethical journalism.  In this regard, as campus journalists, The Buttress believes that campus press freedom is essential for student publications to accomplish their roles for the welfare of the institution they serve.

 

The Buttress believes that the withholding of the right of student publications to freedom of expression, deterring them from informing the public of the truth, is a violation of the freedom of the press, speech and expression as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 4.

The Buttress recognizes that student journalists must always write responsibly and pursue only the truth.

The Buttress is certain that the UPB Outcrop’s lampoon section ‘Yupiang Yupi’ does not intend to defame a specific person and has no malice on the part of the editorial staff.

The Buttress is in one with Ms. Paquibot’s struggle in defending and upholding campus press freedom. The Buttress hopes that justice must be served where it is due, in all fairness to the opposing sides.

Decriminalize libel!

Uphold campus press freedom and student rights!

 

Llayd Asim

Editor-in-chief, The Buttress

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/

%d bloggers like this: