The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is appalled that arrest warrants for 10 publishers and journalists of three Cavite-based newspapers were issued in relation to defamation charges filed by Governor Erineo "Ayong" Maliksi.
According to IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Judge Norberto Quisumbing Jr of the regional trial court in Imas, Cavite, on October 2, ordered the arrests of Rudy Apolo, a columnist and publisher of the Asian Star Journal and Asia Star Balita, and three members of his editorial staff, Reynaldo and Michelle (also Rudy’s children), and Ed Lara Cuvinar.
Other arrest warrants were reportedly issued for Archie Gadang, editor in chief of Katapat, and his staff Leonardo Eduave and Jimmy Saberon; and Tony Tabbad of Peryodiko and two of his editorial staff. Bail was set at P10, 000 (approximately USD 200) but no date was set for pretrial hearings.
“The fact that in one day, 10 arrest warrants can be issued in a defamation case lodged by one person is simply ridiculous,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“This ludicrous situation only adds to the already abysmal record of criminal defamation cases in the Philippines, where a journalist has received 32 years jail for libel and the president’s husband is currently suing 43 journalists for defamation,” Warren said.
This latest case comes as hundreds of Filipino journalists and their international colleagues, including the IFJ, signed a petition calling for the decriminalisation of defamation in the Philippines.
“This is clearly another attempt to silence journalists, and the IFJ calls for the governor to drop all charges against these journalists,” Warren said.
“The continued use of criminal defamation laws by public officials demonstrates a total disregard for the fundamental right of free speech,” Warren said.
The IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, again calls on the government of the Philippines to decriminalise defamation immediately, to ensure that excessive cases such as this cannot occur.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries