IFJ condemns verdict in Publisher indirect contempt of court case

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National

Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in condemning the guilty verdict

passed down in the case against Carmelo Rima, publisher and editor-in-chief of

the weekly Island Sandigan.

 

On January 15 Catanduanes police

arrested and detained Rima, on an indirect contempt charge issued by

Regional Trial Court Judge,LeluContreras,

following an article published by Rima in the paper Island Sandigan.

Judge Contreras felt she was alluded to in the article which stated that a

judge was involved in forging Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua’s naturalization

documents.

 

On January 18, Judge Contreras, found

publisher-editor Rima guilty of indirect contempt for writing the article that

allegedly maligned her and the court. Judge Contreras imposed a fine of P30,000

on Rima and demanded he publish an apology in local newspapers in

exchange for a suspended jail term.

 

Ramil Soliveres, NUJP-Catanduanes chair

stated that Rima opted to apologize rather than serve a jail term, as he is in

poor health and recuperating from throat cancer.

 

No lawyer represented Rima during yesterday’s

proceeding, Soliveres added. Public Attorney’s Office lawyer Emmanuel Pelea and

private lawyer Leo Mendoza who initially offered to represent him later

withdrew their offer. Mendoza cited conflict of interest since his brother-in-law

Governor Joseph Cua, was cited in the article which led to the charge against

Rima.

 

Judge Contreras proceeded with the hearing,

reportedly saying to Rima, “you can defend yourself, can’t you? You’re smart

enough, right?”

 

Rima was detained for three days – defying Rule

71, Sec. 4 of the Revised Rules of Court in which an accused can only be

imprisoned under charges of direct contempt. On January 18 after three days in

detention, Rima asked the court if he could be allowed to post bail, but Judge Contreras

refused. 

 

“This case highlights the blatant disregard

of the Judiciary in the Philippines of the rights of all citizens to freedom of

expression and a fair trial under the Constitution,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.

 

The IFJ demands the Central Government ensure

judicial officers and court officials are made aware of the rights of

journalists to report on matters of public interest.

 

 

 

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131

countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific