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
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
Judge Contreras proceeded with the hearing,
reportedly saying to Rima, “you can defend yourself, can’t you? You’re smart
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
“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.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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