Philippines slaps libel suit to silence broadcast journalist

Pictured: Ted Failon posting bail at a local court in Tagaytay City. Screenshot: ABS-CBN

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in condemning the libel suit against ABS-CBN’s broadcast journalist Ted Failon and three members of his staff.

Ted Failon was indicted following the airing of an episode of ABS-CBN show ’Failon Ngayon’. ABS-CBN reports that former Metropolitan Manila Development Activity (MMDA) Chairman Francisco Tolentino filed a libel case against Failon and three other staff members of the current affairs program. The NUJP said the episode looked into the “allegedly irregular purchase by the MMMDA under Tolentino of secondhand motorcycles for Pope Francis’ visit to Manila in 2014, which the Commission on Audit had questioned”. The NUJP details that on Tuesday, Failon and his three colleagues posted bail after they were arrested by a Tagaytay City court for the case filed by then MMDA chairman and now presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino. The NUJP said: “The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines stands squarely with Ted Failon and his colleagues and call on Francisco Tolentino to drop his misbegotten suit against them.” Acting Chair Attorney Jo Clemente said: “Filing a criminal libel suit instead of responding to an issue honestly smacks of vindictiveness and goes against the very principle of public office being a public trust.” The IFJ and NUJP strongly oppose the jailing of journalists in an attempt to silence them against investigating important and often controversial issues.

The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the latest arrest and charges on Ted Failon and his three colleagues. We demand the withdrawal of all charges, and calls for a legislation to decriminalize libel, which has turned into a government officials’ tool of choice in attempting to repress and threaten the country’s media and other dissenting voices.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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