The Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility says a Philippine court has issued warrants for the arrest of a former senator, a national newspaper publisher and several of the newspaper’s staff members, on the strength of libel suits filed by the husband of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. CMFR says Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the arrest of Malaya publisher Amado Macasaet; editors Enrique Romualdez, Joy de los Reyes, Ma. Teresa Molina, and Minnie Advincula; reporters Ellen Tordesillas, JP Lopez and Regina Bengco; and columnist Francisco Tatad.
Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of Philippine president Gloria Arroyo, has in recent months filed libel cases against 43 reporters, columnists, editors and publishers of various publications. A complete list of the cases is provided and updated by Ellen Tordesillas here. Critics have made a game of wondering who Mr. Arroyo will sue next.
A lawyer himself, Mr. Arroyo is shrewd and calculating in his exploitation of libel laws in the Philippines, Theodore Te, a leading human rights lawyer has pointed out. Related to this, more than 600 journalists and 30 local and foreign media organisations, including the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and SEAPA, have supported a petition drafted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calling for the decriminalization of libel in the country.