Filipino journalists ready suit vs President’s husband for abuse of power and undermining press freedom

Enemy of Press Freedomalerts-button-1.jpgForty-two journalists charged in a rash of libel cases filed by the husband of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have signed on to a civil class suit against “First Gentleman” Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, alleging abuse of power and violation of press freedom. GMANews reports that the journalists are poised to seek damages of P87 million (nearly US$1.75 million), “a symbolic amount of one peso for every Filipino.”
“The Filipino public is represented here because it is the public which suffers most when there is no press freedom,” lawyer Harry Roque, the journalists’ legal counsel, told a forum at the University of the Philippines. In recent months, Mr. Arroyo has filed libel cases against 43 reporters, columnists, editors and publishers of various publications. SEAPA and one of its founding members in the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, are supporting the action to defend press freedom in the Philippines. A complete list of the cases is provided and updated by one of the journalist-defendants, Ellen Tordesillas, here. A lawyer himself, Mr. Arroyo was 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.
The journalists said that should they win their counter-suit against Mr. Arroyo, all proceeds will be used to set up a trust fund to advance local journalism. The complaint is expected to be formally filed in the last week of November.
“It is now time to do something apart from protesting Arroyo’s libel suits,” Luis Teodoro, board member of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), a founding member of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.

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One Response to Filipino journalists ready suit vs President’s husband for abuse of power and undermining press freedom

  1. […] Forty-two of the 43 media persons sued for libel by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo yesterday agreed to file a suit against Atty. Arroyo for abusing his powers to file libel cases and for violating the rights of journalists. […]

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