LIBEL AS POLITICS LAUNCH

PRESS RELEASE:
LIBEL AS POLITICS LAUNCH

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has released Libel as Politics, a publication that examines libel from the perspective of law, history, politics, and press practice. The volume provides an insight why defamation remains a crime in the Philippines despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing press freedom and expression.

Efforts to decriminalize libel have not prospered as politicians often use it as an effective harassment tool against journalists who subject them to unflattering reports.
In 2007, broadcaster Alex Adonis was imprisoned for libel filed by Davao Rep. Prospero Nograles. Ironically, Nograles filed a bill for the decriminalization of libel last November.

The Supreme Court has issued a memorandum circular encouraging judges to penalize people convicted of libel with fines instead of imprisonment last January 28.

CMFR deputy director and UP journalism professor Luis Teodoro edited the book and discussed how journalists could avoid libel through ethical practice. Raul Pangalangan, former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law analyzed the role politics play in the litigation of libel suits.

Free Legal Assistance Group chair Jose Manuel Diokno looked into how criminal anti-defamation infringes on the right to free expression. Lawyer Harry Roque discussed the civil suit filed by journalists against presidential spouse Jose Miguel Arroyo for his abuse of right in filing 46 libel cases against 11 journalists. A brief history of libel in the Philippines is also included in the book. 

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