Reaction on the desistance made today by House Speaker Nograles on libel case against another Davao broadcaster

Statement
June 6, 2007

It is absurd to think that after seven long years of causing distress, trouble, and severe anxiety on Davao broadcaster Junior “Jun” Digamon and his family, House Speaker Prospero Nograles now says that he is withdrawing the complaint he filed against him in the “spirit of forgiveness” and out of “own goodwill.”

We say Speaker Nograles should not have filed the libel case at all.

We say that this case only shows how libel can be a tool, indeed, to intimidate and harass the working press.

No thank you to the Affidavit of Desistance entered by the House Speaker through his lawyer on the two counts of libel that he filed against Digamon in 2001, related to his reportage on the “Burlesk King” issue at the time when he was still with Bombo Radyo Davao.

Speaker Nograles was supposed to appear at Branch 17 of the Regional Trial Court in Davao, today, June 6, afternoon of Friday, for a presentation of evidence on the libel case that he filed against the broadcaster.

We note that since the case was filed in 2001, Speaker Nograles has never showed up in court for such procedure that is required in order for the case to proceed. We note that this process was postponed not just once, but seven (7) times. Notwithstanding these, the case went on for seven years.

Colleague Jun Digamon has not committed any act of wrongdoing. Reporting on a public issue is a journalist’s job.

We say this, just as we also say on the case of another colleague, Alexander “Lex” Adonis, who, unfortunately, has already been made to suffer jail for reporting on the same issue. His case, a sad testament of how harsh the country’s libel law has become.

We call on fellow journalists to bond and strengthen further our unity. It is important to make a statement that we do not allow acts like these against our ranks to go unchallenged, for the benefit of the working press, for the benefit of the public we serve.

Reference:
Carmelito Q. Francisco, Chair-NUJP Davao

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