Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

Why CCPC doesn’t want libel decriminalized

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments

RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE STAND OF THE CEBU CITIZENS-PRESS COUNCIL (CCPC) ON THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT DECLARING ONLINE LIBEL AS CONSTITUTIONAL

CONSIDERING THAT

[1] On Feb. 18, 2014, the Supreme Court, ruling on Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Law, declared, among others, the constitutionality of online libel;

[2] On March 13, 2014, Cebu Media Legal Aid (Cemla), on request of the CCPC executive director, discussed the SC ruling’s impact on regular media and the internet, specifically on the crime of libel;

[3] Cemla noted that:

(a) CCPC in two previous separate resolutions (on March 24, 2008, 10th en banc meeting, and on March 29, 2012, 26th en banc meeting) advocated for keeping the crime of libel along with the penalty of fine but removing the penalty of imprisonment;

(b) Underlying the CCPC position, as noted by its executive director, is the core principle in the creation of the Council, which is willingness of Cebu media to accept responsibility even as it defends press freedom;

(c) The 2012 resolution, which reaffirmed the 2008 resolution, reflected the view of an informal survey among Cebu print and broadcast media practitioners conducted before said meeting;

(d) Cemla, as CCPC’s legal advisor, sees no need to revise the stand in the advent of the Supreme Court ruling, except to deplore an apparent inconsistency on the rule on repeated libel as it applies online.

CONSIDERING FURTHER THAT

[4] Neither mainstream media nor the new media shall be totally free, as unbridled freedom that impinges on the rights of others and the stability of community and nation might destroy what the press seeks to protect;

[5] Freedom with responsibility is not inconsistent with the advocacy for a media free from harassment and oppression under the guise of regulation.

NOW THEREFORE, on motion of all members present, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is HEREBY RESOLVED THAT…

[] CCPC reaffirm its position of 2008 and 2012, expressed in the above-mentioned resolutions, that it supports the removal of imprisonment as penalty for libel since, as it has repeatedly argued, “the jail sanction has been used to terrorize and oppress journalists, silencing with the threat of detention press criticism of government and reporting of matters of public interest”; and the keeping of the penalty of reasonable amount of fine;

[] CCPC make a new appeal to legislators that:

(a) the venue of libel be limited to the court of the province or city where the principal office of business of the newspaper or broadcast station or the legal residence of the respondent journalist is, as the present rule on venue has been used to harass media practitioners in faraway courts;

(b) an editor, publisher, or any other executive or supervisory personnel who had not taken part in the writing or editing of the allegedly offensive material before publication be excluded from any lawsuit arising from it.

[] CCPC ask Congress to clarify ambiguities in the Cybercrime Law and the Supreme Court decision, specifically on the rule regarding repeated libel as it applies to regular media and online.

APPROVED THIS 10th day of April, 2014 during the regular en banc meeting of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council held at the MBF Cebu Press Center in Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City.

Tags: CCPC Papers and Resolutions · Cebu Media Legal Aid