Cebu Citizens-Press Council

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Libel, ‘false’ news now carry stiffer fines

November 28th, 2017 · No Comments

CCPC cautions journalists

Libel now carries a higher penalty of fine, from the old rate of P200 to P6,000 to the new rate of P40,000 to P1.2 million.

That is the change that stands out under Republic Act 10951, which adjusted among others the fines imposed under the Revised Penal Code. The Senate bill authored by Sen. Franklin Drilon was signed into law by President Duterte last Aug. 29.

The jail penalty, ranging from six months to four years, is still the same, according to Cebu Media Legal Aid president Elias Espinoza. Cemla was asked by Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) executive director Pachico Seares to do the research for Cebu media.

Here’s Cemla’s report:

Republic Act 10951 is an “Act Adjusting the Amount or the Value of Property and Damage on which a Penalty is Based and the Fines Imposed Under the Revised Penal Code Amending for the Purpose Act No. 3815, Otherwise Known as “The Revised Penal Code.”

After President Duterte signed the Senate bill into RA 10951 that included libel among the crimes where the fine is increased, journalists should be more thorough and attentive in what they say or write without sacrificing the truth.

In Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the fine for libel was only from P200 to P6,000. Now, under Section 91 of the new law, the fine for libel ranges from P40,000 to P1,200,000.

Jail sentence is still prision correccional, that is, from six months and one day to two years and four months minimum and from two years, four months and one day to four years and two months medium period.

The judge may impose both the imprisonment and the maximum fine. Thenew law does not exclude the civil action that may be brought by the offended party against the accused.


The fine for RPC’s Article 356 — Threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation, otherwise called extortion — has also been amended under Section 92 of the new law. The previous fine from P200 to P2,000 is now from P40,000 to P400,000.

Reporters, editors, and managers of a newspaper, daily or magazine should know that the fine for RPC’s Article 356 — “Prohibited publication of acts referred to in the course of official proceedings” — has also been increased. Under Section 93 of RA 10951, the fine is now from P40,000 to P200,000. It used to be only from P200 to P2,000.

‘False news’

Little known to many people, including journalists, is that the so-called fakenews is already punished under existing law, though labeled as “false news” and not as broad and comprehensive as the pending Senate bill.  And under RA 10951, the fine has been increased: now ranging from P40,000 to P200,000.

RPC’s Article 154 of the same Act has been amended thus:

“Art. 154. Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine ranging from forty thousand pesos (P40,000) to two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000) shall be imposed upon:

“1. Any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State;

“2. Any person who by the same means, or by words, utterances or speeches shall encourage disobedience to the law or to the constituted authorities or praise, justify, or extol an, act punished by law;

“3. Any person who shall maliciously publish or cause to be published any official resolution or document without proper authority or before they have been published officially; or

“4. Any person who shall print, publish, or distribute or cause to be printed, published, or distributed books, pamphlets, periodicals, or leaflets which do not bear the real printer’s name, or which are classified as anonymous.”

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