General Santos Chief Prosecutor Edilberto Jamora refused to act on the libel suit filed by Rep. Manny Pacquiao against journalist Edwin Espejo but forwarded it to the National Prosecution Office in Manila.
Jamora, an uncle of Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee, said the boxing champ may file his complaint against Espejo in Quezon City where he holds office as Sarangani Province representative.
Jamora made the statement during a media forum on decriminalizing libel last week organized by the Philippine Press Institute on Thursday, May 24.
However, the prosecutor admitted he has repeatedly advised Pacquiao to refrain from filing libel cases against members of the press since he is now a public official and is “fair game to critical coverage.” Jamora added the Revised Penal Code does not include libel in the internet
Pacquiao filed the criminal libel suit in March after Espejo reported a dealer of a stolen car had sought refuge in the congressman’s mansion in General Santos City. The report was published on the online. AsianCorrespondent.com.
Reports earlier Pacquiao sued Espejo for P75 million in total damages but Jamora said the compliant was actually for P15 million. Espejo said he has yet to receive a copy of the information sheet Paquiao had filed.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has been campaigning for the decriminalization of libel and initiated the filing of a joint legal action by journalists against Juan Miguel Arroyo, husband of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, after he filed 12 libel suits against 46 journalists.
The United Nations Committee on Human Rights committee recently issued a ruling that urges the Philippine government expunge the criminal liability in libel as it is “incompatible with Article 19, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” or freedom of expression. The Philippines is party to the said covenant.
Rowena C. Paraan
Executive Coordinator, NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office
cp. no. 09199328746