The Palace on Monday, June 15, maintains its stand on libel, saying that it acknowledges the Supreme Court’s ruling that “libel is not a constitutionally protected speech and that the government has an obligation to protect private individuals from defamation.”
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr, in is his virtual press briefing in Malacañang, cited two cases in support of the government’s stand on libel and cyber libel. He cited the case of Alexander Adonis vs Republic of the Philippines and the case of Roque vs Executive Secretary.
Secretary Roque said that in the case of Alexander Adonis, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who was then Mayor of Davao City, provided material support to Adonis who went to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee where he said that criminal libel in the Philippines is a violation to the freedom of speech. “Dahil po sa paninidigan ni Alexander Adonis at dahil na rin sa material support of then City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte nanalo po si Alexander Adonis.”
The President’s spokesman added that Adonis was also a party in the Roque vs Executive Secretary case where they questioned the constitutionality of cyber libel.
However, in the Roque vs Executive Secretary case, the Supreme Court ruled that the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to decriminalize criminal libel is just a suggestion and is therefore not binding in the Philippines.
Roque added, “At sinabi rin ng hukuman and I quote: “Libel is not a constitutionally protected speech and that the government has an obligation to protect private individuals from defamation.”
These two cases, said the President’s Spokesman, is a testament to President Duterte’s support to freedom of speech and press freedom.
“Nagpapatunay po na hindi po Presidente ang nasa likod sa panunupil diumano ng kalayaan ng malayang pananalita at pamamahayag … Suportado po ng Presidente ang malayang pananalita at malayang pamamahayag,” said Secretary Roque.
The Palace official also said that in the case of the CEO of Rappler, it has to be highlighted that the complainant is a private individual.
“Sa ating batas po ng libel kasi, mayroong tinatawag na malice in law, malice in fact. Kapag ang nagrereklamo po ay pribadong individual, ay mayroon pong presumption na malicious yung reporting… Dahil po private ang complainant, the court gave it credence and applied the presumption that any malicious invitation is in fact malicious,” Roque said.
He added that if the complainant is a public figure like a government official, malice in law has to be established to show that there is really malice involved. ### OPS-PCOO