Monday, September 18, 2006

Question: What is Mike Arroyo's favorite hobby?

Answer: It's filing libel charges against journalists.

Mike, as my colleague Don had said, should be called a prolific "libeler."

It's really hard to be a journalist in the Philippines these days. After all, tt's not exactly a financially rewarding job. Worse, you have accept the reality that as a journalist here in the country that supposedly has the freest freedom in the region, dodging bullets and facing libel suits are a normal part of your work routine.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) will hold a roundtable discussion on the libel charges filed by Arroyo against journalists, which at present, are more than 40 already. It will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21, 9 am - 12 pm, at the Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. NUJP also invited lawyers and academe leaders to discuss the issue.

"This situation highlights the predicament of journalists who risk imprisonment when reporting on controversial issues, particularly those involving powerful individuals," the NUJP wrote in a statement.

The group added: "It also highlights the need for the decriminalization of libel to allow greater room for open debate and public discussion of socially-relevant issues. Decriminalization of libel will strengthen the safeguards on free speech and expression and promote free flow of information – ingredients necessary in a democracy which we claim to enjoy."

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), which has been monitoring attacks against and threats to press freedom in the Philippines since 1991, is going to participate in this roundtable discussion.

The PJR Reports (and its predecessor the Philippine Journalism Review or PJR) has been monitoring the issue of libel and the cases filed against media organizations and journalists since it was established in 1990. It even devoted an issue on libel back in 1993, when the then PJR reported on a CMFR roundtable discussion on libel that year.

Below is NUJP's list of journalists charged with libel by Mike Arroyo:

Newsbreak ("More Properties", Dec. 8, 2005 issue)

1. Marites Vitug (editor-in-chief)
2. Glenda Gloria (associate editor)
3. Ricky Carandang (business editor)
4. R. E. Otico (editorial consultant)
5. Jose Dalisay Jr. (editorial consultant)
6. Booma Cruz (contributing editor) who also serves as the copy editor of the PJR Reports

Newsbreak ("Will she now change?", June 7, 2004 issue)

7. Concepcion Paez (contributing writer)

Malaya ("Poe's Camp says Mike is Chief Cheating Operator", May 19, 2004)

8. JP Lopez (reporter)
9. Regina Bengco (reporter)
10. Amado Macasaet (editor-in-chief)
11. Enrique Romualdez (editor)
12. Joy de los Reyes (editor)
13. Ma. Teresa Molina (editor)
14. Minnie Advincula (editor)
15. Ellen Tordesillas (editor)

Malaya ("First Couple's idea of charity," July 9, 2004, Business Insight column by Macasaet)

16. Rosario Galang (business editor)
+ Amado Macasaet (publisher)

Philippine Daily Inquirer (14 counts, Tulfo's column "On Target" that appeared on Jan. 14, 17 and 26; March 9 and 23; May 23, June 17 and August 3, 2006)

17. Ramon Tulfo (columnist)
18. Isagani Yambot (publisher)
19. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc (editor-in-chief)
20. Jose Ma. Nolasco (editor)
21. Abelardo Ulanday (editor)
22. Rosario Garcellano (editor)
23. Artemio Engracia Jr. (editor)
24. Jorge Aruta (editor)
25. Pergentino Bandayrel Jr. (editor)
26. Juan Sarmiento (editor)

Bandera (six counts, Tulfo's column "On Target" that appeared on Jan. 26, May 23 and 27, June 6,8 and 17)

27. Eileen Mangubat (publisher)
28. Beting Laygo Dolor (editor-in-chief)
29. Jimmy Alcantara (associate editor)
30. Raymond Rivera (circulation manager)

The Daily Tribune (stories where Tatad was quoted as saying Arroyo was his wife's "chief cheater", May 14, 16, 17 and 18, 2004)

31. Ninez Cacho-Olivares (editor-in-chief)
32. Romulo MariƱas (editor)
33. Gina Capili-Inciong (editor)
34. Jake Martin (editor)
35. Marvin Estigoy (editor)
36. Gerry Baldo (reporter)
37. Sherwin Olaes (reporter)
38. Lito Tugadi (circulation manager)
39. Jing Santos (subscription manager)

(For accusing Mike Arroyo of influencing RPN-9 network to axe "Isumbong Mo , Tulfo Brothers during a press conference in QC on August 2)

40. Erwin Tulfo
41. Raffy Tulfo
+ Ramon Tulfo ("How to Solve A Problem like Mike Arroyo", July 5, 2004, High Ground column)

42. William Esposo

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