web analytics

The Anatomy of a Blog Libel




Ever since I wrote my story on surviving a libel case about two years ago, there were a couple other people who asked recommendations for legal counsel (apparently, encountering the same situation I had).

Back then, news about online libel are very few and far between; the only other case I knew of was the TRO against PCIJ’s blog in 2005 (now there’s your precedent). Those who are not familiar with my case can read thru my lawyer’s explanation here.

Facing such a criminal lawsuit is no laughing matter. True, very few get convicted of libel — the only one that I knew of was the 6-month prison term for a guilty verdict against The Daily Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho-Olivares in June of last year.

Unfortunately, the problem starts even before the case goes to court. Libel is about power, influence and money, the latter carrying the most weight. The time and money you spent just to get representation and appear in the fiscal’s office on a subpoena costs a fortune. Elevating it to the sala of a judge, which could drag on for years, may spell bankruptcy to the less fortunate. It’s like getting a life sentence before the final verdict has been passed.


Today, libel on the internet seems too common and we hear/read a lot of lawsuits being filed left and right. (I won’t enumerate them here anymore as those issues have been debated way too much, IMO.)

What’s more ironic is that “free speech or freedom of expression”, which is supposed to be literally free, isn’t cheap when confronted with a libel suit.

The guy who sued me 2 years ago may have successfully sued dozens, maybe more, individuals and companies. The latest victim is i.PH, the local blog service provider. I got a call from them months ago asking for info/advise as we both have the same complainant. I urged them to stand their ground and fight this libel suit. They are now looking for more evidence and testimonies to help them defend their case.

I am no lawyer (though my experience has sparked much interest into going to law school) but I think there must be something that needs to be done with Libel Laws in the Philippines. They’re outdated, unreasonsable and extreme.

Maybe we should already decriminalize libel. If people wants to sue, they go to the civil court. There’s a filing fee of 2% (if you sue for Php1M, you pay a fee of Php20,000) so people just don’t claim outrageous amounts in moral/punitive damages. By decriminalizing it, you remove the fear of imprisonment (that’s a 6-year jail term).



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

You may also like...

12 Responses

  1. paul farol says:

    Hi Yuga,

    Several bills have been filed in the Senate decriminalizing libel, one such bill was filed by Senator Gordon.

    Look it up at http://www.senate.gov.ph

    If you have any other questions, you know how to get in touch with me.

  2. paul farol says:

    Sorry about that Yuga, it seems I made a mistake.

    Couldn’t find Gordon’s bill but here’s a link to a PDF file of a Senate Bill filed by Facebook Fanatic Chiz Escudero

    http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/57075067!.pdf

  3. herbert says:

    I believe Sen. Pimentel advocates decriminalizing libel, but his proposal also include the aggrived parties’s right to reply.

    I run a community website. It’s only now that I realize that it should have its own TOS.

  4. Andre says:

    Hmm…that guy who sued you…they were in the news yesterday because they were caught been developing porn sites right? tsk tsk…

  5. Andre Marcelo-Tanner says:

    sigh i hope dotph can do something about it, i wonder who they retained.

  6. Double edge sword to defend Joe Disini :) Maybe if the community helps out, we will get lower a lower priced .ph

  7. “Facebook Fanatic Chiz Escudero” ??? Fill me up :p

  8. Cris Yap says:

    Yeah right! alot has been said about libel. but i dont know if everything will push through, with the justics system here in the phil.? i dont think so… but maybe if you have the time and the money to push the case.

  9. paul farol says:

    Hi Yuga,

    Several bills have been filed in the Senate decriminalizing libel, one such bill was filed by Senator Gordon.

    http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2008/0918_gordon2.asp

    If you have any other questions, you know how to get in touch with me.

  10. curiousGirl says:

    looks like they’re making it a hobby of suing people

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open

Close