Philippine Bar Association Provides Legal Aid to “Targeted” Journalists
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Bar Association (PBA) on Tuesday offered legal assistance to âtargetedâ journalists and media organizations as it viewed with âdeep concern the series of lawsuitsâ against the media.
In a statement, the PBA said it is aware that criminal cases can be “stressful and financially draining.”
âThey take time and for those who do not have easy access to a competent lawyer, can become debilitating experiences. The breadth and breadth of journalists targeted, not to mention the amount requested from each (P200,000,000.00), leaves no doubt that this flurry of prosecutions will introduce a ‘chilling effect’, âthe report said. association.
âAs lawyers who believe in the importance of press freedom, we cannot stand idly by and let this happen. The PBA will not allow the libel law to be used as a weapon against the vanguards of our democracy, âhe added.
Thus, the PBA offers journalists the assistance of its members, who are among the “most distinguished” lawyers and law firms in the country.
They can contact the PBA main office by phone at 8815-2485 or by email at [emailÂ protected]
âWe extend this service in recognition of our courageous journalists who fearlessly fulfilled their constitutional duty for years. We rely on our press to always seek the truth, âsaid the association.
âWe ask our journalists to keep writing facts. But their readiness to do so remains only to the extent that they themselves are free – free from fear, from fear of harassment. If we want them to stay ‘free’ then we have to do our part to keep them that way, âadded the PBA.
The group of lawyers also noted that a free press “kept the light of freedom on even during the darkest days of martial law.”
âThey have fought for the public’s right to know on countless occasions. The rule of law to which each lawyer pledges his allegiance is kept strong by the light illuminated by a free press. When the Fourth Estate is under siege, those of us who believe in these freedoms must offer what we can to help them.
âWe call on our other colleagues in the legal profession to also seize this opportunity to help our beleaguered journalists. And to those in the press who have felt the cold of fear, the PBA assures you, we are with you. You are not alone, âsaid the PBA.
Before the PBA released the statement, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Davao businessman Dennis Uy filed separate libel and cyber defamation complaints against several media groups for reporting “defamatory statements and false âon the controversial Malampaya deal.
Cusi demanded that the respondents pay 200 million pesos in damages for damaging his “reputation and good reputation in government”.
Cusi and Uy sue journalists for reporting on Malampaya
Groups slam Cusi, Uy slander Malampaya deal reports
SC raises points against the law that make defamation a crime
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