MALACAÑANG on Monday, February 18, reiterated that freedom of expression and of the press is not an absolute right.
“Ang nakakalimutan kasi ng mga invoking freedom of expression and of the press [advocates] na 'yung ordinaryong mga mamamayan may karapatan din na magdemanda kahit na kanino iyan, ke peryodista o kolumnista, kung nilabag ang kanyang karapatan,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing Monday.
(Ordinary citizens have the right to sue a journalist or columnist if his rights are violated through malicious statements.)
“Mayroon din silang karapatan. Maraming beses na sinabi ng mataas na hukuman na ang kalayaan ng pagpapahayag ay hindi absolute. Kapag nilabag mo naman ang karapatan ng isang tao, mananagot ka din sa batas,” he added.
(They have rights also. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that freedom of expression is not absolute. If you trample on somebody's rights, you will be held accountable.)
Panelo made the statement in light of the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa over a case of cyber libel that stemmed from a complaint filed by William Keng, president and CEO of Century Peak Metals Holdings Corporation.
Panelo repeated his observation that Ressa had "wanted special treatment."
“Ang naging problema yata kay Maria [Ressa], she wants a special treatment. Hindi naman pupwede iyon. Lahat tayo ay pantay-pantay,” Sec Panelo said.
(The problem with Maria is that she wants special treatment. That will not do. All should be treated equal in the eyes of the law.)
He declined to comment on the position of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the cyber libel case, saying this should be left for the court to decide.
“Whatever it is, whether the opinion of the DOJ or the opinion of the respondent is correct or not, I think we have to leave it to the courts to decide whether or not sino ang tama sa kanila,” he said.
Panelo pointed out, however, that libel is too difficult to prove more so for the case to flourish in the courts since malice should first be established by the alleging party.
“'Iyong libel, it's an ordinary crime. Maliit din ang penalty. Pangalawa, mahirap probahan iyon kasi you have to prove malice. Mahirap mag-prove ng malice,” he said.
(Libel is an ordinary crime with minimal penalty. Secondly, it's difficult to prove because you have to prove malice. It's hard to prove malice.) (MVI/SunStar Philippines)