Radio block-timer convicted of libel

A RADIO block-timer in Cagayan de Oro City was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Saturday for having been convicted with three counts of libel.

NBI Northern Mindanao regional director Angelito Magno said they arrested block-timer Ronnie Waniwan while the latter was attending his doctoral class at Grand City Hotel.

On February 15, a warrant of Waniwan’s arrest was issued by Judge Giovanni Navarro of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 in Gingoog City.

Waniwan has been convicted of libel against a former police officer in the Gingoog City.

"We were just doing our job kasi may warrant of arrest na, so kailangan namin ma-serve," Magno said.

Magno added that Waniwan is expected to serve his penalty which includes years of imprisonment and fine after his conviction.

Waniwan was a radio block-timer in Gingoog City's Beat Radio last 2009 when retired Senior Police Officer 4 Tito Buadlart filed three counts of libel against him.

Buadlart, Magno said, was a former bodyguard of the Guingonas – a political figure in Gingoog.

It's his lawyers’ fault, Waniwan insisted, since they 'abandoned the case.'

"Napasagdan man gud ni sa akong mga abogado, kay siyempre sa ila baya ta magsalig. And sad to say wala ko mahibalo," Waniwan said.

He lost not on merits but with the technicalities, he added.

"Manghinaut ko na dili ni maka-apekto o makapahadlok sa sakop sa media, labina sa pagbantay sa corruption ug sa pag-expose niini, part kini sa trabaho," Waniwan said.

Meanwhile, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (Copc) denounced on Saturday Waniwan's arrest, one of press club's associate member.

In a statement, the COPC reiterates its call for the decriminalization of libel and maintains that 'there are other legal remedies the aggrieved parties could avail.'

"Libel has been used, in most instances, to stifle press freedom. It brings a chilling effect to those who want to expose government malfeasance," it adds.

One of Waniwan's visitors at the NBI office on Saturday was former Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente "Dongkoy" Emano.

Waniwan is also running as city councilor for the first district under the Padayon Pilipino Party.

Magno said Waniwan would be transported to Gingoog City on Monday, February 22.
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