World Press Freedom Day Celebration
May 4, 2012 (whole morning or whole afternoon)
Half-Day Simultaneous Programs in Manila, Bulacan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao,
Cebu, Gen. Santos and Baguio – A Total of Seven Areas Nationwide. De La Salle University, Xavier University, Ateneo de Davao University, and University of San Carlos, Saint Louis University have tie-ups with the US EMBASSY. They are called American Corners, so automatically they become venues for the forums. The other two in Bulacan and Gen. Santos do not have American Corners but local organizers will have to get in touch with them.
Manila De La Salle University
Bulacan Bulacan State University
Cagayan de Oro Xavier University
Davao Ateneo de Davao University
Cebu University of San Carlos
Baguio Saint Louis University
Gen. Santos Notre Dame University
Decriminalize Libel Now: A Forum
January 31 marked a milestone for the campaign for freedom of expression as the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) released a resolution declaring the country’s libel law discordant with the provision in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that upholds free expression as a right.
The UNHRC, in light of a complaint filed by Davao-based broadcaster Alexander Adonis, upheld that defamation laws "should not … stifle freedom of expression".
UNHRC also ordered the government to provide compensation for the wrongful detention of Adonis, who has been in jail for more than two years now after being convicted on a libel case filed by former House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
The government must act to prevent libel laws from being abused by prevent such violations to happen again, and there is no other way to do so but to review and amend our draconian libel law and push for its decriminalization.
We wish to discuss the implications of the UNHRC resolution and its impact on Philippine media, given that fellow journalists continue to be vulnerable to intimidation through criminal libel. Resource persons are legal experts and leaders from media advocacy groups such as the PPI and the NUJP. They will be joined by some editors and publishers as panelists from the local level. In Manila, PPI trustees and Philippine Press Council editors will be panelists/discussants.
We hope to re-launch the campaign to decriminalize libel in the Philippines and launch the initiatives as presented in the first two forums in Manila (UP College of Law and Orchid Garden Suites.
The Philippine Press Institute and the Philippine Press Council held the first roundtable discussion on the issue of libel and its proposed decriminalization on March 22, 2012 in Manila.
Even before this PPI-PPC forum, the NUJP has already initiated a forum at the UP College of Law to jumpstart the discussions and sustainable advocacy on decriminalizing libel. This prompted PPI to organize one for print.
The PPI-PPC RTD gathered 20 guests representing academe, broadcast media, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for International Law represented by Atty. Harry Roque. Journalists Alexander Adonis from Davao City and Edwin Espejo from Gen. Santos City also shared the libel cases filed against them. The PPI Board was represented by trustees Amado Macasaet, Vergel Santos, Al Pedroche and Elnora Cueto.
“Every journalist should adopt this (decriminalization) as a natural advocacy,” Roque said.
The discussion included a survey of the current international statutes on libel, human rights and the freedom of expression vis-à-vis the journalism climate in the Philippines.
At the end of the roundtable discussion, the following proposed actions were identified to provide a framework moving forward the decriminalization of libel. This was imperative in view of the national and local elections in May 2013.
1. Build database on libel suits filed against journalists.
2. Intensify campaign for decriminalization of libel, both in national and international levels:
Lobby with Congress and Malacañang
Build unity among news organizations
3. Educate members of media (particularly those in broadcast) about libel – the law, related international standards/instruments, as well as journalism ethics.
4. Strengthen accountability mechanisms:
In-house or internal mechanisms: ombudsman, correction and apology
Geographical: Press Councils
Thru press organizations: PPI, NUJP, etc.
Thru monitoring groups: CMFR, academe, CSOs
5. Conduct research on how criminal libel impacts on press freedom and free expression rights in the country.
6. Build a network of lawyers that will address press freedom related cases, including criminal libel. (Similar to Media Legal Defense Inc.)
7. “Know your rights” campaign:
Know who to contact – lawyer, NUJP hotline, editors/publishers/station managers
Have bail money ready
Have form for posting bail ready
In some areas, find out the operation of the night courts
8. Monitor media bills being filed in Congress. (Check Escudero bill – full decriminalization)
9. Training on libel defense with the help of UP College of Law
10. Use the social media for campaigning
Embassy of the United States of America
Philippine Press Institute as Project Implementer in cooperation with NUJP-Manila and the Center for International law with Regional Members in said areas as Partners for Local Initiatives in collaboration with local KBP and NUJP chapter members
Mobilization, Technical Expertise, Call for Action, Center for International assigning a legal expert in each area (this means spending for transportation of the expert), NUJP assigning one person too in each area
American Corners and/or Partner-Universities
Media Leaders from the PPI, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Local Press Clubs and Press Councils and Editors/Publishers, Legal Experts from the Center for International Law (optional)
PPI Members (Print), Broadcast members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), Members of Press/Media Organizations, Some educators and teachers of Journalism Schools, Advocacy Groups (Non-Media) such as Civil Society Organizations and NGOs
It will be a mixed of community stakeholders attending the forum. Since the school venue has already a target audience, attendance should have more media practitioners.
Speeches/Presentations and Open Forum/Ceremonial such as candle-lighting, holy mass, prayer rally
Keynote in Manila: Official of the U.S. Embassy
Main Peg: Decriminalization of Libel (cognizant to the Aquino administration's centerpiece advocacy on fighting corruption and in the light of media re-examining themselves). As a pressing issue now, the advocacy campaign aims to heighten awareness on it and make known the proposed plan of actions from the first two forums held in Manila. In relation to this, the FOI bill also has to be an accompanying topic.
Attendant Topics/Segments (to be chosen as part of the program): Killings of Journalists, Media Accountability, Media Re-examining Themselves, Ethics and Civic Journalism (Engaging the Public), Threats to Press Freedom, Freedom of Information
Even if the forum is localized in the six areas outside Manila, each program will have libel as the main focus where all the underlying or related topics will have to be based on. Depends on the program schedule, all attendant topics can be accommodated. But owing to the unique media landscape in each area, the local organizer should be able to tweaked the program to render more relevance and local impact.
Press Releases and Written Activity Report
Venue, Meals, Administrative Costs, Honoraria for Speakers, ‘Bulk’ Amount for the Local Programs for invitations, printing of programs, kits if there are any, LCD projector for powerpoint presentations from speakers, modest honoraria for speakers, photo and reportorial documentation; other excess expenses shall be borne by the organizer as counterpart
Manila – PPI Head Office
Bulacan – Dino Balabo, Mabuhay Newspaper
Cagayan de Oro City – Allan Mediante, BusinessWeek Mindanao
Davao City – Jess Dureza, Mindanao Times
Cebu City – Cherry Ann Lim, Sun.Star Cebu
Baguio City – Jane Cadalig, Baguio Midland Courier
Gen. Santos City – John Paul Jubelag, Mindanao Bulletin