Journalist In Davao Arrested Over Defamation Suit
Radio Journalist In Davao Faces Arrest Over Defamation Suit
MANILA (CMFR/IFEX/Pacific Media Watch): On 29 March 2005, a local Philippine radio commentator was ordered arrested by a court as a result of a defamation suit in Davao Oriental, Southern Mindanao.
Frank Gupit, an anchorman of the Manila Broadcasting Corporation-affiliate Radyo Natin, was charged with defamation for allegedly accusing a certain Neilwin Joseph Bravo of bribing Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo.
The defamation suit stemmed from Gupit's radio programme, where he said that the "bribe money intended for 'Inquirer' columnist Ramon Tulfo may just end up in the pockets of Bravo." Gupit made the comment in relation to an earlier piece by Tulfo linking Davao Oriental Governor Palma Gil to illegal logging in the province.
Aside from Gupit, Bravo also sued Radyo Natin manager Raul Antopuesto, who co-hosts the programme.
Asked to comment on the situation, Gupit said he was willing to stay in jail, but plans to continue hosting his radio programme from his detention cell. "We will not stop exposing anomalies in the provincial government. We will see what will be the reaction of the people of Davao Oriental," Gupit said.
Print and broadcast journalists in the province started wearing black t-shirts in a show of solidarity with Gupit. They also initiated a fund-raising drive aimed at helping the broadcaster raise money for the required bail.
Aside from the libel suit filed by Bravo, Gupit and Antopuesto also face two libel suits filed by provincial board member Maria Consuelo Gil, the governor's daughter, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
In the first suit, the younger Gil said the two broadcasters labeled her as "so young and yet so corrupt." In her new complaint against Gupit and Antopuesto, she said the two broadcasters called her "dumb," "mentally unstable," and a "thief."
* For further information, contact Melinda Quintos de Jesus or Nathan J. Lee, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), 2nd Floor, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, tel: +63 2 894 1314/1326, fax: +63 2 840 0889, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: http://www.cmfr.com.ph
PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).
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