Hands off Frank Cimatu! Decriminalize libel!


Altermidya Network denounces the conviction of Baguio City journalist Frank Cimatu for a cyberlibel case filed by former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 93’s decision stemmed from a Facebook post allegedly authored by Cimatu in 2017.

The Facebook post in question did not even name Piñol. Instead of issuing a conviction, the court should have junked the case at first instance for lack of merit.

The court ruling amplifies the climate of impunity already reigning in Philippine society. The case serves as another reminder of how cyberlibel silences critics, even as government officials past and present should be open to criticism in the name of transparency and accountability.

Cimatu’s case again highlights why it is incumbent on our lawmakers to decriminalize libel. We cannot wait for another journalist, civic leader, or any citizen exercising their right to free speech to be convicted of libel through spurious charges.

Amid a rapidly eroding civic space, libel has been used to convict journalists and attack the core principles of journalism – accountability, truth, and fair comment.

Weaponizing libel promotes impunity and censorship, breeding a scenario where people expressing opinions are adjudged “criminal.”

The alternative media community is one with the people calling: decriminalize libel! Hands off Frank Cimatu! Defend press freedom!

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