Apple of my Eyes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Solons defend blogger sued by DSWD for libel

By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The blogger slapped with a libel case for claiming that relief goods were left to rot in a government agency warehouse may find comfort in the fact that some lawmakers are siding with her.

Kabataan Representative Raymond Palatino on Monday warned that the filing of a libel case against the blogger identified as “Jade Ceres Dolor,” “Jade Ceres Violet Dolor,” and “Ella Rose delos Santos” could deter other bloggers from criticizing the government and exposing its shortcomings.

The blogger, in her website, reportedly alleged that employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development had hoarded relief goods that were donated for the victims of the devastating Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (international name: Ketsana) and Typhoon “Pepeng” (international name: Parma).

Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral had taken exception to the blog entry and her complaint to the National Bureau of Investigation about the entry led to the libel case.

“I’m concerned about its dangerous impact on press freedom and on blogging,” Palatino said in the House minority’s regular press conference Monday. “Is this a warning to bloggers to think twice in criticizing and exposing those in government?”

He said that bloggers have a right to be anonymous. Anyway, government officials have a lot of platforms where they could air their side, he added.

He also pointed out that after the blog entry came out, many people had volunteered to help out at the DSWD.

Gabriela Representative Liza Maza also warned against the dangerous implications of the libel case on those who want to write about wrongdoings.

“We fear that this case will be used against individuals who would only want to express their views and sentiments about current administration and its agencies. It appears that they are testing the waters at the expense of bloggers who exercise their freedom of expression through cyberspace,” Maza said in a statement.

According to her, the DSWD could just answer the points that the blogger raised instead of going to the authorities.

“It is imperative that government officials should respect diverse views of people instead of attacking them. The internet blogs and other social networking sites serve as a venue for individuals, especially the youth to express their opinion and ideas. It would only appear antagonistic if even this very limited space would be hindered,” she said.

Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros also said she had appealed to Cabral to withdraw the complaint against the blogger.

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