Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) criticized the arrest of an anti-mining activist in the province of Cagayan using only the Facebook article as main evidence in a libel case.
According ALAM Chairman Jerry Yap, Esperlita Garcia’s arrest is so unfair considering that she only wrote an article on Facebook about the destructive black sand mining in the municipality of Gonzaga, Cagayan.
Yap said Garcia has the right to write what she thinks is vulgarity or ignorance of the the local officials in the on going mining operations.
“The Supreme Court already issued reprieve on the Cybercrime Law and there is even a possibility to decriminalize libel,” Yap said.
“Why arrest Garcia? Is is libelous to write the truth? Whether it is written in print or online, the people have the right to know the truth. This is an act of harassment not only to media but to an ordinary citizen.”
“I don’t think that the Cybercrime Prevention Law is just passed to stop the people from publishing the illegal transactions in goverment” Yap added.
Yap, former president of the National Press Club (NPC) insisted that if the Cybercrime Law is the basis for Garcia’s arrest,the judge who issued Garcia’s arrest should be reminded that the Supreme Court has issue a 120-day Temporary Restraining Order just recently.
He said Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima or anyone who understand the Philippine Law should not let such illegal arrest just pass.
He said anyone wouldn’t miss to see that this is just a simple case of harrassment.
Yap said local officials should be reprimanded and disciplined for the approval of illegal businesses because of “SOP” or standard operating procedure, which benefits the foreigners.
“If a person will be arrested because of writing about this kind of corruption,” said Yap, “this isn’t just media harassment but treachery to your own country.”
Yap said the entire membership of ALAM supports Esperlita Garcia because she boldly campaigned to save our environment.
ALAM also calls the attention of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and other government agencies to do something to end this problem.
To recall, Malacañang announced on Monday that the cybercrime law may not be relevant to the arrest of Garcia.
However, they are confused how the arrest occurred.
Garcia’s article is placed in online and shouldn’t be charged since a temporary restraining order on Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is already being implementation by the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, ALAM President Berteni Causing said only the judge who issued the warrant can clear the confusions on what is the basis of the arrest for the online publication writer Esperlita Garcia.
Garcia was arrested on Thursday, October 18, for the libel case filed by Gonzaga, Cagayan Mayor Carlito Jr. Pentecostes.
“We are also amazed with the manner of how Ma’am Perling was arrested with no less than the regional director of the NBI Hector Eduard Geologo himself carrying out the arrest warrant against Garcia.”
Garcia was only released after paying the ten thousand pesos bail.
Causing said this may not be a cybercrime protection case but just a simple libel, since only P10, 000 was asked for bail.
He said online libel has the penalty of prision mayor, which is much heavier than the penalties for libel stated in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.
He added that Garcia can file a motion for reconsideration in the fiscal’s office or submit a petition for review with the DOJ or file a motion for judicial determination of probable cause.
He even said that if Garcia decided to make an appeal, ALAM is prepared to support her to the best of their ability, particularly in legal counseling.
In Garcia’s online article, she said an anti-mining rally was cancelled last year after experiencing harassments in their activities.