Apologize or go to jail? Judge makes Bicol publisher choose
MANILA, Philippines - A regional trial court judge in Virac, Catanduanes declared the publisher of Island Sandigan newsletter guilty of indirect contempt for an article that the judge said maligned the court, reported the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
In the newsletter's January 7-13 issue, Carmelo "Mel" Rima published an article on the supposed involvement of an unnamed judge in the questionable "naturalization documents" of Gov Joseph Cua.
In a court hearing on Friday, January 18, NUJP said Judge Lely Contreras made publisher Carmelo "Mel" Rima choose his punishment. He could go to jail or he could publish in local newspapers his apology to the court.
Rima chose to apologize. Rima was also imposed to pay a fine of P30,000.
NUJP-Catanduanes chairman Ramil Solivares said Rima opted to apologize because he is currently recuperating from throat cancer.
Soliveres said the court proceedings were irregular because Rima was not represented by a lawyer.
The judge supposedly told Rima: “Hindi mo ba kayang depensahan ang sarili mo? Di ba matalino ka naman? (You can defend yourself, can’t you? You’re smart enough, right?)"
The court hearing happened 3 days since Rima's arrest on January 15.
Citing conflict of interest, two lawyers who initially offered t represent Rima backed out -- Public Attorney’s Office lawyer Emmanuel Pelea and private lawyer Leo Mendoza.
Mendoza is the brother-in-law of Gov Joseph Cua, who was cited in the article that the judge found offensive to the court. - Rappler.com