MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed the cyber libel complaint filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP CIDG) against Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, and three former lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc.
The Makabayan bloc provided copies of the May 12 resolution to the media on Tuesday, September 6.
In its resolution dated May 12, the DOJ junked the complaints against Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, former Bayan Muna representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, and former Gabriela representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza for lack of merit.
The CIDG’s complaint stemmed from the statements of Makabayan lawmakers, posted through the Manila Times and Inquirer.net, accusing the police of red-tagging and planting evidence during the CIDG’s operation against a certain Lourdes Bulan on December 10, 2015.
The DOJ prosecutors noted that someone liable for libel or cyber libel offense is the author, “which includes the person who shall publish, exhibit, or cause the publication of the libelous post;” the person who created the alleged libelous remarks; and the editor or business manager, “in case the libelous post is contained in a book, pamphlet, newspaper, magazine, or serial publication.”
The prosecutors said the Makabayan bloc members were not the authors of the alleged libelous remarks, nor the editors of the news organizations, where it was posted.
“It bears stressing that Rep. Zarate, Rep. Brosas, Ms. Ilagan, and Ms. Maza are neither the author nor the person who created such post. Respondents likewise did not publish, exhibit, or cause the publication of the articles in news question,” the resolution said.
“Moreover, there is also no indication that the respondents are either the editor or business manager of the Manila Times Online or Inquirer.net,” they added.
The DOJ prosecutors said that Zarate was only interviewed for his thoughts and “was only made subject of a news report published over the internet.” They added that although the lawmakers were alluded to in the stories, there was no sufficient allegation that they caused the publication.
The progressive Makabayan bloc, which includes Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan, and ACT Teachers, has been the subject of continuing attacks under the former and present administrations.
During the filing of certificates candidacies for the 2022 elections, Apollo Quiboloy’s Sonshine Media Network International repeatedly red-tagged the progressive group. Quiboloy, a fugitive indicted for sex trafficking and wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, is known for his ties with former president Rodrigo Duterte.
Right after the first State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vice President Sara Duterte went all out in red-tagging Makabayan. Without clear basis, Duterte accused the bloc of having a “love affair” with communist groups.
In the last elections, the Makabayan bloc won only three seats in the House of Representatives (ACT Teachers, Gabriela, and Kabataan). Zarate attributed the 2022 polls results to the Duterte government’s actions, which include massive red-tagging and disqualification cases against their bloc. – Rappler.com