MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday, September 3, that he would file libel complaints against online news sites Inquirer.net and Rappler for articles on his letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) on the executive clemency application of rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez.
"Those articles are reeking not only with irresponsibility but with malice and it is libelous in nature because it imputes an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor," Panelo said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang on Tuesday.
"In view of this, I am filing a libel case against Net Inquirer and Rappler for publishing these malicious articles," he added.
The complaints are already being drafted by his office, he said.
Panelo was referring to the Inquirer.net tweet that said he wrote a letter "recommending" executive clemency for rape-slay convict Sanchez.
Rappler published an article entitled, "LOOK: Panelo endorsed Sanchez's letter for executive clemency."
Panelo took exception to the use of the words "recommending" and "endorsed." He demanded a correction from Inquirer.net but said he had yet to receive any response from them as of posting.
He also mentioned a Rappler article which quoted him as saying he met with members of the Sanchez family in his Malacañang office.
He said the article was "trying to make an innuendo" about the Sanchez visit to his office "as if we were that close."
Rappler editors, in a statement, called Panelo's libel suit threat a "pure diversionary tactic."
"Instead of shooting the messenger, Panelo should instead answer questions about his possible conflicts of interest," said the news site.
Inquirer.net, for its part, said: "Inquirer.net respects Secretary Panelo’s right to sue for libel if he feels aggrieved by the report. We shall refer the matter to our lawyers when he files the suit."
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.