Local media group condemns Malaya publisher’s arrest


BAGUIO CITY ― The local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest for libel charges of the publisher of a daily newspaper Amado Macasaet in Manila on September 4.

Kathleen Okubo, NUJP Baguio-Benguet chairperson, said this case clearly exemplifies the use of a libel case by those in power to curtail the freedom of expression.

“This act is condemnable not only because it is against press freedom but even more so because it is used against an ‘institution’ of the free press, the 72-year old Macasaet who consistently stood for the freedom of expression especially in the dark days of martial law,” Okubo said. “He has been arrested even before he really knew why,” she added.

Macasaet, publisher of the daily newspaper Malaya and the tabloid Abante, was arrested for a nine-year old libel case by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police at his office in Port Area, Manila.

Macasaet is also the president of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) as well as director of Samahang Plaridel (Plaridel group), an organization of veteran journalists and communicators.

Former Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares and Narciso Santiago Jr. filed the case in 1999 for articles Macasaet wrote that year in Malaya and Abante about a conflict between two cockfighting groups, one of which was reportedly headed by Ynares.

Santiago is the husband of administration Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago while Ynares is the brother of Supreme Court Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago.

Also included in the charge sheet are Malaya editors Enrique P. Romualdez and Joy P. De Los Reyes. According to Minnie Advincula, Malaya news editor, the CIDG agents did not look for Romualdez nor De Los Reyes when they came to their office to arrest Macasaet.

Macasaet said he was surprised by the arrest as he was not informed of the libel case filed against him.

Macasaet was released later in the afternoon after posting a P10,000 bail.

Macasaet was earlier cited for indirect contempt in an August 8 2007 Supreme Court decision and ordered to pay a fine of P20,000 for his columns in September 2007 alleging a P10-million bribery incident involving Ynares-Santiago. # Cye Reyes and PPI Release (NorDis)

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