Local court restrains a PCIJ blog post

15 November 2005
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)

In an unprecedented move, a local court barred the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) from ‘publishing’ in its blog site a post discussing a government audio expert’s background, last 04 November in Quezon City.

In compliance with the order of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), the PCIJ removed from its blog the said post, dated 12 August 2005 describing the background and credentials of Jonathan Tiongco.

Tiongco was the audio expert presented by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary and staunch administration supporter Michael Defensor in questioning the authenticity of the “Hello, Garci” recordings.

The “Hello, Garci” recordings contain the alleged 2004 election period conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano which exposed suspected massive cheatings that catapulted the former to power.

In issuing the temporary restraining order (TRO), Judge Ralph S. Lee said that it had not yet ruled on the merits of the complaint filed by Tiongco’s wife, Rona, but that an order removing the blog post was “the safer and more prudent recourse in order to safeguard and balance conflicting rights and interests of the parties/litigants.”

This is the first legal action, and the first TRO issued against a blog in the Philippines.

Blogging has become prominent in the country’s mainstream media at the wake of successive events leading to the current political crisis last June, with PCIJ posting the controversial three-hour “Hello, Garci” audio recordings and transcripts.

Just last 22 October, the PCIJ held a seminar titled, “Journalists are Bloggers,” in which it tackled blogging as a new form of journalism, and discussed its ethical issues.

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