A correspondent of a Mindanao-based newspaper was arrested on libel charges last 4 March 2011 at his home in Indahag village, Cagayan de Oro City. Cagayan de Oro City is approximately 789 kilometers south of Manila.
Libel is a criminal offense in the Philippines.
Edgardo “Ed” Maliza, a correspondent of the “Gold Star Daily”, faces a libel charge for allegedly maligning former Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional director and now Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo in two articles published in the now defunct “Azilam Review” in 2009. The case was filed before the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court in March 2010. Maliza was the publisher-editor of the “Azilam Review”.
The articles, published in the 9-15 July 2009 and 27 August and 2 September 2009 issues of the “Azilam Review”, were on the alleged failure of Adobo to take action on anomalous transactions in the regional DENR office.
Maliza told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that he reported the alleged misuse of a Certificate of Lumber Origin (CLO) issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) to a certain businessman from Butuan City. Maliza alleged that the CLO was used to transfer another set of lumber and not what was allowed in the certificate.
The police released Maliza the same day after the he posted a bail bond of P10,000.00 (approximately USD 231.00).
Asked why he was arrested a year after the filing of the charge against him, Maliza explained that he filed a motion for reconsideration on the resolution of the local prosecutor’s office. However, Maliza claims that the prosecutor failed to act on his motion.
Maliza said he believes that his arrest was in response to his recent reports on the allegedly corrupt activities by members of the Cagayan de Oro City police.
Maliza will be arraigned in April 2011.
CMFR (http://www.cmfr-phil.org) is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.