Sunday, September 07, 2008

Jake Macasaet Malaya publisher arrested for libel

I got news that the fighting publisher of Malaya, a national daily was unexpectedly served a warrant of arrest stemming from libel complaint filed by former Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares.
I learned this from a news dispatch by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility which I am posting below.
I am amused at how the CMFR crafted their news release.
It cited the fact that one of the complainants in the libel case was Ynares.
It also noted that he is the brother of Supreme Corut Justice Ynares-Santiago.
Earlier, Jake Macasaet had written about an attempted bribery involving a Justice of the Surpeme Court.
Subsequently, Justice Ynares-Santiago asked the Supreme Court to investigate Macasaet's articles as the article was alluding to her.
Macasaet was cigted in contempt by the Supreme Court for his publications.
In short, the CMFR news release was telling a story within a story.
Anyway, complainants for libel probably gloat or relish over having successfully serving a warrant of arrest upon a journalist.
They cherish this brief moment---a Pyrrhic victory---even if they are aware that libel is bailable.
Here is that news release from CMFR:
CMFR/Philippines—The publisher of a daily newspaper in Manila was arrested on 4 September 2008 for libel, while another newspaper publisher's libel conviction was affirmed after a judge denied her motion for reconsideration.

Amado Macasaet, publisher of the daily newspaper Malaya (Free) as well as the tabloid Abante (Forward), 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 as well as director of Samahang Plaridel (Plaridel group), an organization of veteran journalists and communicators.

Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 59 Judge Winlove Dumayas meanwhile denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Ninez Cacho-Olivares asking the former to overturn his earlier decision convicting Olivares of libel.

Olivares said she and her lawyers will bring the case to the Court of Appeals.

Dumayas had sentenced Olivares to a minimum of six months to a maximum of two years in prison and to pay P5 million (approx. US$113,480) in moral damages and P33,732.25 (approx. US$765) in civil damages for a story she wrote about a prominent law firm's alleged unethical and corrupt practices.

The Supreme Court earlier this year issued a circular urging courts to choose the imposition of fines rather than imprisonment on journalists convicted of libel.

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

Santiago Jr. is the husband of administration Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago whjle 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 Malaya news editor Minnie Advincula, the CIDG agents did not look for Romualdez or De Los Reyes when they came to their office to arrest Macasaet.

Macasaet, 72, said he was surprised by the arrest as he was not informed of the libel case's being filed against him.

"Normally, after the information has been filed, I would be informed. I should have been informed so I could have prepared to post bail just like (what I did) in other libel cases so the efforts of the police in arresting me and my time will not be wasted," Macasaet told Malaya.

"This is actually the first time that I have been arrested," Macasaet said.

Macasaet was released later in the afternoon after posting P10,000 (approx. $216.87) for his provisional liberty.

According to Malaya, seven other counts of libel arising from the same articles had also been filed by Santiago Jr., all of which have been dismissed for lack of merit.

Macasaet was earlier cited for indirect contempt by the Supreme Court in a decision dated 8 August 2007 and ordered to pay a fine of P20,000 (approx. $433.74) for his columns in September 2007 alleging a P10-million bribery incident involving Ynares-Santiago.

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