Panelo tells INQUIRER.net, Rappler: Apologize or face libel raps
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday said news site INQUIRER.net and Rappler should apologize or face libel charges for allegedly maliciously imputing that he recommended granting executive clemency to convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.
Panelo toned down his statement a day after he said he would press charges against the two online news site without any condition.
He decried Tuesday online posts that he had “endorsed” or “recommended” clemency for Sanchez as “defamatory in nature.”
He explained that “a simple referral is totally different from a recommendation or an endorsement.”
He cited the Collins Dictionary, which states that “a referral is the act of officially sending someone to a person or authority that is qualified to deal with them.”
Still citing Collins Dictionary, he added that “a recommendation is defined by the same authority as ‘suggestions or advice on what is the best thing to do,’ while an endorsement is ‘a statement or action which shows that you support or approve of something or someone.’”
“The former does not connote undue interference or intervention while the latter does. It is for this reason that I will be filing libel cases against the reporters of Inquirer.net and Rappler, Inc. should they fail to comply with my demand for a public apology and rectification,” he said.
“It is clear that they have publicly and maliciously imputed to me an act, if not a crime, a vice or defect, which caused the dishonor, discredit or contempt of my person,” he added.
The Palace official insisted that “the referral of the OCPLC of matters relative to the concerns of our citizens is also purely mechanical or routinary.”
The Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (OCPLC), he said, “has no resources to verify all the factual allegations in each letter request or complaint.”
The OCPLC “only refers matters to appropriate agencies which have the resources to verify the relevant facts contained in the letters and the mandate to act on them,” he added.
“The referral of the letter of Ms. Marie Antonelvie J. Sanchez, who happened to be the daughter of Mr. Sanchez, to the BPP is just one of the thousands of referrals the OCPLC has made to various government instrumentalities,” he said.
In a statement Tuesday, INQUIRER.net said it was well within Panelo’s right to file a libel complaint if he feels “aggrieved” by the report.
“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,” the statement said. /je
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