Pasay judge orders arrest of Iloilo radioman for libel
ILOILO CITY –– The Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the arrest of an Iloilo blogger and radio block time host to serve his sentence of up to four years in prison for libel.
Judge Rowena Nieves Tan, presiding judge of the Pasay RTC Branch 118, issued the arrest warrant on December 10, 2019, against former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada.
Tan directed law enforcers to bring Mejorada to the court with no bail recommended.
The Supreme Court on September 2, 2019, ruled with finality in affirming a 2017 Court of Appeals decision, which upheld Mejorada’s conviction for libel by the Pasay RTC.
The Pasay City RTC had found Mejorada guilty of four counts of libel concerning his social media and blog posts accusing Senator Franklin Drilon of involvement in alleged irregularities in infrastructure projects in Iloilo.
The projects include the Iloilo Circumferential Road in Barangay Ungka in Pavia town, the Iloilo Convention Center, and the Guimaras Iloilo Ferry Terminal project.
The RTC sentenced Mejorada to a jail term from a minimum of two years, four months, and one day to a maximum of four years and two months.
In its resolution, the Supreme Court had said no further pleadings would be entertained by the High Court. It also ordered the issuance of entry of final judgment on the case.
The INQUIRER sought comment from Mejorada but he did not reply to text and private messages.
In an earlier statement, he said he would “bravely face” the consequences of his criticisms against Drilon.
“If imprisonment is the price for courageously exposing the truth, I have prepared myself and my family to accept my fate,” he said in his statement.
Mejorada is also facing separate libel cases filed by Drilon and former Iloilo governor Arthur Defensor.
He was arrested but was later released on bail in June last year after he was indicted for five counts of cyber libel about his social media posts against Defensor.
Various media and freedom of expression groups have been pushing for the decriminalization of libel in the Philippines similar to the global trend to impose civil damages instead of meting jail terms on offenders.
They argue that imprisonment is too harsh for the offense, and has also been used to harass journalists and stifle legitimate comment and criticism, especially against public figures.
Edited by LZB
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