SC acquits Raffy Tulfo of libel charges | Inquirer News
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SC acquits Raffy Tulfo of libel charges

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 12:21 PM June 30, 2021
The Supreme Court building in Ermita, Manila.

The Supreme Court building in Ermita, Manila. INQUIRER file photo / EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has acquitted broadcast journalist Raffy Tulfo of libel over a series of articles he wrote in 1999 on the alleged illegal activities in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

In a decision promulgated January 11, the SC’s third division, through Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, said the prosecution “failed to prove that petitioner Tulfo acted with malice or reckless disregard in determining the truth or falsity of the  imputations.”

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In 1999, Tulfo wrote several articles for his column in “Abante Tonite” on the alleged “shady dealings” in the BOC particularly on the reported extortion activities against brokers and shippers.

The high court, in its ruling, said Tulfo’s comments were “made in the exercise of the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the press” and remarks that guards against abuses of public officials “should be encouraged.”

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It added that Tulfo’s columns refer to matters of “public interest which the citizenry ought to know.”

“Unless the prosecution proves that the defamatory statements were made with actual malice, a criminal case for libel against critics of a public officer’s exercise of official functions cannot prosper,” it added.

SC also acquitted the publisher Allen Macasaet and managing editor Nicolas Quijano of Abante Tonite who were also named in the case.

The high court pointed out that there is no requirement to prove that the author, editor, proprietor or printer, or publisher had knowledge and participation in the publication of the article.

“The need to protect freedom of speech and of the press cannot be understated. These freedoms are the most pervasive and powerful vehicles of informing the government of the opinions, needs, and grievances of the public,” the SC said.

“It is through these guarantees that the people are kept abreast of government affairs. Without these rights, no vigilant press would flourish. And without a vigilant press, the government’s mistakes would go unnoticed, their abuses unexposed, and their wrongdoings uncorrected,” it added.

JPV

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