Erwin Tulfo’s libel conviction raised amid DSWD appointment debate
MANILA, Philippines — Erwin Tulfo’s conviction on four counts of libel was brought up Tuesday as the Commission on Appointments (CA) deliberates on his ad interim appointment as chief of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
During the CA committee on labor, employment, social welfare, and migrant workers’ hearing, SAGIP Rep. Rodante Marcoleta raised the issue and Tulfo explained that he was found liable for libel by the court about his past work as a journalist.
“That case is related to my profession as a journalist… Four counts of libel that I was convicted by [the] same individual,” he responded.
READ: Erwin Tulfo posts bail in libel case filed by cop
Tulfo recalled that he wrote a story about a government official and was compelled by the court to divulge his sources, but he did not comply.
Marcoleta said that while he supports Tulfo’s appointment, he emphasized his uncertainty as to how the libel conviction may affect the DSWD Secretary’s confirmation since libel is “an offense that involves moral turpitude.”
“In some other cases disposed by the Supreme Court, there were certain people who were disqualified from holding positions because they have been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude,” the congressman explained.
READ: Defamation: Notes for PH legal system, free speech
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero noted several bills seeking to decriminalize libel pending in both chambers of Congress.
“If this will be taken against the nominee and later on, that bill is approved by Congress, I think it would be prejudicial, to say the least, and unfair if we would be taking that against him,” he said.
Escudero is among those who filed a measure to decriminalize libel.
Tulfo’s brother, Senator Raffy Tulfo, earlier said he would also advocate the decriminalization of libel.
READ: Tulfo wants to decriminalize libel, eyes Senate labor panel chairmanship
The CA panel later decided to continue its deliberation on issues hounding Erwin Tulfo in an executive session.
Eventually, the CA committee decided to defer its confirmation of the DSWD chief’s appointment.
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