Radio broadcaster in Davao del Sur faces 255 counts of libel
DIGOS CITY—A radio broadcaster here is facing a string of libel charges, 255 cases as of Thursday, for allegedly besmirching the reputation of several individuals, including a former vice governor and the wife of a fellow broadcaster.
Arvin Malaza, who also owns Muews Radio, had sought the assistance of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) over the filing of charges against him.
NUJP sources said Malaza, also known as Jun Blanco, had claimed that he was being harassed for his work as a journalist and that his station was shut down.
Malaza’s trouble started in early August when he made former Davao del Sur Vice Gov. Arsenio Latasa the object of his criticisms. He started accusing Latasa, also a former mayor of this city, of enriching himself while in office.
He cited Latasa’s “mansion and Olympic-size swimming pool,” but offered no further proof as to how the former official supposedly amassed these assets.
Malaza also insinuated that Latasa, whom he called names on air, was behind the killings here of suspected criminals when he was mayor from 1992 to 2010.
On Aug. 26, Latasa filed the first 50 counts of libel against Malaza at the city prosecutor’s office. He said these were based on the number of times the baseless criticisms were aired.
“The broadcast was replayed several times over, during which he uttered personal and abusive tirades against me,” Latasa said.
He said Malaza continued criticizing him. “On Aug. 27 alone, he devoted all three hours of his program to malign me,” Latasa said.
The former official had filed the other cases on Aug. 27, 28 and 31.
As of Thursday, Latasa had filed 255 counts of libel at the city and provincial prosecutor’s office against Malaza, citing among other reasons Malaza’s insinuations he had an affair with the wife of another broadcaster and probably had fathered a child with her.
The wife of the broadcaster, on Sept. 9, also filed at least 11 counts of libel against Malaza at the city prosecutor’s office.
The Inquirer also learned that another local broadcaster, Ma. Ana Sumatra, sued Malaza for calling her names.
Sumatra also filed a complaint against Malaza in the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for operating Muews Radio without a broadcast license. Muews Radio’s broadcasts are also aired on cable television. Last week, the NTC implemented a June closure order against the station.
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary general, confirmed that Malaza had sought the group’s help. “He did …. NUJP has a standing position on criminal libel in general. We oppose it. And filing 200 counts is a bit much,” she told the Inquirer.
She said the group’s directors “have not made a decision on how to respond” to the issue yet, but assured him that NUJP would look into the case.
Sumatra urged NUJP should investigate Malaza’s claim before acting on it.
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