LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, 16April2015 (BicolToday.com) – Elmer James Bandol, correspondent of online news, BicolToday.com, who was arrested for libel Wednesday, did not undergo due process and was deprived of preliminary investigation by the prosecutor and instead, an arrest warrant was issued for him by a Masbate court.
The crime of libel, in online news form, filed against Bandol, as defined by the Cyber Crime Law, was not yet existing as the libel complaint filed was during the period when the Cyber Crime bill was still under deliberation in Congress.
By law, the online news cannot be defined legally as a” publication” since the existing libel law then, was limited to printed publication and broadcast media.
These are what online news BicolToday.com believe regarding the arrest of its correspondent, Elmer James Bandol, for libel over an article posted at the online news last December 2011.
Online news BicolToday.com said Bandol’s legal counsel Bartolome Rayco has filed a motion before the Department of Justice regarding the abuse of authority and discretion by the Masbate court.
Bandol reported the alleged financial losses and mismanagement of the Masbate Electric Cooperative (MASELCO) based on the audit report conducted by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
He was reporting the NEA audit report in journalistic form, and also cited the alleged sexual harassment complaint filed by an employee against the complaining MASELCO manager, Eduardo Margallo.
BicolToday.com calls for members of the media to close ranks and fight for Bandol’s quest for justice and press freedom.
Bandol is a veteran journalist for 36 years in practice. Aside from reporting for BicolToday.com, he also sends news to CBCPnews.com and to Associated Press as stringer.
He was arrested by Daraga police Wednesday morning for a libel suit filed against him four years ago by Margallo, former general manager of MASELCO.
In a media interview Wednesday, Bandol said “he was not given due process and complained of harassment against the Masbate prosecutor’s office, because of the absence of a preliminary investigation.”
“The Masbate prosecutor’s office has recommended the filing of libel charges against me even without the preliminary investigation. This is a manifestation of pure harassment,” Bandol said.
Bandol said his legal counsel Bartolome Rayco filed a motion for reconsideration, but the prosecution came up with the resolution prompting the issuance of arrest from Judge Honesto Villamor of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44, Masbate City. A P10,000 bail bond was recommended.
“I consider this as abuse of authority that’s why we filed a pending motion before the Department of Justice to look into this matter,” he said.
The warrant of arrest against Bandol was issued on July 15, 2012.
Meanwhile, other media groups called up online news BicolToday.com, signifying their support for Bandol’s case and the fight for press freedom.
The media groups also called for decriminalizing libel in the controversial Cyber Crime Law.
The National Press Club (NPC), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), AlterMidya and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), among others, expressed their support. [BicolToday.com]