Koko won't back moves to decriminalize libel


Posted at Feb 21 2014 11:28 AM | Updated as of Feb 21 2014 07:28 PM

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MANILA - Contrary to the position of several of his colleagues, Sen. Koko Pimentel on Friday said he is against moves to decriminalize libel.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said he believes libel should stay under the Revised Penal Code.

He said decriminalizing libel could lead to an uptick in libel victims because there is no corresponding threat of possible jail time.

"Libel is libel. If you utter it through radio or personally, it is slander, which is a form of libel. If you print it online, in digital form, it is still libel," he said.

Pimentel, however, said he will still hear the proposals of other senator to decriminalize libel.

Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III has filed a bill that seeks to decriminalize libel in the country and repeal Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.

In Senate Bill 2128, the proposed measure decriminalizes libel "by means of writing or similar means as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code."

Guingona said the bill proposes to remove imprisonment as a penalty for libel because the threat of jail time sends a "sufficient chilling effect on the freedom of expression."

Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero and Juan Edgardo Angara also supported the move to repeal laws that consider libel a criminal offense.