MANILA (UPDATED) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III has asked Inquirer.net to take down articles linking him to the rape and death of '80s star Pepsi Paloma.
In a Facebook post, US-based columnist Rodel Rodis bared copies of Sotto's letter asking the website, the online platform of leading broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, to remove the stories titled "The Rape of Pepsi Paloma," "Was Pepsi Paloma murdered?" and "Tito Sotto denies whitewashing Pepsi Paloma rape case."
As of this posting, Rodis' public post has been shared more than 10,000 times and has received nearly 9,000 reactions.
The letters were dated May 29, 2018, just a few days after Sotto was elected Senate President.
The articles, two of which were written by Rodis, were published between 2014 and 2016.
Sotto explained that the articles had a "malicious imputation of a crime" against him.
"These kinds of unverified articles have been negatively affecting my reputation for the longest time," Sotto said in his letter.
Inquirer.net confirmed that Sotto did make such a request but has yet to make any decision on the matter.
"INQUIRER.net believes it is within Sen. Sotto’s right to make this request, citing particularly his claims that the articles contain unverified facts and baseless allegations," the website said in a statement.
It added that it has received Rodis' comment on the matter on Saturday, June 16, and clarified that it was the columnist's personal decision to post a copy of Sotto's letter on social media.
"In relation to Sen. Sotto’s request, INQUIRER.net has not made any decision," it said.
Rodis, in a Facebook post, argued that if Inquirer heeds Sotto's request, it would set a dangerous precedent.
"If the Inquirer agrees to his requests, a dangerous precedent will be set. Sotto is cyberbullying the Inquirer," he said.
Inquirer.net clarified that Sotto's staff had relayed the same request "much earlier" and noted that the lawmaker's plea is not the first of its kind.
"We had received and have been receiving similar requests from people and organizations to have articles written about them and posted on the site be taken down, citing reasons ranging from inaccuracy to being unduly vilified in public and threatened with harm not only to them but also to their family. Some had filed libel suits," it said.
"We have acted on these requests judiciously and made decisions based on our own investigation and based on our journalistic values and principles," it added.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to Sotto for comment but he has yet to respond.