CCPC statement on libel complaints filed against 7 news organizations

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WE DEPLORE the filing of libel complaints by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and businessman Dennis Uy against seven news media outlets that reported on the graft complaint filed against Cusi and Uy over the Malampaya gas field buyout. The lawsuit carries a P200-million demand for damages.

Cusi, as a public official, is expected to respond to adverse news and comment with explanation and correction, if indeed some error is committed. He must recognize that he is a public figure (so is Uy because of his high-profile involvement in major public issues), the subject is of public interest and covered by privileged communication and thus is not presumed to be malicious. That seven news media outlets reported it indicates absence of malice and the 17 respondents Cusi has dragged to court are just doing their job.

The news reports were not concocted or distorted. They were based on a document filed with the ombudsman, a press conference and a press release. If Cusi didn’t know basic journalism and constitutional protection of free press and free speech, his publicists and lawyers do.

We, in the community media, share the distress of the country’s journalists over the Cusi lawsuit.

Pachico A. Seares

Executive Director

Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC)

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