MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles) – There’s a new icon of civil rights that’s emerging in the Philippines, especially among politicians. It’s the Filipino version of America’s Statue of Liberty.
The local version is called the Statue of Libelty, a supposed symbol of politicians’ right to be immune from criticism and public scrutiny. This right empowers politicians to sue anyone who ‘maligns their good moral character.’
It is known that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s son Junjun — the ex-mayor of Makati City — had filed a libel complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The libel complaint stemmed from an allegation by Trillanes that Binay bribed two Court of Appeals (CA) justices to rule in favor of granting the latter a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction against the preventive suspension order slapped by the Office of the Ombudsman last year.
Late last year, the vice president himself also filed libel cases against Trillanes and former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado in the Makati Regional Trial Court over their “false, malicious and defamatory accusations” against him. VP Binay has been accused of receiving kickbacks in a deal involving the Boy Scouts of the Philippines by Mercado, and through nonexistent senior citizen beneficiaries of Makati City by Trillanes.
And now, Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has threatened to sue Rappler and one of its columnists if the news site does not take down an opinion piece on the P1 billion allocation for contraceptives that was removed from the national budget.
(Yes, it is the same Sotto who, in 2012, was accused of plagiarizing the speech of former President John F. Kennedy and used his words as his own in a speech in the Senate against the RH (reproductive health) bill.
In a letter dated February 2, Sotto who is running for reelection this year, also asked Rappler to “sanction” Thought Leaders writer Dr Sylvia Estrada Claudio “for her libelous statements” in her January 18 piece, ‘Magnanakaw’ sa Senado.
A review of past libel cases also show that former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo had filed a flurry of libel cases against 43 journalists during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, according to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP).
With libel cases seemingly becoming extremely popular among Filipino politicians, sculptors have been invited to submit designs for a statue that will be erected next to that of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Luneta (Rizal Park). The winning design is pictured above.
It wasn’t clear who ordered the erection of the new statue. We have an idea, but will not mention any names, lest we be charged with libel.