No less than Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin has advised journalists to anticipate the filing of libel charges against them in the pursuit of their profession so as to avoid embarrassment.
Bersamin’s advice came after officials of the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines, the oldest media organization in the country, held their oathtaking at the Supreme Court (SC) recently.
The chief magistrate was queried about the possibility of coordinating with the SC when there is a warrant of arrest issued against members of the working media in the country.
The NPC has long forged an agreement with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that whenever a warrant of arrest for libel was issued against journalists, policemen should coordinate first with the NPC.
However, since the agreement has been forged long ago authorities are no longer following the agreement and they serve the warrant to the very offices of the journalist who were charged with libel.
Bersamin said, however, he cannot tell the judges not to issue a warrant, particularly on libel “because it is not good.”
He said the warrant of arrest is automatic and the thing journalists should do is to anticipate the filing of the charges so they are ready post bail.
“What I am telling you is unavoidable that powerful people will hit you with libel but we cannot centralize the issuance of warrant. What you have to do is anticipate the filing of cases,” Bersamin told the NPC officers.