The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called on presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino to drop the libel charges against broadcast journalist Ted Failon and staff.
Tolentino, that Failon’s “several TV and radio reports besmirched his reputation.”
The charge stems from a series of episodes of “Failon Ngayon” that looked into the allegedly irregular purchase by Tolentino, then Metro Manila Development Authority chairman, of secondhand motorcycles for Pope Francis’ visit to Manila in 2014 Failon’s reports were based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report that noted the purchase did not undergo bidding. Tolentino later returned the amount spent on the motorcycles to the MMDA.
In a statement, the NUJP said that regardless of the merits of the case, “there can be no doubt Failon had taken on a subject of public interest and significance and sought accountability from a government official sworn to uphold the law and promote the general welfare.”
“The libel suit against ABS-CBN’s Ted Failon and members of his staff again underscores how onion-skinned government officials wield the antediluvian criminal libel law as a bludgeon in their vain hope to cow critical journalism into silence,” Atty. Jocelyn Clemente, NUJP acting chairperson, said.
Failon and his three colleagues posted bail Tuesday after they were ordered arrested by a Tagaytay City court for the suit.