“Our conscience is clear. We are hopeful the legal proceeding will unravel the truth behind the allegations.”
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– Baguio-based online media outfit Northern Dispatch decries harassment as another cyber libel case is filed against its editor-in-chief, Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol.
Two courts initially dismissed the libel charge filed against Quitasol early this year but it was elevated to cyber libel and refiled in another court.
La Trinidad, Benguet Provincial Prosecutor Andres Gondayao first filed the libel case against Quitasol at the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 in Baguio City, but it was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Gondayao then refiled the case at the La Trinidad Municipal Trial Court, and was also dismissed for the same reason.
The prosecutor then filed another case against Quitasol at the RTC 59 in Baguio City on Sept. 28, and amended the charge to cyber libel, which has stiffer penalties than regular libel.
The charges were all based on the complaint of Police Regional Office Cordillera Regional Director Brigadier General R’Win Pagkalinawan, who also filed a similar case against NorDis volunteer, Khim Abalos, last Sept. 22.
The cyber libel case stemmed from Quitasol’s article published in the Northern Dispatch website last April 7, about human rights alliance Karapatan’s reaction to Pagkalinawan’s order “to shoot communist organizers who unnecessarily organize people during the COVID-19 lockdown.”
The police general claimed that both Quitasol and Abalos deliberately removed a part of his statement, “kapag nanlaban.” (if they fought back) The omission, according to the complaint, was done in order to portray the Pagkalinawan in a negative light.
Quitasol said they never received a subpoena summoning them to the courts despite being charged three times.
“The filing of cases against two Nordis staff, me included, is an escalation of attacks against our media group,” said Quitasol.
Quitasol also claimed that attacks and harassment against their team steadily worsened under the current government but she vowed to “remain steadfast and continue to defend the people’s right to truth and information.”
NorDis has been consistent in its reporting of indigenous peoples’ issues and human rights violations in Cordillera and Ilocos regions.
“We have been holding the line too long enough, it is time to push back,” Quitasol said.