Baguio court finds human rights defender guilty of cyber libel


MANILA — A Baguio court handed down a guilty verdict against Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Secretary-General Sarah Dekdeken, over a cyber libel case filed against her by former Cordillera Police Regional Director Brigadier General R’Win Pagkalinawan.

“This libel case is an attack on truth and those who wield it to champion peoples’ political rights,” said CPA in a statement decrying the guilty verdict.

Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch presiding Judge Ivan Kim B. Morales issued the ruling yesterday, Dec. 1.

In 2021, Pagkalinawan filed charges against Dekdeken for her remarks in an online press conference detailing the desecration of the Heroes’ Monument in Bugnay, Kalinga and the perpetrators behind it.

In her testimonies, Dekdeken recalled how she only relayed information based on reports gathered from the community in Bugnay, blaming the police as the culprits in the demolition of the monument. The community reported that the police removed the monument under the orders of then Regional Director Pagkaliwan.

CPA noted that this was not taken into consideration, citing how Dekdeken supposedly “failed to show proof” that Pagkalinawan was the one who ordered the demolition and that her claims were “malicious and sufficient to impeach the reputation of the complainant” since she also failed to investigate and verify the information with Pagkalinawan first before conducting the online press conference.

Dekdeken was fined P250,000 and ordered to pay Pagkalinawan an additional P10,000 as moral damages and P5,000 as exemplary damages.

“It is a machination to cover up their involvement in the desecration of the Cordillera Heroes’ Monument, a symbolic structure of peoples’ triumphs over state-sponsored destructive development initiatives,” they added.

The group added that this is only an attempt to erase the fact that the same people who are supposed to serve their constituents are the ones who are violating the people’s civil and political rights.

Pagkalinawan was also the one who filed a similar case against Northern Dispatch’s editor-in-chief Kimberlie Quitasol and reporter Khim Abalos over his “shoot to kill” order in 2021.

“We maintain that speaking the truth is not libelous nor is it a crime; especially so if the true narrative is a revelation of state institutions’ abuse of power. This is a responsibility of every citizen in a democratic society,” CPA said. (RTS) (

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