The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in expressing strong concern over the arrest of a Filipino journalist on Wednesday, April 15 in Bicol, Luzon Island.
At 9.20 am on Wednesday, April 15, Elmer James Bandol, was arrested as he left his residence to go to work. The 59-year-old journalist works as a contributor for various local newspapers in Bicol and was arrested in relation to a libel case filed on July 15, 2012. The case was filed by Masbate Electric Cooperative (Maseclo) official Dr Eduardo Margallo and stemmed from a story Bandol authored regarding loses incurred by Maseclo published on BicolToday.com. Bandol is currently in police custody and is expected to remain there until he is taken to Masbate province to face court.
The NUJP said Bandol has been served with numerous libel cases over the years, however all have been dismissed by the courts.
Less than two weeks ago on April 5, the former President of the National Press Club, Jerry Yap, was arrested for libel as he returned from a trip to Japan. Yap’s arrest has been strongly criticsed by the Philippine media as it broke a long-standing agreement between media organisations and the Philippines National Police, which said journalists would not be arrested on weekends and that media organisations would be alerted to any impending arrest.
The IFJ Asia Pacific said: “Libel cases are all too-often becoming tools to silence and intimidate the press. These recent events call into question the motivations behind these arrests at this time while the behavior of the Philippines National Police in the case of Jerry Yap was contrary to established practice in such cases.”