Radio blocktimer arrested on libel charge

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A radio blocktimer facing two counts of criminal libel case was arrested last 9 June 2015 in Valencia City, Bukidnon province. Bukidnon is approximately 1481 kilometers south of Manila.

Members of the local PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested radio commentator Rey Cabaraban on the strength of a warrant issued by the Bukidnon Regional Trial Court in connection with a PHP48-million libel case filed by Bukidnon governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. in April 2014. Cabaraban was released on June 10 after posting bail of Php 40,000.

According to a report in Sun.Star’s Super Balita Cagayan de Oro, the libel case is based on Cabaraban’s commentaries when he was still with dxGG 107.1 Happy FM. Cabaraban was commenting on illegal logging, mining, and the peace and order situation in the province.

Cabaraban currently hosts the block time program Radyo Rapido in dyXB-AM Radyo Juan, a radio station owned by Bukidnon Provincial Board member Rene Centillas. In Philippine broadcast practice, a blocktimer is an individual who purchases “blocks” of TV or radio time for sponsorship.

Libel is still a criminal offense in the Philippines despite calls for its decriminalization. In October 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee urged the Philippine government to review its old libel law which it described as “excessive.” CMFR and journalists’ groups have been urging the decriminalization of libel for nearly two decades.