Seven broadcasters facing libel suit

CMFR/Philippines – Five broadcasters and two radio station owners in Camarines Norte province filed counter-affidavits last 4 June 2013 in response to a libel case filed against them by the province’s governor, who claims a comment aired over two radio stations last 2 April 2013 implied that he “paid people to kill.”

Camarines Norte is some 300 kilometers southwest of Manila.

Rommel Fenix of dzAU AM told CMFR last 18 July 2013 that he and four other broadcasters from dzAU, as well as the two owners of Power Radio 94.1, were subpoenaed in connection with a libel complaint filed by Camarines Norte governor Edgardo Tallado and Tallado’s legal officer, Sim Mata, last May 2013.

In the copy of the complaint Fenix sent CMFR, the complainants claim that a comment aired over both dzAU and Power Radio implied that Tallado had ordered Mata and hired goon Rick Javier to kill Ariel Non, vice mayor of Jose Panganiban town in the same province.

Libel Complaint against 7 Radio Broadcasters in Camarines Norte

Javier said in a sworn statement he filed last April 2013 that he collected bribes for Tallado. He added that Tallado ordered him and Mata last August 2011 to find someone to kill Non.

Tallado, according to Javier’s statement, speculated that Non was behind the circulation of letters saying Tallado collected bribes from gold miners.

On 19 July 2013, Tallado denied any wrongdoing Fenix had accused him of,  and told CMFR he had filed some ten libel cases against Fenix. He claimed that the reason why Fenix was attacking him him was that dzAU is owned by the family of his past opponent for governor, Jojo Unico.

On 11 July 2013, Fenix reported that Tallado’s security officer had punched and threatened to kill him. The next day, July 12, Fenix received a package with three bullets and a death threat.

Earlier this year, in January 2013, CMFR reported Fenix receiving death threats via SMS from anonymous senders that the broadcaster speculated are supporters of Tallado.