CMFR Statement on Libel Suits filed by Cusi and Uy

THE LIBEL suits brought by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and businessman Dennis Uy against 21 journalists and seven news organizations is a case all too familiar in this presidency: it is another attempt to intimidate, harass, and ultimately to silence the press. 

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility rejects the legitimacy of such actions against the press and urges all journalists to oppose such attempts with tenacious practice. It also renews its call for the decriminalization of libel as has been the trend in democratic societies, to make our press as free as our Constitution intends and protect its independence from official and other power centers.

Uy and Cusi’s suit claims that their reputations have been damaged by the airing in the news media of allegations of anomaly in the sale of Shell and Chevron holdings in the Malampaya gas field to Uy. The suit could not have stood on flimsier ground. The allegations — in general, a lack of due diligence on the part of certain officials, resulting in a shortchanging of the government — have been made openly and formally and are unmistakably a matter of public interest, given in particular the two men involved in it. Uy was a big donor to President Duterte’s electoral campaign and Cusi is an official whose influence and supervision extend to Malampaya.

By reporting on the deal, the press is simply doing its duty to the public — to serve Its right to know about a truth in its own interest. And, if that truth is on Uy and Cusi’s side, they should have no reason to fear for their reputation.