Press Release
September 14, 2013


Recognizing the evolving needs of Filipinos under a democratic nation, Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara has filed a bill which aims to abolish the imprisonment penalty for the crime of libel.

Angara's Senate Bill No. 1218 seeks to amend Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code which penalizes anyone who is found guilty of libel with six months to four years imprisonment or a fine ranging from P200 to P6,000.

Under his proposed measure, the penalty of imprisonment will be removed.

"To imprison a person convicted of libel might preclude him or her in the future from digging into issues and concerns, that with deep investigation, might expose anomalies and abuses," said Angara, who is also an author of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.

The neophyte senator also noted the rising importance of media in effecting transparency and accountability in governance.

"Even if journalists are free to share their views publicly on issues that affect our nation and our people, they remain unprotected from the risk of imprisonment. Although we recognize that socially relevant issues must have room for open debate and public discussion, we do not safeguard the very people who risk their safety and career in order to report events that have escaped our critical eye," he added.

The senator, however, clarified that the bill does not intend to downplay the importance of one's privacy and right to be free from public and malicious charges that would dishonor or discredit him or her.

Angara stressed that the imprisonment penalty should be abolished in order to further protect and preserve the constitutional right of Filipinos to speech and self-expression.

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