MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Yolanda Ong in the multimillion-peso case that Juan Ponce Enrile filed.
Chel Diokno, Ong’s legal counsel, described it as a “much-needed good news for Philippine journalists.”
The highest court, through its first division released a one-page notice. In the document that Division Clerk of Court Librada Buena signed, they said that Enrile failed to show that the Court of Appeals made erred in its decision.
It emphasized that Enrile failed to “sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error.”
Ong published her last opinion piece in the STAR last January 2013.
SC in favor of Yolanda Ong, a big leap for journalists
Enrile sued Ong for an opinion article she wrote in October 16, 2012. She titled the said piece as, “Like father, like son?”
JPE quipped that the work painted him as a “liar, fraud and manipulator.”
He claimed that such piece “mock(ed) and ridicule(d) him.” He added that such work was “discrediting (his) good reputation, integrity.”
Prior, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 118 dismissed the claims of Enrile.
The court clarified that it “finds it improper to award moral and exemplary damages as well as attorney’s fees in favor of plaintiff JPE.”
Diokno said that he hopes that this would send a clear reminder to writers. He said, “don’t be afraid to cover matters that are of public concern involving public figures.”
“I know this is a trying time for the Philippine press,” said Diokno.
The human rights lawyer did not state any specific scenarios. A fresh case that the Free Legal Assistance Group took on was Maria Ressa’s. The Rappler CEO was recently convicted for libel charges.
ABS-CBN also faces problems in its franchise renewal. With that on hold, they face risks of shutting down resulting to thousands unemployed.
He emphasized that journalists should just keep doing their duties. For lawyers, he said “we will keep doing our work to defend your rights to do so.”