MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalist in the Philippines (NUJP) urged boxing superstar and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquiao to withdraw his P75-million libel case against General Santos City-based reporter Edwin Espejo.
The group asserted that Pacquiao has erred in his decision to file a libel case against Espejo.
“We firmly believe Pacquiao errs in suing Mr. Espejo and seeking compensation that is patently outrageous,” the NUJP said in MindaNews.
The complaint stemmed from Espejo’s report titled, "Stolen car dealer finds refuge in Pacman mansion.”
The article was published by Asian Correspondent and MindaNews.
Espejo wrote that former Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group official Mohammad "Bong" Akia, who is wanted by police for carnapping, is allegedly staying in Pacquiao’s residence.
According to MindaNews, Akia also sued Espejo for libel and sought P18 million in damages.
The NUJP said Espejo’s efforts to get Pacquiao’s side of the story showed that the journalist did not have malice in writing the article, “which is a requisite for libel.”
The group added that Espejo cited statements by ranking Philippine National Police officials about Akia’s activities.
“Espejo clearly cited the source of his report as well as his efforts to get Pacquiao’s side and, failing that, sought out the boxing champion’s lawyer,” said the NUJP.
“It would be a shame if Pacquiao should risk his well-deserved reputation by succumbing to the same urge that has seen abusive official after abusive official resorting to our draconian criminal libel law — or even worse measures — to stifle reasonable criticism and critical coverage,” the group added.
Espejo is the NUJP chapter chairman for South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City.