Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sedition raps poised vs 5 PCIJ members

Everyone knows the PCIJ (philippine Center for Investigative Journalism). Last year we had a good time downloading the Hello Garci files it posted on its website.

Now, the authorities are trying to build up a case of sedition against them for that posting, and want them arrested.

So, what's going on?


Sedition raps poised vs 5 PCIJ members
March 14, 2006

National (as of 2:57 PM)

Sedition raps poised vs 5 PCIJ members

Five Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism members are facing possible inciting to sedition charges for posting alleged wiretapped conversations of President Arroyo on the PCIJ website last year, ABS-CBN learned Tuesday.

PCIJ director Sheila Coronel said sound engineer Jonathan Tiongco and three Quezon City policemen have requested a Quezon City court to issue a search warrant on PCIJ office in connection with the alleged sedition charges.

She said Tiongco filed the petition before the sala of Judge Alan Balot of RTC Branch 76 Monday after being rejected by another Quezon City court. She added that they have yet to receive word if the petition was approved.

"Tiongco is very sensitive to the political situation right now and the fact that the police are endorsing this complaint makes this a political thing. Inciting to sedition is different from a libel charge. Inciting to sedition is a crime against the state while libel is a crime against a private individual. There is definitely a political color to this charge," she told ANC's Dateline Philippines.

She said a clerk of court confirmed that there was a hearing for the application of a search warrant.

Tiongco has links to Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor who presented the sound engineer in a press conference last year to debunk the "Hello, Garci" wiretap tapes linking the President to electoral fraud.

Defensor, however, denied that the palace is pursuing sedition charges against PCIJ.

"There are certain media personalities against whom cases of inciting to sedition will be filed pero hindi kasama ang PCIJ (PCIJ is not one of them)," Defensor told PCIJ.

He added that Tiongco is not aligned with the opposition. "He even filed cases against (former police chief Hermogenes) Ebdane and (former Cabinet secretary and chief of staff Angelo) Reyes," he said.

The Department of Justice earlier rejected Tiongco's petition to sue the PCIJ for inciting to sedition. In his petition, Tiongco said the posting of the audio recordings led the opposition to call for the president's resignation and impeachment and encouraged civil society groups to hold rallies against the president.

Tiongco and his wife Rona have filed two libel cases against the PCIJ for publishing on its website extracts of a police dossier that lists a string of criminal cases filed against him. Rona Tiongco sued PCIJ for violation of her right to privacy while her husband filed a falsification charge against the PCIJ.

The sound engineer also failed to get a Supreme Court injunction against the posting of the "Hello, Garci" recording on the PCIJ blog. Tiongco has also sued ABS-CBN for libel, wiretapping and falsification.

With a report from PCIJ

No comments: