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Dennis Uy cyber libel complaint vs Philstar.com junked

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Dennis Uy cyber libel complaint vs Philstar.com junked
This file photo shows the door to the office of Philstar Global Corp., which owns Philstar.com.
File / Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:08 p.m.) — Prosecutors dismissed a cyber libel complaint filed by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy against Philstar Global Corp. and three journalists over two articles that reported on the filing of graft cases against him and energy officials in relation to the Malampaya gas field buyout.

Philstar.com's editorial head Camille Diola, business editor Ian Nicolas Cigaral and The STAR's Rhodina Villanueva will not face the court over Uy’s cyber libel complaint as prosecutors said in a May 5 resolution that the articles were not defamatory.

"When viewed in its entirety and plain meaning, the article does not impute a finding that impeaches the virtue, credit and reputation of complainant Uy," prosecutors said.

They added that the articles only presented "a fair and true report" of the filing of the graft complaint based on publicly available documents and information as well as statements from the Uy-owned Udenna Corp. and the Department of Energy.

Prosecutors also said there were no personal comments or remarks made by Cigaral and Villanueva which can be construed as defamatory.

They added that Uy failed to specify which part of the articles were based on pure speculations and conjectures.

Cigaral and Villanueva wrote separate reports on the graft complaint filed against Uy and energy officials, both of which were assailed by the Davao-based businessman and close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte for being supposedly libelous.

Philstar Global Corp. owns Philstar.com, which runs a newsroom independent of The STAR but also hosts content from the newspaper.

Uy and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi launched a flurry of complaints against several news outlets, including Philstar.com, for reporting on the graft complaint filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman. Some of Uy’s other complaints, like the one against ABS-CBN, have also been junked by prosecutors.

Following the dismissal of Uy’s cyber libel raps, including against Philstar.com, Cusi withdrew the complaints he filed against seven news organizations supposedly "in the interest of preserving what can be saved” from the “valued friendships and professional relationships" he forged with the respondents.

Press freedom and freedom of expression advocates have long called for the decriminalization of libel and cyber libel, which the UN Human Rights Council has pointed out is excessive and is incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

CYBER LIBEL

DENNIS UY

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