The new battleground for committing libel is now the internet. A lawyer has said the Philippines has no specific internet libel law making doubts if libel cases stemmed from defamatory statements on Facebook and other social networks shall prosper.
The world’s first-known libel case on Facebook was filed in Europe in July 2008, by British businessman Matthew Firsht against his former school friend, Grant Raphael who alleged the former as a gay. Firsht won and awarded damages for the libel case and breach of privacy.
In the Philippines, the first libel case on Facebook was filed by celebrity cosmetic surgeon–Dr. Vicky Belo against writer-lawyer-activist Atty, Argee Guevarra who imputed on Belo as the “Reyna ng Kaplastikan, Reyna ng Kapalpakan” referring to the alleged malpractice of the Belo clinics. (Update: The case was dismissed after the judge trying the case ruled that there was no libel on the internet yet. However, several similar cases have been pending in several courts nationwide.)
In the offing for a possible libel battle are the controversial shout-outs of Film Director and Actress Gina Alajar on her Facebook making some negative comments against young starlet–Krista Ranillo over the alleged affair of the young star with boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. Read in one of the shout-outs of Alajar’s account: “If I am Jinkee Pacquiao, I will not give up Manny. “Krista Ranillo is not at all worth it!”
Definitely, libel on the internet as well as in broadcasting are not specifically mentioned in our libel laws. However, there is a provision in the law that covers every means of libel.
Meantime, I am reserving the rest of the spaces on this page to my Media Laws & Ethics class at the University of San Jose Recoletos for further discussions….