Three online writers who may be most at risk of being sued for libel

Now that Republic Act 10175, also known as the Philippine Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, has been enacted to law, the question in most people’s minds now is “Who is gonna be sued first?” Here are three of them (or rather three classes of them) that immediately come to mind.

* * *

(1) The Professional Heckler

Considering Filipinos’ renowned cognitive challenges when it comes to getting satire, the “award”-winning political satirist known as “The Professional Heckler” who in his Twitter account describes himself as “A humor blogger from the Philippines” may be in trouble. For that matter, just being “from the Philippines” puts him squarely within the kill zone.

His In Memoriam article on the “demise” of Senator Tito Sotto’s “common sense” as expressed in the following mock epitaph which opens the article, may be funny. But some powerful folk may not be in the mood for a bit of a laugh…

The People of the Philippines deeply regret
to announce the not-so-shocking demise
of Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III’s
COMMON SENSE last August 29.

On September 5, 2012, it died yet again making
it ‘double dead’ — botcha sotto speak.

The lawmaker’s common sense is survived by his
22 fellow senators who opted to keep mum
on the issue of plagiarism.

In lieu of flowers or prayers,
the public is requested to just remain
vigilant and critical.

Interment was never announced.
It just happened.

Considering how I was crowned “one of the most enthusiastic hecklers of the politically-passionate” by no less than the Noted One himself way back in September 2006, I sympathise with The Professional Heckler. His blog goes as far back as April, 2007 so I count him as one who wields equal claim to the title.

In any case, Professional Heckler may have other more pressing things to worry about. The embattled Senator Sotto reportedly said that “the new law against cybercrime may be used to penalize those who make defamatory statements online.”

(2) Raissa Robles

The self-described “investigative journalist” has quite a dossier of journalistic infamy in our archives. Robles was instrumental to the success of the whole trial-by-media fiasco that was the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Her “contribution” to this “noble” endeavour was a full-court-press on Corona and his wife Cristina Corona that stood upon three questionable premises:

(1) Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) made it a point to appoint Mrs Corona to the Board of Directors of John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) in 2001.

(2) There was, supposedly, a “possible conflict of interest” in an SC justice being married to a Board member of the JHMC both of whom were appointed by GMA to those positions.

(3) Mr Corona sat in the SC as a justice courtesy of GMA’s “reward” and Mrs Corona enjoyed a plum Board position in the JHMC over the rest of the period of GMA’s cling-on presidency.

Robles also mounted a “crowdsourcing” effort to supposedly get to the bottom of the Coronas’ allegedly vast property holdings in the United States by encouraging her community of readers to post “evidence” to prove this allegation on the comment sections of her blog.

(3) Magtanggol de la Cruz and Carmela Fonbuena of

One of the cornerstones of the case against Corona during his impeachment trial was the existence of alleged foreign currency accounts to his name. On account of the Philippines’ bank secrecy laws, those accounts and the cash balances within them were at the time legally invisible to the media. Yet in a series of news “reports”, de la Cruz and Fonbuena revealed not only the amount of money kept in these accounts but also the account number of one of them. itself has a track record of erroneous “news” reporting. The most recent instance of this sloppy journalism was highlighted by blogger Paul Farol who cited Voltaire Tupaz’s and Judy Pasimio’s reports on the gunning down of tribal leader Timuay Lucenio Manda’s son Jordan in early September. “Manda was ambushed and shot at by several men while he was riding a motorcycle with his son, who he was bringing to school in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. Manda survived the shooting, but his son was instantly killed.”

Not one but two “reports” erroneously cast Manda as harbouring an absolute “anti-mining” position — an allegation denied by Manda himself in a subsequent press statement.

* * *

Recall that for an allegation of libel to hold water, the following elements need to be present: “(a) imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; (b) publication of the imputation; (c) identity of the person defamed; and, (d) existence of malice.” [Daez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 47971, 31 October 1990, 191 SCRA 61, 67].

You be the judge.


Post Author: benign0

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71 Comments on "Three online writers who may be most at risk of being sued for libel"

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I find your posts candid, insightful, and thought provoking. I find the same with professional heckler who i rate as the best satirist in the country by far – a class act in a sea of mediocrity -, and who is clearly too intellectual for the political class and too progressive for the political dinosaurs who have yet to even understand new technology ( just off-shore banking) , hence the fear of what you dont understand or cannot control,- reminiscent of private eye in uk in their early days,- and who has great integrity by ‘attacking/exposing’ all hypocricy, irrespective of… Read more »

If we are going to say something about the performance of “public” officials in the Philippines, is that libel? I think it is our right to know about the people we are trusting to handle the government in the Philippines. I think if they don’t want their lives to be put into scrutiny as public servants, then, they should remain as ordinary citizens.

Der Fuhrer
Let us talk about nuances, glitches and exceptions to the rule. Please feel free to contribute your observations… The general rule of exception is that the real truth negates libel. 1. Does biting, factual, critical political satire against anyone in power make the article libelous? What safeguards does the cyber-law offer in cases of abuse of political/state power and pure harassment? Does it offer compensation to victims in cases of abuse of such power? 2. Who will “police” those who wield, use and abuse personal political or state power in even using the machinery of state to libel perceived enemies… Read more »
Der Fuhrer
Philippine Constitution of 1987 Article III Bill of Rights Sec.4- No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances. “According to Judge Cooley, the following are the purposes of the freedom of speech and press: 1. To protect the parties in the free publication of matters of public events and public measures; 2. To enable every citizen at any time to bring the Government and all persons in authority to the bar of public opinion by… Read more »
Hyden Toro

It’s a form of diversionary tactic, from Aquino. To cover the Puno multi-billion pesos scam….regarding the procurement of firearms…The Cybercrime law is to frighten the Avowed critics of Aquino and his cahoots. We know better….


Who’s gonna be sued first for libel? I think it may take a while before somebody is sued for libel through cyberspace. Right now, what we’re having on the web are mere innuendos and whining from sour-grapes losers, biased opinions which are really worthless for they don’t make sense in the first place, and wayward and misguided ideas from usiseros passing off as legitimate critics.

Really, the apprehension and the panic being felt by some here are really unfounded.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)

Rappler should just correct its mistake. Among journalists, it’s really building up an awful reputation for getting its facts wrong.

Elmer Balgos Alinsog

To counter this law, it might be a good idea to rally and encourage every Filipinos to file an immigration asylum applications to other countries. Any modern countries will consider this law as oppression by the government, therefore they should grant all asylum seekers to migrate in foreign lands. It would fall into political asylum – millions of political asylum immigration applications could potentially reverse this dumbass law.


this website is in panic mode right now. you better change the way you address the current governmet which satisfies its citizens of its anti corruption reputation


Der Fuhrer, thank you for your insights! And thanks to this site my critical thinking is enhanced!
Keep it up! ;))


I think politicians who have something to hide, think they can take fortress in this cybercrime prevention act. Haha!

Der Fuhrer
Can they “confiscate” system hardware and software without just compensation? What happens to the taken system components if it is damaged or lost or tampered? What if a system is hacked and evidence planted for the sake of hacking or harassment? Does the law have safeguards protecting online users? From wikipedia: “In a 2012 ruling on a complaint filed by a broadcaster who had been imprisoned for violating Philippine Libel Law, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held that the criminalization of libel violates freedom of expression and is inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil… Read more »
Rafael Perez

Now who is laughing? Those people complaining about the cybercrime bill is now being haunted by their own ghosts. Freedom of expression when used to destroy a person should not be permitted.

Juancho Ong

Good for Sotto…hindi lang naman siya ang binabanatan sa social media…marami ring biktima ng cybercrime.

Benito Sioco

Not only Sotto the face for Anti-RH but now he is the champion of all those that have been cyberbullied…

Danilo Silvestre

Check the date of the journal…January 24, 2012. So he inserted this even before the “hatchet job” was unleashed against him? Sad to know that some people only know how to find fault but will never accept correction or regulation

Pearl Liu

Online responsibility is what this bill aims to achieve. If you think you have clean hands why complain? Mainstream media should be ashamed of what bloggers do…calling themselves media?

Greg Roque

Sotto doesn’t deserve to be bullied anymore. It is not proper already. Hindi na tama ang mamersonal.


Yung mga natatakot na makasuhan ng libel, yun yung mga taong naninira at nagsasabi ng hindi totoo tungkol sa iba.


People should know how to blog responsibly and not just accuse others without basis.