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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lawyer to bring jailed broadcaster’s case to UN

By Germelina Lacorte
Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 17:55:00 02/03/2008

DAVAO CITY -- The lawyer of jailed Davao broadcaster Alexander "Lex" Adonis plans to bring his case to the United Nations and urge the world body to declare the conviction for libel a violation of human rights.

Lawyer Harry Roque, who is now handling the case of the broadcaster jailed for libel, said on Sunday he was keen on elevating Adonis' case to the UN, after existing laws in the Philippines failed to protect the rights of the convicted newsman.

"Congress' promise to pass a law to decriminalize libel is not moving," Roque noted. "So, we plan to take our case to the UN Human Rights Committee and eventually have the libel laws of the country declared a violation of the International Covenant on Civil-Political Rights (ICCPR)."

Roque said that upon the issuance by the UN of such a declaration, lawyers could ask the Supreme Court to rule outright that jail terms for libel would violate the country's treaty obligations.

He said he was planning to bring all cases of journalists jailed for libel to the UN.
Roque said the new Supreme Court guidelines calling on all judges to impose fines rather than mete out jail terms to newsmen convicted for libel was a "laudable move" but it "won't benefit those already in jail."

Adonis, 43, was sentenced by a Davao court to four and a half years in jail for libel. He remains in detention.

The libel case stemmed from a series of radio commentaries dubbed "Burlesque King," in which, according to court records, Adonis identified Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles as the man seen running naked in a Manila hotel after the husband of his alleged paramour caught them in a hotel room. Nograles is challenging the leadership of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. in the House of Representatives.

A second libel complaint filed by Nograles' alleged paramour disqualified the newsman from applying for probation.

"In Adonis' case, he was charged a second time precisely to keep him in jail," Roque said.