"Cyber-libel and traditional libel are both used as tactics to silence the news media and prevent them from exposing injustice."
The management of a steel plant in Pampanga is now facing multiple charges after we exposed the alleged abuses and maltreatment of its workers recently.
As expected, the RSC Real Steel Corporation (RSC) has reportedly filed cyber-libel cases against me, apparently as part of its efforts to whitewash criminal offenses and absolve itself from liability for criminal offenses filed by a group of employees.
At least 14 cases have been filed in court against the RSC management by the San Simon, Pampanga police, particularly its owner “Irwin Chua,” including five counts for physical injuries, five counts for illegal detention, three counts for grave threats and one count for physical abuse.
Filing cyber-libel cases has become fashionable in the age of digital journalism and social media, but it is the same as the traditional libel cases used as a tactic to silence the news media in exposing injustices in the interest of the public.
Not quite a few moneyed culprits have used libel/cyber-libel cases as a weapon thus the expression “weaponizing the law” in harassing journalists and their news sources.
We are confident that the Regional 3 Office of the Prosecutor in San Fernando, Pampanga will junk the frivolous cyber-libel cases reportedly filed by the RSC.
I am standing by my story on the alleged abuses and maltreatment suffered by the 40 or so workers we “rescued” that day from that plant.
That having said, a deeper investigation into the steel factory’s activities may be in order.
After learning about the despicable plight of the workers and alleged inhumane treatment they were subjected to, House Representative Eric Yap of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agency the Bureau of Immigration to look into the status of Irwin Chua, who is believed to be a Chinese national.
I agree with Rep. Yap that we must never allow any Filipino laborer to be treated like a slave in his own country.
Rep. Yap also called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to investigate the tax compliance of the foreign-owned steel manufacturer.
Meanwhile, we welcome the reported filing of complaint of Mr. Melchor Tayag, whose photograph was mistakenly shown in our Facebook live report on the RSC labor issue.
I never mentioned a Melchor Tayag in my story regarding the abusive Chinese owner of the steel plant in Pampanga whose employees had sought my assistance to “rescue” them from arbitrary detention.
Clearly, I identified the RSC plant owner in San Simon as Irwin Chua, not Melchor Tayag.
Mr. Tayag’s family went to my office a few days after I aired the story on my radio-TV program and on my Facebook page, and informed my staff that one picture we showed that supposedly portrayed Mr. Chua actually showed Mr. Tayag.
The said photograph was given to us by the Human Resource head of the agency supplying manpower to the steel plant.
Upon learning of our error, I immediately made another report clarifying that the man in the picture is not Irwin Chua but Melchor Tayag who has nothing to do with the RSC issue.
On the air, I apologized to former councilman Melchor Tayag of Barangay San Agustin for the unfortunate case of mistaken identity.
Mr. Tayag’s name was never mentioned in the said report, but his photo may inadvertently referred to him as the “cruel Chinese owner of the Real Steel Corporation.”
We have also shown the correct picture showing the subject of complaints, Irwin Chua.
Though motivated to serve the interest of the public, such reckless imprudence by our production team is simply inexcusable.
We respect ex-councilman Tayag’s right to seek redress.