Decriminalize libel?

In 2004, Rep. Imee Marcos filed a bill (HB00330; I don’t know its status) seeking to extinguish the penalty of imprisonment and to impose higher fines for offenders of the crime of libel. The accompanying explanation states that the imposition of a more reasonable set of fines for offenders of the crime of libel is more in keeping with the protection of the right of individuals to freedom of speech and expression rather than the imposition the penalty of imprisonment. Furthermore, considering the present value of the peso, the fines currently imposed are inadequate and must therefore be increased to be commensurate to its purpose.

Some argue that the current state of law on libel leads to the creation of a “chilling effect”. Powerful personalities can just file libel cases left and right to deter journalists from writing legitimate stories. On the other hand, others argue that the bill will only embolden some journalists, or anyone for that matter, to intensify character assassination. It’s a difficult balancing act.

Let’s hear what you think.

(Note: The comment section is transferred here. The poll is also found here.)


  1. Option 1: Distinguish between public and private figures. Decriminalize libel against public figures but retain for private figures.

    Option 2: Total decriminalization. This is true in some US states. The awards in civil suits are quite sizeable.

  2. Atty Fred,

    Tanong ko lang po kung pwede kasuhan ng libel kung pina-blotter ka sa barangay at sa police? yung blotter po kasi hindi totoo at puro paninira lang. Salamat po.

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