PHILIPPINES: Journalist in custody for libel
JANUARY 22, 2008
Posted February 7, 2008
Julito Ucab, Freelance
Freelance radio commentator Ucab was arrested on January 22 in Cagayan de Oro after failing to attend court hearings to defend himself against a libel charge dating from 2004, according to Jose Bimbo F. Santos, press officer of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in the Philippines, and local news reports.
The charge was related to an interview with a woman who accused a government employee of rape, which Ucab broadcast while he was working as a radio commentator and program manager at the dxBC radio station in the city of Butuan in the south of Mindanao, news reports said. The government employee filed a case accusing him of libel, a criminal offense in the Philippines.
Ucab made bail in 2006 and moved to Cagayan de Oro, a northern coastal city on Mindanao, where he continued to broadcast his own programs by purchasing airtime on a local radio station, the reports said.
The reason for his failure to return to Butuan to attend the hearings was unclear. He is now being held in the Butuan City Jail. Local journalists are working to find him a lawyer and secure his release, Santos told CPJ.