“Have you heard the news?” asked one close friend early morning today.
But even before I replied him what was it that he’s ecstatic to talk about, he sent me the alleged mug shot of Engr. Nelson Ramirez and a copy of his warrant of arrest.
Ramirez, according to his Curriculum Vitae posted online, is the Executive Editor of Tinig ng Marino, a maritime newspaper in the Philippines.
A vocal seafarer advocate and a multi-awarded Filipino Marine Engineer as well, Ramirez was reportedly charged with cyber libel. He was issued a warrant of arrest by Judge Felizardo S. Montero Jr. of RTC Branch 11 (X1), City of Malolos, Bulacan.
A DWWW 774 News informs us that Ramirez was sued due to his alleged libelous Facebook post against one Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Board Examiner named James Paul Llamas.
This event was likely shocking since I observed that many Pinoy seafarers consider Engr. Ramirez as their role model.
What is online libel?
Gel Santos Relos of asianjournal.com can help us understand what is online libel.
Here’s exactly what she would like us to know about this crime.
The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines just upheld the constitutionality of most parts of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, including the contentious provision that punishes online libel.
The execution of the law was suspended in October 2012 by a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court, following criticisms and protests among the media and human rights advocates.
However, with this new ruling of the Supreme Court, a person or entity who posts something (in words or pictures) — which can be proven false, and is intended to harm the reputation of another by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others — may be arrested, detained, and imprisoned because of libel.
Yes, in the Philippines, libel is still a criminal offense. It is defamation in its very essence, but covers published work on print, television and other traditional media. The same is now true for new media like the internet.
This online/internet libel law, however, punishes only the original author of the post. Those who “liked,” “shared,” “retweeted” or re-blogged a post will not be criminally liable, unless (and I am presuming here) the person added a comment that may deemed to be libelous by a complainant.
In this case, I am deducing that he/she becomes an original author of his/her comment and may have to defend himself/herself in court if charged with online libel.
Do you understand now what online libel is?
If you still don’t get it, you may read over and over again ’till you digest the quoted writing above.
Follow the law
On how we can avoid committing cyber libel, it is a must for everyone to know the applicable law, and follow it by heart.
Don’t post false claims on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts.
Speaking of Ramirez but as a former complainant, he was reportedly slandered by Leuel Oseña some years ago.
Here’s a part of the news about it that was posted on May 17, 2012 at unitedfilipinoseafarers.com website (Ramirez is President of United Filipino Seafarers Federation).
The office of the City Prosecutor in Manila has recommended that Mr. Leuel Oseña be indicted for libel finding probable cause on the case filed by Engr. Nelson P. Ramirez last April 22, 2009.
On the defamatory statement of Leuel Oseña that Engr. Ramirez is unfit to be included in the core of professionals, Ramirez proved that his peers in the profession have recognized his leadership and significant contributions to the field of marine engineering as well as to the maritime industry as a community when he presented the various awards and plaques of appreciation as a leader of a maritime labor federation like The Most Outstanding Marine Engineer of the Year in 1996 by the Professional Regulation Commission, Outstanding Achiever of the Year in the Province of Zamboanga del Norte, Outstanding Individual of the Year in 2008 by the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, Outstanding Seafarer of the Year by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), OLAMWA medal from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Spirit Plaque from the Philippine Coast Guard, Plaque of appreciation from MARINA, OWWA, Presidential Fact-Finding and Policy Advisory Commission and from various maritime institutions all over the country by giving lectures to maritime students.
Unfortunately these days, a good example can easily be turned into a horrible warning by a sole social media post.
Share us your thoughts about Engr. Ramirez and the cyber libel crime.
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