The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office has given the go signal to indict “Thinking Pinoy” blogger Rey Joseph “RJ” Nieto for calling opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV a “narco” in one of his posts on social media.
In a recently released resolution, city prosecutors recommended that Nieto be brought to trial for violation of Section 4(c)(4) of Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for his “false and baseless defamatory imputation against complainant (Trillanes).”
“Respondent may be indicted for Cyber-libel, the libel, being committed via Facebook, which necessarily uses a computer system,” the resolution read.
Nieto, the resolution stated, did not file a counter-affidavit during the preliminary investigation of the case.
Trillanes filed a libel case against Nieto on November 22, 2017 following the blogger's October 31 post where he said that “US President Donald J Trump reportedly called Senator Antonio Trillanes IV a ‘narco', a colloquial word for a ‘drug baron' or ‘drug lord.'”
The post on Nieto's public account was shared by 15,759 Facebook users and generated 62,000 reactions.
“The post is also malicious, as no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown,” the resolution read.
It said that while it also acknowledged that public officials should not be onion-skinned, “this should not be an excuse for anyone to make baseless lies and make up stories against any public official, especially so when there is no good intention or justifiable motive for doing so.”
Trillanes said the resolution should serve as a warning to Nieto and other bloggers supportive of the administration to stop peddling lies as part of their propaganda.
“Their activities reflect the kind of administration that they support. Sooner or later, they will all be accountable for their actions,” Trillanes said in a statement.
Speaking to DZMM on Saturday, Trillanes said he wants to send a “larger political message” with the filing of his case.
“Ang sa akin dito ‘yung message na hindi ka pwede magkalat ng ‘fake news' at mayroong consequences ‘yan,” he said.
(For me, the message here is that you cannot spread “fake news” because there are consequences to that.)
Nieto on Saturday said he would most likely file an appeal.
“I am aware of the case since Trillanes did announce it to the media. However, we did not receive a copy of the complaint until recently so my counsels will be filing the appropriate response. You see, I cannot possibly reply to a complaint that I have no copy of,” he said in a statement.
“Most likely, a motion for reconsideration based on the lack of notice shall be filed, though I leave it to my lawyers to decide the best course of action,” he added.
Libel carries a penalty of at least prision correccional or imprisonment from 6 months to one year to 6 years if a respondent is found guilty.