DILG official files libel complaint vs Rappler reporter

MANILA, Philippines – An undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government is suing a Rappler reporter over a series of reports about DILG officials and employees asking President Rodrigo Duterte to sack him.

DILG Undersecretary John Castriciones filed a libel complaint with the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office against Rappler’s Rambo Talabong over the following reports: 

Castriciones was among 3 undersecretaries whom DILG officials and employees asked President Rodrigo Duterte to fire. They sent a letter to the President, signed by “Concerned employees” of the DILG.

Talabong also reported that the DILG undersecretaries, Castriciones included, were stripped of responsibilities right before they themselves asked Duterte to fire former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno. Another DILG official said the 3 had been placed on “floating” status.

Pressed in a briefing what would happen to the 3 officials, DILG officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy told reporters they had left it up to Malacañang. One of them, Jesus Hinlo, has since been apopointed to the board of the LandBank of the Philippines. The other undersecretary, Emily Padilla, is still with the DILG.

Castriciones alleged that Talabong made malicious imputations when he reported that all 3 undersecretaries were on  “floating status” as if it was official; that they were the subject of a "corruption complaint” as if it was official; and that the complaint’s allegations were the reason for their status.

Castriciones singled out Talabong for reporting that he and the two other undersecretaries had been receiving P100,000 salaries despite being on floating status. According to him, Talabong deliberately failed to mention that he was still the chairman of the bids and awards and the grievance committees.

Other news organizations had reported on the 3 officials' status at the DILG.

In the Philippines libel is a criminal offense that carries a penalty of 6-year imprisonment or fines or both. Libel also allows complainants to demand multi-million pesos in damages from journalists.

Campaigns by media organizations and unions to have libel decriminalized have not prospered in Congress. – Rappler.com