A Cagayan anti-mining leader was arrested on Thursday over allegedly libelous statements made in her Facebook account last year. Esperlita Garcia, the leader of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation in Cagayan, said she was arrested in her home on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Conrado Tabaco of the Regional Trial Court of Aparri, filed by Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. The cause of her arrest was her supposedly libelous account of an aborted anti-mining rally in the town on April 30, 2011.
Her arrest is puzzling, since the Supreme Court of the Philippines has already issued a TRO against the implementation of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which was opposed by numerous groups chiefly because of the libel laws included within. According to the Inquirer report, a Department of Justice official based in Tuguegarao City said that there was no law yet against libelous statements made online. The reason the cybercrime law was passed was that the provisions of the Revised Penal Code do not embrace online libel. But even that law (RA 10175) is not yet in effect,” said the official.
So why exactly was Esperlita Garcia, the 62 year-old leader, arrested over a Facebook post when RA 10175 has effectively been thrown in the cooler as far as laws are concerned? Your guess is as good as ours. She was released after posting Php 10,000 bail.