MANILA -- Journalist Jiggy Manicad, who is running for senator, said Sunday libel should remain as a crime in the Philippines to guard against media abuse.
Manicad, 44, also said Rappler CEO Maria Ressa should defend herself in court. Ressa posted bail last week on cyber libel case filed in 2017.
"Dapat pa rin pong krimen siya para wala pong pang-aabuso sa hanay nating mamamahayag," he said during "Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate."
(It should remain a crime so that there will be no abuse on the part of media practitioners.)
Manicad, who was with GMA Network before he resigned to file his certificate of candidacy, was asked if libel should be decriminalized.
Press freedom advocates have repeatedly called for the decriminalization of libel, saying it has been used to harass journalists with the possibility of imprisonment.
Asked about Ressa, Manicad said: "Nasa korte na po 'yan. Dapat po niyang patunayan 'yung kaniyang kaso," he said.
(It's with the court. She should defend herself before the court.)
Manicad earlier courted controversy when he said that the government had basis when it filed criminal charges against Rappler.
Ressa was arrested Wednesday over a 2012 Rappler article which its subject, businessman Wilfredo Keng, claimed was "clearly defamatory." She was released the next day after posting P100,000 bail.
Asked whether he plans to return as a reporter if he loses, Manicad said he would consider it.
"Kung ako po ay tatanggapin ng aking mga a-aply-an, subalit mas nais po nating manalo," he said.
(If I am hired where I will apply, but I would rather win in the upcoming elections.)