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Mr. Arroyo’s Press Stop

1 minute read
Austin Ramzy

With 23 journalists killed since 2003, the Philippines has becomesecond only to Iraqthe world’s riskiest place to report the news. Now there’s another risk: Jose Miguel (Mike) Arroyo, husband of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, appears to be waging a legal campaign against his critics. Arroyo has sued 42 journalists and media executives over slights ranging from accusations of graft and fraud to one columnist’s irreverent references to his weight.

Christopher Warren, president of the International Federation of Journalists, accused Arroyo last week of trying to stifle free speech “by suing journalists into submission.” To some extent, it may be working. “You have to think twice before writing about him,” says Marites Daguilan Vitug, editor of Newsbreak magazine, which is fighting $437,000 in damage claims. Arroyo says he is merely exercising his rights. Some journalists are striking a defiant note. Conrado de Quiros, a frequent critic of the First Gentleman, complained in a newspaper column that while several of his friends had been sued, he has not. “I feel left out,” de Quiros wrote. “I protest!”

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