The head of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security is facing a complaint of graft and cyberlibel from a group of journalists who cried foul over his social media posts that described them as “hao shiao” or fly-by-night reporters.
Apparently at the heart of this animosity among supposed industry colleagues is a P100-million fund for a public information campaign promoting a shift to a federal form of government, a major thrust of President Duterte.
Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, a former newsman, has been harassing members of a media organization online, according to a 30-page complaint filed in the Office of Ombudsman on Thursday by Joel Amongo of the tabloid Pilipino Mirror.
Amongo took legal action against the Palace official in his capacity as president of the DILG-Napolcom Press Club Inc. (DNPC).
The group maintained that it is a legitimate association of reporters covering the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and its attached agency, the National Police Commission. It alleged that Egco committed libel against the club members through several posts on Facebook.
The complaint said Ecgo and Joel dela Torre of People’s Journal, the president of another media group called DILG Press Corps (DPC), tried to discredit the DNPC so they could corner the department’s P100-million federalism campaign fund.
It also claimed that Egco fed the DILG spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, the officer in charge of the federalism campaign fund, information about DNPC’s purported wrongdoings.
“Egco … bombards Amongo and DNPC with all sorts of imagined and concocted accusations to harass them in the hope that (they) would succumb to the pressure, disband, dissolve, give up and allow DPC to take over,” the complaint read.
In a Facebook post on June 6, Egco branded DNPC’s certificate of incorporation as “japeyks (fake)” and said the club’s members were just targeting the campaign fund to bag advertising deals through the publication of an “Interior Gazette.”
But the DNPC, which described itself as a private nonstock association, said Egco should “stop interfering in the affairs of private persons and organizations, if he wants his office respected.”
In a statement, Egco dismissed the DNPC complaint as “a smear campaign against me, intended to fend off the filing of appropriate charges against them.”
“It is the criminal acts of these so-called ‘fly-by-night media,’ as alleged by the DILG Press Corps, that must not go unpunished,” Egco said.
Egco added that Amongo was only retaliating because he had written the officers of Pilipino Mirror about the complainant’s “illicit activities.”
In a text message, Malaya said the DILG “cannot comment on the issues between the two [media] groups as these are internal to them.”
But Malaya took exception to Amongo’s claim that Dela Torre’s group stood to benefit from the campaign fund, calling it “a complete falsehood and a baseless malicious allegation.”
Malaya said the fund “can never be transferred or given to a private organization” under a DILG circular and Commission on Audit regulations. He added that Dela Torre’s group was not an accredited civil society organization that could access the funds.
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