MANILA -- Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Joel Egco on Thursday shrugged off the libel case filed against him by a journalist over allegedly calling some members of the Department of Interior and Local Government-National Police Commission Press Corps (DNPC) as “fly-by-night” or "hao-shiao” reporters, calling it a smear campaign.
“This is clearly a smear campaign against me, intended to fend off the filing of appropriate charges against them,” Undersecretary Egco said in a statement.
Egco described the charge against him as a “diversionary tactic” to draw away attention from his task force’s investigation on the DNPC allegedly harassing legitimate media workers.
Reports showed that Pilipino Mirror reporter Joel Amongo filed online libel charges against Egco before the Office of the Ombudsman seeking the suspension of the official for six months pending the resolution of his complaint-affidavit.
Egco earlier filed a complaint against Amongo and other DNPC members for allegedly having “besmirched, maligned, and abused” their media colleagues.
Egco also expressed confidence that the Ombudsman will make the right decision on his complaint against Amongo.
“The Office of the Ombudsman is an observer in the Task Force and it knows how dedicated and relentless we are in pursuing our mandate to protect the life, liberty and security of media workers,” Egco said.
“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,” he added.
Egco, meanwhile, said the case against him will not stop his task force from conducting a thorough investigation into the DNPC’s alleged illicit activities.
“Despite the obvious harassment case filed against its Executive Director, the PTFoMS will not be perturbed,” Egco said.
Egco has designated veteran lawyer and journalist Jay De Castro, Legal Consultant of PTFoMS, to lead the fact-finding team in its investigation of the matter.
In October 2016, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Administrative Order No.1 creating the PTFoMS to address media killings and harassment. (PNA)