Camarines Norte journalists Virgilio “Bagwis” Avila Jr., Deo Trininad, and Mia Concordia were arrested and detained Tuesday, November 10, for several counts of cyber libel filed against them by Camarines Norte governor Edgar Tallado.

As of this writing, all three have been released after six hours in detention after posting bail.

First to be arrested was Avila, who was served a warrant by local police headed by SSgt. Jesus Tugorez. Concordia was arrested when she visited Avila in jail.

Hearing of his colleagues’ arrest, Trinidad turned himself in a few hours later.

The warrant of arrest, issued by Judge Ivan Dizon of the Regional Trial Court Branch 40, said each of the three face four counts of cyber libel, with bail set at 80,000 pesos for each count.

However, the charges against Trinidad and Concordia were reduced to one count. Avila remains accused of four counts.

The cyber libel cases stemmed from posts the journalists made separately on their personal Facebook accounts criticizing the local government’s alleged negligence in its COVID-19 response as well as corruption.

Avila also faces a separate libel case filed against him and four other journalists, including Rommel Ibasco Fenix, who was arrested last September 15 while hosting his local radio program. Their charges were filed by provincial board members Romeo Marmol and Rodolfo Gache.

Avila claims that, like Fenix, libel cases filed against him earlier over his radio program have been resurfacing lately.
NUJP Safety Office