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    Media Interview with Atty. Barry Gutierrez Quezon City Prosecutor's Office

    Media Interview with Atty. Barry Gutierrez
    Quezon City Prosecutor's Office


    REPORTER: Sir ano po 'yung ginawa natin, ano po 'yung finile natin at bakit tayo nag-file?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Nag-file tayo ngayong umaga ng complaint affidavit for cyber libel saka libel under the Revised Penal Code laban doon sa writer, sa owner, at sa publisher ng Journal na naglabas ng isang article na punong-puno ng kasinungalingan tungkol sa pagiging adviser daw ni Ginoong Joma Sison sa aming kampanya, na ako daw direktang binibigyan ng instructions, na ako daw ay sumusunod sa kanyang utos na walang totoo diyan sa mga paratang na 'yan. Kaya ito, kami ay nagsampa ng isang criminal complaint para mapanagot ang nagsulat nito, ang nag-publish nito, at ang nagmamay-ari ng publication kung saan lumabas itong sinungaling na kuwentong ito.

    REPORTER: Anong basis sir for the presence– alleged presence of libel?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, completely false, unang-una, 'yung mga allegations doon. Pangalawa, wala man lang effort to actually reach out to us, to confirm any of 'yung mga allegations doon sa article na lumabas. Merong isang linya doon na I neither confirmed nor denied daw 'yung laman ng article na ito when ang katotohanan ay hindi ako kinausap, hindi ako binigyan ng pagkakataon na i-refute o i-confirm o itanggi anuman ang mga laman noong artikulong ito.

    Pangatlo, clearly malicious 'yung intent. Okay, sa ilalim ng ating batas, meron namang presumption of malice, pero tingin ko sa kasong ito, klaro 'yung malicious intent noong pagpu– publish. Ito ay talagang intended na manira, idikit si VP Leni, ako, at ang buong kampanya ni VP Leni sa isang tao na identified as being a leader of the Communist Party. At bahagi ito doon sa kampanya ng red tagging na sinaggawa laban sa ating kampanya. So, sa amin, klarong klaro 'yung batayan para magsampa ng kasong ito.

    MODERATOR: Jacob Lazaro.

    JACOB LAZARO: –[inaudible] why did she not file a similar complaint against the–

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, judgment na 'yun noong ano, noong mga lawyers. A few weeks ago. noong unang lumabas ito, sinabi naman ni VP Leni na ito ay ipapaubaya niya sa kanyang legal team. And in the judgment of the legal team, dahil pareho naman kaming binanggit doon sa artikulo, enough na na isa sa amin ang magsampa noong complaint to hold 'yung mga responsible to account. And between the two of us, mas busy si VP Leni, nangangampanya eh, 'di ba, at botohan na sa Lunes.

    So, mas madali, mas convenient for everyone, and besides same result ang ma-aachieve kung ako 'yung magfa-file noong reklamong ito.

    REPORTER: Sir when Rappler was convicted of cyber libel by the Manila Trial Court, VP Leni said that it's a chilling development for freedom. So, as the spokesperson of the vice president, it– doesn't that run counter to her position, now that you're also filing a similar complaint that was used against Rappler?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: We don't think– we don't think so. Unang una, hindi nagbabago ang aming posisyon 'di ba. If ever we are put in a position na ma-eelect si VP Leni, she will continue to push for amendments with the cyber crime law. She will continue to push for the criminalization of libel as an offense. But in this particular case, we use the tools available to us.

    Normally, hindi na namin papatulan ito eh, there have been so many false accusations na lumabas laban kay VP Leni, sa kanyang pamilya, sa kanyang mga kasama over the years habang siya ay bise presidente, pero ito talaga this cross a line, 'di ba? Hindi ito blogger, hindi ito some random influencer sa social media na naglalabas ng paninira.

    Ito ay supposedly isang respectable member of the journalistic profession, di ba. Isang diyaryo, di ba, na regular na bahagi ng media, and we feel that if we did not use the tools at hand to insist on accountability, magpapatuloy ito. Ang nakakatakot dito sa nangyaring ito, lumabas sa Journal originally 'yung article, pinick-up ng isa pang network referencing the same article, and then ginawang banner stories sa another newspaper na lumalabas.

    So, kita mo 'yung ano eh, kita mo 'yung play. Ilalabas ng isa and then susubukang i-legitimize by quoting it sa iba pang mga outlets. And obviously hindi namin puwedeng palagpasin 'yun. There has to be responsibility enforced sa kasong ito.

    REPORTER: Sir, other news outlets picked it up, as you mentioned. Are you also considering filing complaints against them?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: The lawyers are looking into that, and one of the possibilities that we are considering is we might file a supplemental affidavit, 'di ba, to augment itong finile namin ngayong umaga. But that's something for their consideration. Ang importante, the original article and the original responsible for coming out with this article are held to account dito sa complaint na ito.

    REPORTER: Sir ask ko lang po, sa tingin niyo how would this affect your campaign this late into the game? And how has the blatant red tagging of your camp has affected it.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, madami nang mga supporters namin ang matagal nang nananawagan na magkaso kayo 'di ba? And we think that with this move here today, we made it very very clear na kami ay handa na mag-avail ng mga legal remedies at gumuhit para sa katotohanan di ba, At the minimum it will show that we are serious about calling to the account lahat ng mga taong nagkakalat ng fake news, kasinungalingan tungkol kay VP Leni at tungkol sa kanyang kampanya.

    I'd like to think this is not really so much part of the campaign, dahil kasi sabi mo nga dalawang araw na lang ang official campaign period, boboto na tayo sa Lunes, but it's an effort to use what tools there are currently sa ating criminal justice system to enforce accountability. Kasi ano man ang maging resulta ng eleksyon sa Lunes, kailangan natin ng responsableng media. Kailangan nating tumindig para sa katotohanan, sa diskursong publiko and this is a step towards that, sa aming paniniwala.

    REPORTER: Sir base lang 'yan sa one story ano sir, 'yung saying that Joma Sison was advising the VP camp. And sir how about the past stories? Kasi as you would notice, kung nagmomonitor naman kayo, 'yung mga ibang published articles ng People's Journal kasi sinasabi na ayun nga, linked sa NPA. And then you will have Senator Ping Lacson as well sharing that same story as well. Are you also considering to, sabi niyo nga sir may supplemental kayong ifa-file, ico-consider niyo rin ba sir 'yung ibang stories na na-publish doon sa Journal in the past months since the campaign began?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, pinag-aaralan 'yun. Pero ang importante para sa amin ngayon is to take the first step and that's the step we took today. Kasi sa dulo, kung hahalungkatin namin lahat ng lumabas na kasinungalingan, eh nakiia niyo naman kanina benteng kopya na 'yung pinirmahan ko at tinatakan noong prosecutor. Baka mamaya kung hahalungkatin natin lahat ng mga 'yun, 'di ba isang linggo tayong nandito nagfa-file ng kaso.

    Sa totoo lang, grabe. Tone-toneladang kasinungalingan na ang lumabas sa publication na 'yan laban kay VP Leni. And you know, we just have to pick one muna as the starting point. If they are held to account dito, then at least that is one victory para sa katotohanan para sa issue na ito. And that will hopefully, you know, make them think twice bago nila ulitin itong ganito.

    REPORTER: Just for the record lang, we know that People's Journal is owned by the Romualdez'.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Talaga?

    REPORTER: Yeah. For the record lang sir, do you see a pattern coming from the other camp, particularly from Bongbong Marcos, about this, considering who owns People's Journal and People's Tonight, ayun nga sir consider niyo– [crosstalk].

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Sa akin it's a matter of public record who owns this publication. It's also a matter of public record, anong klaseng mga istorya ang mga nilalabas nila. I will leave it to you in the media and to the public to draw their own conclusions as to meron bang pattern dito o meron bang ibang motibo.

    Kami, we'd rather just focus on the facts at hand. Naglabas ng ganitong klaseng article, puno ng kasinungalingan, and we will be insisting on the legal remedies available para managot 'yung mga taong responsable para dito.

    REPORTER: Paano sir kung sumigaw ng press freedom katulad na rin ng nagtanong kanina?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, we're all for press freedom 'di ba? And if they can establish that, 'di ba, talagang they pursued this particular story with the necessary level of responsibility, professional conduct and regard for ethics na required of members of the journalistic profession, then I'd only be too happy 'di ba to let this go.

    But sa tingin ko kasi hindi nangyari 'yun dito eh, there were really lies on the face of that particular article. Maski 'yung kanilang claim to balance, the supposedly hindi daw nag-confirm or deny hindi totoo, so magpaliwanag sila 'di ba? Ako, it's not a question– hindi ito kuwestyon ng isang article na negative eh 'di ba, pero maayos naman ang pagkakagawa eh. O isang article na medyo merong kritisismong tama pero totoo naman ang laman. This is a case na talagang lantarangg kasinungalingan and I think that is something that crosses the line insofar as the journalistic profession is concerned.

    REPORTER: If they seek your side at this point, are you willing to retract?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, I'll have to discuss that with– 'yung legal team 'di ba, but kung seeking my side alone, I think, does not address the harm that was done here. There has to be a retraction on their part. They have to actually disown 'yung ano-- and admit to the fact na inimbento namin itong article na ito 'di ba at hindi namin kinausap 'yung mga taong dapat kinausap.

    REPORTER: So at the most you want them to put it down?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Definitely! 'Di ba kasi hanggang ngayon nandiyan pa 'yan eh. Patuloy 'yan na nagkakalat ng kasinungalingan tungkol sa VP Leni, tungkol sa akin at tungkol sa buong kampanya. Binanggit nga kanina, other people are citing it. Other people are quoting it as somehow being legitimate dahil nga lumabas sa isang dyaryo. So, kailangan namin gawin ito para palabasin ang katotohanan, di ba guhitan talaga na hindi ito totoo. In fact, may kaso laban sa mga taong ito dahil puno ng kasinungalingan at walang batayan 'yung kanyang, kanilang nilabas.

    REPORTER: So, for the record, what are you hoping that they would do to prove otherwise?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, di ba. Sa akin, if they are willing to take it down, if they are willing to actually issue a retraction and an apology, then that's a step forward and we can discuss kung saan natin puwedeng dalhin itong kasong ito.

    REPORTER: And finally of course, people are, some people are convinced because of the sheer 'yung mga support na nakukuha ni VP Leni from supposedly progressive groups. How do you really feel about that?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Kami, that is such ano eh, that is such a– an unfair na banat di ba? There are a number of progressive groups that support si VP Leni: Labor unions, farmers groups, women, youth. And to paint them all with the same brush na komunista yan, therefore, di ba, sumusuporta ang NPA kay VP Leni, I think, is a disservice not only to the good work na ginagawa ng madaming grupong ito, 'yung mga legitimate issues na kanilang pinaglalaban. Not only to the campaign ni VP Leni mismo. Pero sa totoo, to the public in general di ba? Kasi, hindi totoo 'yun eh, di ba? Hiwalay ang mga armadong lumalaban sa gobyerno na ilang beses ng sinabi ni VP Leni na kailanman, hindi niya susuportahan, doon sa mga lehitimong pinaglalaban ang karapatan ng mga iba't ibang mga sektor ng ating lipunan.

    REPORTER: Attorney Barry, nasa last few days na tayo ng campaign. Can you discuss to us how disinformation affected the chance of VP Leni or her campaign?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Ako, I'm completely convinced that without the massive disinformation machinery on social media, various social media platforms, this would already be an election that would be in the bag for Leni Robredo. She is clearly the most qualified candidate. She clearly has the best track record. And if you see 'yung kanyang actual physical on the ground support, it is overwhelming. I have never seen this level of citizen engagement. I have never seen this level of commitment from volunteers in any national campaign I have witnessed.

    Pero anong nakakatapat doon? Bakit nagiging close pa rin itong labang ito? Dahil nga sa puro kasinungalingang kinakalat sa kanya, di ba? And this has not just start– this did not just start sa eleksyong ito o sa kampanyang ito. It has been going on for the better part of the last six years, ever since she was elected vice president.

    So, definitely we are suffering, we are in the midst of a– of an infor– of a disinformation epidemic, di ba? And, unless we do something to address it, unless we do something to try and get the truth out in an environment that is increasingly filled with lies, half-truths, and misdirection, I worry for the, for the future of truth, and therefore, the future of public discourse and democracy sa ating bansa.

    REPORTER: Are you able to push back enough or to turn the tide in the Vice President’s favor in this campaign?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, we did all we could. I think, that with the help of volunteers, working to counter disinformation on social media, we made some headway. I think that with 'yung efforts to actually call out fake news as soon as it was– as soon as it came out, merong headway. But ultimately, I think there should be stronger policy steps taken. Particularly with regard to, you know, putting pressure, engaging 'yung mga platforms themselves, to take a more proactive stance in clamping down on fake news.

    Madami ng mga studies ang lumalabas na talagang tayo ang patient zero sa global disinformation epidemic. Madami ng studies ang lumalabas na Leni Robredo is the number one victim of fake news sa social media dito sa ating bansa. And yet, di ba, the platforms have really not done enough, in my view, to counter itong ganitong plague of disinformation.

    So, we have done what we can. We will continue to do what we must. But I think that ultimately this is a policy question that has to be brought to the– to the attention and to– and will required action on the part ng ating mga social media platform themselves.

    REPORTER: Sir, dagdag klaro na lang. Sobrang busy na siyempre ni VP Leni. Do you think possible na habulin niya rin ito after, whatever the result is?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Definitely. Unang una, kapag nanalo si VP Leni, it will be one of the things that will really be on her agenda. Kung hindi siya mananalo, although we do not– we have not yet thought about that particular scenario yet– I am sure that she will continue to be a leader for the movement that has actually grown around her in the last seven months. A movement that insists on accountability in government that insists on more responsible public discourse, and will continue to fight for the truth in our public conversations. So, definitely isa sa mga bagay 'yan na tututukan niya regardless of the outcome of May 9.

    REPORTER: Sir, are there regrets that you didn’t push back early on?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, sinabi naman niya 'yan eh, di ba, na noong una we really, were taken by surprise. I think that a lot of people underestimated the impact of fake news sa perception ng mga tao. And when we did start pushing back, to be clear hindi lang 'yun noong during the campaign, nahirapan kami dahil talagang it's difficult to push back against a well-financed, well organized, well-orchestrated machinery.

    Kasi, contrary to what the platforms would seem to want to believe– that this is a question of individual people, di ba, having different opinions, posting different things– hindi ganoon eh. You are talking about well-funded machineries. You are talking about organized troll farms na nagmo-move in concert para magkalat ng information, para siraan ang mga specific na mga tao, para i-lift up ang mga ibang mga tao, para maglabas ng kwento na hindi totoo.

    So, it's not a question of just individuals having to fight against that, di ba? We can, we are doing all we can but di ba? The platforms themselves have to take a hand in this.

    MODERATOR: Marian Enriquez.

    REPORTER: What can you say about the message ng unity that they are projecting when in fact you know, and then time in again they are saying na they are against negative campaigning, and yet we see the articles like this?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, ang dali kasing mag-claim na 'yung kandidato na walang negative campaigning, kung meron naman siyang mga tropa tropa ng mga tao na gumagawa para sa kanya eh, di ba? That's the disingenuousness of that statement di ba? Hindi bumabanat mismo 'yung kandidato totoo, pero meron naman siyang mga ibang taong gumagawa noong paninira para sa kanya. And I think, that's really one of the lies that needs to be called out di ba, dito sa kampanyang ito.

    REPORTER: Sir, follow up lang po ako doon. Doon sa supplementary cases na sinasabi niyo in the future. Do you think VP Leni herself will be the complainant? Kasi, majority naman siya ang target talaga.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well again, that's something we'll need to discuss. Depends on whether she will– if she has time. And if she's elected, then she's president, then I doubt that she will actually take a hand in this. Her intervention in that case will probably be more on the policy level.

    But you know, it's there. The lawyers already have all the pertinent information, they are continuing 'yung effort to gather the necessary documentary evidence. And so 'yung paghahanda ng mga kaso, and the details of who will actually pursue these cases, sino 'yung magiging complainant, eh di ba, ipagpapaubaya na namin 'yan sa mga discussions in the future with the legal team.

    REPORTER: Sir, bukod isa doon no, 'you mentioned na 'yung mga troll farms, mga influencers being used, are we going to see na you're going to go after them as well?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, bahagi 'yun sa isang posibleng gawin. But ako, personally, while I personally think that there should be some level of individual accountability particularly sa level noong mga influencers who have really made this a profession.

    Talagang 'yan na 'yung kanilang ginagawa eh, and obviously, I would assume kumikita sila from it. Dahil di ba, ginagawa nila full time, paulit ulit na ginagawa. I still think that the bigger battle lies with policy di ba? Nasa level ng policy 'yan.

    REPORTER: Sir, what about the daughters? Ito pong ating mga anak ni VP eh biktima rin noong ganito nga pong mga misinformation?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, yes. In fact, worse than 'yung sa akin. Meron pa silang– may mga supposed ano pa– may mga talagang lantarang paninira, merong mga talagang misogynistic remarks, mga threats, kung anu-ano pa. Definitely they have been victims here.

    But if the question is magsasampa rin ba sila ng kaso? Again, it's up to them, di ba? Individual decision on their part. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang kanilang willingness to actually do it. But, if they are, then the legal support and the legal team na gagawa noon will be ready for them.

    REPORTER: Sir, would you know kung ano na 'yung update doon sa NBI [inaudible]?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Wala pa akong nakukuhang information as to ‘yung update. Nag-request ng imbestigasyon di ba? But, I have not yet received any information as to the status o kung meron bang impormasyong nakuha.

    REPORTER: Sir, ano lang. Kasi, you were referring to the– ito ‘yung story about the Joma Sison no? And apparently, this is a case of– another red tagging case. And of course kasi, nagmukhang kumuha sila ng hugot because of the Makabayan bloc sa endorsement to Vice President Leni and Senator Kiko no? Can you categorically condemn also the red tagging being done to Makabayan bloc particularly kasi 'yung mga groups na ito, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela. Can you just categorically say it in front of us that you are condemning the–

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: We do! And we have, repeatedly. Si VP Leni has repeatedly called out red tagging before against groups na legally naman nagpa-participate sa ating demokrasya. So, klaro 'yan. Sa akin, kung merong mga allegations na there are certain groups actually working with illegal organizations, e di sampahan ng kaso. Simpleng bagay 'yan, di ba? Hindi 'yan, hindi kailangan daanin sa paninira or red tagging.

    REPORTER: Thank you so much po.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Salamats!

    [END]

    Posted in Transcripts on May 06, 2022