Sasot threatens libel vs UP Cebu org

By Morexette B. Erram |September 14,2017 - 12:31 AM

For ‘implying’ she was a forerunner of fake news

A popular social media personality has threatened to file libel charges against several members of a student-based organization from the University of the Philippines – Cebu (UP Cebu).

Sass Sasot, whose fame rose as an avid Duterte supporter side-by-side with former dancer turned Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, aired the threat on her Facebook page.

Sasot said that she will be filing libel complaints against members of the Union of Progressive Students (UPS), a sociopolitical organization in UP Cebu, after the latter organized a forum pertaining to fake news, with her face plastered on the event’s poster.

According to Sasot, the group implied through their event poster that she was a harbinger of fake news.

“Since none of us were invited to the event, the inclusion of our picture is to imply that we are distributing fake news. … I challenge UPS to identify any of my post that is fake news and to prove that I am distributing fake news,” said Sasot, a transgender Filipina blogger based in The Hague.

She also demanded a public apology from the group; otherwise, her plans of filing a case for libel in relation to cybercrime will push through, she said.

The UPS forum, “What the Fact,” took place in UP Cebu’s Performing Arts Hall in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, last September 7, with Cebu Daily News columnist and UP Professor Jason Baguia as its key speaker.

A caption printed on the event poster said that the forum was held to raise awareness on the proliferation of fake news, particularly those coming from influential personalities and individuals who hold higher authority in the government sector.

The poster, which did not only have Sasot’s photo but also those of Uson’s and PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar’s, went viral getting more than 2,000 likes on Facebook. But it also got the ire of netizens who identified themselves as Sasot’s fans.

“I will let the other two in the poster speak for themselves, but I am protesting this malicious imputation that I am spreading fake news,” said Sasot.
UPS was saddened over Sasot’s allegations.

The organization’s officer, Nicole Marie Carreon, said that after the blogger’s post went viral, most of their members had become victims of cyberbullying and harassment through hate e-mails from trolls and Sasot’s FB fans.

“We are disheartened that our freedom of expression was curtailed by Miss Sasot’s post. …As a result of Miss Sasot’s attack, her post has deployed trolls to our small organization page. (It) was shut down,” Carreon said in a text message sent to Cebu Daily News.

Before the UPS’ FB page was shut down, the group had at least 2,000 followers.

Carreon said they currently have no plans to issue a public apology to Sasot.

“If she’s serious on filing a case against us, then we have to fight her,” Carreon said.

UPS, through Carreon, also challenged Sasot to name the members of their organization whom the blogger plans to hold liable for libel.

In an open letter addressed to UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro, via her Facebook account and blog, Sasot requested the UP administration to act on the matter.

“Atty. Corro, I would like to ask if UP Cebu has any internal mechanisms that people like me could use in order to demand disciplinary measures against your students who have used your university in that way,” said Sasot.

The UP Cebu Office of Student Affairs (OSA) suggests that other than posting on Facebook, Sasot should write Corro a formal complaint to start any investigation on the matter. OSA clarified that unless the student forum violated any rules and guidelines of UP, the event cannot be held as basis for any disciplinary action by the university.

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