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Public office is public trust; don’t be onion-skinned
« on: February 05, 2018, 02:56:33 PM »
ON LIBEL CASE SHE FILED: (published by The Bohol Sunday Post in 2013)
Che told: Public office is public trust; don’t be onion-skinned

Defeated gubernatorial bet Carmen Mayor Che Ordonez Delos Reyes has been reminded that public office is a public trust, thus “she should not be too thin skinned with reference to comment upon (her) official acts,” court documents show.

“The individual is less than the State, so must expected criticism be born for the common good,” according to a counter-affidavit filed by Ven Arigo, one of the respondents of a libel complaint filed by Delos Reyes two weeks before the May 13 elections.

“Rising superior to any official, or set of officials, to the Chief Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary – to any or all the agencies of Government – public opinion should be the constant course of liberty and democracy,” the affidavit said, quoting the case of Flor vs People of the Philippines.

It stressed that “the interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public (officials) is a scalpel in the case of free speech.”

Citing the case of Villanueva vs Philippine Daily Inquirer, respondent Arigo noted in his affidavit that “newspapers should be given such leeway and tolerance as to enable them to courageously and effectively perform their important role in our democracy.”

Arigo, together with The Bohol Chronicle editors Peter Dejaresco and Bingo Dejaresco and Sunday Post publisher/editor Ciriaco “Boy” Guingguing, were made respondent in the libel complaint which stemmed from a news article that quoted a radio-broadcast testimony of the former aide of Mayor Delos Reyes, Richelyn Tecson, who alleged that the latter is a drug user and behind the illegal drug trade.

The libel complaint, backed by City Hall-paid lawyer and city councilor Doni Piquero, claimed that the news item was written falsely and maliciously, to the detriment of Delos Reyes’ reputation.

According to the libel charge filed by Delos Reyes, the mayor was aggrieved when the news item published at the Sunday Post claimed that Delos Reyes “did not even use her own brand of soap,” Beauche, which is a beauty product produced by a Cavite-based company in which Delos Reyes is an incorporator and consultant.

But the Supreme Court in the same decided case said: “We cannot punish journalists including publishers for an honest endeavor to serve the public when moved by a sense of civic duty and prodded by their sense of responsibility as news media to report what they perceived to be genuine report.”

In another case, Borjal and Soliven vs CA et al, Arigo borrowed the words of the Supreme Court which said: “To reiterate, fair commentaries on matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel and slander.”

“Personal hurt or embarrassment or offense, even if real, is not automatically equivalent to defamation, “words which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se, and mere words of general abuse however opprobrious, ill-natured, or vexatious, whether written or spoken, do not constitute bases for an action for defamation in the absence of an allegation for special damages,” the affidavit said.

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