normal_post - Carmen Mayor's Libel Case against Bohol Chronicle, Sunday Post Junked - Philippine Business News Author Topic: Carmen Mayor's Libel Case against Bohol Chronicle, Sunday Post Junked  (Read 554 times)

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by Sunday Post

An associate city prosecutor has thrown out recently a libel case filed against the publishers of the Bohol Chronicle and Bohol Sunday Post by Carmen Mayor Che Toribio de los Reyes on allegations that she engaged in drug trafficking and that she herself was a drug user.

One of the accused in the libel case, a certain Razilyn Rosalinda Onez-Tecson of barangay Katipunan, Carmen, former aide of the Carmen mayor, was however found to have uttered defamatory statements resulting in the prosecuting fiscal finding a probable cause to indict her of the crime charged.

Other than Chronicle publisher Bingo Dejaresco II and associate editor Peter Dejaresco, also cleared of libel were the Post publisher and Capitol writer Ven Rebo Arigo.

In a 12-page resolution, Associate City Prosecutor Fara Ricarda Parras Matuod threw out the libel charge against the publishers, associate editor and Capitol staff writer after a perusal of the April 7, 2013 issues of the two papers where it was alleged that the Carmen mayor was engaged in the drug traffic and that she was a drug user.

According to the investigator, the alleged defamatory statements made by Onez-Tecson and the corresponding comments of co-respondents would show that it was bare of any indication that the said co-respondents actuated by actual or express malice in their act of publishing and commenting on the defamatory statements.

The resolution was approved by City Prosecutor Romeo Chatto. The Dejarescos were represented in the libel case by lawyer Antonio Amora, Jr. while the post Publisher and Arigo by lawyer Alexander Lim of the Trabajo-Lim Law Office. The alleged offending statements stemmed from an interview of Onez-Tecson in the top-rated radio program Inyong Alagad where the Post Publisher is one of the anchors. In that interview that took place on April 3, 2013, the former aide of the Carmen mayor took to task her former boss as having engaged in the sale of illegal drugs. She also accused the lady mayor of being a drug user after she herself found a packet of shabu in her bag. The statements of the mayor’s accuser formed the basis of the story written by Arigo and found print in the two newspapers. In dismissing the case against the two papers’ publishers, the prosecuting fiscal zeroed in on the issue whether or not the same statements of respondent Tecson that the complainant was once a drug addict or user an immoral woman and a person engaged in the illegal drug business are libelous.]

According to the case investigator, there is no misgiving that in Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, libel extends to a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition or status, or circumstances tending to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. As to the alleged defamatory statements of the accuser, the fiscal said there was no doubt that the statements contained in the on-air interview are indeed defamatory. In clearing the publishers of libel, the case investigator resolved the issue on whether or not their act of publishing the said libelous statements of respondent Tecson and their comments in relation are actionable offenses or can they be held liable for the crime charged.

In dismissing the case, Parras-Matuod ruled: Public acts of public men may lawfully be made the subject comment and criticism by the public and the press. Such criticisms, when made in good faith, should be privileged. A somewhat broad license should be allowed to criticism and comment of the mental, moral and physical fitness of candidates public office, the very fact of candidacy putting the matters in issue, the public having the right to be inform as to the qualification of those who seek election, and perhaps appointment to public office. The freedom of such criticism is necessarily limited to fair comment on the matters under discussion, fair comment being that which is true, or which, if false, express the real opinion having been formed with a reasonable degree of care and on reasonable grounds (US vs. Sedano, 14 Phil. 3830)

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