Court junks libel case vs. martial law claimants

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Regional Trial Court Branch 42 dismissed the libel case filed by a lawyer against 21 human rights claimants here.

In an 8-page decision promulgated on May 17, 2019, RTC Branch 42 Judge Fernando R. Elumba dismissed the case docketed as Criminal Case No. 19-48223 “as the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause.”

Lawyer Rey A. Gorgonio filed the case against Ma. Fe Tanallon, Edmundo Diaz, Violeta Oyos, Emelita T. Rivera, Noel Jimenez, Monica Patario, Norma Patario, Joemama Guillermo, Rafael Jamen, Paquito Diaz, Letecia Hisona, Carlito Saison, Inocencio Macalapay, Roberto Doro, Sixto Doro, Sonny Boy Eno, Emma Doro, Leoniso Francisco, Danilo Malimbag, and Carlos Catalan.

The respondents are human rights victims who received compensations last year from the Human Rights Victim’s Claims Board.

Gorgonio filed the case in relation to the statements of the respondents that he was allegedly pressuring them for his share from their compensations after assisting the claimants in processing their papers.

The alleged libellous statements were made in a press conference on June 18, 2019 that was covered by print and broadcast journalists.

In his decision, Judge Elumba said “foregoing declarations were not directed to the private complainant… but rather against the ‘persons identifying themselves as emissaries of Atty. Rey A. Gorgonio.”

“The facts charged were insufficient to constitute the elements of the offense under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code (libel committed by means of writing, printing, litography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographical exhibition, or any similar means),” the decision reads.

Gorgonio also filed libel suits against journalists who carried the story but these were also dismissed.