One can expect Gloria’s mouthpiece, Toting Bunye, to revel in my libel conviction, which is on appeal and the harsh jail sentence, plus fine of P4 thousand, plus actual and moral damages in the amount of some P5 million and P33 thousand.
After all, he and Gloria jumped for joy when F. Arthur Villaraza filed 48 counts of libel that were rejected for consolidation by the state prosecutors and the lawyers of Villaraza. Besides, Bunye himself has close ties with the law firm, since his daughter works for that firm and in fact became the spokesman of the First Gentleman in the early days.
Besides, Bunye really had no call to pontificate about getting the facts right, considering that he not only gave out a completely false report and showed a clear and reckless disregard for the truth when he came up in a press conference on the “Hello Garci” tapes, but even also manufactured evidence! And he dares speak of getting the facts right relating to my case?
But for Chay Hofilena and a Newsbreak magazine writer to say that journalists must get their facts right and to verify the report, obviously referring to my report, perhaps shows just how they judge without getting all the facts right and without having clear grasp of what the law says on libel cases, as it takes the version of the Villaraza version, which was adopted by RTC judge Winlove Dumayas.
Chay Hofilena and Newsbreak, and on record described the Firm as “well-connected” and in an article entitled Firmly in Power: The Villaraza law firm’s tentacles extend to the judiciary and the executive. Critics are up in arms.” If she believes that one should be careful in writing about private persons why did she write about the firm? Obviously because they could not have been private but public figures.
What my article said about Villaraza was nothing compared to that Newsbreak article. In my piece, only once was Villaraza mentioned, and referred to as the President’s personal lawyer, which certainly was no defamatory at all. The other instance where the word Villaraza was mentioned was in the sentence saying: “With all eyes focused on the Carpio-Villaraza-Cruz combine and its hold on the Arroyo administraton’s legal arena, as well as its pervasive power and influence in the country’s judiciary.” This statement is libelous, malicious and defamatory?
As for the Newsbreak writer Carmela Fonbuena, she claimed I did not verify the report, saying that the deputy ombudsman in Luzon, Vic Fernandez did not work in the Firm.
In the first place, Newsbreak did not get my side of the story in that report. In the second place, if Fonbuena read the memorandum submitted by my lawyer, Alex Medina of Pecabar, copies of which were given to the media on the day of the conviction, or even got hold of the court transcript of my testimony, she would have found out that I had testified to the fact that I never said Vic Fernandez, the deputy Ombudsman, was a partner of the Villaraza law firm but I did write he was connected with the firm and clarified in court that being connected to the firm meant he was a satellite lawyer. This was not rebutted by the lawyers.
In truth, the firm does have satellite lawyers. Two counsels I had approached earlier to handle my libel case begged off, saying they can’t touch this case, as they also work from time to time with the Firm on certain cases.
It is also on record, something which Dumayas and the junior lawyers of the Firm seem to ignore is the fact that I had testified to all this and that my testimony was not rebutted, as the Firm’s lawyers did not cross-examine me.
On the matter of my not having verified the statements made in my report, why on earth should I bother to verify with Villaraza or his firm when the story was not about him, or the Firm but on the former lawyers of the firm who were now in the Ombudsman’s office and in the executive branch?
This is something that should be gotten right. The information lodged against me does not charge me of libel against the Villaraza and Angcangco law offices. The private complainant in this instance is Villaraza, not the firm. And that article was certainly not about Villaraza and the firm but about their former lawyers and how the AEDC complaint was being handled. Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court were violated by the judge and the lawyers of the complainant.
No matter what Dumayas says in his decision, malice, actual and presumed, was never proved and we will prove that it was never established and proved.
Neal Cruz, this is for you: The high court has defined “actual malice” and malice in fact’ as an act that may be shown by proof of ill-will, hatred or “purpose to injure.” This was never proved by Villaraza.
I could not have been held liable civilly for actual and moral damages because the prosecution failed to adduce any admissible evidence to prove actual or compensatory damages.
The document shown by the prosecution was hearsay, given the fact that the person who prepared it (Villaraza) did not testify in court.
All this was brought out in court, but clearly ignored — for inexplicable reasons by Dumayas.
But that’s not the end of it because the case goes all the way to the appellate court and the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, I got my facts right, and those who bought the Villaraza lawyers spiel, should look at themselves first, before they judge and write.