Editor asks court to exclude him from libel

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


THE lawyer of the editor of a local paper on Monday requested the judge handling his client’s libel case to determine if that latter should be included as one of the accused.

Herbie Gomez, editor in chief of the Gold Star Daily, said his legal counsel Butch Bagabuyo filed before the court an urgent motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

Said motion will essentially ask the judge to review the resolution of the prosecutor and see if Gomez should be included in the case or not.

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Judge Gil Bollozos of the Regional Trial Court branch 21 is handling the libel case where Gomez is a co-respondent, although Gomez has claimed that he should have been excluded as one of the accused.

The case started when two factions of a company began attacking each other through a series of advertisements that were published in Gold Star Daily in 2012.

Gomez maintained that he should not be included as one of the accused since the basis for the libel was advertisements and not stories.

He added that as an editor his job is only to edit stories and he has nothing to do with advertisements that are published in the paper.

Bagabuyo said a libel case has four elements, namely, a libelous statement, identification of the person being defamed, the presence of malice, and it must be published.

“There is no element present in the libel case against Gomez, so dili siya (Gomez) pwede ilakip diha,” Bagabuyo told Sun*Star Cagayan de Oro in an exclusive interview Monday afternoon.

He added that when a person is charged, that person must have the intent to put the other to shame.

“What is the intent of Herbie to defame the accusers that in the first place he (Gomez) did not even know them personally. He has seen not even them in person,” Bagabuyo said.

Definitely, he added, there is no malice since they (accusers) failed to define the meaning of libel nor cited the words that were considered libelous.

Bagabuyo said during the scheduled arraignment Monday, not one of the accusers and the accused, except for Gomez, showed up.

He added the other accused did not show up since they had filed a motion asking the court not to arraign them since they questioned why the case was transferred from Cebu to Cagayan de Oro.

Bagabuyo added the judge will make a decision within 10 days.

Meanwhile, in a text message to this paper Monday, Gomez said, “I trust that they will do their work properly in the interest of justice and common sense.”

In the city, Bagabuyo considered Gomez’s case as the first of the libel cases filed against the local media practitioners that involved advertisements instead of stories.

In the past, Bagabuyo lawyered for media personalities who faced libel charges like Zaldy Ocon, the late Joash Dignos, Jao Gumapac and Liza Amarga.

So far, he said not one of his clients charged with libel was convicted.

“If I am aware that a member of the local media has been charged with libel, I make it a point to offer my services to them,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 18, 2014.

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