Woman faces libel case over Facebook posts-A A +A
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
A NURSE from Talisay City filed a P1.4-million damage suit in court against her relative over allegedly defamatory comments she posted on social networking site Facebook.
In her posts, the relative, who is also a nurse, allegedly alluded to the complainant as being “unfaithful” to her husband, a seaman.
“The element of publicity is apparent because defendant very well knew that what she wrote on her Facebook wall could be read by her 613 friends and their friends as well,” said the complainant.
Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of both the plaintiff and the respondent due to the sensitivity of the issue involved.
The complainant filed the case for damages before the Cebu City Regional Trial Court against her relative, also from Talisay City who works in a hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for maligning her reputation after posting the allegedly libelous messages.
In the complaint, the plaintiff said the unfounded comments the defendant posted on her Facebook wall caused “dishonor, discredit and ridicule on my person.”
The defendant allegedly posted the comments, addressed to her uncle, on her Facebook wall last Nov. 5.
The complainant believes she was the one alluded to in the comment to the uncle, who was told about a niece’s alleged infidelity. She was also described as “stupid.”
“All that the defendant wrote, composed, printed and published about the plaintiff is libelous in nature and should be punished,” the complaint read.
The complainant said she also filed a libel complaint against the defendant before the Office of the Talisay City Prosecutor.
“The acts of the defendant caused injury to the plaintiff in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy,” the complaint said.
She asked the court to order the defendant to pay P1 million as moral damages,
P300,000 as exemplary damages, P50,000 as attorney’s fees, and P12,500 as litigation and attorney’s fees.
A similar case for libel was filed last August over comments posted on Facebook against a public official in a town in southern Cebu.
The Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor indicted a couple from Barili town for posting on their Facebook accounts allegedly scathing comments against Vice Mayor Marlon Garcia.
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Rustom Presas Jr. found probable cause to hold Victor Vergara and partner Fleurelie on trial for libel.
“Malice exists when there is an intentional doing of a wrongful act without justifiable cause… posting in a forum, message board, or blog can be considered as publication,” said Presas in his six-page resolution.
Garcia sued the Vergara couple, of Barangay Sta. Ana in Barili, for allegedly posting negative comments against him on Facebook and for calling him “dumb.”
The filing of cases in court against social networking users elicited questions whether Facebook users can be held liable for posting harmful comments on their own pages.
Quoting cyber law expert Jose Jesus Disini Jr., the ABS-CBN News website reported that a Facebook user could be charged with libel if he posts negative comments in his account and sends it to at least two people.
“That's enough to meet the standard for publication in libel,” ABS-CBN.com reported, quoting Disini, a University of the Philippines law professor.
The report, citing the 1958 Supreme Court ruling in People vs. Silvela, said that even an unsealed envelope containing libelous statements constitutes libel.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 14, 2012.