CA upholds ruling to acquit Seares, So-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
THE Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the acquittal of two Cebu-based journalists in the libel cases filed by a former general manager of the defunct professional basketball team Cebu Gems 10 years ago.
Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon affirmed the ruling of the lower court junking the two libel cases against Pachico Seares, public and standards editor of Sun.Star Cebu, and Sun.Star Superbalita (Cebu), and Michelle So, Superbalita editor-in-chief and Sun.Star Cebu executive editor for administrative operations.
The appellate court ruled that Seares and So did not commit libel.
“A close scrutiny of the above recitals revealed that accused had no participation in the publication of the alleged libelous articles,” the decision Justice Sorongon
penned for CA Manila Eight Division read.
The case stemmed from the libel complaints filed by Danilo Francisco in 2002 against Seares, So, Paul Taneo, former Sun.Star Cebu sports editor Paul Taneo, the late Jesus P. Garcia Sr., and Homer Sayson, former Sun. Star Cebu sports columnist.
Francisco alleged that the two columns, which Sayson wrote and were printed in Sun.Star Cebu in 2001 and 2002, besmirched his reputation.
The columns tackled how Cebu Gems management handled its players during the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).
The Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office, in its resolution dated Jan. 24, 2003, found evidence to indict the respondents for two counts of libel.
When arraigned, Seares, So and Taneo refused to enter a plea, prompting the lower court to enter a not guilty plea into the case records.
Sayson remains at large while the case against Garcia was dismissed following his death on May 17, 2004.
After the prosecution rested its case, Seares, So and Taneo filed a motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence.
The three argued the cases ought to be dismissed for failure of the prosecution to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
They argued that the prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt since they were not the ones who wrote the columns.
The Parañaque Regional Trial Court later acquitted the three of two counts of libel for lack of evidence.
On the other hand, the cases against Sayson were also placed in the archives of the court.
Francisco then filed an appeal relative to the civil aspect of the case. He argued, among others, that the trio should be held civilly liable for libel even if they did not write the articles.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 07, 2012.