2 journalists, fiscal cleared of libel-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
THE anti-graft office dismissed the libel complaint that a state prosecutor filed
against her colleague and two local journalists in 2011.
Citing lack of probable cause, graft investigation and prosecution officer Michael Mernado dismissed the complaint against Assistant City Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro, Sun.Star Cebu editor-in-chief Isolde Amante and reporter Justin Vestil.
“The news article was written in a plain and simple language and easily understood by the public. As such, it should not be interpreted to mean other than what it says,” Mernado in his 18-page joint resolution.
Assistant Prosecutor Aida Sanchez sued Castro, Amante and Vestil for libel for allegedly conspiring to publish a news article she deemed as libelous.
Sanchez said the article, “Apologize or face libel, 3 fiscals, reporter told,” and was printed in Sun.Star Cebu on Feb.11, 2011 “ridiculed and dishonored” her and Prosecutors Liceria Rabillas and Ma. Theresa Casiño.
Castro also lodged a libel complaint against Sanchez, Rabillas and Casiño at the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.
Castro deemed as libelous the statement of Rabillas, Sanchez and Casiño published in Sun.Star Cebu on Feb. 10, 2011 that they were willing to testify against her in the ombudsman case.
The story, titled “3 fiscals ‘willing to testify’ vs. Castro,” said the sworn affidavit of the three prosecutors will state that the counter-affidavit of alleged Emirati illegal recruiter Adnan Sayed Anwar Ali Alkazim was not executed on Jan. 21, 2011.
The three prosecutors alleged that the counter-affidavit was not made by Castro on the date stamped on the document and that they were willing to testify on the actual date and time this was executed.
The counter-affidavit was allegedly not executed on Jan. 21, 2011 but on Jan. 22, a Saturday, when Castro was supposedly off-duty.
Amante and Vestil, in their counter-affidavits, denied the news article was malicious.
The news story simply reported the complaint of Castro against her three colleagues and a former journalist.
In the resolution, graft investigator Mernado said Sanchez failed to substantiate that Castro conspired with the two journalists to malign her.
“Vestil and Amante appear to have just been doing their job in covering matters of public concern, taking into account the public character of the personalities involved,” the ombudsman said.
The anti-graft office also dismissed the libel complaint against Sanchez, Rabillas and Casiño for lack of evidence.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 28, 2013.