7 UCCP members face libel

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Saturday, July 19, 2014


SEVEN members of a religious congregation are facing libel charges before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City after they were accused of circulating a document accusing a construction company owned by another church member of "irregularities."

Facing libel charges are Eladio Aviola, Epenito Urso Sr., Aileen Lim, Norma Sapaula, Neonito Austerio, Manuel Jamiana Jr., and Diomedes Lim, all members of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP).

Prosecutor Joseph Mamburam found probable cause to charge the respondents based on the complaint of Cirilo Olmoguez, also member of UCCP and proprietor of the CCO Engineering Construction and Supply Company.

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Olmoguez, in his affidavit, said the respondents circulated a document entitled "That You May Know the Truth," which allegedly maligned the construction supply business of Olmoguez.

The document cited that the supplies of the complainant’s were overpriced while the process from which the complainant managed to land a contract with the church were "anomalous, disadvantageous and dubious."

It was allegedly circulated to some church-goers who attended the mass on January 19.

The respondents, in their joint counter affidavit, denied the allegations claiming they were not attributing their remarks to the complainant but to the manner of how the contract was pulled off. They also insisted that the circulated document was a privileged communication or private communication.

But Mamburam, in his two-page resolution dated May 15, said: "From the foregoing, it would appear that the document was maliciously circulated and published by the respondents. The words were apparently made to describe the person and character of complainant. Moreover this office cannot take the suggestion of respondents that the document is a private communication under Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code simply because respondents have not established the burden of evidence that they have a good and justifiable motive of publishing the document."

The case was raffled off to RTC Branch 16 but Presiding Judge Emmanuel Carpio is yet to order the arrest of the suspects.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 20, 2014.

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