THE libel charges filed against Sun.Star Davao editor-in-Chief Stella Estremera and a reporter identified as John Doe with initials RSA were dismissed by the City Prosecution Office for lack of sufficient proof.
The case filed against Estremera and RSA stemmed from a complaint filed by Antonio Paner and Johnny Repaso over a published news article written by the reporter about the alleged eviction of 40 lumad families from their ancestral land in Barangay Manuel Guianga in Tugbok, Davao City by the group allegedly headed by the complainants.
The news article published on April 5, 2015 was allegedly based on a legitimate e-mailed statement sent by Kahugpongan sa mga Lumad (KSL) dated March 31, 2015.
Other persons mentioned in the news article, who were reported as KSL secretary general Danny Diarog and spokesperson Jonas Alingay, were also named in the libel charges.
The news article said officials of KSL accused the group of the complainants of shooing off around 40 Bagobo-klata families from their ancestral land.
A motion for reconsideration was previously filed by Estremera questioning the filing of probable cause in the two libel cases against her which resulted into a joint resolution dated November 23, 2015 which was signed by Prosecutor 3 Gaye Cañete and approved by Chief Prosecutor lawyer Nestor Ledesma that bears the dismissal of the case.
The dismissal was based on the grounds that "despite the fact that the source of the news came from e-mails sent to the reporter, there is no sufficient proof that will bolster the fact that the reporter entertained...that there was a high degree of awareness of [the report's] probable falsity...such that other news agencies picked up related news article involving the lumads in the area where killings and chaos were allegedly happening."
The respondent was "able to present proof that other media entities published articles related to the scenario as shown in the article," the resolution stated, adding that the questioned article bore the need for the public to be informed of the issues that beset the certain group of individuals in Manuel Guinga," the resolution further stated.
Prosecutor Cañete also stated in the resolution that their office is convinced that the questioned report was a faithful reproduction of the contents of the e-mail sent to them by the other respondents and that a careful reading of the article would clearly show that there was no personal comment or opinion written by the writer which would bolster the alleged defamatory statements.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 15, 2016.
Latest issues of SunStar Davao also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.