Democracy in Angeles 'dead'

ANGELES CITY -- Transport leader Reynaldo Gueco said Monday that Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan killed democracy here, following the libel case he filed against Gueco and radio broadcasters Med David and Fred Cortez for airing criticisms about him in a local radio program.

"During the time of Martial Law, Mayor Pamintuan was one of those who fought to bring democracy back, but now, he is the one killing it," Gueco said. "It's sad to think that in Angeles City, people who air their opinions about the mayor, get charged with libel."

Gueco was charged with libel by Pamintuan due to the alleged libelous statements he made against the mayor when he appeared as a co-anchor in the radio program, "Golpe De Gulat," hosted by David and Cortez.

"Instead of conducting an investigation on the issues hounding his administration, Mayor Pamintuan chose to devote his attention to filing a case against those who air these issues," Gueco said.

"This is a clear show of harassment to those who criticize the mayor and citizens of Angeles City should be vigilant in watching over Mayor Pamintuan's dictator-like administration," he added.

Gueco said that according to the subpoena he received, the libelous remark he made on the program on September 5, 2012 was “Pati City Hall kanyan masangla ya... (Even City Hall will get pawned).”

"I vehemently deny these accusations," Gueco said. "I'm sure the radio station keeps a record of their programs and they can attest to this."

However, despite his denial of issuing libelous statements against Pamintuan, Gueco added that he respects Pamintuan's right to file the libel case and he leaves it up to the proper court to decide on the case.

David and Cortez, hosts of the radio program "Golpe De Gulat," are also facing the libel case filed by Pamintuan for the supposed "malicious imputations, schemes and libelous remarks" made against the mayor.

The libelous remarks were allegedly made in their program from September 3 to 21, 2012.

Most of the libelous statements were allegedly issued by David, particularly his supposed referral to Pamintuan as “pitbungan ning alti (struck by lightning).”

In the case of Cortez, the libelous remark credited to him was also allegedly made on September 5, 2012 when David asked who ran for mayor of Angeles City during the time of Abong Tayag and Sonny Lopez, to which Cortez supposedly replied, "Mayor Edong."

David and Cortez are known for exposing alleged illegal practices in government in their radio program, with David usually taking the more aggressive stance on the issues.

Issues of alleged corruption and malversation of public funds in the Pamintuan administration are common subject matters tackled in the program.

Among the issues discussed by David and Cortez in their program include the alleged irregular projects of the City Government under the Pamintuan administration, supposedly revealed in a report by the City Project Monitoring Committee (CPMC) and, more recently, the issue on the controversial job order employees of the City Government.

The complaint filed by Pamintuan cites David's statements regarding the CPMC report as being libelous, particularly when David questioned the press statement released by the Pamintuan camp claiming that the CPMC report being referred to by David is unofficial.
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