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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Libel case vs 2 editors-in-chief dismissed

THE City Prosecutor's Office (CPO) dismissed the libel complaint filed by Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) against the editors-in-chief of two local publications and a union leader in Davao City.

In a resolution penned by Prosecutor Gaye T. Cañete-Magdagasang and approved by City Prosecutor chief Raul Bendigo, the case against Stella Estremera of Sun.Star Davao and Marietta Siongco of Mindanao Daily Mirror was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

LFC, represented by Jessephine Alegre, sued the two, along with Romelito Pablo, president of Lapanday Box and Plastic Plant Workers Union-Association of Democratic Labor Organizations-Kilusang Mayo Uno, for allegedly publishing malicious statements on October 13, 2012.

Magdagasang said there is no probable cause to charge the three since there is an absence of the fourth element of the offense of libel.

The fourth element of libel as stated in Article 252 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) is "that the imputation must be directed at a natural or juridical person, or one who is dead."

In their affidavit-complaint, LFC said Pablo's alleged libelous statement, which was published in two local publications, is: "Right now we are preparing ourselves and our families because we knew that the possibility the Lapanday management would result to violent means as what they did in the 1980's when they hired the group of Manero and other rightist group in butchering labor leaders before is not impossible."

The fiscal said it was not clearly indicated in the stories published as to who the persons in the Lapanday management were referred to as the offended party.

"The allegation of the statement Lapanday management may mean and refer to classes of business it is engaged in with different management involved," Cañete-Magdagasang said, adding that it may mean Lapanday Foods Corporation, Lapanday Property, and Lapanday Box Plant.

Magdagasang said: "Defamatory remarks directed at a class or group of persons in general language only, are not actionable by individuals composing the class or group unless the statements are sweeping. "[I]t is very probable that even then no action would lie where the body is composed of so large a number of persons that common sense would tell those to whom the publication was made that there was room for persons connected with the body to pursue an upright and law abiding course and that it would be unreasonable and absurd to condemn all because of the actions of a part" the resolution read.

The LFC earlier denied the statements made by Pablo linking the company to the alleged killing of labor leaders in the 1980s.
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