QC prosecutors dismiss libel complaints vs Ces Drilon, Marie Lozano

Camille Elemia
QC prosecutors dismiss libel complaints vs Ces Drilon, Marie Lozano
The Quezon City Prosecutor's Office says the statements of Ces Drilon and Marie Lozano are not libelous and 'fall within the category of a conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication'

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the libel complaints filed by Gretchen Fullido against Ces Drilon and Marie Lozano.

The office issued two separate resolutions clearing Drilon and Lozano dated January 17 and January 28, respectively.

The resolutions were signed by Assistant City Prosecutor Arceli Ragsac, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Chief Dindo Venturanza, and Deputy City Prosecutor Maria Lelibet Sia-Sampaga.

The complaints stemmed from the statements made by Drilon and Lozano to ABS-CBN’s Ad Hoc Investigating Committee looking into the sexual harassment complaints filed by Fullido against former ABS-CBN executive Cheryl Favila and segment producer Maricar Asprec.

The prosecutors said that the statements of Drilon and Lozano were not libelous and “fall within the category of a conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication.”

Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the QC prosecutor’s office said: “[W]ords which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se…. The fact that the language is offensive to the plaintiff does not make it actionable by itself.”

“A reading of the statement per se shows that it is not defamatory. Respondent[s] [are] merely stating her opinion or observation,” the resolutions said.

Here is Drilon’s allegedly libelous remark:

  • “Gretchen’s accusations of sexual harassment against [Favila and Asprec] also surprised me because many times…. I witnessed Ted Failon and Noli De Castro make side comments…. about Gretchen’s body, manner of dress, or behavior that, in my opinion, constituted sexual harassment or at least inappropriate behavior. But Gretchen Fullido only laughed off these comments. She never complained. One remark she made in one party struck me: she said she was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool and bubbles on TV Patrol to shore up its ratings.”

Lozano, for her part, told the Ad Hoc committee the following:

  • “The first thing that came to mind as the reason why Gretchen filed a complaint is that she wanted to hold on to Star Patrol. Before all this, rumors were spreading that the time has come for her to be replaced after celebrity patroller started sitting in for Gretchen.”

Fullido earlier sued Drilon, Lozano, and ABS-CBN executive Venancio Borromeo for libel for allegedly damaging her reputation by saying she filed sexual harassment complaints to leverage her employment status at the network. At the time, Drilon said Fullido’s allegations against her were “unthinkable.”

ABS-CBN management dismissed the sexual harassment case, but held Favila liable for gross misconduct, leading to her dismissal. – Rappler.com

 

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com