MANILA, Philippines – Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has filed a new libel complaint against Ramon Tulfo, Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy to China and Manila Times columnist.
His lawyer Elvis Balayan told Rappler that the complaint was for "two counts [of libel] under the Revised Penal Code and two counts [of cyberlibel] under the Anti-Cybercrime law."
The complaint was filed on Tuesday, August 6, at the Manila prosecutor's office. Medialdea was present at the filing.
Aside from Tulfo, the complaint also covered Manila Times editors and heads, including executive director Dante Ang II, son of Dante Ang, the paper's chairman emeritus and Duterte's special envoy for international public relations.
Medialdea is seeking P140 million in damages.
In his latest complaint, the Palace official accused Tulfo of committing libel and cyberlibel in two Manila Times columns published on July 20 and July 23. The columns were published both in Manila Times' printed newspaper and its online platform.
Tulfo's July 20 column entitled "There goes Cayetano as House Speaker, also Medialdea" implied the executive secretary had issued a memorandum circular about the controversial Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Foundation without President Rodrigo Duterte's knowledge.
Asked about the fresh libel complaint, Medialdea told Rappler: "I have decided to keep away from my cases vs R. Tulfo as I have so many other things to attend to. Sayang naman ang binabayad sa akin ng gobyerno kung pag-aaksayahan ko siya ng panahon (I'd be wasting public funds spend on my salary if I use up time for this)."
Last July 26, Medialdea asked Manila Times to publish his response to a July 25 column by Tulfo. His office condemned the alleged "malicious accusations" lobbed against him by the columnist.
Medialdea earlier slammed Tulfo for his July 25 column, entitled "Self-purgation should start with the Cabinet." The column is based on the complaint of a government tipster who claimed that Medialdea, through a representative, had asked for P72 million to facilitate the release of his reward money.
Tulfo is also a Duterte appointee, serving as his special envoy for public diplomacy to China. The President is yet to speak publicly about the spat between his two appointees. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.