cyber libel in the Philippines

General Santos prosecutors reject plea to reverse cyber libel case dismissal vs commentators

Rommel Rebollido
General Santos prosecutors reject plea to reverse cyber libel case dismissal vs commentators

CLEARED. 'Tira Brrigada' commentators Abner Francisco and Carlo Dugaduga of General Santos City are cleared after prosecutors dismissed a P100-million libel complaint filed by a former South Cotabato congresswoman.

Brigada FM-General Santos FB page

Prosecutors dismiss the motion for reconsideration of former South Cotabato representative Shirlyn Banas-Nograles on a mere technicality – it wasn't notarized

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Prosecutors rejected former South Cotabato representative Shirlyn Banas-Nograles’ appeal for them to reverse a resolution that dismissed her P100-million cyber libel complaint against two radio commentators and their media company in General Santos City.

In a resolution issued on Wednesday, July 27, the General Santos City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the motion for reconsideration submitted by Nograles on a mere technicality – it did not conform to a provision of the 2017 Revised Prosecutor’s Manual which requires motions to be notarized.

For prosecutors, the requirement is crucial, and non-conformity alone is a ground for dismissal.

The rule, laid down in Section 4.7.25 of the manual, provides that motions for reconsideration must be verified. 

The prosecutor’s office said Nograles’ “instant motion for reconsideration is not in conformity with the above-stated rule as the same is not verified.”

Nograles submitted her motion for recommendation on July 21, assailing the June 29 resolution of the prosecutor’s office that trashed her libel and cyber libel complaint against Brigada News FM commentators Abner Francisco and Carlo Dugaduga, their station manager Ruel Domantay, and the Brigada Mass Media Corporation owned by businessman Elmer Catulpos.

The second resolution was signed by assistant city prosecutors Kayugenn Mato Kuda Jr., Gilbert Bandiola, and Richard Dale Escolano, and approved by General Santos City prosecutor Clemencia Dinopol-Cataluna.

The complaint was an offshoot of the commentators’ remarks during a March 30 episode of their morning program Tira Brigada which Nograles alleged were meant to smear her and her husband’s reputation.

She alleged that the respondents accused her and her husband of demanding bribes from contractors of government-funded projects.

The first resolution stated that the complaint had to be dismissed because Nograles failed to establish that all the elements needed to build libel and cyber libel cases were present.

For a libel case to prosper, lawyers need to establish that there were elements of defamation, and malice, that it was made public, and the one complaining must be identifiable.

Nograles filed the complaint before the local prosecutor’s office on June 10, a month after the May 9 elections when she lost the mayoral race in General Santos to former senator Manny Pacquiao’s sister-in-law, now Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao.

Incidentally, Catulpos, the media company’s owner, was among the election opponents of Mayor Pacquiao and Nograles. – Rappler.com

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