CA upholds libel raps vs. ABS-CBN

By on June 10, 2015

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MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the order of the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicting current and former executives and talents of ABS-CBN for two counts of libel in connection with the video footage of the arrival of Angelo Dela Cruz following his release from captivity in Iraq in 2004.

This after the CA denied the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by ABS-CBN, to which GMA-7 won its case.

In a two-page resolution of the CA Former Tenth Division dated May 7, 2015, it dismissed the appeal of ABS-CBN “for lack of persuasive force.”

The CA affirmed its ruling on June 9, 2014 and written by Associate Justice Eduardo B. Peralta, Jr., to which it dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by former and present ABS-CBN executives and talents Erwin Tulfo, Lilibeth Frondoso, Lynda Jumilla, Maria Progena Estonillo Reyes, Jesus Maderazo, Luisita Cruz-Valdez, Jose Magsaysay Jr., Anna Eugenio, Fernando Garcia, Eugenio Lopez III, Luis Alejandro, Jose Ramon Olives and Alfonso Marquez.

The GMA-7 filed the libel case against ABS-CBN after it was accused of stealing and airing its live feed of Dela Cruz’s arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in July 2004.

However, the GMA-7 argued that the feed came from Reuters Television Service (Reuters), with whom it had a video subscription contract.

The petitioners appealed before the CA when the DOJ ordered the Office of the Quezon City Prosecutor to file the libel case against them for the alleged malicious imputations hurled against GMA Network.

In its ruling, the CA said that the “[a]scription to GMA-7 as a ‘thief’ in national television, scurrilous and ignominious as it was, exposed it to public ridicule and contempt.”

“[A]t the time petitioners used the terms ‘nagnanakaw,’ ‘pamimirata,’ and ‘pagnanakaw’ to refer to GMA-7 in its alleged use of the live video footage of ABS-CBN, there was no certainty yet that GMA had committed an infringement of ABS-CBN’s copyright,” the CA said.

Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Magdangal de Leon and Stephen Cruz.