$2.5-million defamation action against Balita’s Cusipag and Marquez

By on June 24, 2015

Melinda Rustia and son Jeff (Photo courtesy of Jeff Rustia)
Melinda Rustia and son Jeff present a cheque for SickKids Foundation courtesy of the Kol Hope Foundation (Photo: Roberto Vazquez / Used with permission)

TORONTO, Canada – Kol Hope Foundation for Children, a Canadian charity to help kids in need, and Filipino-Canadian philanthropists Melinda Rustia (the President of Kol Hope) and her son, a Canadian broadcaster/fashion producer Jeff Rustia have filed a $2.5 Million defamation suit against Teresita Cusipag, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Balita, and Romeo P. Marquez, Balita’s Associate Editor and Publisher/Editor of Philippine Village Voice, Mabuhay Radio and Filipino Web Channel.

Counsel for Kol Hope and the Rustias, Michael Alexander, well known for his 2005 Supreme Court win against State Farm Insurance (U.S.), said the $2.5 Million defamation suit is set out in three separate actions filed at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Ontario on December 11, 2013, April 17, 2014 and July 28, 2014. The plaintiffs are suing Cusipag and Marquez and their publishing arms for making a series of defamatory statements about Kol Hope, Mrs. Melinda Rustia and her son Jeff Rustia, including false attacks on the legitimacy of their charitable work and accusations of fraud and impropriety. The falsity of the statements was easily proved since charitable organizations must post their annual reports on a public website maintained by the Canada Revenue Agency. Furthermore, a recent routine audit has simply confirmed what the public reports have already established, which is that Kol Hope has used its revenue to benefit children’s charities.

Kol Hope Foundation, Mrs. Rustia and Jeff Rustia have initially requested an apology and a retraction when the Defendants’ campaign of defamatory email blasts, videos and articles began in May 2013, but none has been provided to date.

Michael Alexander stated, “The defendants have been given ample time to apologize and retract their false and injurious statements. The Foundation doesn’t like to sue, but the assertion that the charity and its members are involved in fraud and self-dealing is a vicious lie”.

In a statement released today, Mrs. Melinda Rustia said, “We formed this children’s foundation in honor of my late grandson Kol, and have dedicated our lives to helping all the little “Kols” of the world. The unfounded accusations of Cusipag and Marquez seriously damage and undermine the good work of our foundation and the wonderful legacy of love, charity and hope that Kol has left behind. “

Mr. Alexander noted that his clients have given Foundation money to SickKids, World Vision, Easter Seals in Canada, and Bacolod Boys Home, Holy Infant Nursery, and St. Martin De Porres Special School in the Philippines. To date, Kol Hope has donated the following amounts to its beneficiaries: Sick Kids Hospital ($107,500); World Vision ($50,560); Easter Seals, Canada ($65,000); Bacolod Boys Home and Holy Infant Home, Philippines ($45,000); and St. Martin de Porres School, Philippines ($5,000). These contributions comprise a cumulative total of $273,060.

Father John L. Cardinal SDD, Executive Director, Bacolod Boys Home, stated, “The Rustias have been our dearest benefactors, who helped us so much… They are very good people who have a heart for the poor.”

According to Delia Locsin, Executive Director, Holy Infant Nursery Foundation, Philippines, “For all they have done, we are sincerely thankful and hope that Mrs. Rustia will be blessed with good health and longer life so that she can continue to help Holy Infant Nursery Foundation care for destitute, abandoned, neglected and surrendered children.”



Kol Hope Foundation for Children is a registered Canadian charitable organization founded in 2002, provides support around the world to children born with chromosomal-related disabilities, helping them to lead better lives.

The Foundation was inspired by a Filipino-Canadian boy named Kol, who was born with Trisomy 13 syndrome, a chromosomal condition associated with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. Kol was diagnosed to live for only three months, but against all odds, he lived for 14 years with the help of life support, g-tube feeding, and 24-hour nursing care.

He passed away on October 9th, 2011, and left behind an incredible legacy of love, courage and hope.

The Foundation has set up various funds to help children, including the Kol Hope Fund at Easter Seals, which provides everything from wheelchairs to respite care to summer camp placements for children with disabilities.

The Kol Hope Fund at SickKids supports research studies to advance the understanding and treatment of genetic disorders. It has also funded and supported the genetics clinic at SickKids.

The Foundation also helps children in the Philippines, supporting various institutions and schools for orphans and children with disabilities such as Bacolod Boys Home and Holy Infant Nursery Home. The Foundation has donated P200, 000 pesos to St. Martin De Porres, Cebu, Philippines, a special school for children with Down syndrome, autism, and hearing impairments.

The Kol Hope Fund at World Vision was officially launched in 2013 at Canada Philippine Fashion Week, thereby extending the Foundation’s ability to help children in many parts of the world. The charity number for Kol Hope Foundation for Children is 86967 9415 RR 0001.

Michael Alexander holds law degrees from Columbia University and the University of Toronto, and also studied political science and philosophy at the graduate at both schools.

While holding the Laidlaw Fellowship in Law and Political Science, he also attended the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. With a highly successful track record in civil litigation, administrative proceedings, health law and public policy matters, Mr. Alexander is experienced in all levels of the court system, including Supreme Court of Canada, and has also represented clients before government commissions and professional tribunals.

On the business side, he has been involved in the regulatory and financial aspects of start-ups in new media. In 2005, Mr. Alexander represented himself at the Supreme Court of Canada, where he obtained a rare unanimous judgment against State Farm Insurance (U.S.), which prevented insurance companies from forcing Canadian homeowners to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in new insurance premiums.

The innovative strategies he used to defeat State Farm became the inspiration for the creation of his two firms, BT10 Communications and Litigationworks (www.litigationworks.com).

  • guy camacho

    Congratulations to the Philippine Canadian Inquirer for publishing this article, “$2.5-million defamation action against Balita’s Cusipag and Marquez,” for the benefit of the Canadian Filipino community.
    Let’s hope that the lead displayed by PCI will encourage the other Filipino ethnic newspapers in Toronto, including the tabloids and magazines, to print challenging and relevant news that concern the community, without fear or favor.

  • Tess Cusipag

    “Yes we are without fear or favour that is why we published the crooks and the fraudsters of our community.