Sarah Lahbati’s libel, unjust vexation raps vs GMA exec junked
MANILA, Philippines — Virtually lecturing actress Sarah Lahbati to grow a thicker skin, the Quezon City prosecutor’s office dropped the libel and unjust vexation charges she filed against the president of GMA Network Films whom she accused of making malicious and offensive public statements against her.
Assistant city prosecutor Nicasio Rosales junked the cases filed by Lahbati against Anna Teresa Gozon-Abrogar for lack of probable cause, pointing out that the public statements the actress found malicious were mere comments to the suits she claimed to have filed in court.
“The complainant (Lahbati) should not be onion-skinned when she heard or read a reaction or comment to what she did. She cannot have the cake and eat it at the same time. Respondent is not motivated with ill-will or spite but in response to duty, that is, her duty to defend herself,” Rosales said in his nine-page resolution.
Lahbati had charged the network executive with making malicious statements against her on interviews for the entertainment segment of the news program “24 Oras” of GMA7 aired on July 19, 2013, and in a talk show the next day. Abrogar had been reacting to reports of her filing criminal charges in the Quezon City prosecutor’s office.
The actress claimed in her complaint for libel and unjust vexation that Abrogar had maliciously implied in the interviews that she had no intention of pursuing the charges in court.
Lahbati further alleged that a statement that Abrogar had released and published in social networking sites and newspapers also accused her and her lawyer of being disrespectful to the media and the judiciary, a jab that she maintained was below the belt.
In her defense, Abrogar pointed out that her statements were neither derogatory nor offensive.
Rosales resolved that there was insufficient evidence to establish probable cause and charge Abrogar with libel and unjust vexation in court.
The assistant city prosecutor said that Abrogar’s statements were mere reactions to Lahbati’s filing of criminal complaints in court against her. He stressed that it was well within Abrogar’s right to defend herself.
Last year, the Quezon City prosecutor’s office junked the grave coercion charge Lahbati filed against seven officials and employees of GMA7, including the network’s chairman and chief executive officer Felipe Gozon for lack of evidence.
Lahbati had claimed then that she was threatened and intimidated into signing a co-management contract with a subsidiary company despite her exclusive deal with GMA7 network. She alleged that when she refused to sign the contract, she was not paid her talent fee.
But according to the city prosecutor, the fact that she was able to refuse signing the contract negated her claim that she was being coerced into signing the deal.
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