Annabelle Rama pleads not guilty to libel rapsBy Julie Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Talent manager Annabelle Rama on Monday pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of libel lodged by Nadia Montenegro over the former’s allegedly malicious statements on Twitter and in TV interviews.
The feisty Rama came early for her arraignment on Monday before Judge Eleuterio Bathan of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 92.
Rama entered her not guilty plea 14 times for each criminal charge of libel filed by Montenegro for Rama’s alleged attacks against her in cyberspace and on TV last year.
The court ordered both women to try to work things out before the Philippine Mediation Center, as mandated by court rules.
The conflict between the two women stemmed from a child abuse complaint Montenegro had filed against Rama over her alleged mishandling of the showbiz careers of Montenegro’s two teenaged daughters.
The Quezon City prosecutors office eventually found probable cause to indict Rama for 14 counts of libel for her allegedly damaging tweets and statements on TV against Montenegro.
“The court told us to talk and undergo mediation proceedings and submit a report on its results a month after,” said Rama’s lawyer, Howard Calleja, after the arraignment.
The arraignment came after Rama was ordered arrested by the court for her absence during the reading of charges against her on June 11.
The talent manager voluntarily surrendered to the court a week later and the 14 arrest warrants against her were eventually recalled.
On Monday morning, Calleja ushered Rama quickly into a waiting vehicle after the hearing and answered questions for his client.
“Everything is possible,” the lawyer replied when asked if a conciliation is possible between his client and Montenegro although he added that it was still too early to tell.
The 30-day mediation period means no hearings will be held by the court in the meantime.
But Montenegro, a former actress, firmly said no to the possibility of a settlement with Rama.
Accompanied by her own lawyer, Marie Glen Abraham, Montenegro said she will pursue the cases she filed against Rama.
“I am not open to any mediation, I am not open to any settlement, I am not open to anyone who will try to fix us,” she told reporters.
Abraham added that the court-mandated mediation is a means to exhaust all possible remedies before the court trial proceeds.
“It’s really up to the parties,” the lawyer said of the mediation proceedings, which is yet to be set by the court.
Montenegro added: “We want her (Rama) to learn her lesson the hard way.”
Originally posted at 10:10 am | Monday, June 25, 2012
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