“Dead-end cases” was how lawyer Ferdinand Topacio described the suits filed by GMA 7 against its contract artist Sarah Lahbati, who left the country on Sunday night.
Sources from the Bureau of Immigration confirmed on Monday that Lahbati boarded an Etihad Airways flight to United Arab Emirates on Sunday night. Lahbati earlier announced she would take a break from work and go to Switzerland to continue her studies.
The actress is facing a libel suit filed by GMA 7 executive Annette Gozon-Abrogar and a P7-million civil suit for breach of contract filed by the network last week.
For these cases to prosper, Topacio said Lahbati had to be physically present to accept the summons. Since Lahbati was no longer present, Topacio said she would not be able to present her counter-
affidavit, “which she has to personally hand to the prosecutor. She would also have to swear before him (prosecutor) that her affidavit is true and correct.”
“The cases will then be archived until the court already has jurisdiction over her… This is a sad fact,” Topacio elaborated when the Inquirer sought his opinion on Monday.
In a text message on the same day, Abrogar said she was studying the possibility of filing a case in Switzerland, should Lahbati continue “to tweet libelous statements while she is there.” Abrogar noted: “Switzerland’s cybercrime laws are quite developed.”