MANILA, Philippines—The Quezon City prosecutor’s office filed in court, on Tuesday, a libel case against 10 tabloid officials and editors for allegedly maligning the reputation of veteran actress Amalia Fuentes in an article where she was identified as the subject of blind tweets made in 2012 by actress Ruffa Gutierrez.
Gutierrez, the source of the allegedly malicious article, was excluded from the suit because of the absence of “Internet libel” at the time she made her tweets.
Assistant City Prosecutor Victorino Badua Jr. filed the criminal information for libel in the Quezon City regional trial court branch 77 against Abante Tonite writer Allan Diones; the tabloid’s president Allen Macasaet; managing editor Nicolas Quijano Jr.; editorial board members Janet Bay, Jesus Galang, Jeany Lacorte and Randy Hagos; advertising officer Ron Tamayo; production officer Jeorge Punzalan; and circulation officer Lino Minor.
He recommended bail of P10,000 for each of the accused, who allegedly conspired to have the allegedly malicious article published.
The case stemmed from a complaint by Fuentes (Amalia Muhlach in real life) where she claimed Abante Tonite had maliciously published an article on April 16, 2012 that exposed her to “public hatred, discredit, contempt and ridicule.”
Fuentes had been referring to an Abante Tonite article entitled “Ruffa, nagpatutsada sa babaeng mataba,” where Diones had quoted Gutierrez’s April 14 tweets about “an old, fat, smelly woman who won’t stop inventing false stories” about her and her family.
While Gutierrez had not identified the subject of her tweets, Diones had written, “Hindi man pinangalanan ni Ruffa ay obvious na ang bagong kaaway ng Mommy Annabelle Rama niya na si Amalia Fuentes ang pinariringgan niya sa naturang tweets (Ruffa may not have named the woman but it is quite obvious that she was referring to the new enemy of her Mommy Annabelle Rama, Amalia Fuentes).”
The information, filed before Judge Germano Francisco Legaspi, stated that the article “as they (accused) very well knew was malicious, offensive, and derogatory to the name of Amalia Muhlach, thereby tending to impeach, besmirch and destroy her honor, character, and reputation as in fact said offended party was exposed to dishonor, discredit, contempt, and ridicule to her damage and prejudice.”
Badua excluded Gutierrez from the libel charge resolving that, “Respondent (Gutierrez) cannot be held liable for libel in so far as her twits (sic) in her twitter account is concerned because at the time she made the alleged twits (sic), there was no Internet libel.”
The assistant city prosecutor referred to the provision on libel of the Revised Penal Code which does not cover libel on the Internet.
Badua added that Gutierrez did not cause the publication of her tweets in Abante Tonite but it was one of the respondents, Allan Diones, who wrote about her tweets in his Abante Tonite column.