TV personality sues showbiz writer, 2 other Bandera journalists
MANILA, Philippines—Showbiz writer Jobert Sucaldito and two other journalists of the tabloid Bandera, a sister publication of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, have been charged with libel in a Quezon City court for allegedly maligning TV personality John Lapus in a column published early this year.
Sucaldito, Bandera publisher Eileen Mangubat and editor Ervin Santiago were charged with libel for the allegedly defamatory article titled “Kaya muntik makuyog, Sweet nagwala sa bar” published on February 19 in Bandera.
The article allegedly portrayed Lapus (Anthony Lapus in real life) as a “shame to homosexuals,” the two-page indictment said.
Assistant city prosecutor Leizel Aquiatan-Morales recommended a bail of P10,000 each for the three journalists for their temporary freedom.
Lapus is a contract artist with GMA7 while Sucaldito, aside from his column in Bandera, is also a host of a radio show on ABS-CBN’s AM radio station, DZMM.
In a seven-page resolution, Morales found probable cause to indict Sucaldito et al for the defamatory article which allegedly portrayed Lapus in an unflattering light.
Sucaldito’s story related an incident allegedly involving Lapus, also known as “Sweet” in showbiz circles, at a Quezon City bar.
Lapus, in his complaint filed in March 2011, claimed that Sucaldito’s column portrayed him as a “man-hunting gay” and that it damaged his reputation.
“A careful scrutiny of the entire article would inevitably induce the readers to think that complainant’s nickname ‘Sweet’ is the exact opposite of his personality. There was an attack on complainant’s well being as he was portrayed as a gay with loose character and a disgrace to the gay community as well as to the network he is working with,” Morales said.
According to Lapus’s complaint, the article portrayed him as “wild, loud, shameless and out of control” and a “man-hunting gay.”
Lapus added that the column tarnished his reputation and offended his family’s sensibilities.
Sucaldito however said the story was not defamatory at all and that it only narrated what his sources related to him regarding the alleged incident.
Morales, in her resolution, said words calculated to induce suspicion “are sometimes more effective” in destroying someone’s reputation than false charges which were directly stated.
“Ironic and metaphorical language is a favored vehicle for slander,” the resolution added.
She pointed out that media personalities do not have “an unbridled license” to malign other personalities’ honor and dignity by making “fabricated and malicious comments” about personal lives.
The assistant city prosecutor said Sucaldito did not only report the facts, but also rendered judgment without verifying the facts first.
“The contention that the article contains fair comment on the reported behavior of a public figure does not hold water,” Morales said, adding that the words used in the story were “mostly uncalled for.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.