SC reinstates lower court’s dismissal of Sharon Cuneta’s libel case vs Bandera editors
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court reinstated the ruling of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court that dismissed the libel case filed by megastar Sharon Cuneta against editor and associate editor of tabloid newspaper Bandera.
In a 19-page decision released to the public Thursday, the high court’s third division through Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision that gave the go signal for the lower court to push through with the trial of Lito Bautista and Jimmy Alcantara.
The high court said, the actress “took a procedural misstep, and the view she is advancing is erroneous” because it should be the Office of the Solicitor General, not her who should have appealed the lower court’s decision.
The Mandaluyong RTC’s decision which is reinstated by the high court granted the demurrer to evidence filed by the two editors. Under the Rules on Criminal Procedure, after the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence upon demurrer to evidence filed by the accused.
The high court said “in criminal cases, the acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case against the person can only be appealed by the Solicitor-General, acting on behalf of the State…The capability of the private complainant [in this case, Sharon Cuneta] to question such dismissal or acquittal is limited only to the civil aspect of the case. ”
“The petition filed by the respondent before the CA essentially questioned the criminal aspect of the Order of the RTC, not the civil aspect of the case…Since the petition filed in the CA was not at the instance of the OSG, the same should have been outrightly dismissed by the CA,” the high court said.
“Respondent [Cuneta] lacked the personality or legal standing to question the trial court’s order because it is only the OSG who can bring actions on behalf of the State in criminal proceedings, before the Supreme Court and CA.”