10 tabloid execs, editors in libel case filed by Amalia Fuentes seek fresh probe
MANILA, Philippines—Ten tabloid officers and editors, who were sued for libel by veteran actress Amalia Fuentes in a Quezon City court, have sought a reinvestigation of the charge against them, claiming they were deprived the opportunity to answer the charge against them.
Writer Allan Diones, who wrote the allegedly libelous article published last year in Abante Tonite, posted a bail of P10,000 on Thursday for his provisional liberty.
In a motion for reinvestigation filed in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 77, the accused–Diones; Abante 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–claimed they were not given “fair play” by the assistant city prosecutor.
They claimed that they only learned about the libel suit against them through newspaper reports on Wednesday.
The accused asked Judge Germano Francisco Legaspi to defer the proceedings as they were not able to participate in the preliminary investigation by the assistant city prosecutor and were, thus, denied due process.
The Abante Tonite officers and editors claimed that while they were subpoenaed for a Feb. 6 preliminary investigation at the city prosecutor’s office, they only received the summons on Feb. 11.
“Thereafter, no further preliminary investigation hearings were set as accused received no further notice. In essence, the accused were not able to submit controverting evidence to establish that there is no probable cause to warrant the filing of this case before this honorable Court,” they argued.
They further said they “were not accorded fair play and therefore were denied their constitutional right to due process,” clarifying that the motion is not intended to delay the court proceedings.
The accused asked Legaspi to order a reinvestigation by the office of the special prosecutor so that they would be able to prove their innocence of the charge against them “and enlighten the honorable office of the city prosecutor of Quezon City to find that there is no probable cause to charge the accused.”
The Quezon City prosecutor’s office filed on Tuesday in court a libel case against the 10 Abante Tonite 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 last year by actress Ruffa Gutierrez, who was excluded from the suit.
Assistant city prosecutor Victorino Badua Jr found probable cause to charge in court the accused with libel for an April 16 article which allegedly exposed Fuentes to “public hatred, discredit, contempt and ridicule.”
Fuentes claimed that the article entitled “Ruffa, nagpatutsada sa babaeng mataba,” 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 and that while the subject of the tweets was unidentified, Diones had named Fuentes as the most likely subject being then a nemesis of Annabelle Rama, Gutierrez’s mother.
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