Prosecutors dismiss P100-M cyberdefamation lawsuit against General Santos radio station

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“The decision proves that we are not making up stories to discredit anyone, and we are telling the truth about the issues,” says Ruel Ampatin, director of Brigada FM radio station.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — Prosecutors have dismissed a 100 million peso cyberdefamation lawsuit filed by a former congresswoman against two radio commentators, a broadcasting executive and their media company in General Santos City.

In a resolution, a panel of three prosecutors cleared news and public affairs anchors of Brigada News FM-General Santos Abner Francisco, Carlo Dugaduga, radio station manager Ruel Ampatin and the Brigada Mass Media Corporation represented by owner Elmer Catulpos.

The resolution was signed by prosecutors Kayugenn Mato Kuda Jr., Richard Dale Escolano and Gilbert Bandiola on June 29, but a copy was received by the respondents on Thursday July 7.

The lawsuit was filed by former South Cotabato Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles on June 10, a month after losing General Santos’ mayoral race to Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao.

Incidentally, the radio station is owned by Catulpos, another mayoral candidate at the time.

The former congresswoman filed a lawsuit against radio commentators and broadcast executives in the prosecutor’s office on June 10, about a month after the May 9 election.

In her complaint, Banas alleged that the respondents accused her and her husband of demanding “payola” (bribes) from government project contractors during a March 30 broadcast of the popular morning show. Tira Brigade.

Bañas alleged that Dugaduga, one of the commentators, even called her “notorious” asking for bribes and that her husband also made demands.

She said the comment was “untrue and baseless and it brought dishonor and disrepute to her reputation”.

But respondents argued the comment was “too general to be defamatory”.

They also said their right against double jeopardy had been violated because they had been charged separately and pointed out that Banas had submitted a compact disc containing inadmissible evidence – its contents had been obtained without a judicial warrant.

In rejecting the resolution, prosecutors said “not all elements of the crimes of defamation or cyber-libel are present in this case”, and that there was a lack of evidence.

“It’s vindication amidst all the lies and unsubstantiated claims thrown at us. The ruling proves we’re not making up stories to discredit anyone, and we’re telling the truth about the issues,” a said the director of the Ampatin radio station.

Catulpos called the dismissal of the complaint “a victory for a freedom-loving people.”

“We have this obligation and responsibility to the public to help protect their interests by giving them truthful news and information, and not to be misled by anyone,” he said. – Rappler.com

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