FB, YouTube execs summoned over âBikoyâ
Advincula identified Co as the supposed leader of the group and claimed that the illegal operations were conducted inside the Misibis resort.
FB, YouTube execs summoned over ‘Bikoy’
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  Government prosecutors summoned the country heads of social media giants Facebook and YouTube to answer the P1-billion damage suit filed by the owner of Misibis Bay Resort in Albay over the viral “Ang Totoong Narcolist” videos that had linked the firm to the illegal drug trade.

The National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed yesterday that summons have been sent to Facebook Philippines country director John Rubio and Google Philippines (administrator of YouTube Philippines) country manager Kenneth Lingan last May 21 at their respective offices in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

They were specifically ordered to submit their counter-affidavits to the cyber libel complaint filed by Bicolano businessman Elizaldy Co and Misibis Bay Resort before the Legazpi City prosecutor’s office.

A separate subpoena was sent to Peter Advincula, the self-confessed “Bikoy” in the videos, who was also named respondent in the complaint.

All respondents were directed to answer the charges of violations of cyber libel under Section 4 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, in relation to libel under Articles 353, 354 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code, against them.

No specific dates have been set for the preliminary investigation hearing yet, according to Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.

This is the first prominent suit filed against social media giants Facebook and YouTube in the Philippines amid efforts to combat the spread of fake news in the online sites.

Co and Misibis Bay filed two separate complaints following the recantation by Advincula of his claims in the videos, calling it a “vindication.”

The complaint sought civil damages from the respondents amounting to P150 million in moral damages and P100 million in exemplary damages as well as payment of 10 percent for attorney’s fee for each of the two complainants, or a total of P550 million.

The second complaint, on the other hand, named Advincula, Google Philippines as owner of YouTube where the videos circulated, through its country manager Kenneth Lingan, and other unidentified persons as respondents.

Co and Misibis Resort management likewise demanded the same amount of damages of P500 million and P50 million in attorney’s fee from the second set of respondents, for total civil damage claims of at least P1.1 billion.

The complainants stressed that the “false, malicious and libelous accusations in the video” that went viral on Facebook and YouTube affected not only Co’s good reputation in the business field but also the operations of the popular resort destination in Albay.

The complainants said they asked Facebook and YouTube to take down the video last April 26, but both social media giants ignored the request and the video has remained online.

They said this was why they impleaded Facebook and YouTube in the complaint.

The complainants stressed that all necessary elements of cyber libel under the law are present in this case to make the respondents criminally and civilly liable.

Co also lamented how the video destroyed the reputation he built for many years.

In the video – the fifth episode in the series – Advincula said a drug syndicate working out of Bicol was called the “Quadrangle Group” and included former politicians and businessmen.

Advincula identified Co as the supposed leader of the group and claimed that the illegal operations were conducted inside the Misibis resort.

He also identified the other members as Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado, former Camarines Sur congressman and governor Luis Villafuerte, Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, Sorsogon senior provincial board member Krunimar Escudero, Victor Lorenzo Rosales, Naga businessman Thomas Enrile and businesswoman Tess Rañola.

But when he surrendered to the Philippine National Police last May 23, Advincula confessed his allegations in the videos were not true and that he was only paid by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the opposition as part of the so-called Oplan Sodoma to oust President Duterte.  

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