DOTr chief Bautista files cyber libel raps vs MANIBELA chair, journo

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
DOTr chief Bautista files cyber libel raps vs MANIBELA chair, journo
This photo shows a picture of DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista

MANILA, Philippines (Update 3:07 p.m.) — Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Tuesday filed cyber libel complaints against individuals who had linked him to the purported corruption within the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Bautista lodged cyber libel complaints against MANIBELA chairman Mar Valbuena and journalist Ira Panganiban.

“Marami silang accusations na ako raw ay tumanggap ng pera, ng suhol, hindi naman totoo. Kaya gusto ko lang protektahan ang aking pangalan na inalagaan ko for almost forty-five years,” Bautista said in an interview with the reporters. 

(I am facing accusations that I supposedly received money and bribes, which are not true. That's why I just want to protect my name that I have upheld for almost forty-five years.)

During a press conference led by Valbuena on October 9, former LTFRB executive assistant Jeff Tumbado accused Bautista and the now-suspended LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III of corruption and irregularities, claims both parties refuted.

In response to these allegations, MANIBELA organized a two-day strike on October 16 to 17.

Two days later, Tumbado retracted the corruption allegation, citing "impulsive, irrational thinking, poor decision making, and misjudgment" as the factors behind the accusations.

After receiving the news, MANIBELA considered the charges against them as "harassment".

“Tuloy ang laban,” the group said in a Facebook post.

When asked if he would cooperate in the upcoming preliminary investigation, Valbuena said that he will face the complaints.

"Wala pong dahilan para tumigil hangga't 'di lumalabas ang katotohanan," Valbuena said in a separate statement. (There is no reason to stop until the truth has been told).

'Why single me out?' 

In an interview with Philstar.com, Panganiban said that he is just doing his job like any other journalist.

According to Bautista's affidavit, pointed out that the "libelous statement" is an October 11 Facebook post by Panganiban implicating both Guadiz and Bautista which has now been deleted.

Panganiban, a radio anchor from the Rajah Broadcasting Network, said he was just doing his job. 

"I have no idea what the good Sec Jaime Bautista is saying. I have just been reporting the news just like everyone else. So why me?" he told Philstar.com in an online message.

The journalist also said that he is planning to reach out to Bautista to clarify things. 

"I'd like to ask the Secretary, why single me out?" Panganiban said.

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