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Chavit loses libel case vs Newsbreak

() - July 9, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has junked the P100-million libel complaint filed by Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson against Newsbreak and two others in connection with published articles questioning his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

In a resolution dated June 18, Undersecretary Linda Hornilla reversed the findings of the Vigan City prosecutor and ordered the withdrawal of the libel complaint against Newsbreak editor in chief Marites Dañguilan Vitug, business editor Lala Rimando, writers Aries Rufo and Gemma Bagayaua, and board member Marianne Hontiveros.

Also cleared were lawyer Estelita Cordero and Singson’s political rival, Efren “Rambo” Rafanan.

Singson filed the libel complaint following the publication of Newsbreak’s special report titled “The Second Gentleman.” The issue, dated May 24, 2005, had Singson on the cover.

The issue featured a package of stories on Singson’s business interests, his alleged connections to smuggling and jueteng operations, and his influence and clout in the Arroyo government.

Cordero and Rafanan were among the sources named in the stories.

In dismissing Singson’s complaint, Hornilla found that the questioned articles were published “in good faith, without the intention of inflicting harm upon the reputation” of the governor.

The resolution also referred to the landmark case of US vs. Bustos in 1918, where the court stated that public officials “must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts.”

ARIES RUFO AND GEMMA BAGAYAUA CORDERO AND RAFANAN DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ESTELITA CORDERO AND SINGSON ILOCOS SUR GOV LALA RIMANDO MARIANNE HONTIVEROS MARITES DA SECOND GENTLEMAN SINGSON UNDERSECRETARY LINDA HORNILLA
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