He’s also a mayoralty bet: Radio commentator jailed for libel

Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - December 21, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines – A block-time radio commentator, who is also a mayoralty candidate in Bacong town of Negros Oriental, was convicted of libel, filed by another media personality.

Regional Trial Court-branch 39 Judge Arlene Catherine Dato, found Joene Cahilog, also known in the radio as Rex “Kandos” Santos, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of libel and sentenced him to imprisonment of one year, eight months and 21 days, to two years and two months. Cahilog was also ordered to pay the complainant, Florence Felice Baesa, P20,000 in moral damages.

The judge, in her decision, said: “It is evident that the defamatory imputation of the accused (Cahilog) against the complainant (Baesa) was uttered in retaliation or vindictiveness. It cannot be denied that accused deeply resented complainant’s act of questioning his use of an alias name and so he proceeded to let out a barrage of insults against her on the airwaves. Apparently, deep seated feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment motivated the accused to utter the said defamatory imputations against her. However, such retaliation or vindictiveness cannot be the basis of self-defense in libel.”

The rule, therefore, is that the defamatory statements made by the accused must be a fair answer to the libel made by the supposed offended party and must be related to the imputation made, and should not be unnecessarily libelous, said the judge.

Dato said Cahilog’s utterances against Baesa could be deemed to have been “done with actual malice and cannot be subsumed under the mantle of having been done with good motives and or justifiable ends and cannot be justified as having been resorted to in self-defense.”

Cahilog therefore “is criminally liable for the offense of libel,” said Dato, adding that the complainant “no doubt has suffered wounded feelings, mental anguish and sleepless nights due to the malicious imputations of the accused against her.”

Baesa, in an interview with The Freeman, said: “I am very happy that, after a long wait, I can say justice is served.  I’ve been attacked for how many years in the air lanes, starting in 2012, accusing me as a liar, stupid and even my personal appearance had been a subject of ridicule by ‘Kandos’ Santos (Cahilog).”

Baesa believed the four elements of libel were present in the personal attacks against her. “Mabuhay ang press freedom,” she said as she urged other block timers and radio commentators to attack the contents, if they don’t like the news, but not the messenger.

Cahilog, for his part, said he was not happy with the court’s decision, and requested the judge that he will be allowed to post bail while his lawyers had prepared to elevate the case to the Court of Appeals.

However, during the pendency of the request for bail, Cahilog will remain in jail, and that under the procedures it is discretionary on the part of the judge to grant him bail because it is no longer a matter of rights for the accused because the decision was already rendered. According to a lawyer, if Cahilog’s request for bail is denied, he can directly file the petition for bail before the CA, while being held in prison.

Cahilog said the libel conviction was part of the risks of being a radio commentator, but added that he will stand by his words and principles, and that uttering the words tonto and gago was only his style and way of expression. He said he was also hoping Baesa will forego the remaining six libel cases filed against him.

Cahilog however refused to believe the decision had something to do with his being a candidate for mayor in Bacong. Politics is out of the picture, he said, as he urged Baconganons to continue with their campaign for changes in the municipality.

He said he remains a mayoralty candidate even if he is placed behind bars, because his conviction has not attained finality yet, citing a Supreme Court memorandum circular to all judge that an accused in libel cases will only be slapped with fines and not jailed.

Another RTC judge opined that Cahilog could be out of the mayoralty race in Bacong if he will avail of probation. (FREEMAN)

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