The Office of the City Prosecutor of Masbate has recommended filing libel charges against a journalist accused of maligning an official of an electric cooperative.
Asst. City Richard Riveral found probable cause against Elmer James Bandol, 55, online correspondent for Bicotoday.com and CBCPnews.com, in relation to the libel charges filed by Masbate Electric Cooperative (MASELCO) General Manager Dr. Eduardo Margallo, according to a Resolution dated Apr. 26.
The libel case stemmed from an article titled “314 million pesos losses of Masbate power coop traced to mismanagement – NEA” (http://bicoltoday.com/?p=4463
It reported allegations that Margallo has been using the resources of the cooperative to quell cases of sexual harassment and acts of lasciviousness filed by women employees. It also related the anomalous transactions entered into by MASELCO under Margallo’s management, based on the audit report prepared by Veronica Cruz, National Electrification Administration director for electric cooperative development.
Margallo’s complaint said the article “tend[ed] to cause dishonor, discredit, public ridicule, sleepless nights, mental anguish, social humiliation, moral anxiety and contempt to [Margallo]…to his damage and prejudice.”
Bandol’s case is among the first libel suits in the Philippines filed over an article published online. Another is that of Edwin Espejo of General Santos who faces P75 million and P18 million libel suits filed by boxing champion and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquiao and businessman Bong Aquia, respectively, for articles published in the online sites Asian Correspondent and MindaNews. The articles were titled, “Stolen car dealer finds refuge in Pacman mansion” (Asian Correspondent) and “Dealer of stolen cars last seen in Pacman mansion” (MindaNews).
Executive Coordinator, NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office