THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Benguet dismissed cyberlibel charges against two journalists for insufficient evidence.
Northern Dispatch (Nordis) editor, Kimberlie Ngabit Quitasol, and her reporter Khim Abalos were charged for cyberlibel over two articles written in 2020 on farmers and other groups denouncing former Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan for his alleged directive to shoot “communist organizers” during the Luzon pandemic lockdowns.
Pagkalinawan, in his accusations, claimed that Quitasol and Abalos deliberately omitted a portion of his statement to cast him in a bad light, claiming that the article misrepresented his statement which presumed that communist elements would retaliate violently and therefore necessitate the use of force.
However, the RTC in an April 22 decision, released Monday, junked the case, saying that the prosecution “failed to prove the existence of all the elements of libel.”
RTC Judge Jennifer Humiding of Branch 63 in La Trinidad, Benguet said that the prosecution established that Pagkalinawan did indeed make the statement in a Viber discussion with a SunStar Baguio reporter, who initially reported it online.
“The imputation of a statement he actually made — also in a manner bearing the same import with the one made by [the SunStar reporter] which bears his stamp of approval — dismisses actual malice and knowledge of any falsehood,” the judge said.
Humiding said that the statement that the truth of the statement made was established by the evidence presented, and during the trial proceedings as well.