A BAGUIO activist and secretary of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA), among a group that recently failed to secure from the Court of Appeals a writ of amparo against red-tagging, was convicted of cyber libel on Thursday over comments on the dismantling of a monument dedicated to Cordillera martyr Macli-ing Dulag and two others.
Sarah Dekdeken, secretary general of the CPA, was sued last year for comments linking the region’s police forces to the January 7, 2021 removal of the anti-Chico Dam heroes monument at Barangay Bugnay in Tinglayan, Kalinga.
Dekdeken was slapped with a P250,000 fine and directed to pay P10,000 in moral damages to retired Police Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan, who filed the case while he served as Cordillera police director. Her lawyer is filing a motion for reconsideration.
Pagkalinawan said Dekdeken had “maligned” him when she claimed that he ordered the dismantling of the monument that was dedicated to the Butbut tribe and other residents of Kalinga and Mountain Province who fought against a plan to put up hydroelectric dams at Chico River when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was still in power.
The monument was installed in 2017 by the CPA and faced red tagging during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials in Tinglayan and Kalinga province pushed for the removal of the monument claiming encroachment on the road right of way of Mountain Province-Calanan-Pinukpuk-Abbut Road.
Dekdeken argued in court that her statements were merely relaying sentiments of Butbut residents, but the court ruled that she failed to verify information in the process when she stated that “According to Regional Director Pagkalinawan, that monument should no longer be there by the time he visits the place.”
“The accused (Dekdeken) claimed that the utterances she made plainly and simply allude to statements made by third persons. However, the accused failed to check the veracity of the statement she made and to get the side of the complainant (Paglinawan) before she made these utterances … These actuations of the accused show that her statement was not made in good faith and was instead tainted with malice,” the decision said.