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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Latest news on Marinduque Politics-The Counter Suit

Allan Velasco during the STTC meeting last year at the Chateau Du Mer Conference Hall,Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque

Here's the latest news written by Purple S Romero and published today on ABS-CBNnews.com/Newsbreak. Local Politics in Marinduque is indeed getting interesting.

MANILA, Philippines--Veteran journalist Marites DaƱguilan Vitug, editor in chief of Newsbreak, on Tuesday filed her counter-affidavit to the 13 counts of libel filed against her by Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco.

Vitug said there is no malice in the news article “SC Justice in Partisan Politics?”, where she discussed how Velasco helped his son, Lord Allan, court the support of local officials in their hometown in Marinduque.

Vitug said in her counter-affidavit that the report was “borne out of a sense of duty to inform the public of perceived unethical and partisan conduct on the part of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”

“The instant libel suit should not prosper as it denigrates not only my constitutionally-guaranteed rights of free speech and press, but also those of the entire media,” Vitug added.

\Velasco accused Vitug of intentionally maligning his reputation in the article that appeared in the Newsbreak, where she is editor in chief, and abs-cbnNEWS.com, where she is editorial consultant.

Vitug also pointed out in the story that Lord Allan, a provincial administrator, benefited in the controversial Supreme Court decision allowing appointed officials to stay in their posts even if they have already filed their certificate of candidacy. The SC case has been reversed since.


Velasco accused Vitug of being in cahoots with his son’s rival, Edmudo Reyes Jr. In his complaint, the magistrate said that Reyes “engaged the services” of Vitug to produce the article.

Vitug denied Velasco’s claim. While it was Reyes who referred her to Pastrana—the politician allegedly approached by the justice to help Lord Allan—she exhausted all efforts to confirm the veracity of the information she shared with her.

Vitug said she also interviewed other sources, including local journalist Doris de Luna.

But Velasco also claimed that De Luna is a supporter of Reyes. He said it was suspicious that Vitug met with Luna twice.

In denying Velasco’s allegation, Vitug said Velasco’s accusations is irrelevant to the case at hand.

“Contrary to the allegations of Justice Velasco, I met with Ms. de Luna only once on 10 February 2010, and not on 20 November 2009. Justice Velasco’s insinuation of “close relationship and coordination” between myself and Ms. de Luna is therefore inaccurate and unfounded,” she said.

“More importantly, however, the nature of my relationship with Ms. De Luna is completely irrelevant to the issues of whether the contents of the questioned article are true or whether I had motive in writing the same,” she added.

No Internet libel

Vitug also stressed that there no such crime as Internet libel yet. She said that she cannot be held liable for a crime that does not exist.

“Considering that the posting of an article on the internet is not statutorily defined as a criminal offense, there is no basis for the instant criminal charge against me,” she said.

Posting articles on the Internet was not specified as a means of committing libel in the Revised Penal Code.

Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code states that libel could be done through “writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means.”

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