In case you needed a reminder to think before you post (for better or for worse), a regional trial court judge in Ormoc City, Leyte convicted an individual of cyber libel after posting criticisms against then-mayor Richard Gomez on Facebook during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gomez, a popular actor, is now congressman of the 4th district of Leyte.
Julis Bactol Tahanlangit, a returning overseas Filipino worker, was convicted to serve an indeterminate time behind bars, between a minimum of six months and one day to a maximum of five years, five months and 11 days. He was also ordered to pay Gomez PHP300,000 (US$5,493.95) as moral damages with legal interest at the rate of six percent per annum.
In May 2020, Tahanlangit published a Facebook post bashing Gomez for his alleged “sluggish response and lack of a genuine heart to help”, about two months after the pandemic was declared.
Tahanlangit criticized Gomez for not being able to provide vehicles as soon as they arrived in the Tacloban airport on May 25, and claimed that Ormoc was the only local government unit that did not send vehicles to fetch its returning overseas workers.
The OFW made the post on May 26, and claimed he wanted to get the attention of Ormoc’s local government unit (LGU). He criticized Gomez for “thinking like it was a scene of ‘Palibhasa Lalake,’” a popular sitcom he starred in the ‘80s, and the director can just cut the scene out if he messes up.
Yet during the trial, Tahanlangit eventually admitted it was still the Ormoc LGU that provided service vehicles for him and his companions the next morning.
Tahanlangit and his companions also spent their time waiting for less than 24 hours at a hotel in Tacloban City before being picked up by the Ormoc LGU, with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration shouldering their meals.
In the judge’s decision “The court finds that [the] accused was motivated by actual malice in posting the defamatory statements on Facebook because said statements were no longer relevant to his supposed purpose of seeking the help of LGU-Ormoc City. There is even no evidence showing that he exerted effort to contact said LGU to ascertain the cause of the delay,” the judge’s decision read.
The judge also called out the netizen’s “derisive remarks” at the height of strict compliance to government protocols, and “caused Gomez humiliation and subjected him to ridicule by mocking his previous work as an actor and by portraying him as someone incapable of performing his job as local chief executive.”
The most successful streaming platform in the Philippines puts out remarkably risque content for the deeply conservative Catholic country. How does it get away with it? Read more.
Leave A Reply
You must be logged in as a Coconuts User to comment.