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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
October 12, 2014 issue
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Ae fights back, files P2M libel suit vs tabloid


For linking him to illegal drugs and accusing him of making profits out of earthquake donations, Provincial Administrator Alfonso “Ae” Damalerio II filed on Friday two counts of libel charges against a Bohol-based tabloid paper that specializes in juicy stories. Backed by the most sought-after legal counsel in Bohol, lawyer Lord “Popot” Marapao IV, Damalerio, in his complaint filed before Assistant City Prosecutor Mary Lyn Añora, has demanded moral damages from Johnny G. Orioque, publisher and editor-in-chief of Bohol Balita Daily News (BBDN), the lone respondent to the first ever libel case filed by an official of the Capitol after the anonymous BBDN reporter had avoided claiming responsibility for the articles he wrote for the daily Bisaya paper.

The case stemmed from two BBDN stories published on Oct. 9, 2014 which Damalerio has described as a “product of the malicious imagination by an irresponsible writer who is coward enough by not putting his byline in his BBDN articles.” On Oct. 9 BBDN ran two front page stories which read: “Kapitolyo Nagpaugat Sa Administrative Cost” and “Ae Damalerio Nangulipas Sa Paglambigit Kaniya Sa Illegal Drugs,” and according to Damalerio's counsel, “the stories greatly suggest that private complainant (Damalerio) herein is making a profit out from the earthquake donations and is exerting undue influence in the provincial capitol, and is linked with the trade of illegal drugs particularly the drug suspect (Tyrone Animas) being arrested in a (resort) in Tagbilaran City.” “A careful reading of the said news article taken together with the title of the same, insinuates the idea that private complainant herein is making a profit out from the earthquake donations being turned over to the Provincial Government of Bohol, thus, he insists on charging the administrative costs from said donations,” Marapao said in the complaint.

In the other news item, Marapao said Damalerio was imputed as having linked to illegal drugs when the provincial administrator, who is also the operations manager of TARSIER 117, arrived in the resort where Animas, together with another drug lord identified as Ronald Telmo, was arrested the other Saturday by police forces led by Senior Supt. Dennis Palo Agustin, Bohol police director. The other drug lord, Gregor Aranas, was killed the other Saturday during a shootout with the police at Barangay Tiptip, this city, after a dramatic car chase which started at Palma Street, Tagbilaran City. During the “Kita ug Ang Gobernador” radio program on Friday, Damalerio explained that his presence at the resort is normal in many TARSIER 117 operations, being the chief operations officer of the province's emergency response team. Damalerio recalled that on July 17, 2014 he personally went to Tagbuane Bridge in Alburquerque town and deployed TARSIER 117 to help a family on board a Chevrolet Colorado SUV that fell by the roadside ravine, and he said he later learned it was Orioque himself and his loved ones as victims of a car accident.

“Ngano wa man lagi ko elink ni Orioque sa pag-adto na ko sa Albur to assist and assess the damage sa accident?” Damalerio asked.

“Ngano tagaan man gyud ug dautang hunahuna ang pag-adto nako sa resort nga kauban man nako ang TARSIER 117?” the chief of TARSIER 117 operations said.

In the news item, the anonymous reporter of BBDN who sees everything evil at Capitol “presumes that private complainant's presence in said resort could be due to the fact that the latter has linkages with the trade of illegal drugs after (an alleged) text message from the arrested drug suspect asking help from his (Aranas) “Bosing” for he was about to be arrested.” Citing the case of Lacsa vs Intermediate Appellate Court, Marapao said that “in libel cases, the question is not what the writer of an alleged libel means, but what the words used by him mean.” “Words calculated to induce suspicion are sometimes more effective to destroy reputation than false charges directly made. Ironical and metaphorical language is a favored vehicle for slander. A charge is sufficient if the words are calculated to induce the hearers to suppose and understand that the person or persons against whom they were uttered were guilty of certain offenses, or are sufficient to impeach their honesty, virtue, or reputation, or to hold the person or persons up to public ridicule…”