Libel - Case Digests

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The GR and case digests here are all taken from, and some are taken from existing case digests uploaded here at scribd.However, some case digests are "digested" or "reviewed" by the author. This is used for our mass media law course.


<p>CASE DIGESTS ON LIBEL CM 217 Mass Media LawCASE DIGEST CHRISTINA FERMIN, petitioner vs. People of the Philippines, respondents 28 March 2008 Issue: Whether or not Cristy Fermin had actual knowledge and participation is guilty of libel? required, since Fermin has been specifically identified as author, editor, or proprietor or printer/publisher of the publication but also the president and chairperson. Thus, petitioners criminal guilt should be affirmed, The elements of libel were present.</p> <p>o</p> <p>Evident imputation of the crime of malversation</p> <p>(converting money for personal use), of vices or defects for being fugitives from the law (evading prosecution in America) and of being a wastrel</p> <p>Facts of the Case: Cristy Fermin is the publisher and Bogs Tugas is the editor-in-chief of Gossip Tabloid The June 14, 1995 headline and lead story of the tabloid says that it is improbable for Annabelle Rama to go to the US should it be true that she is evading her conviction in an estafa case here in the Philippines for she and husband Eddie have more problems/cases to confront there. This was said to be due to their, especially Annabelle's, using fellow Filipinos money, failure to remit proceeds to the manufacturing company of the cookware they were selling and not being on good terms with the latter. Annabelle Rama and Eddie Gutierrez filed libel cases against Fermin and Tugas before RTC of QC, Br. 218. RTC: Fermin and Tugas found guilty of libel. CA: Tugas was acquitted on account of non-participation but Fermin's conviction was affirmed. Fermin's motion for reconsideration was denied. She argues that she had no knowledge and participation in the publication of the article, that the article is not libelous and is covered by the freedom of the press.</p> <p>o o o</p> <p>Attribution made publicly. Gossip Tabloid had a nationwide circulation. The victims were identified and identifiable. The article reeks of malice, as it tends to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of the complainants. Malice in law - the article was malicious in itself; the imputations were false. Malice in fact - there was motive to talk ill against complainants during the electoral campaign as Fermin is a close friend of Eddie's opponent in the Congressional race</p> <p>While complainants are considered public figures for being personalities in the entertainment business, journalists do not have the unbridled license to malign their honor and dignity by indiscriminately airing fabricated and malicious comments, whether in broadcast media or in print, about their personal lives.</p> <p>Ruling of the Case: HELD: YES. Proof of knowledge of and participation in the publication is not G.R. No. L-6465</p> <p>Page 1 of 18</p> <p>CASE DIGESTS ON LIBEL CM 217 Mass Media LawJanuary 31, 1955 NORBERTO QUISUMBING, petitioner-appellant, vs. EUGENIO LOPEZ, ET AL., respondents-appellees ISSUE: Whether or not The Manila Chronicles published article with a malicious headline is liable of libel? FACTS: Usury Division, N.B.I., and was a substantial, if not a faithful reproduction of the said press release which was, in turn, an accurate report of the official proceedings taken by the Anti-Usury Division. The article merely reported a raid on the 'business offices of three alleged money lenders'; and related the steps actually taken or to be taken by the proper officials relative to the investigation. It did not go beyond the actual report of official actuations. RULING OF THE CASE: HELD 1) i) NO. The elements of libel are NOT present. Headlines which are voluntarily defamatory statements of the publisher are not privileged even though they head a privileged report of a judicial or other public proceedings. It is not necessary to reiterate the rule that the headline of an article might be libelous while the body of the article is privileged. The whole libel might be included in the headlines. A publication claimed to be defamatory must be read and construed in the sense in which the readers to whom it is addressed would ordinarily understand it. So, the whole item, including display lines, should be read and construed together, and its meaning and signification thus determined.</p> <p>1. The respondents Eugenio Lopez, Ernesto del Rosario and RobertoVillanueva are the publisher, editor-in-chief, and general manager respectively of The Manila Chronicle, a daily newspaper published and circulated in English in the City of Manila. On July 15, 1949, the petitioner, Norberto Quisumbing, filed a complaint against said respondents in the Court of First Instance of Manila for the recovery of damages in the sum of P50,000 as a result of the following alleged libelous publication in The Manila Chronicle of November 7, 1947. NBI MEN RAID OFFICES OF 3 CITY USURERS"</p> <p>2. After answer and trial the Court of First Instance of Manila rendereda judgment dismissing the complaint from appealed to the Court of Appeals. The latter promulgated on January 19, 1953, affirmed court of origin; and the case is now before us on certiorari filed by the petitioner. which the petitioner Court, in its decision the judgment of the on petition for review</p> <p>ii) The headline of an article or paragraph, being so conspicuousas to attract the attention of persons who look casually over a paper without carefully reading all its contents, may in itself inflict very serious injury upon a person, both because it may be the only part of the article which is read, and because it may cast a graver imputation than all the other words following it. There is no doubt that in publications concerning private persons, as well as in all other publications which are claimed to be libelous, the headlines directing the attention to the publication may be considered as a part of it and may</p> <p>3. The Court of Appeals found "that the context of the article inquestion, is a fair, impartial and true report of official or public proceeding authorized by law. The news item was the result of a press release in connection with an official investigation of the Anti-</p> <p>Page 2 of 18</p> <p>CASE DIGESTS ON LIBEL CM 217 Mass Media Laweven justify a court in regarding the publication as libelous when the body of the article is not necessarily so. Fair Comments on Matters of Public Interest</p> <p>iii) If so, the petitioner's positions would be untenable, since byreading merely the headline in question nobody would even suspect that the petitioner was referred to; and "libel cannot be committed except against somebody and that somebody must be properly identified". It may be insisted that the identity of the petitioner is revealed in the body of the news item, but we should remember that nowhere in the context is the petitioner portrayed as one charged with or convicted of the crime of usury. Third Element: The Person libeled must be identified. (Identity of victim) This means the complainant or plaintiff must prove he is the person subject of the libelous matter, that it his reputation which was targeted. This element is established by the testimony of witnesses if the complainant was not directly mentioned by name. They must be the public or third persons who can identify the complainant as the person subject of the libel. If third persons cannot say it is the plaintiff or complainant who is the subject, then it cannot be said that plaintiffs name has been tarnished.</p> <p>(a) In Borjal vs. Ct. of Appeals, (301 SCRA 1, Jan. 14, 1999) it was held that the enumeration in Article 354 is not an exclusive list of qualifiedly privileged communications because fair comments on matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander (b). They refer to events, developments, or matters in which the public as a whole has a legitimate interest.</p> <p>Truth And Good Motives or Justifiable Ends. A. It is not enough that what was publicized about another is true. The accused must also prove good motives or intentions and justifiable ends, in order to disprove malice. B. This defense is available only if: (a) What is imputed to another is a crime regardless if the victim is a private or public person or (ii) if the victim is a public officer regardless of whether a crime is imputed, so long as it relates to the discharge of their official duties</p> <p>2) The Court of Appeals found as a fact that "there is no evidence in therecord to prove that the publication of the news item under consideration was prompted by personal ill will or spite, or that there was intention to do harm," and that on the other hand there was "an honest and high sense of duty to serve the best interests of the public, without self-seeking motive and with malice towards none." Matters Considered Privileged By Jurisprudence</p> <p>G.R. No. L-16027 May 30, 1962 LUMEN POLICARPIO, plaintiff-appellant, vs. THE MANILA TIMES PUB. CO., INC., CONSTANTE C. ROLDAN, MANUEL V. VILLA-REAL, E. AGUILAR CRUZ and CONSORCIO BORJE, defendant-appellees.</p> <p>Page 3 of 18</p> <p>CASE DIGESTS ON LIBEL CM 217 Mass Media LawISSUE: Whether or not the defendant is guilty of having published libelous/defamatory articles? PALACE OPENS INVESTIGATION OF RAPS AGAINST POLICARPIO Alba Probes Administrative Phase of Fraud Charges Against Unesco Woman Official; Fiscal Sets Prelim Quiz of Criminal Suit on Aug 22</p> <p>FACTS:</p> <p> Policarpio was executive secretary of UNESCO Natl Commission. As such, she had filed charges against Herminia Reyes, one of her subordinates in the Commission, &amp; caused the latter to be separated from the service. Reyes, in turn, filed counter-charges which were referred for investigation. Pending completion, Reyes filed a complaint against Policarpio for alleged malversation of public funds &amp; another complaint for estafa thru falsification of public documents.</p> <p>The articles contain news on Reyes charges against Policarpio for having malversed public property and of having fraudulently sought reimbursement of supposed official expenses. It was said that Policarpio used several sheets of government stencils for her private and personal use. The other charge refers to the supposed reimbursements she had made for a trip to Quezon and Pangasinan. Reyes complaint alleged that Policarpio had asked for refund of expenses for use of her car when she had actually made the trip aboard an army plane. Policarpio was said to be absent from the Bayambang conference for which she also sought a refund of expenses.</p> <p>Policarpio filed a libel suit to Manila Times Publishing Co. for publishing two defamatory, libelous and false articles/news items in Saturday Mirror of August 11, 1956 and in the Daily Mirror of August 13, 1956. Saturday Mirror (Aug 11, 1956): WOMAN OFFICIAL SUED PCAC RAPS L. POLICARPIO ON FRAUDS Unesco Official Head Accused on Supplies, Funds Use by Colleague</p> <p>CFI dismissed the complaint on the ground that the plaintiff had not proven that defendants had acted maliciously in publishing the articles, although portions thereof were inaccurate or false.</p> <p>RULING OF THE CASE:</p> <p>Daily Mirror (Aug 13, 1956):</p> <p>The headline of the Aug 11 article was given prominence with a 6column (about 11 inches) banner headline of 1-inch types. Its subtitle PCAC raps Policarpio on fraud printed in bold 1 cm type is not true. Also, the statement in the 1st paragraph of the article, to the effect that plaintiff was charged with malversation &amp; estafa by</p> <p>Page 4 of 18</p> <p>CASE DIGESTS ON LIBEL CM 217 Mass Media Lawthe Presl Complaint &amp; Action Commission (PCAC) is not true, the complaints for said offenses having been filed by Reyes. Neither is it true that said criminal action was initiated as a result of current administrative investigation.</p> <p>PLAINTIFF maintains that the effect of these false statements was to give the general impression that said investigation by Col. Alba had shown that plaintiff was guilty and that, as a consequence, PCAC had filed the corresponding complaints w/ the fiscals office. She also said that the article did not mention that fact that the number of stencils involved in the charge was only 18 or 20; that the sum allegedly misappropriated by her was only P54, and that the falsification imputed to her was said to have been committed by claiming that certain expenses for which she had sought reimbursement were incurred in trips during the period from July 1 Sept 30 1955, although the trips actually were made from Jul 8Aug 31, 1955. By omitting these details, plaintiff avers that the Aug 11 article had the effect of conveying the idea that the offenses imputed to her were more serious than they really were.</p> <p>It is obvious that the filing of criminal complaints by another agency of the Govt, like the PCAC, particularly after an investigation conducted by the same, imparts the ideal that the probability of guilt is greater than when the complaints are filed by a private individual, wspecially when the latter is a former subordinate of the alleged offender, who was responsible for the dismissal of the complainant from her employment.</p> <p>Newspapers must enjoy a certain degrees of discretion in determining the manner in which a given event should be presented to the public, and the importance to be attached thereto, as a news item, and that its presentation in a sensational manner is not per se illegal. Newspapers may publish news items relative to judicial, legislative or other official proceedings, which are not of confidential nature, because the public is entitled to know the truth with respect to such proceedings. But, to enjoy immunity, a publication containing derogatory information must be not only true, but, also, fair, and it must be made in good faith and without any comments or remarks.</p> <p>DEFENDANTS contend that though the complaints were filed, not by the PCAC but by Reyes, this inaccuracy is insignificant &amp; immaterial to the case for the fact is that said complaints were filed. As regards the number of sheets &amp; the nature of the falsification charged, they argue that these details do not affect the truthfulness of the article as a whole. Besides, defendants had no means of knowing such details. SC: Prior to Aug 11, Col. Alba had already taken the testimony of witnesses; hence, defendants could have ascertained the details had they wanted to. The number of stencil sheets used was actually mentioned in the Aug 13 article. Moreover, the penalty for estafa/embezzlement depends partly upon the amount of the damage caused to the offended party. Hence, the amount or value of the property embezzled is material to said offense.</p> <p>Art. 354, RPC provides: Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious even if it be true, if no good intention &amp; justifiable motive for making it is shown, except, A fair and true report, made in good faith, w/o any comments or remarks.</p> <p>In the case at bar, aside from containing information derogatory to the plaintiff, the Aug 11 article presented her in a worse predicament than that in which she, in fact was. Said article was n...</p>