Leo: I didn’t just criticize Gwen in columns

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CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia was not the only target of criticism of dYAB station manager and ABS-CBN news anchor Leo Lastimosa in his columns.

The broadcaster, who took the witness stand yesterday in a libel case trial, said he also wrote critical pieces against the governor’s rivals.

Lastimosa denied that Garcia was the “Doleng Kawatan” mentioned in one of his 2007 columns in the Freeman, a critical piece about the Cebu International Convention Center whose construction was rushed in time for the 2007 ASEAN Summit.

“I also wrote against (Rep.) Tomas Osmeña, Clavel Martinez, and other opponents of the governor. I’m not counting how many times I attacked these persons. I talk about people when controversies arise,” Lastimosa told the court.

The libel complaint was filed by the governor and elevated in court after prosecutors found probably cause.

His lawyer Celso Espinosa presented before Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Raphael Yrastorza of Branch 14 an affidavit which contains his defense.

On cross examination, Capitol consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda said Lastimosa described the governor in Cebuano as “vindictive” and “foul-mouthed” in some of his columns from Nov. 2006 to June 2007.

Sepulveda said Lastimosa’s June 29, 2007 piece entitled “Si Doleng Kawatan (Doleng the Thief)” clearly referred to the governor.

The column described Doleng as a female market vendor who was a thief, vindictive, arrogant, ill-tempered, foul-mouthed and cruel.

Sepulveda said Lastimosa wrote about Garcia 40 times from Nov. 2006 to June 2007.

Lastimosa said the governor wasn’t the only subject of his commentaries and he has no idea how many times he attacked certain persons.

“You’re not counting. I am. You never called Tomas vindictive. In June 2007, you even proclaimed how transparent Tomas was since he presented the liquidations of the 2007 Asean Summit in Cebu,” Sepulveda told Lastimosa.

Lastimosa said he was asking the governor to provide the list of expenses for the CICC.

“Governor. Gwen gave me the documents (about the CICC) but Doleng did not,” Lastimosa explained.

Sepulveda said the governor released the documents only after Lastimosa wrote the “Doleng Kawatan” piece.

Lastimosa said the piece was a work of “literary fiction.”

“All Arangkada columns were written by me. There is no fixed format. I can comment on anything,” he said.

In an interview later, Lastimosa said he was willing to return the 2006 Garbo sa Sugbo award given to him by Garcia.

“She (Garcia) saw in me a journalist that is worth that award. (But) I could return my trophy. I challenge her to recall my award,” he said.

Garcia originally filed two libel suits against Lastimosa. The other complaint stemmed from another column titled “Paugat Ni Gwen.”

That complaint was dismissed in February 2009 after the governor and Lastimosa reached a mutual agreement during a conference with then RTC Judge Geraldine Faith Econg. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol

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