ABS-CBN chair and former chief executive officer Eugenio Lopez III posted bail of P20,000 Monday in a Quezon City court for two counts of libel filed against him and 12 other officials by rival TV network GMA 7 in connection with a dispute over the alleged illegal use of an exclusive video footage taken of a Filipino released by his Iraqi captors in 2004.
Lopez is the 11th ABS-CBN official to post bail out of the 13 accused who include ABS-CBN president and chief operating officer Luis Alejandro; Jose Ramon Olive, network officer-in-charge and senior vice president for news and cultural affairs; Jake Maderazo, vice president for news operations; Luisita Cruz-Valdes, former vice-president for news productions and programs; Jose Magsaysay Jr., assistant vice president for news operations; and Alfonso Marquez, director for news operations.
Also included in the libel charges were broadcast journalists Erwin Tulfo and Lynda Jumilla; Beth Frondoso, executive producer of the defunct network news program “Insider;” Maria Progena Estonilo Reyes and Annie Eugenio, respectively supervising producer and executive producer of “Magandang Umaga Bayan;” and Dondi Garcia, executive producer of “News Patrol.”
Court staffer Roilo Laranjo told the Inquirer that only two of the accused—Alejandro and Tulfo—had yet to post bail. Some of the accused have since left ABS-CBN.
The two counts of libel stemmed from a complaint filed by GMA 7 which claimed that ABS-CBN, in several news broadcasts and bulletins, implied that the former “stole” its exclusive July 21, 2004 video showing the arrival in the country of Filipino worker Angelo de la Cruz following his release by Iraqi hostage takers who held him for two weeks.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the filing of the case in a December 2011 resolution after she ruled that GMA7 was able to prove probable cause. In particular, she cited the following statements: “theft of our exclusive video” and “pirating of footage,” “stealing is a serious crime” and “stealing video,” allegedly uttered by Tulfo and Jumilla.
She said the statements were sufficient to publicly convey that GMA had stolen video footage, thus, injuring its reputation.