Belmonte raps ex-PCSO exec, tabloid with libel for ‘factually incorrect’ article
MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday filed a libel case against former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Director Manuel “Manoling” Morato and a tabloid over a “factually incorrect” and “malicious” article.
Belmonte cited an article published in Saksi Ngayon on February 15, 2019, calling out its title “Joy Belmonte: Swak sa Graft, nagpasa ng resolusyon na pabor sa 3 kapatid” as inferring guilt on her despite the absence of any complaint. She also said that part of the article authored by reporter Joel Amongo was “extremely false.”
“This is why I have decided to file libel case against Saksi: Mga Balitang Totoo Ngayon and Manuel “Manoling” Morato—who serves as the source for the story—for the publication of the article,” Belmonte said in a statement she read in a press briefing.
“The line itself, ‘Joy Belmonte: Swak sa Graft, nagpasa ng resolution na pabor sa 3 kapatid,’ implies that I have already been proven guilty of a complaint filed against the Office of the Ombudsman,” she added.
Belmonte denied the allegations written in the said article, adding that no complaint has been filed against her.
“I’m confident that I will be cleared of these false accusations so I have filed a case to do justice to the truth and more importantly show that there is no space for fake news and disinformation in Quezon City,” she said.
“I have received no such complaint as the Office of the Ombudsman has not yet established whether the complaint itself has substance,” she added.
Belmonte explained that, “It is only after they have established probable cause that the Ombudsman can file an actual case. Moreover, the complaint has already been dismissed by the Quezon City prosecutor. It appears to me that this is a clear case of forum shopping that I will not take sitting down.”
According to Belmonte, a portion of the article insinuated that she, as vice mayor of Quezon City, had passed a resolution in favor of her three siblings, which, she stressed, is “extremely false.”
“First off all, I cannot unilaterally pass a resolution as Vice Mayor of Quezon City. It is a collegial act, an act which requires the participation of the whole City Council. To which I am only a presiding officer,” Belmonte said.
She noted that she merely administers the session as presiding officer.
“At the time questioned resolution was passed, I was not even the presiding officer. It cannot be stressed enough that the resolution does not even contain my signature,” she said.
“For the record moreover, it is Sta. Lucia Realty, a company none of my brothers have interest in, which applied for the Certificate of Exception allowing deviations to the Quezon City zoning ordinance, which Mr. Morato is complaining about,” she added.
Belmonte then lamented how Morato, Amongo, and the tabloid publisher “resorted to this course of action for their own monetary gain, political clout, or false prestige.” /kga
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