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DOJ indicts lawyer Kapunan for slander

/ 06:33 PM May 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted Atty. Lorna Kapunan for two counts of slander for her statements against University of Sto. Tomas (UST) College of Law Dean Nilo Divina.

It two separate resolutions made public Wednesday, the DOJ said there is probable cause to file a case for violation of Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code or Oral Defamation (slander) for her statements she made against Divina before the media.

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The two resolutions cited Kapunan’s statements against Divina as defamatory.

Kapunan was quoted in a television interview as well as in various media platforms that Divina and his law firm has paid millions to former Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista to favor a client.

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She was also accused of discussing in public the disbarment case filed by Patricia Paz Cruz-Bautista against him and 20 other lawyers which was a violation under the Rules of Court

Kapunan’s statement against Divina for his alleged liability over the death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was also cited in a separate resolution.

Divina said Kapunan’s statement made it appear that he tried to obstruct “the apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders” for allegedly coddling members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity who were accused of taking part in the fatal hazing of Castillo.

The DOJ, in the separate resolutions, dismissed libel and cyber libel because the element of publication, one of the elements required under the law was absent.

“After an exhaustive evaluation of the conflicting arguments and allegations, we find no probable cause to charge respondent for libel as defined and penalized under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code and Cyber Libel as defined and penalized by Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act),” read the resolution.

“However, we find probable cause to charge the respondent for the crime of grave oral defamation for the statements that she made during her interview with ANC on 26 September 2017 considering the presence of all its elements,” read the first resolution.

The DOJ stressed that the statements made by Kapunan during the said interview – that Divina and his law firm forked out a large payment to then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista to sway him to act in their supposed client’s favour – “were imputations of a crime which were made orally, publicly and maliciously and were all directed to the complainants.”

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In the second case, the prosecution said “we find basis to charge respondent for grave oral defamation for the statements respondent made during an interview with ANC News Channel on 27 October 2017. It would appear that respondent imputed the commission or violation of the Anti-Hazing Law (R.A. 8049) against the complainant by being the recruiter of Horacio Castillo and assuring the latter that there would no physical activity or hazing.”

The first resolution was signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Laroza-Torrevillas and Associate City Prosecutor Laurence Joel Taliping, and approved by OIC-Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.

Torrevillas, however inhibited herself on the Castillo case.

INQUIRER.net tried to get the side of Kapunan, who has yet to reply as of posting time. /gsg

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TAGS: Department of Justice, DoJ, Lorna Kapunan, Nilo Divina, Slander
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