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Basilan city councilor sues 2 suspected trolls for cyber libel

/ 09:52 PM July 28, 2020

ZAMBOANGA CITY—A councilor in Lamitan City, Basilan province has filed a cyber libel complaint at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against two local government employees suspected of acting as trolls to malign him during the 2019 elections.

Hegem Furigay said Ella Dee Phuddih Cruz and Era Mae Hufana Caltino, both employees of the Lamitan City Mayor’s Office, used fake accounts on Facebook to accuse him of masterminding a 2018 bombing and corrupting village officials to win the elections.

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In a phone interview, Furigay accused Cruz of being behind the Facebook account Marlon Agustin while Caltino of maintaining the fake account under the name Balitang Basilan.

Both accounts, he said, carried posts that alluded to his masterminding the 2018 bombing at a checkpoint in Lamitan’s Bulanting village to kill the city’s two highest-ranking elected officials—Mayor Rose Furigay and Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay—to make way for Councilor Furigay’s ascent as mayor.

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“This accusation is very malicious. How can I be the successor when I was elected as councilor in 2019 and the explosion was in July 2018,” Councilor Furigay said.

Furigay added that the account Balitang Basilan also carried posts accusing him of buying votes, paying out P2 million to village officials.

The councilor said all the charges against Cruz and Caltino are supported with evidence.

Furigay lodged his complaint at the office of lawyer Jonmar G. Tongdo, an NBI investigation agent.

Tongdo said his office is set to subpoena the two city hall employees next week.

Caltino and Cruz are given until Aug. 3 to report to the NBI. The complaint was filed on July 27.

The Inquirer tried to get the sides of Cruz and Caltino. Cruz didn’t reply to a message on Facebook Messenger while Caltino cannot be reached.

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TAGS: Basilan, councilor, cyber libel, Cybercrime, Employees, Lamitan, mayor, NBI, trolls, vice mayor
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