Pampanga journalist acquitted of libel
ANGELES CITY –– Former Manila Times correspondent Arnel San Pedro was acquitted of libel on Monday or at least 15 years after reporting on what was happening inside the Central Luzon Drug Rehabilitation Center (CLDRC) in Magalang, Pampanga.
Judge Omar Viola of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 56 said the publication of a story on punishments of several inmates and corruption of private funds “cannot be deemed by this Court to have been done with actual malice.”
“Aside from the fact that the information contained in said publication was true, the fact that the co-accused gave the complainant equal opportunity to answer the allegations indicates that it was done in good faith,” Viola said in the 15-page decision.
The judge took note that San Pedro based the story on investigations by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and other government agencies.
The CLDRC was established by the non-government Sagip Bie Foundation, which appointed a police officer, Col. Conrado Briton as executive director. Briton filed the libel case.
Retired police Col. Efren Alamares was also cleared of libel. He was CLDRC director then.