Valenzuela prosecutor finds merit in filing cyber libel vs ex-DOE chief Cusi
MANILA, Philippines–Former Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is facing a case of cyber libel after the Valenzuela city prosecutor’s office indicted him based on the complaint filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian for issuing a statement regarding the Senate hearing on Malampaya deals early this year.
The 19-page resolution dated November 14 dismissed Cusi’s arguments that his statement, posted on the Department of Energy (DOE) website, is a fair comment on matters of public interest.
Cusi’s statement was issued after the Senate, on February 2, adopted Gatchalian’s resolution recommending to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission the filing of appropriate cases against the former Energy chief and several others regarding the transfer of the 45 percent participating interest of Chevron Philippines in the Malampaya gas project in Palawan to Davao-based business tycoon Dennis Uy’s Malampaya Philippines Pte.Ltd.
On Feb. 4, Cusi’s statement was posted on the DOE website. He denied allegations raised during the hearing. He said he is relieved that the matter will be brought to the proper legal forum.
A portion of his statement read: “It is unfortunate that, in the course of the Committee hearings, Senator Gatchalian had chosen to lend his ear to those adversarial business interests. It was obvious in these hearings that Senator Gatchalian sought to undermine the DOE’s ability to evaluate the proposal covering the said sale of shares comprehensively.”
He said, “it is evident that the hearings were merely intended to force me out of the office to frustrate and invalidate what are legally binding transactions involving ownership of shares of Malampaya contractors.”
Gatchalian said Cusi should have sued him before the Senate Ethics Committee or the Office of the Ombudsman if he had the evidence to prove that he had lent a hand to certain business interests.
Cusi, for his part, said his post was not defamatory nor malicious, as he was just criticizing the conduct of the Senate probe.
However, the prosecutor’s office rejects the supposed fair comment on matters of public interest.
“The fact remains that the defamatory statements were anchored on false allegations. The post no longer talks about the legality or illegality of the transfer of share but it already talks about Gatchalian and his tendency to corrupt, commits fraud, being dishonest and abusive,” part of the resolution signed by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Rudy Ricamora Jr.
“A comment that is totally alien to the subject matter or to the inquiry or to the recommendation of the Senate to file cases against Cusi and other government officials. Verily, Cusi acted maliciously when he posted his defamatory statements on the DOE website,” it further said.
INQUIRER.net tried to get the side of Cusi’s camp but has yet to respond as of posting time.
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