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Ex-Bulacan gov slaps Mercado with P10-M libel suit

FORMER Bulacan Gov. Roberto Pagdanganan has filed a P10-million libel complaint against former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and a tabloid reporter for dragging his name into a supposedly anomalous deal that involved a property of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).

Pagdanganan, a former BSP president who is now the national organization’s senior vice president, filed the eight-page complaint Monday against Mercado and Jun Ramirez, a reporter of Tempo, in the Bulacan Prosecutor’s Office.

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Mercado earlier filed plunder charges against Pagdanganan, Vice President Jejomar Binay and 15 other BSP officials over the sale of the organization’s property in Makati City.

Ramirez’s story on Mercado’s filing of a plunder case against Binay—who is also the incumbent BSP national president—and the other officials was published in Tempo’s Oct. 7 issue.

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Pagdanganan accused Mercado of being behind Ramirez’s “malicious” story which claimed that there were irregularities in the BSP property’s sale.

“[Mercado] published or caused [the publication of] derogatory information against me when he knew that those were not true. Mercado has no motive except to dishonor or discredit my good name and reputation,” Pagdanganan said.

“He continued making unfounded allegations and mentioned my name as one of those officials whom he charged [in] the Ombudsman,” he added.

Mercado, a former political ally of the Vice President, earlier testified in the Senate about the anomalies allegedly committed by Binay as Makati mayor.

The BSP project involved a joint venture agreement between the organization and Alphaland Development Inc. (ADI) to develop BSP’s property in Makati City.

The agreement, which was negotiated and signed by Mercado as BSP senior vice president, gave the national organization 15 percent of the developed property’s share while ADI received 85 percent.

Mercado, in his plunder complaint, alleged that the income from the deal estimated to be more than P3 billion could not be accounted for by BSP officials.

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“The libelous and defamatory statements issued by respondents are utterly false, baseless and misleading. The statements portrayed me and the members of the [BSP] executive board as either corrupt, incompetent or indifferent,” Pagdanganan said in his complaint.

“Only the Ombudsman is authorized to publicize matters covered by its investigation and only when circumstances so warrant and with due prudence and in this instance, the publication must be balanced, fair and true,” he said.

In an interview, Pagdanganan claimed that the plunder case was meant to destroy the names of BSP officials deemed to be close to Binay.

“I [was] not even present during the time the agreement was approved, and [Mercado] knows it. It is clearly meant to harass me,” he added, noting that he has yet to receive a copy of the plunder complaint.

According to Pagdanganan, the BSP’s share from the sale of the property remains intact. The BSP, he said, was also earning from lease contracts on the property, with the revenues being used to help other BSP councils.

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TAGS: Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Ernesto Mercado, news, Politics, Regions, Roberto Pagdanganan
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