Court acquits Negros radio anchor of libel raps
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) has cleared a broadcaster here, who was accused of two counts of libel by Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo over commentaries made in 2014.
In a 14-page decision dated June 30, Judge Arlene Catherine A. Dato of Regional Trial Court Branch 39 said the prosecution failed to prove that Cornelio B. Pepino of the dyMD Energy FM acted in bad faith when he criticized the governor in his radio programs on Nov. 6 and 7, 2014.
In his complaint, Degamo accused Pepino of branding him as a corrupt public official when he said on air that the governor was against the Negros One-Island Region concept because “his share will diminish…”.
The broadcaster also claimed that the governor failed to act on the problem of residents of Bankolino in Barangay San Francisco, Sta. Catalina town, who wanted to stop the illegal gold mining activity in their village.
Other accusations against the governor included overpricing government projects and forcefully taking the province’s intelligence fund.
But Pepino told the Court that he was merely reading the text message sent by a listener when he said that the governor’s share would diminish upon the establishment of the Negros Island Region in accordance with a law passed during that time.
Pepino also provided the court with a letter from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau requesting the governor to stop the gold mining activity in Sta. Catalina.
He also submitted to the court the Commission on Audit report that deemed the province’s projects and another report from the Department of Budget and Management declaring the province’s Appropriations Ordinance inoperative.
Pepino also showed the court a copy of the COA decision, affirming the notices of disallowance.
In a decision, Judge Dato said there was nothing untruthful about what the accused had discussed in his radio program.
She said the court carefully examined word for word the utterances or remarks made by Pepino in his radio program but didn’t find the utterances to be defamatory. SFM
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