Pasay prosecutor slaps Drilon accuser with cyberlibel over FB posts | Inquirer News
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Pasay prosecutor slaps Drilon accuser with cyberlibel over FB posts

/ 05:44 PM December 19, 2017

Manuel Mejorada (right), former provincial administrator of Iloilo, and Senate President Franklin Drilon (left). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office has found probable cause to file cyberlibel charges against former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada over his Facebook posts accusing Senator Franklin Drilon of corruption.

In a seven-page resolution dated Dec. 1, Investigating Prosecutor Ju-Haree Tolentino said there was sufficient evidence that Mejorada “imputed and uttered words calculated to induce suspicion that [Drilon]… is guilty of various crimes.”

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“The words used by respondent were calculated to destroy and discredit the character and reputation of the complainant,” Tolentino said.

Mejorada would be charged with five counts of violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. The said order was approved by officer-in-charge City Prosecutor Benjamin Lanto and recently received by Drilon’s office.

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Drilon’s complaint concerned five public posts on his personal Facebook account from August 2016 to March 2017, all of which alleged that projects in Iloilo funded by “his P3 billion in DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program proceeds]” were tainted with corruption.

The Facebook posts also linked Drilon’s alleged corruption to the purported crystal meth problem of Iloilo City, which was governed by his cousin, now-dismissed Mayor Jed Mabilog. At the time, President Duterte had begun criticizing Mabilog in his public speeches and linking him to the illegal drug trade.

Mejorada argued that his posts were covered by “the concept of privileged communications implicit in the freedom of the press,” as they dealt with matters of public interest.

The Inquirer tried to ask for his comment through his Facebook account, but he had yet to reply.

Without legal basis

Sought for comment, Mejorada said he had yet to receive a copy of the resolution but maintained that “the charges are without legal basis.”

He said he would file a motion for reconsideration before the prosecutor’s office, or later elevate it before the Department of Justice.

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Mejorada said “the articles I wrote were all based on the truth, done without malice, and published for the purpose of holding our public officials, in this case Senator Drilon, accountable for their actions.”

“What I did was expose the anomalies in the implementation of DAP-funded projects in Iloilo City and the proliferation of illegal drugs in Iloilo City under the leadership of the Liberal Party,” he said. “No less than President Duterte has highlighted the illegal drugs problem in Iloilo City which flourished during the last seven years under the watch of an LP-control local government.”

He added that “my exposes have already borne fruit” after the Ombudsman dismissed Mabilog in October for his alleged failure to truthfully disclose his wealth./ac

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TAGS: cybercrime prevention act of 2012, cyberlibel, Disbursement Acceleration Program, Facebook, Franklin Drilon, Jed Mabilog, Manuel Mejorada, Philippine news updates, Prosecutor Ju-Haree Tolentino, shabu
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