SC upholds guilty verdict vs Drilon critic

first_imgMejorada warned that the Supreme Courtdecision would have “chilling effect” on the media profession. Drilon, on the other hand, welcomed the highcourt’s decision. According to Mejorada, he felt sad uponknowing the Supreme Court Second Division’s denial with finality of the Motionfor Reconsideration he filed on its June 10, 2019 ruling dismissing hisPetition for Certiorari on his conviction for libel. “If imprisonment be the price for courageouslyexposing the truth, I have prepared myself and my family to accept my fate,”stated Mejorada. ILOILO City – The Supreme Court (SC) affirmedwith finality the conviction and imprisonment of blogger Manuel Mejorada overlibellous articles against Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.  With due respect to the Supreme Court,Mejorada further said, the high court’s ruling against him did not tackle twoimportant issues he raised. “The Court resolves to deny the motion forreconsideration with finality, no substantial argument having been adduced towarrant the reconsideration sought,” the resolution, issued by the SupremeCourt’s Second Division on Sept. 2, 2019, read.  The high court, in its earlier ruling,stressed that “as correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, the elements oflibel were sufficiently established by the prosecution.”  Aside from his blogs against Drilon, Mejoradaalso filed a graft complaint against the senator before the Ombudsman but thiswas dismissed for lack of merit. Pursuant to the rules, the records of the casewill be remanded to the Pasay Regional Trial Court, which will subsequentlyorder Mejorada to serve his sentence. Mejorada noted that during his trial, theprosecution presented only two witnesses – Drilon’s Chief of Staff and thesenator’s media liaison officer. Mejorada is facing five more libel charges. The Ombudsman stressed that contrary to theallegations of overpricing, the government was even able to save a huge amountof money allotted for the Iloilo Convention Center’s design.  The libel case stemmed from a series ofarticles written by Mejorada accusing Drilon of overpricing the construction ofthe Iloilo Convention Center.  Also a former provincial administrator ofIloilo, Mejorada is expected to serve his sentence at the New Bilibid Prisonpursuant to Republic Act 10575 or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, whichcharged the Bureau of Corrections with custody and rehabilitation of national inmatesor those sentenced by a court to serve a term of imprisonment of more thanthree years. He was reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’sTuesday night statement (Nov. 19) questioning the Iloilo Convention Center’scost after Drilon questioned the P50-million cost of the cauldron to be used inthe upcoming Southeast Asian Games that the country is hosting beginning nextweek./PN Neither could substitute for Drilon on thesubject of injury or damage to his honor or reputation, according to Mejorada. It further said that “it was notnecessary to establish that the publication was motivated by any malice sincethe articles were not privileged communication or fair comments; thus, maliceis presumed.”   Mejorada will serve an imprisonment oftwo years and four months and one day, as minimum, to four years and twomonths, as maximum, to be served simultaneously. The Iloilo Convention Center, now a primeconvention destination in Western Visayas, is credited for Iloilo’s rise as apremier MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) hub in thecountry. It narrows the latitude for members of mediain making criticism on the conduct of public officials and other accountablepersons, he said. First, he said, he was deprived hisconstitutional right to confront his accuser. “Having said that, I will bravely face theconsequences of my actions,” he stressed. But “there’s more than meets the eye,”according to Mejorada in a statement yesterday. “It paves the way for individuals to filelibel cases and not have to testify in court to be confronted oncross-examination,” he said. Second, he claimed the injury or damage toDrilon’s reputation or honor was not established because the senator did nottestify in court. “The DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program)funds poured into Iloilo City’s infrastructure and beautification projectsexceeded P3 billion. If asked by the national government to provide details, Iwill gladly do so,” according to Mejorada.last_img

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