Bato vice mayor wins appeal on oral defamation conviction
 
Bato, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 28-Aug-2019  ·  
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Vice Mayor Roy Regalado of Bato town has been acquitted of the charge of oral defamation, for which he was convicted by the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Bato-San Miguel in October 2018.

Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 42 reversed and set aside the decision of Judge Carlo Martin Adille of the 1st MCTC of Bato-San Miguel that had found Regalado guilty of the crime of grave oral defamation and ordered him to suffer six months in jail and to pay the complainant P5,000 as moral damages.

The case stemmed from an incident on Feb. 10, 2014 wherein the complainant, Merlinda Rodrigues, wife of Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez, was on board her vehicle together with two others and had stopped to buy mineral water at a store when Regalado tried to open the door and shouted loudly at her, “Bumaba ka diyan Sandara! Bumaba ka! Bastos ka! Bastos ka!”

In deciding on the appeal, Judge Agbada cited a ruling of the Supreme Court that an allegation is considered defamatory if it ascribes to a person the commission of a crime, the possession of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance which tends to dishonor or discredit or put him in contempt or which tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

“The words used in the statement must be construed in their entirety and should be taken in their plain, natural and ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them, unless it appears that were used and understood in another sense,” the SC ruling said.

The decision also cited the High Court in another ruling that words which are merely insulting and offensive are not actionable as libel or slander per se.

“The words, ‘Agustin, putang ina mo’, is a common expression in the dialect that is often employed not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure,” Judge Agbada stressed. “The utterances ‘Bumaba ka diyan Sandara! Bumaba ka! Bastos ka! Bastos ka!’, while the same be offensive to the private complainant, it is not actionable per se being a mere expression of anger.”


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