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[G.R. No. 193276. June 26, 2019.



In 1990, Col. Alexander Noble (Col. Noble), a Philippine Military Academy graduate and former
Presidential Security Guard of the late President Corazon Aquino led a rebellion in Mindanao. Atty.
Canoy was suspected to be one of Col. Noble's supporters because of his involvement with the
Independent Mindanao Movement which espoused the view of an independent Mindanao.

On October 1990, a series of articles were written by Locsin, Jr. and Molina that were printed in the
Philippine Free Press issue of October 13, 1990 published by LR Publications and Philippine Daily Globe
issues of October 7, 1990, October 9, 1990 and October 11, 1990 published by Nova Communications.
Herein petitioners Goloy, Makabenta and Naguit were the News Editor, Associate Publisher and Editor-
in-Chief, and Associate Editor, respectively.

Because of the subject articles, Atty. Canoy and his wife, Solona T. Canoy (Mrs. Canoy), filed a civil case
for damages for the libelous articles.

LRP Publications maintained that the articles in question were made without malice and without any
intention to cast dishonor, discredit, contempt or ridicule upon Atty. Canoy and his wife; that the same
were made in good faith and for a justiable reason, that is, pursuant to its duty to protect the
government from threats of rebellion of Col. Noble.

Nova Communications, on the other hand, claimed that Atty. Canoy was merely tangentially mentioned
in the subject articles with no intention to cast dishonour, discredit, contempt or ridicule upon his


1. Whether the subject articles are libelous.

2. Whether the subject articles are covered by the doctrine of qualiedly privileged communication,
hence, not actionable.


The petition is denied. Libel is a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or
imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit or
contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. Thus, it is an
offense of injuring a person's character or reputation through false and malicious statements.
Despite being included as a crime under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), a civil action for damages may be
instituted by the injured party, which shall proceed independently of any criminal action for the libelous
article and which shall require only a preponderance of evidence, as what Atty. Canoy did in this case.

Beyond question, the words imputed to Atty. Canoy as a veritable mental asylum patient, a madman
and a lunatic, in its plain and ordinary meaning, are conditions or circumstances tending to dishonor or
discredit him. As such, these are defamatory or libelous per se.

No, the defamatory words imputed to Atty. Canoy cannot be considered as "private communication"
made by one person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or social duty. Neither is it a fair
and true report without any comments or remarks.
[G.R. No. 170341. July 5, 2017.]



Petitioner Ruther D. Batuigas was a writer of the widely circulated tabloid T e m p o , published by the
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation ( M a nila B ulle tin ) .

On 20 December 1990, Batuigas wrote an article in his Bull's Eye column in Tempo titled " C r u cial t a s
k f o r J o e C o n's s u c c e s s o r." The article dealt with the letter complaint of the Waray employees of
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Region VIII on the mismanagement, low morale, improper
decorum, gross inefficiency, nepotism, etc." in the office. One of the public officials complained of was
petitioner Regional Director Victor Domingo who was accused of dereliction of official duties, among
others. 4 4 The "JoeCon" referred to was the outgoing DTI Secretary, Jose Concepcion.

On 4 January 1991, Batuigas wrote in his column titled "A c h alle n g e t o S e c . G a r r u c h o " about
the alleged "lousy performance of Regional Director R.D. Domingo in DTI Region 8," among others. Peter
Garrucho was the newly appointed DTI Secretary who took over from Jose Concepcion. Offended by
these two articles, Domingo led, on 18 January 1991, a complaint for libel against Batuigas before the
Provincial Prosecutor of Palo, Leyte.

On 7 February 1991, Domingo likewise led a complaint for Damages before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Palo, Leyte, against Batuigas and the Manila Bulletin. The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No.
91-02-23, was raed to the RTC, Branch 6, Palo, Leyte.

That on or about the 20th day of December 1990, and the 4th day of January 1991, the above-named
accused, with malice afterthought and with intent to damage, ruin and discredit the good name and
reputation of one VICTOR A. DOMINGO of Tacloban City, Leyte, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously wrote and published in the TEMPO Publication in Manila.

Issue: Whether or not the petitioner is liable for damages.

Ruling: No. The Supreme Court ruled in the negative.

The Court finds that there can be no civil liability in Civil Case No. 91-02-23 because no libel was
committed. The 20 December 1990 article was not libelous because it was only a fair and true report by
Batuigas using the documents received by him thus relieving him of criminal liability pursuant to Art. 354
(2) of the RPC. On the one hand, the privileged nature of the 16 January1991 article and the failure of
Domingo to discharge his burden of proving actual malice on the part of Batuigas failed to support a
finding that there was libel. Clearly, there was no act that exists from which the civil liability may arise.

Records cannot sustain a finding that Domingo was able to establish that Batuigas had actual malice in
writing this article. Batuigas testified that sometime in the latter part of 1990 and until 1991, he
received letters of complaint denouncing Domingo. Although Batuigas was not able to present these
letters during the hearing of these cases it can be rationally deduced that he was in actual receipt of the
complaints against the DTI Region VIII officials and employees because he was able to cite the specifics
of the grievances of the Waray employees in his 20 December 1990 article. Presumably, too, the letters
that Batuigas received were those complaints that had been dismissed by the CSC and the Office of the
Ombudsman, and with the corresponding resolutions evidencing the dismissal of these complaints
having been presented by Domingo during the hearing of the cases.

It was evident that the statements as to the “lousy performance” and “mismanagement” of Domingo
cannot be regarded to have been written with the knowledge that these were false or in reckless
disregard of whether these were false, bearing in mind that Batuigas had documentary evidence to
support his statements. Batuigas merely expressed his opinion based on the fact that there were
complaints filed against Domingo, among others. If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on
established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might
reasonably be inferred from the facts.
[A.C. No. 10869. January 27, 2016.]


Complainant RUSTIA is an employee of the SUGAR REGULATORY ADMINISTRATION (SRA). Respondent

JARDER was also an employee of SRA and the President of the employees' union until he retired from
service on October 31, 2003. During this time Respondent prepared the necessary documents for the
release of his clearance.

On September 2004, a case was led against RUSTIA before the Ombudsman by a certain NEHIMIAS
DIVINAGRACIA, JR., which enraged the former. An affidavit of witness COLMENARES, exposed RUSTIA's
bad habits and propensities in committing acts of forgeries and falsifications in many instances.

On October 13, 2004, an Inter Department Memorandum was released by RUSTIA ordering the retrieval
of records of certain employees, which includes COLMENARES, DIVINAGRACIA and JARDER.

On November 26, 2004, the all-over clearance of JARDER was forwarded to SRA-Bacolod under the
supervision of RUSTIA. On December 2004, JARDER learned from two employees of SRA the derogatory
remarks made by RUSTIA against his person and therefore he led a case against him for libel and grave
oral defamation. He attached the affidavit of the witnesses to the case he filed against RUSTIA.

RUSTIA on the other hand, alleged that respondent JARDER maliciously led a case against him on
February 22, 2005 for Libel and Grave Oral Defamation, which allegedly took place in December 2004.
This case was later dismissed. On the other hand, JARDER alleged that because of the Oral defamation
case led, RUSTIA destroyed all the important documents in his (JARDER) 201 file.

ISSUE: Whether or not JARDER is right on filing the case of libel against RUSTIA.


The case of libel and oral defamation was led when RUSTIA made derogatory remarks on the person of
JARDER. The fact that a libel case was led does not mean harassment but rather it was to protect one's
person and dignity. Records will show that the negative relationship between the parties started when a
case was led against RUSTIA before the Ombudsman in 2004 and since then, those who were witnesses
and involved in the case received the wrath of vengeance of RUSTIA. Perjury cases were led against
DIVINAGRACIA, COLMENARES and JARDER. COLMENARES was transferred to a different division and the
clearance of JARDER was put on hold, furthermore, this disbarment case was filed against him too. It's
clear that it was RUSTIA who was giving the parties a hard time.
[G.R. No. 211120. February 13, 2017.]



On March 12, 2004, petitioner, then a practicing lawyer and now a former Judge, led a criminal
complaint for estafa against his uncle, Nezer D. Belen, Sr. before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP)
of San Pablo City, which was docketed as I.S. No. 04-312 and assigned to then Assistant City Prosecutor
(ACP) Ma. Victoria Suñega Lagman for preliminary investigation.

Petitioner furnished copies of the Omnibus Motion to Nezer and the Office of the Secretary of Justice,
Manila. The copy of the Omnibus Motion contained in a sealed envelope and addressed to the Office of
the City Prosecutor of San Pablo City was received by its Receiving Section on August 27, 2004. As a
matter of procedure, motions filed with the said office are first received and recorded at the receiving
section, then forwarded to the records section before referral to the City Prosecutor for assignment to
the handling Investigating Prosecutor.

ACP Suñega-Lagman first learned of the existence of the Omnibus Motion from Michael Belen, the son
of Nezer who is the respondent in the estafa complaint. She was also informed about the motion by
Joey Flores, one of the staff of the OCP of San Pablo City. She then asked the receiving section for a copy
of the said motion, and requested a photocopy of it for her own reference.

On September 20, 2004, ACP Suñega-Lagman filed against petitioner a criminal complaint for libel on the
basis of the allegations in the Omnibus Motion (for Reconsideration & Disqualify). The complaint was
docketed as LS. No. 04-931 before the OCP of San Pablo City. Since ACP Suñega-Lagman was then a
member of its office, the OCP of San Pablo City voluntarily inhibited itself from conducting the
preliminary investigation of the libel complaint and forwarded all its records to the Office of the
Regional State Prosecutor.

On September 23, 2004, the Regional State Prosecutor issued an Order designating State Prosecutor II
Jorge D. Baculi as Acting City Prosecutor of San Pablo City in the investigation of the libel complaint.

On December 6, 2004, State Prosecutor Baculi rendered a Resolution finding probable cause to file a
libel case against petitioner. On December 8, 2004, he filed an Information charging petitioner with the
crime of libel.

Upon arraignment, petitioner refused to make a plea; hence, the trial court entered a plea of "NOT
GUILTY." Trial on the merits ensued. The prosecution presented four (4) witnesses, namely: (1)
complainant ACP Suñega-Lagman, (2) Michael Belen, the son and representative of respondent Nezer in
the estafa complaint; and (3) Joey R. Flores and Gayne Garno Enseo, who are part of the administrative
staff of the OCP of San Pablo City. For its part, the defense presented the accused petitioner as its sole

After trial, the trial court found petitioner guilty of libel. On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial court's
decision. On the claimed lack of publication, the CA pointed out that the defamatory matter was made
known to third persons because prosecution witnesses Flores and Enseo, who are the staff in the OCP of
San Pablo City, were able to read the Omnibus Motion filed by petitioner, as well as Michael, son and
representative of Nezer in the estafa case then being investigated by ACP Suñega-Lagman, was
furnished copy of the motion. Anent the applicability of the rule on absolutely privileged
communication, the CA ruled in the negative because the subject statements were unnecessary or
irrelevant in determining whether the dismissal of the estafa case filed by petitioner against Nezer was
proper, and they were defamatory remarks on the personality, reputation and mental fitness of ACP

In a Resolution dated January 10, 2014, the CA denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Hence,
this petition for review on certiorari.


Whether or not the element of publication is absent and that petitioner cannot be found is guilty of


No. Publication in libel means making the defamatory matter, after it has been written, known to
someone other than the person to whom it has been written. A communication of the defamatory
matter to the person defamed alone cannot injure his reputation though it may wound his self-esteem,
for a man's reputation is not the good opinion he has of himself, but the estimation in which other hold
him. In the same vein, a defamatory letter contained in a closed envelope addressed to another
constitutes sufficient publication if the offender parted with its possession in such a way that it can be
read by person other than the offended party. If a sender of a libelous communication knows or has
good reasons to believe that it will be intercepted before reaching the person defamed, there is
sufficient publication. The publication of a libel, however, should not be presumed from the fact that the
immediate control thereof is parted with unless it appears that there is reasonable probability that it is
hereby exposed to be read or seen by third persons.

In claiming that he did not intend to expose the Omnibus Motion to third persons, but only complied
with the law on how service and filing of pleadings should be done, petitioner conceded that the
defamatory statements in it were made known to someone other than the person to whom it has been
written. Despite the fact that the motion was contained in sealed envelopes, it is not unreasonable to
expect that persons other than the one defamed would be able to read the defamatory statements in it,
precisely because they were filed with the OCP of San Pablo City and copy furnished to Nezer, the
respondent in the estafa complaint, and the Office of the Secretary of Justice in Manila. Then being a
lawyer, petitioner is well aware that such motion is not a mere private communication, but forms part of
public record when filed with the government office. Inasmuch as one is disputably presumed to intend
the natural and probable consequence of his act, petitioner cannot brush aside the logical outcome of
the filing and service of his Omnibus Motion.

It is not amiss to state that generally, the requirement of publication of defamatory matters is not
satisfied by a communication of such matters to an agent of the defamed person. In this case, however,
the defamatory statement was published when copy of the Omnibus Motion was furnished to and read
by Michael, the son and representative of respondent Nezer in the estafa complaint, who is clearly not
an agent of the defamed person, ACP Suñega-Lagman. Petitioner then argues that there is no
publication as to Flores and Enseo, the staff of the OCP of San Pablo City, who had read the contents of
the Omnibus Motion. In support thereof, he cites the settled rule that "when a public officer, in the
discharge of his or her official duties, sends a communication to another officer or to a body of officers,
who have a duty to perform with respect to the subject matter of the communication, such
communication does not amount to publication."15 Petitioner's argument is untenable. As mere
members of the administrative staff of the OCP of San Pablo City, Flores and Enseo cannot be said to
have a duty to perform with respect to the subject matter of his motion, which is to seek
reconsideration of the dismissal of his Estafa complaint and to disqualify ACP Suñega-Lagman from the
preliminary investigation of the case. Their legal duty pertains only to the clerical procedure of
transmitting the motions filed with the OCP of San Pablo City to the proper recipients.