ORMOC CITY – The Ormoc City Prosecution Office has dismissed on July 1, 2022 a cyber libel complaint under Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 against SUNSTAR Cebu newspaper, represented by editor-in-chief Cherry Ann T. Lim and journalist John Kevin Decio Pilapil, filed by complainant Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal for absence of probable cause.

EV Mail was able to secure a copy of the resolution after Pilapil himself shared the same on July 4, 2022 – the day he received his copy of the resolution.

In a quick interview, Pilapil shared that complaints being filed against him are not new to him, saying, “Dili na bag-o sa ako ang kaso or complaint, apil man ni sa risgo sa trabaho sa media industry. I am so thankful sa mga tao nga padayun gihapon nituo ug nisuporta sa atong krusada para sa hapsay ug malinawon nga Ormoc ug distrito. I’d like to thank my family, mga amigo nato nga lawyers and sa prosecutor’s office sa patas ug maki angayon nga desisyon. Rest assured, ipadayun nako akong nasugdan para sa Ormoc ug distrito. I always believe that the truth will always prevail.”

According to the resolution, the investigating public prosecutor, Atty. Erwin A. Pedrosa, was convinced that there was no sufficient ground to “engender a well-founded belief that a crime of violation of Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as Cybercrime Law, as defined by Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, was committed by the said respondents.”

Accordingly, the complainant in his affidavit alleged that on May 1, 2022, SUNSTAR Cebu officially released an online article written by John Kevin Decio Pilapil entitled “Goyo mihimakak sa akusasyong gi-post sa FB nga milambigit niya sa drug lord”, which subject article was roughly translated as “Goyo denied the accusation posted on FB that he was involved with the drug lord”.

Further, the said resolution stated that the title of said article and the entirety of said news article only showed that respondent just reported a fair and true news that complainant belied an FB post with regard to a campaign contributor.

In addition, the said resolution stated that the article cannot be considered as defamatory because respondent “did not ascribe to complainant the commission of a crime, the possession of a vice or defect, or any act or omission, condition, status or circumstance which tends to dishonor or discredit him and that in fact, respondent stated in said news article that complainant belied said post and challenged to face the Philippine National Police (PNP) and stated that the person who posted said information in the FB page is a liar, coward and paid.” In sum, the resolution read that the subject news item in Superbalita (SUNSTAR) Cebu was merely a factual report of the reaction of complainant with regard to the FB post.

To recall, former elections commissioner Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal ran against current congressman Richard I. Gomez of Leyte 4th District during the May 9, 2022 election. (By Gwen Maurillo, EV Mail July 18-24, 2022 Issue)