CA junks bid to can libel appeal of ex-Chief Justice

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THE Court of Appeals (CA) has junked a plea of businessman Herminio Disini for the outright dismissal of a petition filed by retired chief justice Artemio Panganiban, whom the court recently ordered arrested over a libel charge filed against him.

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A three-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon of the appellate court’s former Special 10th Division instead required Disini and the Office of the Solicitor General to file their respective comments within 10 days.

Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Victoria Isabel Paredes concurred with the ruling.

Disini asked for the immediate dismissal of Panganiban’s petition “for failure of the latter’s counsel to sign the same in violation of Section 3, Rule 7, of the Rules of Court.”

The appellate court recently issued a writ of preliminary injunction after Panganiban allegedly lobbied for its issuance.

It stopped the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) from proceeding with the case of Panganiban, which is Criminal Case 13-2084 (People of the Philippines vs. Artemio Panganiban and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc).

The appellate court argued that there is lack of malice, which would warrant the issuance of the injunction order in favor of Panganiban.

In a separate resolution on January 21, 2014, it recognized and accepted the P50,000 bond posted by Magsanoc.

A CA insider said Panganiban “lobbied” to get the temporary restraining order in November last year, to stop the Makati court from hearing his case.

The source added that Panganiban has been calling justices of the appellate court to save him from being arraigned.

The petition before the appellate court’s 10th Division was filed by Magsanoc, Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) editor-in-chief.

The libel case was filed by Marcos crony Disini against Panganiban for allegedly defamatory statements made by the former Chief Justice in his column in the newspaper.

The case stemmed from Panganiban’s alleged irresponsible and malicious attack on Disini about the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

It all started with Disini’s lawyer, Jose Bernas, calling on Panganiban to correct his column on the BNPP entitled “After 35 Years, Still Languishing” which the PDI published on March 27, 2011.

The letter to Panganiban was addressed to the newspaper.

Bernas said if Panganiban would not correct his column appropriate legal action awaited him.

He pointed out that Panganiban’s use of the phrase “go-between” to describe Disini’s role in the BNPP deal portrayed him in a negative light.

Bernas questioned the assertion of Panganiban that the BNPP was constructed for $2 billion and challenged him to quote the source of the information.

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