She may usually be behind the scenes styling the country’s biggest stars, but Liz Uy started the week that was on November 9 by hogging the headlines.
Uy, who declared she had become a victim of cyberbuylling, sued the man she believes is the culprit, filing six counts of libel against Michael Sy Lim of the blogsite FashionPulis.com at the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.
Uy’s basis for her suit resulted from two online posts of the blogger who accused of making Mendoza wear a “recycled” gown for the “AlDub: Ang Tamang Panahon” special episode at the Philippine Arena on October 24, as well as a “hand-me-down” jacket for a cover shoot for Preview magazine. (See “Instascoop: Liz Uy Makes Maine Mendoza Wear Same Jacket She Wore Weeks Ago in Preview Photoshoot,” and “Stylist Makes Maine Mendoza Wear Recycled Gown on Historical TV Event” at FashionPulis.com.)
According to Uy, she worked hard to become the trusted stylist and fashion influencer that she is today. She started out an editorial assistant in a fashion magazine and “did all the work,” waiting at malls to get pullouts from fashion brands, and was in charge of steaming the clothes and return them herself afterward.
But slowly and surely—with a little help from the famous men she dated namely John Lloyd Cruz and President Benigno Aquino 3rd—Uy made a mark in the fashion world, not only through her style, but most importantly through her diligence.
It is for these reasons Uy said that she is fighting for her rights and reputation by making Lim accountable for his posts.
She explained, “Kasi pinangalanan niya ako . . . Alam ko naman na trabaho niya na mag-blog pero trabaho rin naman niya na mag-fact check muna bago magsulat.”
Also speaking in behalf of Uy was her lawyer and senatorial candidate Lorna Kapunan. She said, “Your freedom of expression—whether in hard copy or cyberspace—ends when you start hurting others’ reputation. Liz here is like any other human being. She may be a famous fashion icon but what is valuable is her reputation.”
Actress-model Isabelle Daza and magazine editor Isha Andaya-Valles were also present at Uy’s filing, and were also sworn in as witnesses for a separate slander complaint versus Lim.
Both categorically stated that they overheard the blogger say that the Gucci jacket Mendoza wore for a magazine shoot was previously worn by Uy herself.
Cybercrime Act test
Kapunan further said that Uy’s suit against Lim will “test” the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 in the country, specifically the provision on libel.
She explained, “Freedom of the press lalo na sa cyberspace ay mahirap i-control As soon as you put something in the Internet, be it on a webpage, Twitter or Instagram, you lose control. And therefore, you are responsible for all of those who have read you.”
What’s more interesting she noted was the fact the online libel is one degree higher than libel over traditional tri-media of print, radio and TV. She said, “If found guilty—and we are confident that we are fighting for her rights—this entails imprisonment of six years to 12 years. And we also have filed for civil damages in the amount of P11 million.”
According lawyer Irene Besido-Garcia, a partner at Kapunan Garcia & Castillo Law Offices, Uy came to their camp two weeks ago, shortly after the “recycled gown” issue exploded.
She told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview that Uy was clearly affected by the online bashing she suffered, confiding in her that she could neither eat nor sleep.
“Before all this, Liz was also a top social media influencer, who had many existing contracts with many top brands,” added Garcia. “Of course, the bashing affects even this part of her career.
“You see, online libel is already considered by law a step above the traditi-onal understanding of libel, because it is not limited by say a publication’s circulation. The whole world can see it, and more so, can react to a single post. That’s why this is considered more serious.”
Fashion Pulis reacts
On the same day Uy filed her suit against Lim issued the following statement, “It is sad that a public figure such as Liz Uy decides to file a case against me. Her feelings of being wronged by my post was based on a common truthful observation about her body of work relative to Maine Mendoza of AlDub, which many other people other than me also pointed out.”
He added that bloggers like him, as well as journalists, “should not be cowered” by the filling of such cases that aim to suppress the freedom to express and of the press.
“I will fight this case with courage because I have no malicious intent,” he said.
A professor of marketing at a known university, Lim had also been previously detained by the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Women and Children Protection Unit over another libel case filed by model Deniece Cornejo, who was involved in Vhong Navarro’s illegal detention in 2014.
Yaya Dub stays mum
The Manila Times also contacted a highly placed personality at Tape, Inc., which produces Eat Bulaga and manages Mendoza, to ask about the celebrity’s take on the issue, and if they feel they need to calm down AlDub fans in targeting “non-supporters.”
In a text message, the personality replied, “No comment nalang.”
By the evening of Monday, Uy’s famous friends took to social media for support by posting the hashtag #StopTheHate, a campaign, which they said in their personal captions, which hopes to prevent online bashing from getting worse.
Leading Uy’s supporters was Anne Curtis who posted, “In this time and age where everyone is so passionate about ‘freedom of speech’ people seem to have forgotten the difference between freedom of speech and cyber bullying. I stand with @lizzzuy as she makes a statement #StopTheHate.”
More celebrities and personalities also joined the cause via Twitter and their Instagram accounts like her friends Georgina Wilson, Solenn Heussaff and Raymond Gutierrez, actress KC Concepcion and Heart Evangelista, actors Paolo Avelino and James Reid, and her siblings Laureen Uy and Vince Uy, among many others.