THE Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the petition of veteran advertising executive and Philippine Star columnist Yolanda Villanueva-Ong in connection with the ruling of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court on the P31-million libel suit filed against her by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Celia Librea-Leagogo and concurred in by Associate Justices Franchito Diamante and Zenaida Galapate-Laguiles, the CA’s 14th Division denied the petition for certiorari filed by Ong.
Ong sought to set aside the orders of Acting Presiding Judge Rowena Nieves Tan of the Pasay RTC, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 118, in the case filed by Enrile against her, requiring her to pay the appropriate docket fees for her counter-claims, within 15 days from notice, otherwise, the same would be dismissed; set the case for preliminary conference and denied her request for issuance of subpoena ad testificandum; and denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, respectively.
Enrile charged Ong with the Pasay RTC for a supposedly libelous article entitled “Like father, like son” on October 16, 2012, claiming that it caused him mental anguish, moral shock, and social humiliation, among others.
In the column, Ong characterized Enrile, among others, as liar, fraud, and manipulator after he allegedly revised the history to support the candidacy of his son Juan Castañer Ponce Enrile Jr., popularly known as Jack Enrile. The latter, however, did not make it to the Senate during the May 2013 elections.
She also alleged the rampant car smuggling in Port Irene in Cagayan province as another father-and-son misdeed.
This prompted Enrile to charge her before the court, which ignited a legal tussle after Ong filed counterclaims for a total of P88 million in damages and P1 million in attorney’s fees.
Ong, claimed that Enrile can afford to pay P89 million as he has a net worth of P117.7 million based on his latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
Ong’s pleas were both denied by the lower court and instead obliged to pay appropriate docket fees in her counterclaims, prompting her to bring her case to the appeals tribunal.
She argued, among others, that the Pasay RTC gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in holding that the counterclaims she alleged are not compulsory but permissive in nature.
In the ruling, the appellate court found no necessity to pass upon the other matters raised in the petition.
“In any event, even assuming arguendo that the counterclaims of the petitioner are compulsory in nature, she is still required to pay the prescribed legal fees,” the ruling stated.”