The National Press Club on Sunday vowed to file a counter suit against the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after a Manila court junked an estafa case filed against its officers in 2008.
NPC President Benny Antiporda said the club has been vindicated by the March 17 ruling of Branch 22 Regional Trial Court Judge Marino dela Cruz.
The case stemmed from the allegation of then GSIS president Winston Garcia, that the insurance company owns the NPC property in Intramuros, including the land, building, and the famous Manansala Mural that adorned the wall of the restaurant on the fourth floor.
The NPC officials, under former president Roy Mabasa, decided to sell the mural of the late National Artist Vicente Manasala for P10 million in order not only to raise much needed cash, but to save it from deterioration. The money was used to settle gargantuan maintenance bills, while some P6 million was used for the construction of a housing project in Bulacan.
Dela Cruz ruled that NPC did not commit any crime, citing a decision of the Court of Appeals in a related case. The judge added that the NPC officials did not benefit personally from the sale of the mural.
“We consider this decision as a vindication, a victory not only for the officers and members of the NPC, but for press freedom itself,” said Benny Antiporda, the present NPC president.
“I guess it’s time to set the record straight, and turn the table against out accuser,” he added.
The issue as to who owns the NPC properties was settled by the Supreme Court in its landmark decision on August 13, 2012 that junked with finality the claims of GSIS. With the High Court ruling, the Department of Justice motu propio withdrew the complaint in behalf of the governement.
JAIME R. PILAPIL