Mayor slaps libel raps vs. publication, 4 councilors

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BALANGA CITY: Re-elected Mayor Jesse Concepcion of Mariveles, Bataan on Wednesday filed two libel cases against four town councilors and the publisher, editor-in-chief and columnist of Hirit (Boses ng Masa) of Quezon City.

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The mayor lodged the complaint with the provincial prosecutors’ office in Balanga City. He charged Mariveles town councilors Joseph Peryra, Amante Verzosa, Jocelyn Castañeda and Joel Ibarra as the sources of the article and opinion column published by the tabloid.

Of the four councilors, only re-elected in the eight-member Sangguniang Bayan (SB) was Jocelyn Castañeda. All of them belong to the opposition ticket of Concepcion’s rival.

Named in the charge sheets besides the SB members are publisher Lorenzo Tampos, editor-in-chief Jimmy Mahusay and opinion writer Tom Otrera.

Concepcion in the first case asked for P50 million in damages for the publication of the article “Dahil sa maanomalyang proyekto, Mayor Concepcion ng Mariveles sinampahan ng kaso sa COA [Commission on Audit] at Ombudsman” (Anomalous project triggers suits filed at COA and Ombudsman against Mariveles Mayor Concepcion).

On the second complaint, the mayor asked for P5 million in moral damages and P2.5 million for exemplary damages on the “Haring Banat” (Attack King) opinion column written by Otrera subtitled “Mga Maanomalyang Proyekto sa Mariveles, Bataan Nasilip, [Buking]” (Anomalous projects in Mariveles, Bataan seen [revealed]).

“These were all published on November 30, 2012 and widely circulated in Mariveles to dishonor, discredit and tarnish my name in the public’s eye with the view of causing my defeat in the recently concluded elections,” the mayor said.

Concepcion said that there was no finding from the Commission on Audit with regards to the projects mentioned in the publication and therefore he has no case before the Ombudsman on such projects.

He said that the implementation of his projects passed the bidding requirements of the Philippine government.

Ernie B. Esconde

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