AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is ready to file libel charges against Frank Cimatu, a Baguio City-based journalist for an allegedly libelous Facebook post in connection with the avian flu crisis.
“The libel case my lawyers are preparing against Cimatu stemmed from a Facebook post he made which claimed that I became richer by P21 million in just six months in office because of the bird flu crisis,” Piñol said in his Facebook account on Monday.
“Agri sec got rich by P21 M in 6 months. Bird flu pa more.” the post said.
Piñol said Cimatu’s post was based on a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report which said that his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and net worth (SALN) filed in December 2016 reflected a difference of P21 million compared to the last SALN he filed in 2009 as a government official.
“Cimatu may have forgotten that I was out of government from 2010 to 2016 and that during the period I was involved in agricultural activities funded by a Land Bank loan,” Piñol said.
“So malicious was the post that Cimatu failed to take into account that while there was really no P21 million in cash or properties acquired during the first six months that I was with government, the SALN in question was filed in December 2016 while the bird flu outbreak occurred in August this year,” the Agriculture chief added.
“I cannot be dissuaded by common media friends to amicably settle the Cimatu libel case, even if he is a former colleague being a former journalist myself. This has to be done,” Piñol said.