The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Monday recommended the filing of libel cases against the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) and some members of its editorial staff after it found probable cause in the complaint filed by dzBB anchorman Melo del Prado.
Three counts of libel will be filed against PDI publisher Raul Pangalangan, Managing Editor Jose Ma. Nolasco, Associate Editor Online Abelardo Ulanday, and News Editor Artemio Engracia Jr.
Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, the late editor-in-chief of the PDI, was not included since she passed away on December 24, 2015.
Meanwhile, two counts of libel will also be filed against Inquirer reporters Nancy Carvajal and Christine Avendano.
The criminal case stemmed from articles published on March 19, 20 and 21, 2014 saying that several media personalities, including Del Prado, benefited from the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel by using advertising funds that was coursed through National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR).
Also named respondents in the libel case were former officials of NABCOR Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal.
However, in their separate affidavit, Mendoza and Cacal denied telling Carvajal that the advertising funds used came from the PDAF.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) also indicated that it is not true that the PDI articles based its reports on the affidavit supposedly filed by Mendoza and Cacal before the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to the investigation, after the story came out in the morning of March 19, 2014, Mendoza immediately texted Carvajal to clarify that the advertising funds paid to Del Prado had nothing to do with the pork barrel scam.
Despite the clarification, PDI continued to link Del Prado to the PDAF scam.
The resolution of the Prosector’s Office also cited the statement of the newspaper’s publisher Pangalangan, that was also published in their website Inquirer.net, saying that they stand by their stories and it was based on its investigations.
The DOJ resolution indicated that the stories involving Del Prado had no basis.
Del Prado’s lawyer, Reginald Francisco, said that the transaction between Del Prado and NABCOR was legitimate, adding that the documents are complete and the necessary taxes were paid. He said the stories damaged Del Prado’s career as a broadcast journalist.