Sobrepeña libel case vs. BCDA thrown out

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the libel case filed by William Russell Sobrepeña, older brother of Camp John Hay Development Corp.’s (CJHDevCo) Chairman and Chief Executive Robert John Sobrepeña against officials of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for lack of probable cause.

The resolution singed by associate provincial Prosecutor Christian Gregorio Follosco and approved by provincial Prosecutor Danilo Bumacod of La Union state that, “In the beset articles, it is effortless to decipher that the publication is a progeny of the lease agreement entered into by BCDA and CJHDevCo over a portion of lot at Camp John Hay.”

The resolution further read that, “Ensuing CJHDevCo fell short of its undertaking even at the gateway of the agreement. Despite refinement of the provisions of the agreement, the restructuring of its obligations, and the enactment of laws that favored CJHDevCo causing BCDA backpedalling, still, the former reneged from its contractual duties.”

The prosecutors agreed that, “It is because of that invariable failure of CJHDevCo, the discovery of violations on the agreement earlier committed, and the breach unearthed by HLURB [Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board] that BCDA appears to have acted, under its legislative charter, to report and inform the public of the circumstances transpiring over a property which it is bound to manage and prosper . . .”

‘No evidence’

In his complaint, William Sobre-peña alleged that the notice “impute various crimes against the whole Sobrepeña family,” prompting him to file the libel case.

But in its six-page resolution, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor declared that the complainant was not in a position to file a libel case, considering that “the alleged libelous articles, while referring to ‘Sobrepeña-group’ or ‘Sobrepeña-led,’ does not readily ascribe to complainant as the person who was being referred to in the articles.”

The resolution also stated that, “Robert John [Sobrepeña] is the appropriate person who should retort to the articles. Interestingly, no evidence was even presented to illustrate that the barrage against Robert John were purely baseless and unfounded.”

However, BCDA President and Chief Executive Arnel Paciano Casanova, one of the respondents in the libel case filed by Sobrepena, hailed the dismissal of the case. “This is another legal and moral victory for the BCDA. The law has prevailed yet again, and we hail the prosecutor’s office for the dismissal of these clearly trumped-up charges,” he said.

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