The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday disclosed that mediamen supposedly named in sworn statements submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman by former officers of a government corporation were actually not listed there.
The disclosure, however, did not stop a mediaman, broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo, from lodging libel charges against a top newspaper.
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said Tulfo and radioman Melo del Prado Magdurulang, in particular, have not been named in the sworn statements of Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal of the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), contrary to a newspaper report.
“Wala akong nakita doon [I did not see any mediamen’s names there],” de Lima told reporters.
She said that she is set to meet with Levito Balagod, the lawyer of the “pork barrel” scam whistleblowers.
Tulfo also on Monday filed a P12-milion libel suit before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office against three editors and a reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) over a news article that pointed to him as one of the mediamen who allegedly benefited from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
In his four-page complaint, Tulfo, through his lawyer Nelson Borja, named the respondents as Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, editor-in-chief; Artemio Engracia Jr., news editor; and Jose Maria Nolasco, managing editor; and Nancy Carvajal, reporter.
The allegedly libelous and malicious article entitled “Payoffs to Media Bared’’ was published by the PDI on March 19 and said that he and another broadcast journalist got checks from Nabcor.
The article mentioned Tulfo and del Prado, more popularly known as Melo del Prado, of radio dzBB as among the alleged beneficiaries of the diversion of congressional allocations from PDAF coursed through state-owned Nabcor and subsequently to ghost projects of bogus foundations.
It said the payoffs were in the “guise of advertising expenses,” for which a check in the amount of P245,535 was issued to Tulfo on March 10, 2009and drawn from a Nabcor account.
“That the word or phrase used by the reporter in her item as “in the guise of advertising expenses” is a mere conclusion of facts and a complete departure from the accompanying documents. Thus, it falsely and maliciously conveyed to the minds of the readers that I acquired and benefited from the people’s money known as PDAF through fraudulent transaction while I was then serving as a radio broadcaster of dzXL-RMN from 2006 to 2009,” Tulfo said in his complaint.