DARAGA, Albay: Veteran journalist Elmer James Bandol, 59, an online correspondent of Bicol Today, CBCPNews.com and Associated Press stringer was arrested by Daraga police on Wednesday morning for a libel suit filed against him four years ago by Eduardo Margallo, former general manager of Masbate Electrical Cooperative (MASELCO).
Bandol, a resident of Poctol, Daraga, town was held in custody at the Daraga municipal police station while waiting for his transfer to Masbate City in the next few days.
In an interview, Bandol told The Manila Times he was not given due process and complained of harassment against the Masbate prosecutor’s office, because of the absence of a preliminary investigation.
“The Masbate prosecutor’s office has recommended the filing of libel charges against me even without the preliminary investigation. This is a manifestation of pure harassment,” Bandol told The Times.
Bandol said his legal counsel Bartolome Rayco filed a motion for reconsideration, but the prosecution came up with the resolution prompting the issuance of arrest from Judge Honesto Villamor of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44, Masbate City. A P10,000 bail bond was recommended.
“I consider this as abuse of authority that’s why we filed a pending motion before the Department of Justice to look into this matter,” he said.
The warrant of arrest against Bandol was issued on July 15, 2012.
Bandol’s libel suit stemmed from his article “314 million pesos losses of Masbate power coop traced to mismanagement – NEA” published by BicolToday.com on December 14, 2011.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Assistant City Prosecutor Richard Riveral said in a resolution dated April 24 that he found probable cause to proceed with the libel case filed by Margallo against Bandol.
Bandol said this is the eighth time he was arrested by authorities for libel charges as a media practitioner since 1979.
In 36 years in media practice, Bandol was charged 11 cases of libel but some were dismissed before reaching the prosecutor’s office because of lack of probable cause.
The most celebrated libel charges filed against him was the P100-million case filed against him by former governor Romeo Salalima of Albay in 1987. Bandol recalled he was arrested on December 24, 1987, a Saturday, prompting him to celebrate Christmas Day in jail 28 years ago.