TAGUM CITY, Philippines— Davao Today’s editor and a child rights advocate scored a legal victory when the fiscal junked the libel charges filed against them by the military.
Zea Capistrano, managing editor of Davao Today and Rius Valle of the Save Our School Network, said the government’s prosecutor’s office in Tagum City, Davao del Norte dismissed the case filed by 1st Lt. Eric R. Sumaliday, the company commander of Army’s Alpha Company 68th Infantry Battalion based at Sto. Niño, Talaingod in Davao del Norte.
In dismissing the charges, Associate Prosecution Attorney II Mark Cyrus C. Uno recommended to dismiss the complaint of Sumaliday for “lack of probable cause.”
The issue stemmed from Capistrano’s article entitled “Militiaman allegedly kills Grade 3 IP student” which was published on Davao Today’s website on Jan. 18, 2016.
In the said article, Capistrano interviewed Valle who said that the killing of a Grade 3 pupil was perpetrated by Joven Salangani, a member of the paramilitary group called Alamara.
Valle was quoted as saying that the community believed that Alamara was formed and funded by the Army’s 68th Infantry Battalion.
Army’s Sumaliday hit Capistrano and Valle for “falsely attributing” to the 68th IB as the culprit of killing, it being the alleged founder and funder of Alamara.
Saying the false attribution puts the 68th IB in bad light, Sumaliday filed a libel case against Capistrano and Valle.
In a court resolution issued by Uno dated Sept. 5, it noted that Capistrano’s article “does not say that the 68th IB is indeed the founder and funder of Alamara but it was a community’s perception that they were so.”
The prosecutor also called the opinion to the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan as quoted in the published article was “a product of misinformation, not malice.”
The resolution was approved by Davao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis. (davaotoday.com)