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Case Digests Of Libel Cases In The Philippines (Other (Not Listed) Sample)


In my media law class, we were required to digest at least 10 cases of libel. this paper is a case digest of 10 libel cases in the philippines.

Tamaray, Jaeger Dwayne G.
Journalism 109
Case Digests
G.R. No. 13990           September 24, 1918
THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. VICENTE SOTTO,Defendant-Appellant.
Facts of the Case: This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila by which the appellant, Vicente Sotto, was found guilty of the crime of libel and sentenced to pay a fine of P600.cThe case stemmed from a demurrer filed to the Court of First Instance upon the ground (a) "that more than one offense is charged," and (b) "that the facts charged do not constitute a public offense." The defendant was Vicente Sotto, the director, editor, manager, and printer of the weekly paper known as ’The Independent. He edited and published in English and Spanish in the city of Manila, with the intention of attacking the honesty, virtue, and reputation of Lope K. Santos, Jose Turiano Santiago and Hermenegildo Cruz, the principal leaders of the association known as the ’Congreso Obrero de Filipinas,’ and with the malicious intention of exposing the said Lope K. Santos, Jose Turiano Santiago, and Hermenegildo Cruz to public hatred, contempt and ridicule as private citizens and as the leaders of the said association, voluntarily, illegally, criminally and maliciously published and caused to be published of the three persons above named a certain false, injurious and malicious defamation and libel tending to attack the honesty, virtue and reputation of the same, on page 23 of issue No. 4 of the said weekly paper, dated May 1, 1915.
Having become tired of seeing the workingmen at the mercy of parasites who, under the guise of a false sympathy for the laboring classes, exploit the proletariat, making the latter the plaything of their ambitious and machiavelian manipulations, weary of these self-styled labor leaders who are pointed out by the people as the ones responsible for the malversation of workingmen’s funds, the bankruptcy of the "Tagumpay," the "Katubusan scandals," the disappearance of a promissory note from the office of attorney Diokno, the misappropriation of funds in the management of the "El Ideal," the combinations which resulted in the failure of the seamen and street-car employees’s strikes, and other numerous blunders committed by the said labor leaders, all of which has left the proletariat in the situation of a victim plucked by the very ones who set themselves up as their defenders; and realizing that our cause is in danger, now, for the sake of our honor, dignity of the laboring classes, we believe that the time has come to speak plainly and to put an end for once and all to so many parasites. If all these charges are true, it is hard to understand why the workingmen have continued until now under the control of their present leaders. Who is to blame?
This was followed by a cartoon published on page 1 of issue No. 27 of the said weekly paper ’The Independent,’ on the 22d of May, 1915. The cartoon contained people referred to in the first publication are caricatured by name and to each one of them is attached one of the words or phrases just mentioned, thereby identifying him to as one of the persons meant in the first publication. In the first publication, as we have seen, the labor leaders referred to are charged with having caused "the bankruptcy of the Tagumpay." In the cartoon we have the picture of a man labeled "H. Cruz" carrying a banner which bears, among others, the word "Tagumpay." The first publication also mentions "the Katubusan scandal." In the cartoon the word "Katubusan" is found inscribed on a banner carried by H. Cruz and also upon one carried by a person labeled "L. K. Santos." In the first publication we have also the charge that the labor leaders therein referred to were responsible for "the disappearance of a promissory note from the office of Attorney Diokno." The word "Diokno" appears in the cartoon upon the banner carried by "L. K. Santos." On the banner carried by H. Cruz are the words "El Ideal" to which reference is found in the first publication where the labor leaders are charged with responsibility for the disappearance of funds belonging to "El Ideal." A person named "J. Turiano" is seated at table with a dish before him labeled "Labor Congress which he is engaged in eating. He also holds in his hand banner carrying the devices "seamen strike and street-car employees strike." The banner borne by L. K. Santos carried in addition to the words "Katubusan" and "Diokno" the words "McCullough" and "Morales." From the mouth of the three figures thus depicted in the cartoon, H. Cruz, J. Turiano and L. K. Santos, issue the words respectively "I am the first leader," "And I am the second," and "And I am the third."cra
Issue: Whether or not Vicente is Guilty of Libel
Held: Demurrer was improperly sustained and that the judgment entered upon the order sustained and that the judgment entered upon the order sustaining the demurrer must be reversed. Vicente was deemed guilty of the crime of libel as charged against him in the information, and sentence him to imprisonment for a period of three months and to the payment of a fine of P600, with costs.
Explanation: The libel in this case was the 2 publications made by Vicente Sotto in his weekly paper, the article and the cartoon. It both contained Defamation. In the first publication, Sotto called the leaders as “parasites” while exposing their wrongdoings in a manner that destroys their good reputation in his publication. Although no names were directly said in the first publication, The evident purpose and result of the publication of the cartoon was to make clear the public that the three men named in the cartoon were the labor leaders referred to in the first publication. The effect of the cartoon was to give form and substance to the insinuations and references made in the first publication and the persons to whom they were directed. It served as the means of identification of the unnamed persons who were the subject of the first publication; and also of placing up each one the particular offense of which the first publication charged him. It not only served to identify but it also served to point out the person upon who should fall to odium of the particular charge made. 
Lopez vs. CA (1970)
Lopez (publisher and owner of Manila Chronicle) and Gatbonton (Editor) v. Court of Appeals and Cruz (1970)
January 1956 – Front-page story on the Manila Chronicle  Fidel Cruz, sanitary inspector assigned to the Babuyan Islands, sent distress signals to US Airforce planes which forwarded such message to Manila
An American Army plane dropped emergency sustenance kits on the beach of the island which contained, among other things, a two way radio set. Using the radio set Cruz reported to the authorities in Manila that the locals were living in terror due to a series of killings committed on the island since Christmas of 1955.
Philippine defense forces (scout rangers) were immediately deployed to the babuyan claro. They were led by Major Wilfredo Encarnacion who discovered that Cruz only fabricated the story about the killings to get attention. Cruz merely wanted transportation home to Manila.
Major Encarnacion branded the fiasco as a “hoax”  the same word to be used by the newspapers who covered the same
January 13, 1956 - This Week Magazine of the Manila Chronicle, edited by Gatbonton devoted a pictorial article to it. It claimed that despite the story of Cruz being a hoax it brought to light the misery of the people living in that place, with almost everybody sick, only 2 individuals able to read and write and food and clothing being scarce
January 29, 1956 - This Week Magazine in the "January News Quiz" made reference to Cruz as “a health inspector who suddenly felt "lonely" in his isolated post, cooked up a story about a murderer running loose on the island of Calayan so that he could be ferried back to civilization.”   Called it “Hoax of the year”
In both issues photos of a Fidel Cruz were published but both photos were of a different person of the same name  Fidel G. Cruz former mayor, business man, contractor from Santa Maria, Bulacan
January 27, 1957 a published statements correcting their misprint and explained that confusion and error happened due to the rush to meet the Jan 13th issue’s deadline
Cruz sued herein petitioners for libel in CFI Manila. Cruz won and was awarded P11,000 in damages (5k actual, 5k moral, 1k attorney’s fees)
CA affirmed CFI decision hence this case
Issue: Should petitioners be held liable for their error in printing the wrong Fidel Cruz’s photo in relation to the “hoax of the year”? Is such error is sufficient ground for an action for libel to prosper?
Held: Yes they are liable but damages awarded to Cruz is reduced to P1,000.00
Dissent: Dizon, J.
Manila Chronicle should be absolved because:
No evidence of actual malice
The article does not ascribe anything immoral or any moral turpitude to Cruz
The negligence performed by Manila Chronicle is this case should be considered “excusable negligence”
1. Mistake is no excuse to absolve publishers because libel is harmful on its face by the fact that it exposes the injured party to more than trivial ridicule, whether it is fact or opinion is irrelevant.
Citing Lu Chu Sing v. Lu Tiong Gui  libel is "malicious defamation, expressed either in writing, printing, or by signs or pictures, or the like, ..., tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead or to impeach the honesty, virtue, or reputation, or publish the alleged or natural defects of one who is aliv...
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