2016 (Criminal Law) Bar Exam Questions: Question 16

[Answer/discuss the question below, or see 2016 bar exam Criminal Law Instructions; 2016 Criminal Law questions: 123456789101112131415171819 and 20; See also 2016 Bar Exam: Information, Discussions, Tips, Questions and Results]

-XVI-

A is the president of the corporate publisher of the daily tabloid, Bulgar; B is the managing editor; and C is the author/writer. In his column, Direct Hit, C wrote about X, the head examiner ofthe BIR-RDO Manila as follows:

“!tong si X ay talagang BUWAYA kaya ang logo ng Lacoste T shirt niya ay napaka suwapang na buwaya. Ang nickname niya ay si Atty. Buwaya. Ang PR niya ay 90% sa bayad ng taxpayer at ang para sa RP ay 10% /ang. Kaya ang baba ng collection ng RDO niya. Masyadong magnanakaw si X at dapat tangga/in itong bundat na bundat na buwaya na ito at napakalaki na ng kurakot.”

A, Band C were charged with libel before the RTC of Manila. The three (3) defendants argued that the article is within the ambit of qualified privileged communication; that there is no malice in law and in fact; and, that defamatory comments on the acts of public officials which are related to the discharge of their official duties do not constitute libel.

Was the crime of libel committed? If so, are A, B, and C all liable for the crime? Explain. (5%)

3 comments

  1. Yes, A,B, and C may be liable for the crime of libel.

    Libelous remarks or comments connected with the matter priveleged under the provisions of Art. 354, if made with malice, shall not exemot the author thereof nor the editor or managing editor of a newspaper from criminal liability.

    In the case at bar, there is a clear showing that the statements were made with malice considering the attacks made by C on X. He even mentioned of the removal of X from his office being corrupt official although it is not yet been proven or it is still considered as hearsay, meaning the statesment were still considered as mere allegations.
    The remarks made by c were considered libelous.On the other hand, A being the publisher and B , the managing editor of the newspaper consented the libelous remarks made by C.

    Therefore A,B and C may all be liable for libel.

  2. A: Yes, the crime of libel was committed.

    They cannot claim cover under the doctrine of qualified
    privileged communication:

    In order to prove that a statement falls within the purview of a qualified privileged communication under Article 354, No. 1, as claimed by petitioner, the following requisites must concur: (1) the person who made the communication had a legal, moral, or
    social duty to make the communication, or at least, had an interest to protect, which interest may either be his own or of the one to whom it is made;

    (2) the communication is addressed to an officer or a board, or
    superior, having some interest or duty in the matter,
    and who has the power to furnish the protection sought; and

    (3) the statements in the communication are made in good faith
    and without malice.

    All of them can be held liable for the crime.

    The language of Art. 360 of the RPC is plain. It lists the persons
    responsible for libel:

    Art. 360. Persons responsible. Any person who shall publish, exhibit, or cause the publication or exhibition of any defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be responsible for the same.

    The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial publication, shall be responsible for the defamations contained therein to the same extent as if he were the author thereof.

    The claim that they had no participation does not shield them from liability. The provision in the RPC does not provide absence of participation as a defense, but rather plainly and
    specifically states the responsibility of those involved in publishing newspapers and other periodicals. It is not a matter of whether or not they conspired in preparing and
    publishing the subject articles, because the law simply so states that they are liable as they were the author.

    –Tenshi F —

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