Anatomy of an Internet Libel Case

The recent incoming link from Abe’s site alerted me to his post on surviving a libel suit. Considering that these cases had been resolved and there’s no appeal/reconsideration (at least none that I know of), let’s have a discussion for purely reportorial and academic reasons.

The brief introduction on this series is Part I.

There were actually two complaints for libel – one for each of the two main respondents – before the Pasig City Prosecutor’s Office. The complaints are based on Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, which defines libel as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. The basic facts of the libel cases are discussed in Part II.

The main respondent claimed that the complaint is merely a part of a sinister design to harass former employees who are trying to make their living away from the said company. Only members have exclusive access to, and every member is open and free to express his thoughts in whatever topic. The allegedly libelous statements or comments are merely expressions of outbursts common among Filipinos and that they are figures of speech. The respondent also claimed that there is yet no law that considers that posting of internet chat messages through internet forum a publication to constitute the crime libel. The defenses of the alleged individual authors, as well as the ruling of the Investigating Prosecutor as against them, is discussed in Part III.

RP Nuclei Solutions, Inc. (plogHost) was impleaded as a co-respondent because it is allegedly the “owner” of the internet forum The complainant subsequently acknowledged that RP Nuclei Solutions, as a juridical entity, may not properly be charged with libel. The complainant, however, impleaded Abe Olandres in place of RP Nuclei Solutions. The ruling of the Investigating Prosecutor in favor of Abe is discussed in Part IV.

RP Nuclei Solutions filed a counter-charge for perjury, alleging that it is the owner of plogHost and, as such “web host”, it leases its servers to registered owners of websites or web logs (“blogs”), among others, and that a “web host” is entirely different from the registered owner of a website or blog. The countercharge of perjury, as well as the ruling of the Investigating Prosecutor on this matter, is discussed in Part V.

We will do an analysis in Part VI, and we will finish this as soon as we have the time.

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