Transportation Secretary Bautista Files Libel Cases Before the Department of Justice Over Alleged Defamatory Remarks

18 October 2023

The Department of Transportation (DOTR) Secretary JAIME JIMENEZ BAUTISTA has filed legal actions in the Department of Justice (DOJ) against two individuals over alleged libelous remarks.

A Complaint-Affidavit has been filed against MR. MARIO S. VALBUENA JR, Chairman of the transport group MANIBELA, and JOHN and JANE DOES, whom he suspects of spreading potentially defamatory comments. These comments reportedly aired on the TV show '24 Oras' and are alleged to have subsequently found their way onto Secretary Bautista contends these remarks have tarnished his reputation, subjecting him to public scorn and disgrace. The legal accusations allege two counts of Libel By Means Of Writings or Other Similar Means, as described in Article 355 in conjunction with Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Since these remarks were alleged to have been shared via a computer system, the complaint states that they may also be subject to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Additionally, it is alleged that MR. VALBUENA should face charges of Grave Threats, as described in Article 282 of the RPC, an offense that may be heightened by the use of information and communications technology, as outlined in Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Furthermore, Secretary Bautista has lodged a Complaint-Affidavit against MR. IRA V. PANGANIBAN, a recognized columnist for The Manila Times and a news anchor and program host for Rajah Broadcasting Network, Inc.'s DZRJ 810 AM. This complaint is in relation to an alleged post by MR. PANGANIBAN on his public Facebook page, hinting at potential financial improprieties within the DOTR. The statement in question allegedly reads: "Rumors are circulating around the DOTR. Whispers suggest that the funds Guadiz receives might be funneled to Bautista!!!" This legal action alleges at least one count of Libel By Means Of Writings or Other Similar Means as described in Article 35 in relation to Article 353 of the RPC. Due to its online dissemination, the complaint states that the statement may also be examined under Republic Act No. 10175, commonly referred to as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

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