Two Davao City newsmen last week submitted their counter-affidavit to libel charges filed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
The respondents, Edgar Velez and Roger Balanza, assisted by their counsel, Luwill T. Al-ag, denied Nograles’ allegations in their affidavit filed before the Island Garden City of Samal Prosecutor’s Office.
They said they showed religious and sincere commitment to the truth and honest reporting in their 25 years of working as member of the media and used it as a medium to help the public.
They claimed to have published the articles but disagreed that they imputed derogatory and malicious remarks against Nograles, adding they were fair commentaries on matters of public interest.
“Under the current state of our jurisprudence, to be considered malicious, the libelous statement must be shown to have written or published with the knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of whether they are false or not,” the counter-affidavit stated.
The two added that the articles dealt with matters of public interests and which the public has the right to know.
The articles published on February 22-28 were based on a Commission on Audit report that the two said was a clear act of reporting deriving from a public document. They said other lines in the articles were quoted from Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Velez and Balanza also said in their counter-affidavit that for two decades, they never cease to uphold truthfulness in the reports and comments they made, and their articles were written with utmost consideration of truth and was done out of their responsibility to the readers who deserve the truth.
Regional State Prosecutor Antonio Arellano designated Prosecutor Neopito Magno to conduct the preliminary investigation after Davao City Chief Prosecutor Raul Bendigo earlier inhibited from the case. Nograles is Bendigo’s brother-in-law.
The respondents were earlier charged with libel for allegedly maligning Nograles’ reputation.
Nograles, in his affidavit, cites February 15-21 and February 22-28 issues of the Durian Post where he claimed Balanza destroyed his reputation.
He said the respondent identified him as a candidate for mayoralty race who engages in vote-buying to win the local election.
He added that there were other articles in the issues of Durian Post written mostly by Balanza that discredit, defame, dishonor, and destroy his reputation.
Contrary to established practices of journalism, he said there was no effort on the part of respondents to get his side on all stories. SUNSTAR DAVAO