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Attorney Ding So of the Bureau of Customs, petitioner vs. Erwin Tulfo, GR Nos.

161032 and 161176, September 2008 Facts In the column entitled Direct Hit published in the daily tabloid Remate, the said column was accusing Atty. Ding So of the Bureau of Customs of corruption. On the published article Atty. So was portrayed as an extortionist and a smuggler. Atty.Ding So of the Bureau of Customs filed a libel suit in four separate information against Erwin Tulfo, Susan Cambri, Rey Salao, Jocelyn Barlizo, and Philip Pichay of Remate. After trial, the Regional Trial Court found Tulfo guilty of libel. The CA affirmed the decision. ISSUES Whether or not Tulfo is guilty of false and malicious imputations in his column in Remate. Whether or not the assailed articles are privileged. Whether or not the assailed articles are fair commentaries. Ruling of the Case: 1. YES, For the ruling in Borjal case was not applied to this libel case: a. The case was based on a criminal case. b. There was sufficient identification of the complainant. c. The subject was not a private citizen, in this case, the subject is a public official. d. In this case it is not in the scope of fair commentaries on matters of public interest. 2. NO. The columns were mere trivialized and editorialized, the columns dont have evidences to substantiate the claims and attacks to Atty. So. The articles cannot be privileged simply because the target was a public official. a. Tulfo made no effort to verify the information given by his source or even to ascertain the identity of the person he was accusing. b. Tulfo abandoned the consistent with good faith and reasonable care when he wrote the subject articles. This is no case of mere error or honest mistake, but a case of a journalist abdicating his responsibility to verify his story and instead misinforming the public.

c. Tulfo had written and published the articles with reckless disregard of whether the same were false or not. d. Evidence of malice: The fact that Tulfo continuously published articles lambasting Atty. So after the commencement of an action. This is a clear indication of his intent to malign Atty. So, no matter the cost, and is proof of malice. 3. No. Tulfo failed to substantiate or even attempt to verify his story before publication. Moreover, he added facts based on his standards of veracity

a. The absence of details of the acts committed by the subject. These are plain and simple and mere gossip accusations, backed up by the word of one unnamed source.Journalists do not rely on fictions instead on truth. There must be some foundation to their reports; these reports must be warranted by facts. b. The columns of Tulfo are not fair and true. Tulfo failed to do research before making his allegations, and it has been shown that these allegations were baseless. Velasco, Jr., J: Elements of fair commentary (to be considered privileged): 1. That it is a fair and true report of a judicial, legislative, or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of a statement, report, or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by a public officer in the exercise of his functions; 2. That it is made in good faith; 3. That it is without any comments or remarks.