Press Release
August 7, 2019

SC upholds conviction, jail term for libel case vs Drilon critic

The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and imprisonment of an Ilonggo blogger over libelous social media posts against Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

In a resolution dated June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court's Second Division affirmed a September 18, 2018 decision of the Court of Appeals finding Manuel Mejorada guilty of four counts of libel.

Last September 2018, the CA affirmed with modification the RTC decision finding Mejorada guilty of the offense of libel charged in each of the four cases, and sentenced him in each of the cases to suffer imprisonment of two years and four months and one day, as minimum, to four years and two months, as maximum, to be served simultaneously.

"After a judicious study of the case, the Court resolves to deny the instant petition and affirm the September 18, 2018 decision and the March 7, 2019 resolution of the Court of Appeals," the resolution states.

"As correctly ruled by the CA, the elements of libel were sufficiently established by the prosecution," it adds.

Drilon welcomed the decision of the court against Mejorada. "We welcome the High Court's decision. I have nothing else to leave behind except my reputation, so I am grateful for this favorable decision," Drilon said.

The High Court further said that "it was not necessary to establish that the publication was motivated by any malice since the articles were not privileged communication or fair comments; thus, malice is presumed."

The High Court also agreed with the CA in affirming the penalty of imprisonment rather than a fine.

"The Court did not remove the discretion of the trial courts to impose imprisonment if, under the circumstances, a fine was insufficient to meet the demands of substantial justice or would depreciate the seriousness of the offense," the court said.

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