Law dean files li­bel case vs Bautista’s wife

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Aie Balag­tas See @ABalag­tasSeeINQ

The Univer­sity of Santo To­mas law dean, Nilo Div­ina, has filed a third li­bel case against lawyer Lorna Ka­punan, this time in­clud­ing Pa­tri­cia Bautista, the es­tranged wife of Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions Chair An­dres Bautista.

In a state­ment, Div­ina said Bautista and Ka­punan were li­able for 16 counts of li­bel un­der the Cy­ber­crime Preven­tion Act.

The case stemmed from the duo’s state­ment that pub­li­cized the dis­bar­ment com­plaint they had filed against him and 20 other lawyers, “many of whom had barely started prac­tic­ing.”

Div­ina said the al­le­ga­tions were “filled with false and highly defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions.”

“In fla­grant dis­re­gard of the con­fi­den­tial na­ture of dis­bar­ment pro­ceed­ings, they sum­moned and nar­rated to the me­dia the defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions in the com­plaint,” the state­ment read.

“There­fore, even if the said patently base­less com­plaint is now dis­missed, they have al­ready ir­re­versibly caused dam­age to the rep­u­ta­tion of com­plainants. For such, there can be no suf­fi­cient mon­e­tary rec­om­pense,” the state­ment said.


Div­ina said Ka­punan and Bautista also dis­played copies of the doc­u­ment to jour­nal­ists af­ter fil­ing the com­plaint in the Supreme Court.

Div­ina said el­e­ments of li­bel and cy­ber­li­bel are “present in this par­tic­u­lar case” be­cause the duo’s state­ment be­fore the pub­lic was “defam­a­tory.”

“Li­bel is com­mit­ted if the words are cal­cu­lated to in­duce the hear­ers to sup­pose and un­der­stand that the per­son or per­sons against whom they were ut­tered were guilty of cer­tain of­fenses or are suf­fi­cient to im­peach the hon­esty, virtue or rep­u­ta­tion or to hold the per­son or per­sons up to pub­lic ridicule,” Div­ina said.

Div­ina is de­mand­ing P50 million as moral dam­ages for “the grossly un­jus­ti­fied and grossly ma­li­cious im­pu­ta­tions made by re­spon­dents which have tainted com­plainants’ rep­u­ta­tions for com­pe­tence, hon­esty and ded­i­ca­tion to work.”

Lawyers of his firm are also de­mand­ing P10 million as ex­em­plary dam­ages.

Mean­while, Div­ina re­it­er­ated that he did not knowslain law stu­dent Ho­ra­cio “Atio” Castillo III per­son­ally and that he has “done ev­ery­thing in my power to pre­vent haz­ing and any form of vi­o­lence, which are against my­fun­da­men­tally held be­liefs.”

Con­science clear

In a sep­a­rate state­ment, Div­ina said al­le­ga­tions re­gard­ing his in­volve­ment in the Castillo haz­ing case have spi­raled for the past two weeks.

“The plot has evolved from some­one who was sim­ply asked to help con­vince Aegis mem­bers to sur­face to some­one who was try­ing to pro­tect the per­pe­tra­tors; to be­ing the very per­son who per­son­ally re­cruited Atio to the fra­ter­nity; to be­ing the owner of the house the fra­ter­nity mem­bers run to im­me­di­ately af­ter the haz­ing; and then to be­ing the driver of the ve­hi­cle that brought Atio to the hospi­tal.

“The lat­est mu­ta­tion of the story is that I pur­port­edly met Atio at my law of­fice on Sept. 12, there­fore, I must have known about the haz­ing and all myother acts are part of ef­forts to ob­struct jus­tice,” he said.

He said his con­science is clear that he has not “trans­gressed the law or breached any moral obli­ga­tion.”

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