Davao businessman Dennis Uy's cyberlibel complaint against ABS-CBN Corp. over its news reports has been dismissed by the Davao City Office of the Prosecutor for lack of probable cause, reported the broadcaster.
Uy, a prominent ally of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, had claimed that the news organization's stories on the Malampaya deal, which quoted a graft complaint against him, were libelous.
But in a resolution dated May 5, the prosecutor said that a perusal of the articles showed they were not defamatory. "When viewed in its entirety and plain meaning, the articles do not impute a finding that impeaches the virtue, credit, and reputation of complainant Uy."
The prosecutor's office noted that the writer of the articles merely presented a "fair and true report of events" by quoting, among others, certain publicly available documents and information from the graft complaint filed against Uy.
The resolution added that the articles were "bereft of any personal comments or remarks made by the writer himself out from the said publicly available information."
Background to the case
Last week, outgoing Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also withdrew his libel and cyberlibel complaints against ABS-CBN Corp. and six other news organizations over their stories on the Malampaya deal.
ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, ABS-CBN News Digital chief and Executive Editor Lynda Jumilla, and journalist Anjo Bagaoisan had been named as respondents in Uy's complaint.
In their counter-affidavit, the executives denied that there was anything defamatory or malicious in their articles. They were based on the filing of a graft complaint before the Ombudsman against Cusi, Uy and others over the sale of Chevron’s stake in the Malampaya project to Uy's Udenna Corp.
The complainants alleged that anomalies in the Malampaya Project resulted in "a minimum of over P21 to 42 billion in total losses to the government.”
The story also mentioned Cusi’s earlier denial that the Malampaya deal was a “midnight deal”, alongside Udenna’s statement that the transaction was above board.