Mabatid files libel case

CEBU City Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid has filed a libel complaint against three persons including two of her former running mates in Partido Barug for allegedly making defamatory statements against her.

In an affidavit submitted before the Office of the City Prosecutor on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, Mabatid claimed that the “malicious imputations” of former Apas barangay captain Ramil Ayuman and ex-Cebu City councilor Pastor Alcover caused her to suffer serious anxieties, sleepless nights and unbearable worries.

Along with Ayuman and Alcover, Mabatid filed a libel complaint against a female City Hall employee who was one of three women who earlier complained against a division head for alleged sexual harrassment.

Mabatid asked for P5 million in moral damages to be jointly paid by the three respondents.

Mabatid claimed that Alcover began to express his “anger” towards her when she was “on top of the surveys and finally he (Alcover) lost in the actual election,” referring to the midterm elections last May when they both ran under Partido Barug which was then the local opposition party.

“He had been posting several defamatory statements and malicious imputations against me that I junked the candidates for the Cebu City Council of the Partido Barug PDP Laban for the North District and that I only secured my own candidacy, not with the whole slate and he also posted that I did commit vote buying and solicitation of campaign funds purposely to vilify my person and character,” said Mabatid in her complaint.

Ayuman, she said, also did the same thing by sharing Alcover’s “defamatory posts” on Facebook.

Mabatid also considered as “defamatory” a statement published in local newspapers quoting Ayuman as saying that “Mabatid should step down as chairman of the committee on Women, Children and Family affairs,” for playing a recording of a conversation between her and one of the sexual harrassment complainants during a privilege speech last Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The complainant (name withheld by SunStar) denied giving Mabatid permission to record their conversation.

“The conversation with the respondent was recorded and she gave her consent and approval of the recording where she categorically denied during the conversation that I did encourage or advise her to withdraw the case,” said Mabatid referring to the sexual harrassment case filed by three Cebu City Hall employees against Lorenzo Basamot, the former Kamputhaw barangay captain who is now the head of the Department of General Services’ records and archives management division.

Alcover and Ayuman shrugged off Mabatid’s complaints against them in a press conference held hours after the libel case was filed.

Alcover said that this was Mabatid’s way of trying to divert the sexual harrassment issue against Basamot, a known Mabatid supporter.

For his part, Ayuman bared plans to file a case against Mabatid for violation of the Anti Wire-Tapping Law for recording her conversation with one of Basamot’s alleged victims, allegedly without the victim’s consent.

Ayuman said that as part of their evidence against Mabatid, they will be asking for the transcript of Mabatid’s privilege speech and a copy of the recorded conversation from the Office of the Secretariat.

Ayuman and Alcover denied that their actions were politically motivated as Mabatid had claimed adding that they were only trying to help the victims.

Meanwhile, one of the sexual harrassment complainants told SunStar that she was not forced to file the complaint against Basamot.

She appealed to Mabatid to be on their side, instead of siding with Basamot, as they were the ones who got harrassed.

A day before Mabatid filed the libel complaint, Basamot also filed a libel case against the three City Hall employees before the City Prosecutor’s Office, Nov. 27.

Basamot said the sexual harassment issue arose when he and his staff went on a drinking spree at around 2 p.m. after a tree-planting activity of the Cebu City Government last Oct. 5.

When he got to the house of his staff, Basamot said that one of the complainants who was already drunk approached him and asked if he would buy her a cake since it was her birthday.

He told her that he would do so on one condition -- that she would allow him to kiss her on both cheeks. She said no, and Basamot said he did not insist.

“For the past few weeks, my reputation had been the subject of public innuendos and salacious gossip brought about by the publication of the affidavits of the first three respondents,” said Basamot in his libel complaint.

The City Legal Office investigating team has referred the matter to the Human Resource Development Office pursuant to Section 4 of Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 which states that “It is the duty of the employer or the head of the work-related, educational, or training environment or institution, to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.”

City Attorney Rey Gealon said that the law mandates the creation of a committee on decorum and the investigation of cases involving sexual harassment.

It will then be up to Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella whom to appoint as members of the committee, Gealon said. (JJL)