Prosecutors have charged Caloocan Councilors Christopher E. Malonzo, Alexander V. Mangasar, Ricardo J. Bagus, and Marylou N. San Buenaventura Malonzo of defamation.
The San Juan City Prosecutor’s Office through Assistant City Prosecutor Marianne Taro said there was “malice” in the statements made by the defendants in their “Mata sa Mata” videos.
It has been found that the councilors published several videos alleging that Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan committed irregularities in the procurement and distribution of digital tablets for Caloocan students.
Malapitan dismissed the allegations, saying that this is “premature politicking” and that the videos were “used as a platform to promote the candidacy of the councilors.”
To protect the integrity of the Caloocan Digital Tablets Program, Malapitan, accompanied by his counsel, Rico Paolo R. Quicho, filed a criminal complaint for cyber libel against the councilors before the Caloocan Prosecutor’s Office.
The case was later transferred to San Juan City Prosecutor’s Office, which eventually resolved to charge the councilors with the said offense.
The councilors retorted that they were merely acting on the concerns of their constituents who they alleged to have raised concerns regarding the purchase and distribution of the digital tablets.
They also claimed that is well within their rights to comment on official actions of public officials.
The councilors reportedly did not present any proof of the existence of disgruntled constituents.
The videos showed the councilors specifically asserting that the digital tablets were substandard and that their distribution was delayed.
Councilors failed to convince Taro who decided in favor of Malapitan and ruled that the councilors’ actions reek of ill-motive and malice.
Taro in her resolution said that all the statements “are clearly defamatory imputations tending to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the complaint.”
The case was raffled to Branch 123 Regional Trial Court Caloocan under Judge Remegio M. Escalada Jr., who ordered the immediate arrest of the councilors.
On Nov. 19, 2021, the councilors applied for bail for their temporary release.
“We will let our lawyers handle that and we will focus on governance as we always do,” said Malapitan.