The Pasay City Regional Trial Court has convicted anew a social media blogger who has been ordered arrested for posting libelous articles against Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Facebook.
This time, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 188 found Manuel Mejorada, guilty of four counts of online libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act No. 10175.
The court also issued a warrant of arrest against Mejorada, even though an outstanding arrest warrant has already been issued in 2020 after the Supreme Court affirmed with finality the court’s earlier decision that also found him guilty of four counts of libel and sentenced him to two to four years of imprisonment.
In the 28-page decision of Presiding Judge Wilhelmina Jorge-Wagan dated January 25, 2021, the court found that four out of five of Mejorada’s Facebook post against Drilon is libelous.
“Mejorada did not pause to recalculate his opinions after his complaint was dismissed, but relentlessly went on public reiterating the same accusations of corruption and defaming the private complainant. Such is a ‘clear indication of his intent to malign’,” the court said.
The court also said that while Mejorada has the right to air his grievances against public officials as well as in the discharge of their official functions, it should be in the context of “established facts, or can be reasonably inferred from the facts.”
“It is beyond cavil the identity of the person defamed in the Facebook posts are manifestly mentioned,” the court added.
Drilon welcomed the Pasay City court’s ruling and said Mejorada should face the consequences of his actions and must serve his sentence.
“I welcome the Pasay Regional Trial Court’s decision that found Mejorada guilty beyond reasonable doubt of libel. This new decision and the earlier ruling by the Pasay RTC only validates the fact that Mejorada’s allegations against me are complete lies and fabrications,” Drilon said in a statement.
“It saddens me, and it is an insult to the court, that the man has no respect for the rule of law. Despite his conviction, Mejorada did not stop from fabricating vitriolic and false accusations against me and he is now hiding from the authorities to avoid serving his jail term,” he lamented.
Mejorada’s earlier alleged on his Facebook posts that the construction of some of the infrastructure pushed and supported by the senator in Iloilo City, including the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and a circumferential road, a boulevard, where all riddled with corruption.
However, in 2015, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed his accusations against Drilon as “baseless and malicious.”