Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hagedorn sues journalists for libel -- Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

A local mayor recently filed libel complaints against two editors, a columnist, and the circulation managers of two tabloids.

Puerto Princesa City mayor Edward Hagedorn alleged that the tabloids published columns and articles, which were malicious, defamatory, and damaging to his name and reputation. The articles exposed him to public hatred, contempt and ridicule by imputing to him certain criminal acts, such as the recent killing of hard-hitting broadcaster Fernando Batul.

Charged before the Puerto Princesa City Prosecution Office were Joey Galicia Venancio, columnist; Erny Baluyot, editor; and Edwin Alcala, of the tabloid Police Files Tonite; and Joe Dalde, editor in chief and Lenie Venancio, circulation manager of the tabloid Hataw.

Less than a week after murder took place, the Philippine National Police claimed it has “solved” the case with the arrest of police officer Aaron Golifardo of the Palawan police force. Three witnesses identified Golifardo as Batul’s killer.

The family and colleagues of Batul, believe though, that Hagedorn could be behind Batul’s slay. Batul has consistently criticized Hagedorn on air when the former was still alive.

Other allegations that Hagedorn listed in his complaint are his alleged involvement in the killing of Rev. Paul Domingo, a pastor of the United Church of the Philippines, in August last year; the sabotage of the helicopter of Gov. Joel Reyes, causing it to crash in 2004; the killing of former mayor Dennis Socrates; and his having formed a commando army headed by a certain Tantan Anicete.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility tried to get the reactions of Hataw and Police Files Tonite editorial heads, but they could not be reached as of this writing.

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