It’s final: Drilon’s critic Mejorada to be imprisoned for 4 years for libel

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed “with finality” the libel conviction of former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada for accusing Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon of corruption in connection with the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center, a road project and a ferry terminal.

In a recent 1-page minute resolution, the SC Special 2nd Division denied Mejorada’s motion for reconsideration on its June 10 resolution that upheld his conviction.

Mejorada raised “no substantial argument… to warrant the reconsideration sought.”

“No further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case. Let entry of judgment be issued immediately,” read the minute resolution signed by Deputy Division Clerk of Court Teresita Aquino Tuazon.

Prior to this, the Court of Appeals (CA) in its September 18, 2018 decision affirmed the February 1, 2017 decision of the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 118 sentencing Mejorada to four years and two months’ imprisonment for four counts of libel.

The SC in its June resolution cited the “accusatory character” of Mejorada’s Facebook and blog posts against Drilon. It added that malice is presumed under the law since Mejorada’s articles were not privileged communication or fair comments.

It also did not find fault in the RTC and the CA’s decision to sentence Mejorada to prison, even though Administrative Circular Number 08-08 provided that a fine is preferred in libel cases. It noted that trial courts have the “discretion… to impose imprisonment if, under the circumstances, a fine was insufficient to meet the demands of substantial justice or would depreciate the seriousness of the offense.”

Rabid fanatics of President Rodrigo Duterte are again using the Iloilo Convention Center issue after Drilon criticized the administration’s lavish spending on the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, particularly on a cauldron that cost roughly P55 million.

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