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Businessman threatens to sue Davao newspaper

(CMFR/IFEX) - The chief executive officer of a local mining company has threatened to file a P100 million (approx. US$2.13 million) libel suit against a Davao newspaper.

Said Sayre, of the Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation (DMC), said he planned to file the suit against the "Mindanao Daily Mirror" after it published claims by three former DMC officials that Sayre had used falsified public documents "to collect substantial amounts from entities he'd entered into contract with without authority and resolution from the DMC Board," according to a 3 October 2008 report on the Filipino news website Sun.Star Davao. Community newspapers, which are run on shoestring budgets, may find themselves having to fold if convicted of libel and fined huge amounts.

The 1 October "Mindanao Daily Mirror" story also quoted former DMC corporate secretary Rex Angelo Gabrido as saying that Sayre "wanted him dead" after he refused Sayre's offer of P500,000 (approx. US$10,500) for his shares in the company.

Sayre called the report a "concocted and malicious rumor." He said the article was meant to discredit him and his firm and that Gabrido's wife worked for the newspaper.

But "Mindanao Daily Mirror" editor-in-chief Marietta Siongco explained that the story was based on a complaint filed by Gabrido and two other DMC former officials. She added that the "Mirror" was willing to publish the side of Sayre "anytime he wishes," according to Sun.Star Davao.

Gabrido, Habib Mahalail Hassan, former vice president of operations, and Hadji Nouh Daiman, former director of operations, filed complaints against Sayre before the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10, asking it to stop Sayre from "entering into any contract or agreement with any investors."

According to the Sun.Star Davao report, Siongco also confirmed that Gabrido's wife was working in the advertising department of the paper, but added that no employee could influence her to publish the story.

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