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Village chief sues Filipino blocktimer for libel

A village chief in Barili town, Cebu province, sued a radio blocktimer for libel last 14 June 2013, two months after the latter allegedly made a libelous comment.

Cebu province in the Visayas island group is some 1,000 kilometers south of Metro Manila.

Radio blocktimer Oscar Pasaporte told CMFR last 14 June 2013 that Patupat barangay (village) captain Leonida Gabales filed a libel case against him after he allegedly accused her of using the barangay hall as her home. A blocktimer is an individual who buys “blocks” of TV or radio time which he then uses to air a program for which he solicits sponsors.

Pasaporte anchors the blocktime program “Padayon Pilipino” (“Go on, Filipino”) that airs over dyDD El-Nuevo Bantay Radyo. He claims that his program is supported only by advertisements, but will soon be co-produced by the radio station. The program went off the air last 11 May 2013 during the elections but returned on 17 June 2013.

On 14 April 2013, Pasaporte mentioned in his program reports from the residents of Patupat that Gabales was living in the barangay hall with her family.

“(I raised the issue) because the barangay hall is government property (but) even her children are said to live there,” Pasaporte told CMFR. “I pass by the barangay hall when I go home to Barili and I do see that there is laundry hanging (outside to dry), even (washed) shoes.”

Gabales refused to talk to CMFR, but in a report in the Cebu daily The Freeman, the barangay captain denied the issue and was quoted as saying that she “was so saddened by the false and fabricated statements that Pasaporte made to blemish our name in the mind of thousands of radio listeners, while in fact I have my own house and my children were seldom to be seen in Barili since they were so busy with their studies in Cebu City (sic).”

The same report said Gabales had at least three witnesses to support her complaint.

Pasaporte, meanwhile, told CMFR he had not received a formal copy of the complaint, but will be ready to answer it as soon as he does.

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