i honestly think that if lolit's lawyer were even slightly brilliant, she would have won the case if the two guys she described as gay men pursued it. article 353 of the revised penal code defines libel as a public and malicious imputation of a vice, crime or defect. criminal law is all about elements, and in this particular case, the elements of libel are:
1) the imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another;
2) publication of the imputation;
3) identity of the person defamed; and
4) existence of malice.
the 2nd and 3rd elements are present. the 4th element is already presumed, by the mere publication of it. however, for malice to be presumed, the statement should in fact be libelous. the subsequent article states that "every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown". so for the fourth element to be present, the first one -- that something discreditable has been said of another -- should be present.
in this particular instance, piolo and sam bewailed the label gay. they said rather plainly that they are not gay. and by saying they are gay, lolit made a libelous remark against them. going back to the definition of libel, the label should be any of the following: that it be a crime, a vice, or a defect.
if lolit said that piolo and sam were murderers, that clearly would have been libel because murder is a crime defined in the philippines. but being gay is not. we do not live in singapore, or malaysia, or a middle eastern country which has sodomy laws and frowns down upon same-sex acts. is being gay a vice? hmmm... this may be a subject of debate, but recent studies will probably show that it is not abnormal, it is not a disease, and it is not communicable. the vice must expose the person to ill-repute. but there are a lot of gay men in philippine society whom we hold in high esteem, so this would not succeed as an argument as well. being a womanizer can't be considered a vice either because we have so many important people who have planted their seeds in many gardens, in a manner of speaking. so is being gay a defect? oh the gay and lesbian community will be up in arms if it were so. the gains they've made in educating a largely bigoted public about homosexuality would be belittled if gayness were considered a defect.
in lacsa v. IAC, 161 SCRA 427, the court said that for libel to have been committed, "words are calculated to induce the hearers to suppose and understand that the person or persons against whom they were uttered were guilty of certain offenses, or are sufficient to impeach their honesty, virtue, or reputation, or to hold the person or persons up to public ridicule." has lolit's claims of seeing piolo and sam together at the lobby of sofitel having dinner or lunch or whatever, and acting really sweet, suggesting that they might be gay (in fact, as i understand, lolit doesn't even say that piolo and sam are gay, but merely hints that by stating they appeared to be intimate), exposed the two to disrepute?
it would have been interesting, really, to see the case take its normal course. trial practice is boring and dreary, but the appellate process, when you have opportunities to question the establishment and develop interesting arguments to win a case is more mentally rewarding. i don't know whether i miss that. those opportunities come very few and far between. out of the thousands of cases in its docket, the supreme court only hears oral arguments on one or two, and high-caliber lawyers twist arms and everything else to wear that toga and speak before the court. like i always say, it's not ally mcbeal. it's not LA law. it's not the practice. disabuse yourselves of the fantasy.
work sydney Counter