Calapan City Prosecutor dismisses libel charges against Howie Severino and GMA News Research head

The Office of the City Prosecutor of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, dismissed a complaint for libel filed by Doctor Idol Bondoc of the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital (OMPH) against GMA News Online Editor-in-Chief and GMA News and Public Affairs personality Howie Severino, and GMA News Research Head Florian Balmes for insufficiency of evidence.

Bondoc filed a complaint against Severino, Balmes, and his colleague, Dr. Rosinico Fabor, last September 5, 2011 after Fabor posted allegedly defamatory remarks on the comments section of a GMA News Online website article regarding the Ombudsman’s decision on a previous administrative case involving Bondoc. It was claimed by Bondoc that GMA News Online served as a vehicle for Fabon to destroy his reputation as a medical professional, and that he was not given equal opportunity to air his side of the story.

In the Resolution dated November 13, 2012, Deputy City Prosecutor Gabriel C. Alberto noted that the comments made by the readers of GMA News Online were not edited or subjected to prior approval before posting. Considering that neither Severino nor Balmes had the power to edit or approve comments on the website, and considering further that sufficient guidelines on proper posting of comments were available on the website, it was determined that they should not be held liable for any reactions sent by its readers.

Meanwhile, City Deputy Prosecutor Alberto found probable cause to charge Dr. Fabon with libel and recommended the filing of the corresponding information in court.

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