By Jeffrey Damicog
Businessman Wilfredo Keng has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow him to file additional evidence in the cyberlibel complaint against popular news website Rappler.
Assistant State Prosecutor Jeanette Dacpano, a member of the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint, said Keng lawyers have filed a motion yesterday seeking leave to file more evidence.
Dacpano said the panel will issue a resolution next week whether to grant or not Keng’s appeal considering he should have filed the additional evidence even before.
She explained that the respondents have already filed yesterday their respective rejoinders and, because of this, the panel should already be wrapping up at this stage of the preliminary investigation.
The case stemmed from an article published by Rappler on its website on May 29, 2012 and written by then Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos titled “CJ using SUVs of ‘controversial’ businessman” about the sport utility vehicle of Keng being used by the then late Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The story was published when Renato Corona was still undergoing an impeachment trial.
Under the complaint, the respondents are accused of committing libel under Section 4, paragraph (c), subparagraph (4) of Republic Act 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Aside from Santos, those who have been named as respondents include Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa and Rappler directors Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, Glenda Gloria, James Bitanga, Felicia Atienza, and Dan Alber De Padua.
The article reported that Corona has been found using in both official and unofficial functions a black Chevrolet Suburban, an SUV found owned by Keng who has been cited by Forbes Magazine as one of the richest Filipinos in 2010.
Aside from this, the story also cited an intelligence report that said Keng had been under surveillance by the National Security Council for alleged involvement in illegal activities which include human trafficking and drug smuggling.
It added that the document also showed Keng was involved in a murder case for which he was never jailed as the article suspects that this could be connected to the death of Manila Councilor Chika Go in 2002 where Keng had been identified as a mastermind.