Imus mayor sues poll rivals for libel

Published May 8, 2019, 4:01 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Anthony Giron 

IMUS CITY, Cavite — Mayor Emmanuel Leonardo Maliksi has filed libel and cyber-libel cases against former Mayor Homer Topacio Saquilayan and other election opponents for posting what he claimed were inimical signs against him on the streets of the city and on social media.

Saquilayan welcomed the cases, saying it gives him the chance to “have the day in court in ferreting out the truth about the big loans and other matters that the citizens have to know.”

Maliksi and Saquilayan, who are cousins, are vying for the third time for the mayor’s post in the May 13 elections.

Maliksi, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, made the unprecedented move against Saquilayan of Partido ng Pasang Pilipino (PMP) and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) on Tuesday.

He filed the cases, the first in Cavite province, at the Imus Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint against Saquilayan was received by Assistant City Prosecutor Seter de la Cruz-Cordez.

Also named respondents in the case were former City Councilor Shernan Jaro, his vice mayoral candidate, and some others that Maliksi named for the meantime as John Does and Jane Does.

The issues centered on the P2.76-billion loan made by the city government to put up a new government center, the operation of e-vehicles and other so-called administration’s “legacy” projects.

The loan that has yet to be received by the city government has been questioned by Saquilayan and his team in their campaign sorties and letters distributed to the citizens.

At the heart of the complaints are the posters that bore “Utang Na P2.76 Billion Bangkarote Ang Imus!!! Pahirap Sa Mamamayan…Pagtaas Ng Buwis Asahan!!! (The P2.76 Billion Imus Is Bankrupt!!! Burden to Citizens…Expect Taxes To Increase) and the letters of Saquilayan that cited the setback for the tricycle drivers and operators with the introduction of the E-Trikes and the street asphalting in the areas which the former mayor raised as highly questionable.

In the letters, Saquilayan used the words “tiwali” or dubious actions and “kurakot” (thief) in referring to the Maliksi administration.

Maliksi said Saquilayan’s signage and letters were without basis, and meant to destroy his performance and accomplishments and honor and integrity as a public servant.

Maliksi is seeking damages amounting to at least P15 million.

Reacting to the filing of the cases, Saquilayan said: “It’s a desperate move.They (referring to Maliksi and some members of his team) fear the truth, They cannot intimidate me, I will face them (in court), I can answer them with the people (supporters) behind me. The cases filed will not prosper as I am on the side of the truth.”