QC prosecutor’s office recommends filing of libel charges against former Speaker Alvarez

Published May 9, 2019, 2:51 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Chito Chavez

The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has recommended the aggrieved parties to file formal libel charges against former House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez for alleged defamatory statements leveled against the family of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio R. Floireindo, Jr.

In a six-page resolution, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza urged the filing of libel charges against Alvarez for supposedly painting “defamatory” and “malicious imputations” against Floirendo, who he accused of being a “land grabber.”

Rep Pantaleon Alvarez answers question during a press briefing in a hotel in Pasay city.Alvarez said death penalty should impose to reduce criminality in the county (Photo by Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin)
Pantaleon Alvarez
(Photo by Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin File Photo)

To recall that on March 21, 2018 press conference, Alvarez stated before media, “Hindi Floireindo apelyido ko para maging land grabber.”

The filing of libel charges against Alvarez stemmed from the latter’s tirades against the Floirendo family, which owns and operates Tagum Development Corporation (Tadeco).
Alvarez initiated the attacks against  Floirendo supposedly in an effort to nullify Tadeco’s contract with the government for the production and export of Cavendish banana planted in over 5,000 hectares of farmland.

The defamatory remarks were carried in both print, TV and online media, that the QC prosecutor notes, “facts which (Alvarez) has no capacity to know, and he and his family are land grabbers, is part of (Alvarez’s) deliberate effort to injure Floireindo’s reputation and character in the opinion of the people.

Alvarez’s words, “Hindi Floirendo apelyido ko para maging landgrabber” wrongfully imputes a crime, vice, or defect against Floirendo and his family and accused them as land grabbers, the resolution noted.

Floirendo noted Alvarez attacked not just his reputation, but also that of his father, Antonio O. Floireindo, Sr. and the rest of his family. Floirendo also noted that and his father had already passed way and would now be unable to personally address and confront the allegations made against him by Alvarez.

“Given the acrimonious relationship of the parties (Alvarez and Floirendo), the motives of (Alvarez) in making such statements, and that he has no actual malice in when he made the defamatory statement is highly suspect,” the prosecutor added.

The prosecutor said that Alvarez can ventilate his defense during the trial proper that his tirades against Floirendo can be considered fair comments since this “has nothing to do with complainant, being (a) member of Congress, or in the discharge of his function as a member of Congress.”

It was learned that the comment against Floirendo was made during a press conference, and not during a public hearing.

Alvarez, who once threatened to dissolve regional trial courts (RTCs), maintained that he was only giving comments based on his personal knowledge.

In its April 26, 2019 resolution, the Quezon City prosecutor recommended “that an information for Libel under Article 353 and 355 of the Revised Penal Code be filed against Alvarez.”