By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday lauded the Supreme Court for affirming with finality the conviction of Ilonggo blogger Manuel Mejorada who accused him overpricing the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), which the court found libelous.
Mejorada will serve an imprisonment of two years and four months and one day, as minimum, to four years and two months, as maximum, to be served simultaneously.
The convicted blogger is expected to serve his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison pursuant to Republic Act 10575 or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013.
Drilon thanked the High Court for its decision.
The libel case stemmed from a series of articles written by Mejorada alleging that Drilon overpriced the construction of the ICC.
Mejorada is also facing five more libel charges.
It was also Mejorada who filed a graft case against Drilon before the Ombudsman, which was later dismissed for lack of merit.
The Iloilo Convention Center, now a prime convention destination in Western Visayas, is credited for Iloilo’s rise as a premier Meeting, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) hub in the country.
According to Drilon, pursuant to the rules, the records of the case will be remanded to the Pasay Regional Trial Court, which will subsequently order Mejorada to serve his sentence.
“Acting on petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated 10 June 2019 which denied the petition for review on certiorari, the Court resolves to deny the motion for reconsideration with finality, no substantial argument having been adduced to warrant the reconsideration sought,” according to the resolution issued by the Supreme Court’s Second Division last September 2, 2019.
The High Court in its earlier ruling said that as “correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals, the elements of libel were sufficiently established by the prosecution.”
It further said that “it was not necessary to establish that the publication was motivated by any malice since the articles were not privileged communication or fair comments; thus, malice is presumed.”