NBI arrests ex-Iloilo official to serve jail time for libelous posts vs Sen. Drilon

Published November 22, 2021, 2:32 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada, who will begin serving jail time after having been convicted of libel filed by Senator Franklin Drilon, who hails from Iloilo.

In a November 22 post over Facebook, Mejorada’s partner confirmed that he was arrested around 9:20 a.m. by the NBI Special Operations Group.

“He was arrested on the basis of a warrant of arrest to serve his sentence for the libel conviction with Drilon as complainant,” Mejorada’s partner announced.

Mejorada’s libel conviction stemmed from his blog, social media posts and newspaper column accusing Drilon of funding anomalous projects in the city and province of Iloilo when the latter was senate president during the presidency of Benigno S. Aquino III. It included the Iloilo Convention Center and the Iloilo Circumferential Road.

Mejorada was initially found guilty of libel by Pasay City’s Regional Trial Court (RTC-Branch 118) in 2017. The court also sentenced him to serve a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years.

Mejorada tried to appeal the decision, but the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the lower court’s decision in 2018.

By 2019, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed Mejorada’s prison sentence.

Mejorada, a native of neighboring Capiz province, previously worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Iloilo City. He served as provincial administrator of the late Iloilo governor Niel Tupas Sr., who was Drilon’s long-time political ally.

But Mejorada has gained notoriety in both the city and province of Iloilo. He particularly earned the ire of local residents when he dubbed Iloilo as the “bird’s nest of corruption” in a 2014 senate hearing.