Lawyer of Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby narrates settlement with Lolit Solis

by Julie E. Bonifacio
May 26, 2008
Atty. Joji Alonso (center) gives an account of the events that led to Lolit Solis's (not in photo) retraction of her article on October 15, 2007, which claimed that she saw Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby together in a "romantic" moment.

Sa unang pagkakataon ay inilahad ni Atty. Joji Alonso ang full account kung paano nagsimula ang pagkakaayos ng libel case na isinampa ng mga kliyente niya mula sa ABS-CBN Star Magic na sina Piolo Pascual at Sam Milby laban sa TV host-talent manager na si Lolit Solis, pati na sa entertainment editor ng Pilipino Star Ngayon na si Veronica Samio.

Matatandaang sinampahan ng libel case nina Piolo at Sam sina Lolit at Veronica dahil sa isinulat ni Lolit sa kanyang column na nakita niyang "naglalampungan" ang dalawang matinee idols sa poolside ng Sofitel Hotel noong October 12, 2007.

"Para sa akin, matagal na yung pinaabot pa nila ng seven months bago gumawa ng retraction si Lolit. Kasi from the start... Kasi ganito ‘yan, kung gusto mong magdemanda, hindi mo naman kailangang magpadala ng demand letter. Puwedeng mag-file ka agad. And ang idea there is to send muna a demand letter para sana wala nang kaso. But, unfortunately, hindi nga naging ganun kaya tumagal. So me, personally, if you ask me, I knew it will end that way," lahad ni Atty. Joji sa panayam sa kanya ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sa Baang Coffee sa T. Morato last Friday, May 23.

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Paano nag-umpisa ang pagbibigay ng retraction ni Lolit at paghingi nito ng apology kina Piolo at Sam?

"Ganito yun, remember we went to the Department of Justice [DOJ]? We made a courtesy call kay Secretary [Raul] Gonzalez... It was a Thursday. Tapos that same night, tumawag si Robbie Tan [Seiko Films producer] sa akin. Robbie and I worked together with my movie before, Minsan Pa, siya yung distributor namin, yung Seiko.

"Tapos sabi ni Robbie, ‘Joji, hindi ba talaga maaayos ‘yan?' Sabi ko, ‘Rob, kilala mo naman ako. I always believe that the best way to approach things is magkasundo ‘no?' Sabi niya, ‘O, di sige, tatawagan ko si Lolit.' Sabi ko, ‘Para saan?' Ginanun ko muna. Sabi niya, ‘Para magkasundo na kayo. Are you okay to meet with her?' Sabi ko, ‘I'm okay. Wala akong problema at all. That's most welcome. But, ano ang pag-uusapan,' di ba? Ganun muna yung question ko.

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"And then, sabi ni Robbie, ‘What do you want ba?' Sabi ko, ‘Nothing has changed.' We still want a retraction.' And then, sabi ni Robbie, ‘O, sige. I will call her up.' Then after an hour or so, tumawag siya ulit. ‘O, ayan nakausap ko na si Manay Lolit. Ah, she's ready to retract.' Yun ang language ni Robbie.

"Kasi matagal na raw silang nag-uusap-usap every now and then. Na para bang, ‘Lolit, you might want to consider na finding a way to conclude this.' So, ganun. Pero hindi ko na alam ang iba nilang pinag-usapan. But we've been talking.

"That night, sinabi sa akin ni Robbie that Lolit is ready to retract. Sabi ko, ‘Sige. On that premise, let's meet.' So yun, kaya the next day agad, lunch time, sa Greenhills," mahabang kuwento ng abogado nina Piolo at Sam.

By that time, aware na raw sina Piolo at Sam na may nagaganap na hakbang para magbigay na ng retraction si Lolit.

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"Aware sila. I always tell them naman. It's my job to advise them what will happen next," sabi ni Atty. Alonso.

Nang kausap daw ni Atty. Alonso si Robbie ay ipinarating niya agad ito sa Star Magic.

"I communicated it through sina Mr. [Johnny] Manahan. I texted also Sam and Piolo that I will be meeting Lolit the next day."

Ano ang sabi nila?

"Talk lang naman yun, e. Wala namang agreement or anything pa. But before I went there, meron na akong isinulat na language for the retraction. Yun ang ginawa ko. Nag-meet kami the next day. Tapos, yun. Pinag-usapan na namin ngayon yung language, kami nina Lolit, si Robbie, si Ate Vero [Veronica Samio], and si ano, Atty. [Noel] Malaya."

Kumusta ang mood noong magharap-harap sila?

"E, wala naman," sagot ni Atty. Alonso. "Hindi naman kami nag-aaway sa ano, friendly naman yung environment ever since. Si Lolit pa nga, ‘Attorney,' gumanun pa siya the first time we've met sa pag-file ng counter-affidavit."

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THE RETRACTION. Pagkaupo raw nila ay walang inilatag na mga kondisyones si Atty. Joji kay Lolit na magpapabor sa kanyang mga kliyente.

"Wala namang ganun. Kain muna kami. And then, after eating lunch sabi ni Robbie, ‘O, ano, pag-usapan na natin.' I will not talk about the other things that transpired, kasi amin na lang yun. But yun, ni-lay down ko ang cards ko sa table. Sabi ko, ‘Alam ko that Lolit is willing to apologize, but I need the retraction for this to end.'

"Alam din naman ni Atty. Malaya yun. Atty. Malaya is a fraternity brother of my partner in the law firm. See? It's a small world talaga. I mean, among lawyers, hindi kami nag-aaway din."

Ano ang naging sagot ni Lolit sa sinabi niya?

"Depende raw sa tenor ng retraction. So, I read out the tenor of the retraction I wrote, hindi acceptable. Huwag ninyo na lang itanong kung ano ang inilagay ko doon!" natatawang kuwento ni Atty. Joji.

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"So, I revised. I rewrote it again and I read it to them again. Hindi pa rin acceptable. That was the third. Sabi ko, ‘Okay, if you don't want the sentence,' Eto yung particular sentence na ayaw nila, pinalitan ko. That's when I put the words ‘there is no factual basis.' Sinimplify ko na.

"Sabi ni Atty. Malaya, hindi pa rin daw yun acceptable. That day, hindi pa rin yun acceptable. ‘Well, Biboy [Atty. Malaya], I'm sorry. But that's the best I can do. Anything less than that... I cannot accept.'

"So, sabi niya, ‘Sige, we talk among ourselves muna.' So, I left. Si Atty. Malaya, Lolit and Ate Vero, nag-usap sila. Si Robbie, wala na. Umalis na rin si Robbie. So, that was Friday. Saturday nothing happened. Sunday nothing happened. Monday, tumawag si Robbie. Sabi niya, ‘I think Lolit will accept it already.' ‘Okay, just tell me na lang when,' sabi ko. Then sabi niya, ‘Sige, I call you tomorrow. I will know the finality either tonight or tomorrow.'

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"Tuesday, wala pa rin daw. Hindi pa rin daw sila nagkakausap. Sabi ko, ‘It's okay Rob, I'm not in a hurry. Whenever they're ready, basta alam naman nila ang bottom line ko.' Namin pala! That was also the acquiescence of Sam and Piolo and sina Mr. Manahan and Mariol [Alberto of Star Magic], ‘no?

"And then, Wednesday, San Pablo, Laguna ako. I was on my way to San Pablo. Yun, when it was about lunch time, my phone rang. Si Robbie, sabi niya, ‘O, Joji, okay na.' Sabi ko, ‘Sigurado ka, Rob? Akala ko ba hindi acceptable yung tenor na yun?' And then he said, ‘Hindi, okey na.' Sabi ko, ‘Ah, I will only believe it when Atty. Malaya calls me.'

"And soon enough, after pagbaba ko ng phone, may text na si Biboy. ‘May I call?' nakalagay. So, text ako, okay. Tapos tumawag si Biboy. ‘O, Joji, we're ready.' So, yun.

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NOT AFTER THE MONEY. Magkano ang hiningi nilang damages that time?

"Wala," mariing sabi ni Atty. Joji. "It's not naman the money that we're after here, e. Ano lang yun, that was part lang of the...to make it a case. Kasi talagang may danyos perhuwisyo naman talaga ang kaso."

Ang Star Magic daw ang nagbayad kay Atty. Joji ng kanyang professional fee.

Samantala, may mga nagkuwentsyon naman kung bakit nagpunta pa sila sa DOJ. Hindi raw ba sila confident sa case?

"Hindi naman," paglilinaw ni Atty. Joji. "In fact, we express nga our confidence in the office of the secretary."

May balitang naalarma raw sila nang malaman nilang diumano'y malakas o may kapit sa DOJ si Lolit kaya sila nagpunta doon. Totoo ba ito?

"Varied reasons na yun. We went really there to give a courtesy call Kailangan pa ba? Ah, we just felt it was necessary," sabi ni Atty. Alonso.

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Atty. Joji Alonso (center) gives an account of the events that led to Lolit Solis's (not in photo) retraction of her article on October 15, 2007, which claimed that she saw Piolo Pascual and Sam Milby together in a "romantic" moment.
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