Richard Gutierrez, his twin brother Raymond, and their mother, Annabelle Rama, took turns yesterday afternoon, July 12, in expressing their disappointment over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the libel suit filed by the Zorro star against PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
The libel suit was dismissed by the DOJ—due to "lack of probable cause"—last June 30, although the resolution written by Acting Makati City Prosecutor Mary Jane W. Sytat was only received by PEP's legal counsel, Atty. Sandra Olaso-Coronel, last Thursday, July 9. (Click here to read related story.)
At the start of Showbiz Central, Raymond Gutierrez was given the opportunity by his co-hosts to share his thoughts about the dismissal of his brother's libel suit against PEP. Raymond was upfront in stating his dissatisfaction over the decision of DOJ.
"When we first heard about the news, it was very surprising," he began. "Because it started just a few months ago and we really thought we trusted the legal system in this country to file a case. We trusted them enough to give it time and to review everything thoroughly.
"Personally, I felt like they didn't because if they did, I don't think it would have been dismissed this early. Nakakagulat dahil mayroon pa silang pang-iinsulto sa kanilang statement from the DOJ, saying that my brother should not be 'onion-skinned'—balat-sibuyas daw ang kapatid ko. (Click here to read related story.)
"How dare anyone who's not in the industry make a comment like that? How dare you? Because you've never been in our shoes? Hindi mo alam kung what's it like to be a celebrity. All of us are on stage because we choose to be here. We choose to be in the public eye to work in this industry and we are open to public scrutiny."
He added, "Mga Kapuso, laitin n'yo na po ang pananamit ko, laitin n'yo na ang hitsura ko at ang trabaho ko. Kung hindi ako magaling mag-host, laitin n'yo ako. But if you're going to imply that I did something violent and if you're going...that I did something illegal, then I have every right to fight for my rights. And that's exactly what my brother did and we trusted the legal system of this country and, truthfully, wala silang nagawa.
"And for something as big as PEP and the Internet... Okay na kung TV or radio kasi limited 'yan, e, kung hindi mo napanood, not everything is uploaded on YouTube. But with PEP, millions of Filipinos from all over the world read this website. So, yung pagka-upload nila, sinabi nila yun, e, na nagkamali sila. So, we ask the DOJ to review this case again and we will file for this petition for review."
RICHARD'S TURN. Shortly after Raymond's statement, Richard himself sat down for an interview with Showbiz Central co-host Pia Guanio to give his opinion on the recent events that transpired. Pia immediately asked him his take on the issue at hand.
But before answering, Richard thanked his twin brother for his statement. "Well, 'Mond, very well said," he remarked.
Turning his attention to the dismissal of his case, Richard commented, "It's funny for me, it's ridiculously funny for me... Sinasabi na walang malisya yung isinulat sa akin at hind libelous? Uhm, kung inaral po nang husto ng Department of Justice yung kaso... Nakasulat po doon sa kaso na nilabas po ng PEP ang article na yun 4 p.m. [of March 29], around that time. Pero tumawag sila kay Leo Martinez ng umagang 'yon, tinatanong si Leo Martinez kung may nangyari ba at sinabi ni Leo Martinez na walang nangyari. E, bakit nilabas pa rin nila ang article and without consulting us, without asking our side?
"Pangalawa," continued Richard, "Ini-state ni Ms. Jo-Ann Maglipon na wala siyang kinalaman at hindi niya alam na na-upload na pala ang article na yun. Well, Ms. Jo-Ann Maglipon, kung hindi mo alam na may nagsusulat na sa website mo at nag-iimbento na ng mga articles, Ms. Jo-Ann Maglipon, I think you're doing a very ridiculous job being an editor-in-chief in PEP.
"Pangatlo, gusto ko sabihin na sinasabi nila bilang artista, hindi ka dapat masyadong sensitive. You do your job, and I'll do mine. Hindi n'yo alam, matagal na ako sa industriyang ito at matagal na din ang buong pamilya ko sa industriyang ito. Alam po namin kung ano ang difference ng public scrutiny at ng malicious intentions of making up such stories."
He then proceeded to say that he could take criticisms about his acting, but not when it's already "crossing the line" and damaging his reputation and his family.
"Puwede nilang sabihin nila na, 'Ay si Richard, yung show niya hindi maganda, hindi siya magaling umakting.' Kung pinatulan ko lahat ng sinulat sa akin, e, di sana ang dami ko nang kaso ngayon," said Richard.
PEP's lawyer Atty. Sandra Coronel, according to Pia, said that as actors in the public eye, they should learn to take the bad with the good. What is Richard's comment on this?
He said, "Marami nang nasabi sa akin tungkol sa akin, at marami na akong hindi pinatulan at marami na akong pinapalampas. Unang una, ayoko ng tsismis. Bihira n'yo akong makita dito sa Showbiz Central, di ba? Pero ngayon, gagawin ko ang tama at ipaglalaban ko kung ano ang tama.
"Mga Kapuso, gusto ko malaman ninyo, na kung saan man ito makarating, e, ibibigay ko ito sa courts of all courts, to the most high, kung saan man itong makarating. At least, masasabi ko, ipinaglaban ko kung ano ang tama at ipinaglaban ko sarili ko. Kung gusto nila patuloy na mang-api ng artista, sana hindi magpatalo ang mga artista.
"Yung legal system natin sa Philippines, sana aralin nang husto ang kaso kasi parang hindi naaral nang husto, e. Wala nga ni isang court hearing. Sana maaral lang nang husto para sa akin. Kasi I believe that we have a very strong case. Mayroon kaming witnesses at evidence. Ang PEP, wala," he pointed out.
What was his initial reaction when he learned that the case was dismissed?
"Siyempre nagulat ako," Richard answered. "Kakauwi ko lang from work, so siyempre nagulat ako at nagulat family ko. Kasi we believe that we have a very strong case and ngayon, sana dito sa legal matters na gagawin ng laywers namin... At sana mabigyan ng hustisya ng legal system ng ating batas dito sa Pilipinas."
Did the case's dismissal in any way diminish Richard's belief on the merit of his case?
"No," said Richard. "I believe that we have a very strong case and kung naaral lang nang husto... And prosecutor Sytat, you do your job, I do mine. Let's not cross the line. Sana po aralin n'yo ang kasong ibinigay namin sa inyo kasi parang hindi n'yo inaral, e."
The case will still fall under the DOJ whatever Richard's future legal actions may be. With this fact, what will Richard do?
"I'm gonna let my lawyer do all the legal matters and legal steps regarding this case. Right now, in my life, I feel very blessed. Sabi nila hindi na-damage ang reputation ko. Hindi na-damage yung reputation ko kasi ang supporters ko, patuloy akong minamahal at patuloy na naniniwala sa akin, kaya hindi nadamage ang reputation ko.
"I'm so blessed at ang dami kong projects na upcoming so I need to stay focused. Kung saan man hahantong ito, gusto ko na itong ilagay sa likod ko kung ano man hakbang magyayari, and I'll let my lawyer do all the major decisions. Para sa akin, I did my part at pinaglaban ko kung ano ang tama and I'm gonna move forward and stay focused," Richard ended.