In a move to correct Aiko Melendez’s statement that the libel case filed against her by her ex-boyfriend Bulacan Mayor Patrick Neil F. Meneses was dismissed, Mayor Meneses’s camp sent PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) a letter clarifying that the case is “currently pending preliminary investigation proceedings.”
Also named as respondents, along with Aiko, are Ogie Diaz, Cezar Gella, Pete Ampoloquio, and Ronald Rafer.
In the correspondence, penned March 26, 2012 and received by PEP on April 13, 2012, the complainant’s party—represented by Kapunan Garcia and Castillo Law Offices—pointed out that Aiko’s statements confirming the case’s dismissal is “erroneous.”
The claims the actress made regarding the status of the libel suit initially came out in an interview by Paparazzi Showbiz Exposed on March 3, 2012. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
In the March 3 interview, Aiko stated, “Nag-motion to transfer kami from Bulacan [Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan] to DOJ [Department of Justice]. And then we got a resolution that the case was dismissed noong November  pa.”
The libel case, which turns a year old this month, was originally assigned to Bulacan Associate Prosecution Attorney (APA) Romeo Conge for preliminary investigation.
In the course of the proceedings wherein counter-affidavits and pleadings were filed, Aiko sought the change of venue for the case, from the OPP of Bulacan to the DOJ for preliminary investigation. She alleged that there was bias on the part of the OPP of Bulacan where Meneses is mayor of Bulacan, Bulacan.
On October 28, 2011, DOJ granted the actress’ motion for transfer, which was received by the OPP of Bulacan on December 20, 2011. Subsequently, the OPP of Bulacan endorsed the records of the case to the DOJ on December 22, 2011.
Following the order to relocate the venue to the DOJ, the case landed on State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez of DOJ for reinvestigation.
Prosecutor Suarez conducted a hearing on Feburary 22, 2012 after issuing subpoenas for the holding of the preliminary investigation and reinvestigation.
It was only during the February 22 hearing that the respondents Aiko, Ogie, Pete, and their respective counsels who were the present, found out about a Joint Resolution signed by APA Conge on November 14, 2011 and approved by Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor Alfredo Geronimo on November 25, 2011.
The Joint Resolution recommended that the libel cases against Aiko, Ogie, and Cezar Gella be dismissed, and that Pete Ampoloquio and Ronald Rafer be charged with libel.
In the letter sent by Mayor Meneses’s lawyers to PEP, they stressed that “as the DOJ acquired jurisdiction over the case to conduct preliminary investigation anew, the Joint Resolution is a mere scrap of paper that cannot bind the DOJ, being a superior authority over the OPP of Bulacan.”
The letter stated as well that on the March 14, 2012 hearing attended by Mayor Meneses and counsel, also by the lawyers of Aiko, Ogie, and Pete, Prosecutor Suarez “confirmed that the Joint Resolution is not binding on the DOJ.”
In conformity thus with DOJ’s granting of the motion for transfer on October 28, 2011, the preliminary investigation and reinvestigation will proceed before the DOJ under Prosecutor Suarez.
This Ogie’s lawyer, Atty. Ramon Quintin Allado, confirms.
In reply to PEP’s request to clarify whether the libel case is still pending preliminary investigation, Atty. Allado said via email sent today, April 16: “While it is true that the Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor’s Office had issued a Joint Resolution dismissing the cases against Melendez, Gella and Diaz while finding probable cause against Ampoloquio and Rafer—the same is not deemed effective, given that the DOJ has already taken jurisdiction over the case by virtue of the order transferring venue to it.”
PEP called the office of Prosecutor Suarez at the DOJ today, April 16, to verify the aforementioned facts.
The office confirmed that the libel case against Aiko, Ogie, and company is still pending preliminary investigation and reinvestigation.