Part 2. Sarah Lahbati also sues Atty. Annette Gozon-Abrogar for perjury

by PEP Reportorial Team
Jul 16, 2013
Bukod sa grave coercion case na isinampa ni Sarah Lahbati laban kay GMA Films President Annette Gozon-Abrogar, nagsampa rin ng kaso perjury at libel ang young actress laban sa film and TV executive.

Maliban sa kasong grave coercion na isinampa ni Sarah Lahbati laban sa presidente ng GMA Films na si Atty. Annette Gozon-Abrogar at limang iba pa, naghain din ng kasong perjury ang young actress laban sa film and TV executive.

Kung ang grave coercion case ay isinampa ni Sarah sa City Prosecutor's Office ng Quezon City kahapon ng umaga, July 15, ang perjury case naman ay inihain niya sa City Prosecutor's Office ng Makati City kinahapunan.

Sa six-page sworn affidavit ni Sarah ay inilahad niya ang mga dahilan ng pagsasampa niya ng kasong perjury laban kay Annette.

Gaya ng affidavit niya para sa grave coercion case, sinimulan ni Sarah ang kanyang affidavit para sa perjury case sa pamamagitan ng pagpapakilala sa kanyang sarili, ang pagbanggit ng pagiging talent niya ng GMA Network, at kung paano niya nakilala ang respondent na si Annette.

Saad ni Sarah, “[O]n January 2013, on the light of the exposure I made to GMA top executives regarding the dealings of Icons Celebrity Marketing (ICONS) which secures management contracts with exclusive GMA talents through Respondent and the head of Talent Development and Management Department (TDMD) of GMA, Arsenio Baltazar III, she filed before this Honorable Office a criminal complaint against me for libel on the basis of my alleged defamatory tweets.


“That this is despite the fact that as a lawyer, she knew that Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the ‘Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012’ criminalizing ‘internet libel’ is still suspended by virtue of the indefinite Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Honorable Supreme Court;

“That relevantly in said complaint-affidavit which she subscribed and sworn to before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati, specifically in paragraph 15 hereof, she said, viz:

15. Respondent Lahbati’s libellous statements are untrue. I have never forced any GMA artist to enter into an agreement with ICONS. More particularly, I never forced respondent Lahbati to sign with ICONS. In fact, she and her mother were the ones who insisted that she be given more endorsements and more assistance in branding and imaging. She and her mother asked me whether ICONS can do a branding plan for her. This was the reason why I gave her the contact details of the executives of ICONS, a company that offers branding and imaging services to some GMA artists, after which I have no knowledge of their dealings with said company. XXX


“That by materially using those statements, she indicted me for libel. Thus, paragraph 21 of her complaint-affidavit states, viz:

21. XXX Such actuations depicting me as a corrupt executive of GMA and GMA Films are indubitably prompted by personal ill-will or spite and speak not in response to duty, but merely to injure my reputation. As held by the Supreme Court, malice implies an intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. It is present when it is shown that the author of the libellous or defamatory remarks made the same with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity thereof” (Brillante vs. Court of Appeals, 440 SCRA 541 [2004]) XXX

"NOT TRUE." “Relevantly, in said portions of her Complaint-Affidavit, Respondent alleged that me and my mother were the ones who inquired about ICONS and whether it can do branding plans for me;

“That this is NOT TRUE! I never knew ICONS until she and Arsenio Baltazar III, the head of TDMD, told me about it in a meeting they called for in Friday’s restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City sometime in late December 2011 or first week of January of 2012;


“As a matter of fact she ADMITTED this during the investigation made by GMA sometime in November of 2012 on this matter.

“Significantly, in paragraph 5 of said affidavit, she ADMITTED, viz:

5. XXX She inquired about how Aljur was able to land endorsements. We said that a branding plan was made for him and used hand in hand with his career plan and this was presented to endorsers. They inquired if they could have a branding plan too. We told them that during Aljur’s planning, ICONS created his branding profile as they were branding consultant for GMAAC artists at that time. However, they are no longer connected with GMAAC as branding consultants since they manage talents already also. They again said that they want to have a branding plan created for them. During that time, GMAAC was not “staffed” to do concrete branding plans for artists. We told them that if they want, they can check with ICONS if they can still do a branding plan for them but this is no longer under GMAAC. And that they try to ask ICONS if they can do it for free. XXX We gave them Bebong Munoz’s number. XXX


“That Arsenio Baltazar III concurred this statement in his response to the show cause directive he submitted to GMA dated November 21, 2012. Relevant portions of said letter-response state, viz:

1. XXXX I was the one who facilitated the meeting with Ms. Lahbati in December of 2011 to discuss to her TFMD’s strategy on how to build her as one of the stars of GMA. (no.1, paragraph 2 of the letter)

XXX During our meeting, the Lahbatis have expressed their desire that they be given support in branding and imaging to help boost the career of Sarah. One of the suggestions was to involve an external consultant to handle such tasks as there was no unit then in TDMD to address said concerns of the artists. We told them that if they want they can check with ICONS if they can help Sarah in that specific area of branding and imaging. XXX


INTERNET LIBEL. “Secondly, in 17 Complaint-Affidavit, she said:

17. XXX The internet may be used as a new medium for publication of libellous or defamatory communication. Defamation can occur in the internet through electronic mail (email), electronic bulletin boards, chat rooms, online magazines and websites, hence, may fall under “other similar means” of committing Libel.

“That to convince this Honorable Office that I can be indicted for internet libel, she stated in paragraph 18 of her Complaint-Affidavit, viz:

In the case of Chavez vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 168338, February 18, 2008), the Supreme Court recognized that the internet and other forms of broadcast media share similarities, hence, the rationale and regulations apply to both.

The emergence of digital technology—which has led to the convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and the computer industry—has likewise led to the question of whether the regulatory model for broadcasting will continue to be appropriate in the converged environment. Internet, for example, remains largely unregulated, yet the internet and the broadcast media share similarities, and the rationales used to support broadcast regulation apply equally to the internet. Thus, it has been argued that courts, legislative bodies and the government agencies regulating media must agree to regulate bot, regulate neither or develop a new regulatory framework and rationale to justify the differential treatment.


“That this statement of the Respondent in her Complaint-Affidavit is not only misleading in mockery of this proceedings but a blatant assertion of falsehood!;

“Foremost, there is NO such jurisprudence entitled Chavez vs. Court of Appeals tackling the issue of internet libel;

“The statement she quoted in paragraph 18 of her Complaint-Affidavit is not in Chavez vs. Court of Appeals but in the case of ‘Francisco Chavez vs. Raul M. Gonzales in his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Justice and National Telecommunications Commission, NTC’, G.R. 168338 decided by the Honorable Supreme Court NOT on February 18, 2008 but on February 15, 2008. However, said jurisprudence is not about internet libel but the issue is about violation of Anti-Wiretapping Act versus Freedom of the Press, Speech and Expression;

“Verification of said case would reveal that this involves the spread of “Hello Garci” tape, or the audiotape which contains the alleged conversation of Former President Arroyo and COMELEC Commissioner Garciliano directing the latter to manipulate the elections in her favour. Raul Gonzales, in his capacity as DOJ Secretary released a statement warning all persons including the press to stop airing said tape because this would be tantamount to violation of Anti-Wiretapping Act. NTC, on the other hand released an Order stating that it will suspend or revoke the permits and licenses of radio and television stations if they continue airing said audiotape;


“That one of the arguments raised in said case is whether or not broadcast media enjoys lesser constitutional guarantees than print media, thus, the discussion on fair treatment to broadcast and print media. It is there that the Honorable Supreme Court discussed about the internet as a form of broadcast media but it never made a decision, it merely made an obiter that maybe, 'courts, legislative bodies and government agencies regulating media must agree to regulate both, regulate neither, or develop a new regulatory framework and rationale to justify the differential treatment.'

“As a matter of fact, in said case, contrary to what the Respondent advocated in her Complaint-Affidavit, the Honorable Supreme Court ruled in favour of freedom of the press, expression and speech. For the information of the Respondent, the dispositive portion of said case reads, viz:

In VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The writs of certiorari and prohibition are hereby issued, nullifying the official statements made by respondents on June 8, and 11, 2005 warning the media on airing the alleged wiretapped conversation between the President and other personalities, for constituting unconstitutional prior restraint on the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press.


LIABLE FOR PERJURY. “That based on the foregoing, I humbly but vehemently submit that Respondent is liable for perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines with the following elements, to wit:

“That the accused/respondent made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter;

“That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath;

“That in that statement or affidavit, the accused/respondent made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood; and

“That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose.

“Indubitably, the complaint-affidavit for libel she filed before this Honorable Office is under oath before a subscribing prosecutor and that she made said complaint affidavit for the legal purpose of baselessly charging me of a criminal offense;

“That in said sworn complaint-affidavit of her contains the falsity that I and my mother were the ones who asked about ICONS and if it can do branding plans for me when in truth and in fact she and Arsenio Baltazar III were the ones who told me about ICONS as she knows that it manages talents also. She even gave the contact number of Bebong Munoz, the executive of ICONS and ordered my mother to call him immediately.


“That Respondent made said assertion of falsehood deliberately and wilfully because this statement is material to establish my alleged malice in posting the tweets. Thus, to be within the ambit of Brillante vs. Court of Appeals, the jurisprudence she cited in her complaint-affidavit;

“That in said complaint-affidavit as well, she mentioned that internet libel is punishable by law as held in the case of Chavez vs. CA dated February 18, 2008 when she wilfully know as a lawyer that there is no Chavez vs. CA dated February 18, 2008 decided by the Supreme Court on internet libel;

“That her mention of alleged Chavez vs. CA is material to convince this Honorable Office that I can be indicted for internet libel;

“That due to said untruthful statements of her I was indeed wrongly indicted for libel and for a very young age branded as ‘criminal’ and “fugitive” which caused me tremendous pain and damages;


“That I am executing this affidavit to charge herein Respondent for the crime of Perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.

LIBEL CASE. Isang araw pagkatapos magsampa ng mga kasong grave coercion at perjury ni Sarah laban kay Annette, isang panibagong kaso na naman ang inihain ng young actress laban sa TV and film executive—libel.

Inihain ni Sarah ang kanyang panibagong kaso laban kay Annette ngayong hapon, July 14, sa sa City Prosecutor's Office ng Makati City. Humihingi ng P10M na danyos ang young actress.

Nauna nang sinampahan ng kasong libel ni Annette si Sarah noong January 10, 2013.

(Read: Annette Gozon-Abrogar sues Sarah Lahbati for libel)

Kahapon, July 15, ay naglabas ng maikling pahayag si Annette kaugnay ng mga kasong isinampa ni Sarah laban sa kanya.

Aniya, "I haven‘t received anything from her lawyers but if it‘s true, then I welcome it since she‘s now fighting in the proper venue. Now the public will know what the truth is."

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Bukod sa grave coercion case na isinampa ni Sarah Lahbati laban kay GMA Films President Annette Gozon-Abrogar, nagsampa rin ng kaso perjury at libel ang young actress laban sa film and TV executive.
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