Ibinasura ng Office of the Prosecutor ng Quezon City ang reklamong libel na isinampa ni Gretchen Fullido laban kay Ces Drilon.
Nilagdaan ang desisyong pumapabor kay Ces nitong January 27, 2019, ng Quezon City Assistant City Prosecutor na si Arceli Ragsac.
Kaugnay ito ng pagtestigo ni Ces sa sexual-harassment complaint na isinampa ni Gretchen noong 2017 sa dating TV Patrol supervising producer na si Cheryl Favila at TV Patrol segment producer na si Maricar Asprec.
Sa pagtestigo ni Ces, sinabi nitong walang katotohanan ang mga akusasyon ni Gretchen sa dalawang news executives.
Inakusahan ni Gretchen si Cheryl ng pang-aabuso ng posisyon nito bilang news boss upang magpadala ng "sexually loaded" messages at jokes sa kanya, na pawang nagpapahiwatig daw ng maaaring maibigay ni Gretchen na “sexual favors.”
Si Gretchen ay on-cam talent at entertainment news reporter ng ABS-CBN prime-time newscast na TV Patrol.
Si Ces ay isang broadcast journalist at dating news anchor ng TV Patrol, na ngayon ay nagsisilbing Lifestyle Ecosystem Head ng ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.
Ngayong Huwebes ng hapon, March 21, 2019, nakakuha ang PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ng kopya ng desisyon ng piskalya ng Quezon City.
Nakasaad dito ang summary ng reklamong libel na isinumite ni Gretchen noong October 5, 2018, ang pagpasa ng counter-affidavit ni Ces, at ang karagdagang palitan ng salaysay ng magkabilang kampo.
Nag-ugat ang libel complaint ni Gretchen kay Ces sa isinumiteng sworn affidavit ni Ces sa Ad Hoc Investigating Committee ng ABS-CBN.
Ang ABS-CBN Ad Hoc Investigating Committee ang unang sumuri sa reklamong sexual harassment na ibinato ni Gretchen sa network noong November 6, 2017 laban kina Cheryl at Maricar.
Si Ces ang isa sa mga saksing nagpatunay na walang basehan ang akusasyong iyon.
Inilahad ni Ces sa internal investigation ng ABS-CBN, na noong siya ay news anchor ng TV Patrol, madalas niyang naririnig ang “side comments” ng kapwa news anchors niyang sina Ted Failon at Noli de Castro kay Gretchen.
Ni minsan ay hindi raw iyon inireklamo ni Gretchen, kahit pa sa paniwala ni Ces ay pumapasok na iyon sa “sexual harassment or at the very least inappropriate behavior.”
Kaya ikinagulat daw ni Ces ang reklamong sexual harassment ni Gretchen laban kina Cheryl at Maricar.
Sa tagal ng pagtrabaho nila sa ABS-CBN newsroom, ni minsan ay hindi raw nakitaan ni Ces si Cheryl ng "inappropriate conduct" o anumang behavior na maituturing na "sexual."
Bunsod ng pagtestigo ni Ces sa internal investigation ng network, inireklamo ni Gretchen si Ces ng paninira umano sa kanyang reputasyon at "victim shaming."
Paliwanag ng Quezon City prosecutor hinggil sa reklamong libel ni Gretchen:
"She avers that she was specifically identified and respondent imputed that she welcomes sexual harassment from other members of TV Patrol since she never complained, and she deserved to be sexually harassed since she was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool with bubbles to shore up its ratings."
Humingi si Gretchen ng PHP5M danyos para sa moral damages, PHP5M para sa actual damages, at PHP1M para sa attorney’s fees.
Sa kabilang banda, inilatag ng Quezon City prosecutor ang bersiyon ni Ces sa sinasabi ni Gretchen na paninirang-puri sa kanya ng veteran broadcaster.
Ayon kay Ces, ang mga sinabi niya ay "taken out of context."
Sabi rito: “Respondent says that her statements in the Affidavit were made to uphold the truth and to defend the honor and reputation of her good friends, Favila and Asprec, against what she believes are unfounded allegations of sexual harassment.
“Moreover she made the statement out of the desire to protect the integrity of the News and Current Affairs Department of the ABS-CBN. It was not made to purposely besmirch or cause dishonor upon complainant.
“She further avers that the quoted paragraph in her Affidavit had been taken out of context as anyone reading the entire affidavit will clearly see her intention was to establish a picture of how stories are pitched and produced in the News and Current Affairs Department, and how Favila alone cannot control the decision-making process in the department.
“According to respondent, nowhere in her statement did she declare or imply that complainant deserved to be sexually harassed. She was merely narrting a set of facts regarding an experience she had while she was on the set of TV Patrol; that she saw and overheard those comments in person; and merely recounted them for purposes of executing an affidavit."
Muli pang nagpalitan ng sinumpaang salaysay sina Gretchen at Ces sa isyu naman ng "victim shaming."
Nanindigan si Gretchen na “victim shaming” ang pahayag na iyon ni Ces.
“This statement clearly imputed that I welcomed sexual harassment from other members TV Patrol since I never complained.
“It likewise clearly imputed that I deserved to be sexually harassed since I was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool with bubble to shore up ratings, assuming I said that in the first place."
Sinabi ito ni Gretchen sa kanyang Reply-Affidavit na isinumite sa Office of the Prosecutor ng Quezon City, na may petsang December 10, 2018.
Inalmahan din noon ni Gretchen ang isa pang bahagi ng sworn affidavit ni Ces kung saan sinabi ng huli na si Gretchen ay “incompetent” sa trabaho.
Sabi pa ni Gretchen, kung ano man daw ang “context” ng sworn affidavit ni Ces, hindi ito dapat suriin sa “preliminary investigation” kundi idiretso na agad sa “trial proper.”
Balik-sagot ni Ces, wala siyang malisyosong intensiyon sa mga isinalaysay niya sa kanyang sworn affidavit laban kay Gretchen.
Ang tanging intensiyon daw ni Ces ay bigyang-linaw ang sirkumstansiya na nakapalibot sa Administrative Complaint na inihain ni Gretchen sa ABS-CBN Ad Hoc Investigating Committee.
Paliwanag pa ni Ces sa kanyang Rejoinder-Affidavit na isinumite sa Office of the Prosecutor ng Quezon City, noong December 20, 2018:
“As provided in the Ad Hoc Administrative Hearing Committee’s Report, the case arose from a 06 November 2017 letter by Fullido, addressing certain issues concerning her work performance and the failure of her stories to air on television.
“As Lifestyle Eco Head of the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Department, I had the obligation to clarify matters that could potentially tarnish the integrity of the Department.
“Part of my duties include ensuring that all the employees under my unit are able to produce their work in time, in a manner that reflects the network’s ideals of professionalism and competence. It is also my responsibility to ensure that everyone is treated equally and using the same standards.
“The affidavit I made was to establish that in the News and Current Affairs Department, a producer such as Favila cannot solely control the production of news stories.
“There are several tiers that a pitch for a story must go through before it is actually written, produced, and aired. The influence of one individual cannot control this process.”
Matapos ang imbestigasyon ng Office of the Prosecutor ng Quezon City, nagdesisyon itong ibasura ang libel complaint ni Gretchen dahil maituturing daw na “privileged communication” ang sworn affidavit ni Ces.
Alinsunod naman daw ito sa ruling ng Supreme Court sa isang kasong may kinalaman sa "conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication."
Malinaw raw na ang intensiyon ni Ces ay tupdin ang isang “moral or social duty” dahil ipinasa nito ang kanyang sworn affidavit sa isang investigating body, ang ABS-CBN Ad Hoc Investigation Committee, at hindi para sa ano pa mang dahilan.
Malinaw ring nakasaad sa desisyon ng Quezon City prosecutor na ni hindi binanggit ni Gretchen sa kanyang complaint-affidavit ang kabuuang konteksto ng sworn affidavit ni Ces.
Partikular na ang paglalahad ni Ces sa umano'y mga kapalpakan ni Gretchen sa trabaho nito sa TV Patrol.
Paliwanag ng Quezon City prosecutor:
“Considering that the statement is in the form of a sworn statement before the Ad Hoc investigating committee, this Office is of the view that the same falls within the category of a conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication.
“First, the person who made the communication has a moral or social duty to make the communication. As a member of an organization, she has the moral and social duty to give light to any investigation that is being conducted to help in resolving issues that may affect their working environment.
“Moreover, the statement is given to the Ad Hoc Investigating Committee which was then investigating the complaint concerning the complainant, Favila and Asprec.
“Furthermore, the statements were made in good faith since she submitted it to the committee who, to her knowledge and belief, could address the issue or issues confronting her colleagues and her company.
“In addition, she did not indiscriminately circulate it to any other person.”
Alinsunod sa isa pang Supreme Court ruling, ang kasong libel ay hindi basta-basta ipinapataw nang walang karampatang “allegation of special damages.”
Sa pagsusuri sa kabuuang konteksto ng inirereklamo ni Gretchen na sworn affidavit ni Ces, ito ang konklusyon ng Quezon City prosecutor:
“As stated above, the fact that the language is offensive from the point of view of the complainant does not make it actionable by itself.
“A reading of the statement per se shows that it is not defamatory.
“In our point of view, the person who executed the same is merely stating her opinion or observation.
“Also, relaying to another person words which you previously heard is not defamatory and malicious.”
Sa huli, sinagot din ng Office of the Prosecutor ng Quezon City ang pahayag ni Gretchen Fullido na hindi dapat sa preliminary investigation sinusuri ang konteksto ng inirereklamo nitong sworn affidavit ni Ces Drilon kundi sa trial court.
Ginawang gabay ng prosecutor ang isang Supreme Court ruling: “Although a preliminary investigation is not a trial and is not intended to usurp the function of the trial court, it is not a casual affair; the officer conducting the same investigates or inquires into the facts concerning the commission of the crime with the end in view of determining whether or not an information may be prepared against the accused.”
Ang layunin daw ng isang preliminary investigation ay hindi lang para suriin kung may sapat na basehan na makasuhan ang isang respondent.
Sa ngalan ng hustisya, trabaho rin daw ng isang prosecutor protektahan ang inosente nang huwag itong mapasabak sa isang public trial para sa krimeng hindi naman nito ginawa.