“At the moment, there is no possibility of settlement. At the moment, ‘no.”
Ito ang bahagi ng pahayag ni Atty. Lorna Kapunan, legal counsel ng kampo ni Darren Espanto, 17, hinggil sa kasong cyber libel na isinampa nito laban kay JK Labajo, 18.
Ayon kay Atty. Kapunan, isinampa ang kaso laban kay JK noong March 2019.
Ang ina ni Darren na si Marinel Gonzales-Cruz ang nagsampa ng kaso dahil minor pa si Darren.
Nag-ugat ang kasong ito sa diumano’y pagtawag ni JK kay Darren ng "bakla" sa Twitter noong October 19, 2018.
Itinanggi ni JK ang paratang at sinabing na-hack ang kanyang Twitter account, subalit hindi ito pinaniniwalaan ng kampo ni Darren.
Sina Darren at JK ay parehong grand finalists sa ABS-CBN singing competition na The Voice Kids noong 2014.
Ayon pa sa abogado ng kampo ni Darren, dalawang beses nang nagkaroon ng hearing ang kaso.
“But yung two hearings na ‘yan sa Office of the City Prosecutor, hindi nag-appear si JK and it was supposed to be submitted for decision.
“But recently, when we checked the status of the case, nalaman namin na kumuha siya ng abogado at nagpa-reopen ng case,” pahayag ni Atty. Kapunan sa interview niya sa Cinema News na umere noong April 5.
Binanggit din ng abogado na may naka-schedule na tentative hearing noong April 12.
“Pag rineopen ang second stage niyan, is magpa-file ng counter affidavit if he [JK] so desires, or meron siyang question and answer from the investigating fiscal.”
Ikinuwento rin ni Atty. Kapunan kung paano lumapit sa kanya ang mga magulang ni Darren para kumonsulta hinggil sa isyu.
“I’ve met [the] parents. They have a very strong sense of right and wrong.
“And to destroy one’s reputation at a very young age, I think is wrong, ‘no.
“So, they came to us and asked us kung merong legal remedy.
“Ang sabi namin, oo, cyber libel ‘yan.
“We’ve seen the evidence here. The evidence is so strong.
“And there can be no deniability na galing kay JK yung posting,” pahayag ng abugado.
Sa kasalukuyan ay wala raw posibilidad na makipag-settle ang kampo nila.
Saad ni Atty. Kapunan, “At the moment, there is no possibility of settlement. At the moment, ‘no.
“The last time we talked to the family, e, mukhang raw pa.”
Pero diin niya, “Which is not to say it shouldn’t be settled, kasi bata pa sila, e, they have their whole future and careers ahead of them.
“And kung puwedeng i-settle out of court, i-settle 'yan out of court.”
May mungkahi pa si Atty. Kapunan kung paano maaaring ma-settle ang isyu sa pagitan nina Darren at JK.
“Maybe in due time, if there is sincere apology on the part of JK and hindi na uulitin, maybe that would be an opening for the parents to consider.
“And for Darren because he is celebrating his birthday, ‘no.
“He will no longer be a minor, so this is for him to decide soon.”
Ipagdiriwang ni Darren ang kanyang 18th birthday sa darating na May 24.
Nagpadala ng mensahe ang PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) kay Atty. Kapunan ngayong umaga ng Martes, April 16, upang humingi ng update sa kaso.
Sagot niya sa amin: "While it was initially submitted for resolution in Feb 2019 after JK failed to appear in the two (2) scheduled preliminary investigations, he filed a Motion to Re-Open Investigation po sometime in March 2019.
"There was a supposed hearing on Apr 12 in the OCP but the handling prosecutor was on medical leave and we were informed that they will just set the case again at a later time when handling prosecutor resumes work."
Nagpadala rin ang PEP.ph ng mensahe kay JK upang hingan ng reaksiyon hinggil sa pahayag ng kampo ni Darren.
Wala pa kaming natatanggap na sagot mula sa kanya habang isinusulat ito.
Mananatiling bukas ang PEP.ph sa panig nina Darren at JK hinggil sa isyu.