Gretchen Fullido's lawyer, Atty. Marvin B. Aceron, has just released a statement on her filing for motions of reconsideration on the recently dismissed libel charges against ABS-CBN news executives Cecilia Victoria “Ces” Drilon and Marie Lozano.
"Please do not be misled into believing that the cases have been dismissed with finality," said Atty. Aceron in the statement. "The filing of the Motions for Reconsideration, 10 days from receipt of the resolutions, keeps the cases alive. And in the event of denial, we have resolved to file a Petition for Review with the Department of Justice."
Based on the court ruling, the prosecutors' office said that Drilon's and Lozano's statements were not defamatory nor libelous, and "Words which are merely insulting are not actionable as libel or slander per se…. The fact that the language is offensive to the plaintiff does not make it actionable by itself.”
Atty. Aceron said that the resolutions of the prosecutors' office pointed them to the doctrine of privileged communication, which notes requisites that should be present for statements to be declared not actionable for libel. These include:
"(1) The person who made the communication had a legal, moral, or social duty to make the communication, or at least, had an interest to protect, which interest may either be his own or of the one to whom it is made;
(2) The communication is addressed to an officer or a board, or superior, having some interest or duty in the matter, and who has the power to furnish the protection sought; and
(3) The statements in the communication are made in good faith and without malice. (Citations omitted.)"
Gretchen's motions for reconsideration disputes that these requisites were satisfied.
Gretchen filed criminal cases against Drilon and Lozano on October 5, 2018. She also sued Cheryl C. Favila, former ABS-CBN News Executive, and Maricar P. Asprec, ABS-CBN News Segment Producer, for sexual harassment.
She claims that Cheryl and Maricar had sent her "text messages that were loaded with sexual innuendos, which led to requests for sexual favors." When these advances were rejected, the Cheryl and Maricar retaliated by making her work difficult as a TV Patrol reporter and news anchor. This reportedly had been going on for close to three years.
Cheryl was found guilty of Gross Misconduct and was dismissed from the company on July 16, 2018. Her sexual harassment case was dismissed.
In October 2018, Ces Drilon released a statement on Instagram on being pained "to issue this statement because women should support each other especially in an issue like sexual harassment."
Ces spoke about being an advocate of women's rights and women empowerment. As a former victim of sexual harassment, she found it "unthinkable" for her to say what Gretchen alleges she did. She also said she had been asked to testify in an internal, confidential investigation, and that some of what she said during the investigation had been distorted.
After receiving a comment accusing her of promoting women empowerment and victim shaming in private, Ces responded and told the user to "not be so quick to condemn."
Here are the allegedly libelous remarks.
“Gretchen’s accusations of sexual harassment against [Favila and Asprec] also surprised me because many times…. I witnessed Ted Failon and Noli De Castro make side comments…. about Gretchen’s body, manner of dress, or behavior that, in my opinion, constituted sexual harassment or at least inappropriate behavior. But Gretchen Fullido only laughed off these comments. She never complained. One remark she made in one party struck me: She said she was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool and bubbles on TV Patrol to shore up its ratings.”
“The first thing that came to mind as the reason why Gretchen filed a complaint is that she wanted to hold on to Star Patrol. Before all this, rumors were spreading that the time has come for her to be replaced after celebrity patroller started sitting in for Gretchen.”
Gretchen and her lawyer are hoping that their motions for reconsideration are heard by the Quezon City prosecutor's office.
"We take this opportunity to help enrich the public’s understanding of the nature of sexual harassment," added Atty. Aceron. "It is the character of the accused, which is on trial in a sexual harassment case. Certainly, to attack the character of the victim is not only irrelevant, it may even be construed as an endorsement of the perpetrator."