Activist slapped with libel wants mayor sacked

By Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Nov 02 2012 07:24 PM | Updated as of Nov 03 2012 03:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The environmental activist who was arrested and jailed over a Facebook post is mulling to file administrative charges against several officials, including the mayor of Gonzaga town in Cagayan, Carlito Pentecostes, Jr.

Espelita 'Perling' Garcia, who spent a night in jail last month over comments she made against the mayor, said she will seek the dismissal of Pentecostes from public office.

“I will [file charges] so he cannot victimize others again,” Garcia told in a text message.

Garcia claimed that the mayor abused his authority when he asked for an apology from her for her Facebook post entitled “Aborted Rally Against Black Sand Mining in Gonzaga, Cagayan” in April 2011 and threatened to file a libel case if she doesn't apologize.

"The conflict only started when I opposed the blacksand mining operations by inviting DENR officials from Manila. I requested through emails to the DENR secretary to come and see for themselves the actual blacksand mining operations in Gonzaga, which had been denied by the DENR regional director and provincial governor in December 2010," said Garcia.

The 62-year-old Garcia was eventually sued for libel in May last year. The arrest was issued last October 18, just when a new law that can only cover Internet libel was halted by the Supreme Court.

She is also considering filing charges against Provincial Prosecutor Amador Arao, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Edward Javier, Presiding Judge Conrado Tabaco and NBI Arresting Team-Regional Director Hector Geologo.

“If we are for the ‘tuwid na daan’ as our anti-graft and anti-corrupt President Noynoy has always been telling us, yes, they all deserve to be dismissed for ineptness, abuse of power, and violations of the canons of judicial process,” said Garcia.

Pentecostes earlier said he had no intentions of harassing Garcia, adding that the libel case he filed last year was only meant to teach her a lesson.

“Wala akong intensyon na makulong siya. At that time, gusto ko lang siya mabigyan ng leksyon,” Pentecostes told Studio 23’s “Iba-Balita” in an interview on October 23.

Pentecostes also questioned Garcia’s stand against mining, alleging that several private properties of Garcia and her family in the province have been open to mining operations.

But Garcia dismissed the allegations as “false.”

“I have been fighting for the stoppage of mining months before I was chosen as GAEPP [Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation] president,” she said.

She is running against Pentecostes in the mayoralty race in Gonzaga in 2013.