Libel, class suits mulled vs Janet, Luy, media entities

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 22 2014 03:42 AM | Updated as of May 22 2014 11:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are planning to file libel cases and a class suit against alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, whistle-blower Benhur Luy and media entities that published or broadcast the so-called Napoles lists.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said he and his colleagues who have been unfairly dragged into the pork barrel scam controversy and are innocent of the accusations leveled against them would file the suits.

“We will start with libel cases. We will take them to court in our respective districts. After that, if we find out that we have the same grievances, we will consider filing a class suit,” he told the weekly news conference of the House minority bloc.

He lamented that public scrutiny has shifted away from Napoles, Luy and others involved in the scam with the circulation of several versions of the Napoles list.

“Napoles and Luy are the ones guilty. They were the ones who cooked up this scam,” he said.

He said he has not allocated even a peso of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to Napoles, Luy or any of their bogus foundations.

Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora and Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo made similar denials.

Commenting on what he called the “balloon floated by Congressman Albano, who is like a brother to me,” Zamora expressed doubt on whether a class suit would prosper in the country.

He said such a way of seeking justice can be successful in the United States but has seldom been tried here.

“What I suggest is that they file individual libel cases against individual accusers like Napoles and whistle-blowers, media entities, editors, reporters,” he said.

“Let us remember that whistle-blowers are as guilty as their principals, only that they use the law to their advantage,” he said.

Another minority member, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, blamed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for the circulation of several versions of the Napoles list.

“They already had the evidence last year, they should have charged all those behind the scam and avoided the proliferation of these lists,” he said.