MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - Broadcast journalist Ted Failon on Tuesday posted bail at a local court in Tagaytay City after he was indicted for libel for alleged questionable content of an episode of ABS-CBN show "Failon Ngayon."
Former MMDA Chairman Francisco Tolentino filed a libel case against Failon and three other staff members of the ABS-CBN current affairs program Failon Ngayon.
The libel case is based on a Failon Ngayon episode that tackled the MMDA’s alleged questionable purchase of 18 motorcycles in 2014. These motorcycles were used during the visit of Pope Francis in Manila.
The story was based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report that noted the purchase did not undergo bidding. Tolentino later returned the amount spent on the motorcycles to the MMDA.
Tolentino, in his complaint, claimed his reputation was tarnished by Failon when he raised questions about the purchase of the motorcycles in his program.
The Tagaytay City Prosecutor’s office found probable cause to indict Failon and 3 other staff members of the program. In his decision, the prosecutor acknowledged the right to freedom of speech but also pointed out that such freedom is not absolute. The prosecutor stated that the accused should be treated innocent until proven guilty, even if the story was based on a COA report.
Tagaytay Regional Trial Court Judge Ethel Gutay issued the arrest order.
In an earlier appeal to the Department of Justice, Failon’s camp asked that the case be transferred to a court in another location because Tagaytay City is known to be Tolentino’s bailiwick. The DOJ, however, has yet to respond to the appeal.
Tolentino, who now serves as a political adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, ran for senator in the May 2016 national polls but lost.
He served as Tagaytay City mayor from 1995 to 2004. His sister-in-law Agnes Tolentino is the incumbent mayor.
ABS-CBN tried to get a comment from Tolentino and his lawyers but they refused to give a statement.
(Editors' note: Our initial story erroneously said that Agnes Tolentino is the wife of Francis. We regret the error. )