Sotto: Pepsi Paloma rape stories are 'fake news'

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2018 11:45 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2018 12:01 AM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III has branded unpublished online articles linking him to the alleged rape and subsequent death of '80s star Pepsi Paloma as "fake news."

"To me, these are disinformation. Once people know what is true, they'll see it's not. I have decided to brush them aside and not pay attention to this type of disinformation, 'yan mga 'original fake news,'" Sotto told Tina Monzon-Palma in an interview that aired Thursday on ANC.

Sotto had sought to remove the stories titled "The Rape of Pepsi Paloma," "Was Pepsi Paloma murdered?" and "Tito Sotto denies whitewashing Pepsi Paloma rape case" from the website of Inquirer.net, the online platform of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) broadsheet.

The articles were no longer accessible as of July 4.

"The articles on the Pepsi Paloma case are currently under review and are unavailable at the moment,” Inquirer.net's management said in a statement. 

Sotto said the removal of the articles from the internet "perhaps helped in settling the noise because it's fake news." 

"What business does it have in a real looked-up newspaper?" he said.

Paloma's alleged gang-rape made headlines in 1982 after she accused comedians Joey de Leon, Vic Sotto, and Richie D'Horsey of drugging and raping her.

Sotto's purported involvement came in when he allegedly coerced Paloma into signing an affidavit of desistance and dropping the rape complaint against the three.

The three comedians allegedly issued a public apology to Pepsi Paloma which was published in the People’s Journal on October 13, 1982, according to the PDI.

"We hope that you will not allow the error we have committed against you to stand as a stumbling block to that future which we all look forward to. We therefore ask you to find it in your heart to pardon us for the wrong which we have done against you."

Sotto denied any involvement on the issue in a 2016 interview on radio DZMM.

"Una, 1988 ho ako naging vice mayor ng Quezon City. Matagal na hong wala 'yung kwentong 'yun. 1982 po yung kwentong iyun eh. So, wala ho akong pakialam sa isyung 'yun nung araw," he said.

"Para ho sa kaalaman ng lahat... gimik ho ni Rey dela Cruz (Paloma's manager) 'yun. Hindi ho totoo 'yung sinasabi. Pinagtangkaan nilang magkaso kasi tinira sila ng libel nina Vic (Sotto) at Joey (De Leon). Idinemanda sila ng libel kaya pinagtangkaan nilang balikan ng kaso."

Sotto added that he had no hand in Paloma's death three years after the alleged gang rape incident.

Paloma was found lifeless inside her apartment in an apparent suicide in 1985.

The senator claimed that the actress' death was due to drug use. 

"Meron pa kong nababasa sa Facebook na kaya raw nagpakamatay, hindi ho, droga po 'yun," he said.