March 21 2018
Judge Alfonso C. Ruiz II of Branch 216 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City affirmed the decision of Branch 37 of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Quezon City, dismissing the Complaint for Damages filed by Robin Padilla against GMA Network, Inc., its officers, and news reporter due to the finding by the court that the questioned news report cannot be considered as defamatory.
Padilla filed a complaint against GMA along with its President and COO Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr., News Online editor-in-chief Jaemark Tordecilla, and News reporter Emil Sumangil after Sumangil named Padilla in the GMA News TV newscast Balitanghali as the previous owner of a house where P1 billion worth of liquid shabu was seized. Assisting Judge Ihmie Michiko C. Gacad-Presto of the QC MTC ruled that the report, which was also posted on GMA News Online, was not defamatory on the ground that it was not intended to mislead the readers/listeners and that the actual damage to the plaintiff was not sufficiently proven.
Following the decision of the QC MTC, Padilla filed an appeal before the QC Regional Trial Court. However, in the decision dated January 5, 2018, Judge Ruiz II agreed with Judge Gacad-Presto's decision and stated that “there was no showing of malice or ill-will that could have caused damage to the plaintiff-appellant.”
After thorough review of the said news report, the court found that Sumangil “observed the required diligence in delivering the report and cannot be faulted since he relied on the remarks made by the people in the neighborhood as well as from reliable sources of information.”
Moreover, Judge Ruiz II declared that that the mention of Padilla's name refers only to his alleged previous ownership of the subject house and that nothing in the news report implicated Padilla to any drug activity.
The court denied Padilla's claim for damages since he failed to personally testify regarding the damages he incurred as required by Sec. 1, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court which provides that "burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence provided by law."