Libel cases vs ABS-CBN execs get boost

Gretchen Fullido
Gretchen Fullido

TV and radio personality Gretchen Fullido scored a legal victory in her libel case against executives of broadcast network ABS-CBN after the Quezon City Prosecutors’ Office filed cases for violation of Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code which will be pursued in court against three network officials.

In separate but similar resolutions dated April 29, Quezon City Chief Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano said ABS-CBN executives Cecilia Oreña Drilon, Marie Milagros Lozano and Venancio Borromeo all acted in bad faith when they issued libelous statements during the network’s internal investigation which tackled Fullido’s sexual harassment complaint against two other network chiefs, former news executive Cheryl Favila and news segment producer Maricar Asprec.

Fullido had complained in late 2018 that Favila and Asprec sexually harassed her by sending her inappropriate text messages that were loaded with sexual innuendos and requested sexual favors.

Drilon was noted to have stated in her affidavit that she had witnessed Fullido merely “laugh off” and disregard side comments from male TV Patrol anchors on the complainant’s “body, manner of dress, or behavior,” which Drilon felt already constituted sexual harassment. In contrast, Fullido did not hesitate to file charges of harassment against Favila and Asprec.

Drilon likewise stated under oath that she heard Fullido saying the latter “was willing to wear a bikini with an inflatable pool and bubbles on TV Patrol to shore up its ratings.”

The Prosecutor’s Office considered these remarks as being made with malice and bad faith.

Drilon, according to the resolution, “jumped into a conclusion or assumption that Complainant could easily ignore such unpleasant acts, as if she welcomed the same.”  

The same malice and bad faith were attributed to Lozano and Borromeo in their respective sworn statements.

The two executives categorized Fullido’s filing of her harassment complaint as “a form of blackmail, she knows that there are so many who could take her place, particularly since she had never produced quality work” and “she wanted to hold on to Star Patrol and rumors were spreading that the time has come for her to be replaced.”

With the finding of probable cause for libel, the Chief Prosecutor recommended the immediate filing of criminal complaints against the three in the Quezon City courts.

The filing of criminal cases carries with it the issuance of warrants of arrest for Drilon, Lozano and Borromeo.