SPECIAL Envoy for Public Diplomacy to China and newspaper columnist Ramon T. Tulfo was slapped with strings of libel cases for “false, reckless, and defamatory” allegations over his series of columns in The Manila Times that allegedly maligned the entire Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and its revenue officials including BIR commissioner Caesar “Billy” Dulay.
Named co-accused in the complaint for three counts of libel and seven counts of cyber-libel filed at the Quezon City Prosecutors Office are Times President and CEO Dante F.M. Ang 2nd, editors Rene Q. Bas, Blanca C. Mercado, Nerilyn A. Tenorio, Leena C. Chua, Arnold Belleza and Lynette O. Luna.
Dulay is seeking P20 million moral damages which will be donated to L’Arche (Ang Arko ng Pilipinas, Inc.), a community dedicated to taking care of mentally-handicapped children.
Aside from this, Dulay also petitioned the court for the issuance of a “precautionary hold departure order” against the respondent Tulfo.
In his complaint, Dulay averred that Tulfo’s column “My Line of Sight: Conversations between two BIR execs reveals all,” contains “malicious, sweeping and unfounded accusations to the effect that under my stewardship as BIR Commissioner, there was rampant corruption and I have allegedly ‘skeletons in the closet at the graft-ridden agency’.”
Aside from being published in print, The Manila Times also published Tulfo’s column on its website and also carried these in their social media accounts, including Facebook.
Saying the three opinion articles are “undoubtedly false and defamatory” Dulay lamented that it “not only directly pictured me as a corrupt official, an animal, a thief, minion of Satan, greedy bastard, but it also maliciously portrayed me as a ‘criminal’ to the effect that I made billions of pesos in connection with the transactions of Mighty Cigarettes Corporation and Del Monte Foods Corporation.”
In his second column dated August 8, Tulfo alleged that there was a giving of bribe of multibillion peso tax cases with delinquent corporations and had pictured Dulay as an “insatiable greedy extortionist, a cheat and a corrupt official in (president) Digong’s government.”
Tulfo’s third column last August 20 then called for a corruption probe against Dulay regarding Del Monte’s “compromised” payment of P65 million instead of the “huge delinquent tax amounting to P8.7 billion.
“Clearly, Tulfo did not ascertain the truth of his facts,” Dulay said.
“In truth, the Del Monte case never reached the CTA and, as I emphasize, there was no compromise. The collection was based on a series of assessments based on Revenue Procedures and delegated authority. These assessments were based on documents submitted as part of the Revenue Procedures. Thus, we cannot just make up a collection amount without evidence to support it,” the BIR chief stressed.
The Dulay complaint laments that “the aforementioned defamatory imputation has caused me enormous physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock and social humiliation.”
The Tulfo opinion was also “maliciously posted on the Internet, specifically on his social media Facebook account, an alleged illegal video conversation recording as the source of his published article, added with his malicious commentaries.”
Dulay said it cannot be denied that respondents not only published the mentioned articles in a newspaper of general circulation, “but they also published the same articles on their online news website at manilatimes.net. The articles can be accessed not only nationwide but by every netizen worldwide.”
Dulay said he even received frantic calls from families and friends within and outside the Philippines, as well as from his own children and extended family, telling him that the video conversation recording had gone viral or gone public in the worldwide web.
“This is certainly indicative of malice in fact on the part of not only Tulfo, but equally his editors and his publisher,” Dulay alleged further.
Dulay explained that his request for the issuance of an HDO against Tulfo was due to the “high probability” that he would leave the country to “evade prosecution and arrest.”
Tulfo and the Times executives are already the subject of three counts of libel and cyber libel filed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who is also seeking P140 million in damages.