THE Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Wednesday ordered televangelist Bro. Eliseo Soriano of Ang Dating Daan to pay the Iglesia ni Cristo, P100,000 in moral damages for libel committed 10 years ago.
Branch 92 Judge Eleuterio Bathan also directed him to pay a fine of P6,000 each for two counts of libel.
He ruled the elements of libel have been established in the case filed by INC over Soriano’s pronouncement on a television program on April 25, 2003 and the replay on April 27 on the same timeslot during the live program of Ang Dating Daan on Southern Broadcasting Network Channel 21.
“There is no question that the broadcasts were made public and imputed to Iglesia Ni Cristo defects or circumstances tending to cause it dishonor, discredit and contempt,” the decision read.
“Soriano’s remarks... are libelous per se, uncalled for and misleading information to the public. Taken as a whole, the broadcasts suggest Iglesia Ni Cristo is a killer, swindler, a spy, and a terrorist and a thief which is contrary to the doctrines and teachings of every religious sect.”
Because of Soriano’s absence during the promulgation, the judge said Soriano lost his chance to file an appeal.
The Quezon City court entered a plea of not guilty during his arraignment on Aug. 9, 2005 after he refused to plead.
He also submitted a waiver of presence during the pre-trial conference, in which he admitted that “whenever his name is mentioned (during the trial), he is the same person alleged in the information.”
Soriano earlier presented Emilio Magdaraog to testify in court that INC called him names.
But Bathan said a defense of self-defense was only available in crimes against persons under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code.
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