The Regional Trial Court in Tagaytay City has ordered the arrest of ABS-CBN’s Ted Failon following a libel case filed by former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino over several “libelous and defamatory” statements made by the radio and TV host in his program aired over DZMM late last year.
However, Failon―Mario Teodoro Etong in real life―paid the P10,000 bail recommended by the court for each of the accused on Wednesday.
The mediaman was charged along with Gerald S. Oro, Abigail Lucas-Rondilla and Irene Grace J. Manotok of ABS-CBN.
The group “will have to answer the charges, which crossed the bounds of ethical journalism,” said Judge Raquel Gutay of Tagaytay RTC Branch 18, who issued the arrest order
Failon was accused of libel after he reported several purchases of second-hand motorcycles bought by the MMDA under Tolentino’s tenure on his DZMM program on December 3, 2016.
Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay, was able to prove that purchasing second-hand units is allowed by law and that he used his personal funds to make the emergency purchase on behalf of the MMDA owing to the visit of Pope Francis to Manila at the time.
In a statement, Tolentino’s lawyers noted their earlier petition that that there was no legal basis for the allegations of Failon, considering that no public funds were used.
They asserted that what was libelous was “the intensity of the radio and television reporting done by Failon, which was twice daily for almost two weeks in December of 2016, reporting over and over again with malicious frequency at every opportunity he can talk over radio and TV.”
Failon, the lawyers added, “even included in his year-end report the said purchase, as if something anomalous happened, when in fact there was none, and which damaged the integrity and reputation of Tolentino.”
The former MMDA chief also intends to file a separate civil action for damages.