The five Caloocan City councilors who are now facing cyber libel complaints have claimed that they are only defending themselves from “fake news” accusations that is why they had to make a series of allegedly maligning internet videos.

Councilor Rose Mercado, one of the five respondents of the three counts of cyber libel complaints filed by Mayor Oca Malapitan, said it was their “right” to defend themselves from accusations of the current administration.

“We had to make another video so others would not say that we’re spreading baseless and false information,” Mercado said in a press conference Friday, referring to the latest of the string of videos critical of Malapitan’s students’ gadgets project.

“That was why we were accused of cyber libel and they filed complaints against us,” she added.

But even before that, the councilors had already been making videos that for Malapitan’s administration were maligning and putting the local government’s project in bad light. 

It started as early as January when they made several disputed claims against the students’ gadgets by alleging that they are defective in terms of internet connectivity and are overpriced.

They also claimed that the digital tablets procured were substandard, which the local government already denied by saying the specifications met the Department of Education’s guidelines.

On Wednesday (Feb. 17), Malapitan took the matter to the court. He made the move as the councilors allegedly “insulted” the city’s students’ gadgets project, which in turn “deprived” the recipients “the benefits of the digital tablets which are meant to facilitate their distance learning due to pandemic.”

“It’s not a big problem if they only maligned me. But if they’d start badmouthing and insulting the project of the local government, which only aimed to help the students’ education, then I would not allow it,” Malapitan said in a statement in filing complaints before the city’s prosecutor office.

Mercado’s fellow respondents are councilors PJ Malonzo, Alex Mangasar, Carding Bagus, and Alou San Buenaventura.

The local government argued that “the councilors had every opportunity to ascertain the truth or falsity of their allegations.”

However, they “chose to air their alleged complaint via social media when they knew fully well that concerned offices remain open.”

Malapitan called the councilors’ move as part of “politicking” as the election season nears. The councilors are now part of the opposition party and have already publicly expressed support to supposed mayoral aspirant and current 2nd District Rep. Egay Erice.

Source: Manila Bulletin (