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Surviving a Libel Case

While of you may have already heard about the libel case against me was dismissed last month, I wasn’t able to properly announce it here in my blog. We were waiting for a possible motion for reconsideration to elapse before bringing it out into the public. Here’s a short summary of the entire event:

Back in August 2006, we got a demand letter from a law firm. This firm represents a certain Joel Aquino (JEA) who runs a company called WebCom. Apparently, one of our web hosting resellers has a client that runs the forum greedyolddumbass.com. In that forum, several ex-employees of WebCom were making libelous comments against JEA and his family. They wanted us as the webhost to prevent and desist the posting of such comments in the forum.

Within a week, I sent out a reply to their firm that we are only a web hosting company and have no knowledge of this issue. Besides, the website/forum have already moved out of our servers and we no longer have any control of it in any manner as the hosting provider. Thinking that it was all that and the issue has been clear, we forgot about it.


September came and we got a subpoena from the Pasig RTC identifying my company and members of the forum for alleged libel. I think we got close to half a dozen subpoenas in the span of 4 or 5 weeks. When we submitted our counter-affidavit, I also filed a perjury case against the complainant for misrepresenting us as administrators or operators of the forum when it was clear in our earlier communication that we are just the hosting provider. All three cases were then consolidated (2 libel cases and 1 for perjury).

Then, came months and month of clarifications, appearances at the fiscal’s office and a lot of waiting.

Now that it’s all over and the case against me was dismissed (they found probable cause to charge the other two respondents of libel), I can only take a good deep breath and put this behind me. I’d like to thank all those who helped me thru this — the guys at BlogHerald esp. to J Angelo who set up a legal fund, the people at NUJP for offering help, other lawyers who heard of my case and sent in their offer of support, my readers and fellow bloggers. My thanks goes to fellow blogger Atty. Fred Pamaos and his partners at the JLP Law Offices for getting me thru this. Hat tip to all the journalists who gave moral support and “welcomed me to the club“.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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67 Responses

  1. AnitoKid says:

    Glad to hear that it’s all over kabayan! More power!

  2. Kung baga, parang nabunutan ka ng malaking tinik.

    Congratulations !!!

    You did not mention whether you would pursue your perjury case. I don’t mean to sound bitter but they certainly caused you a great deal of distress, not to mention, besmirch your good name over something that you are not liable for and have no control over.

  3. max says:

    i cringe at the thought of a libel case filed against me esp since i dont have friends in high places to help. what is one to do in such a case ..

  4. Ian says:

    Congratulations, Abe. Glad you made it through.

    As someone who has been through the same ordeals (been accused of libel, way back when I was in college; my dad’s a recipient (?) of several libel cases, one of which got him arrested) — hazard of the trade — I’m happy that you got over it sane and, apparently, unscathed.

  5. jef says:

    good for you abe.. :)

  6. noemi says:

    salamat naman it is over for you. You deserved better treatment than that. Hope you can recover from the legal expenses.

  7. AnP says:

    glad that all that is behind you :)

  8. I knew some of the background of the case but of course none of the details. I;m glad you posted the full chain of events as an illustration of what can happen.

    I’m reminded of a small discussion you got started here a few months back about whether or not one shuld sahre their WiFi bandwidth with neighbors or strangers. The same sort of thing could happen to anyone who provides, or seems to provide (the courts are not experts on how the Web works) access to anyone who breaks the law. Libel is against the law. The libel laws in the Philippines are very strict … the kind of comments and insults that float around on blogs and forums day in and day out often come very close to te libel line … maybe even cross it, and many bloggers and forum “brigadiers” have kind of a devil may care attitude. But the days of the wild, wild west Internet have gone forever, it seems.

    Best of luck on keeping out of any further jams.

  9. hoop says:

    Congratulations Abe! Time to break out the beer :D

  10. Obet says:

    What a bunch of crybabies.

  11. issai says:

    congratulations… in my opinion, you didn’t deserve that crap, but let’s just take it as a lesson learned. you’re a good man abe. :)

    just wondering, IF google bought your company, would they be afraid to sue you?

  12. jhay says:

    Congrats Sir Abe! Kudos! :D

  13. jun says:

    Yey! Tapos na ang stress ni Abe.. PArteeh, Parteeh, Parteeh!

    On a serious note, maybe you could also make a post for bloggers about your whole experience: Lessons Learned by A Blogger from a Libel Case. I think this would be a good input for any law/policymaker regarding new media practice.

  14. Nick says:

    This is great to hear. If you have a copy of the dismissal, it would be great to see…

    A few of my readers inquired about it as well, but I thought it was still pending.

    Anyway, I second the sentiments in the previous comments, and I offer my congratulations!

  15. talksmart says:

    Congrats! Wohoho!

  16. Alwell says:

    nice to know Abe! congrats.

  17. Nightshift says:

    Saang RTC branch yan? Kukuha ko ng copy ng decision. Baka maging jurisprudence yan sa web hosting business.

  18. jangelo says:

    Glad to have been of help. But the Blog Herald readers deserve more thanks than I. :)

  19. karla says:

    glad to hear this news abe :)

  20. marhgil says:

    case dismissed! congrats abe!

  21. Andrew says:

    I’m relieved it’s all over Abe! Congrats!

    @issai: There are so many opportunists nowadays, so if Google bought Abe’s company, that would give them more resolve to sue him.

  22. SELaplana says:

    kung ako ikaw at may sapat na pera ay ipagpatuloy ko ang kaso against sa kanila dahil sa paninira sa pangalan mo….

    itutuloy niiyo po ba un?

  23. Gigi says:

    Congratulations! It’s always good to know that, at least sometimes, justice can still win the day. :)

  24. yuga says:

    @ noemi — yes, sana bumalik yung nagasta ko dito. :( getting into lawsuits is very expensive!

    @ issai — not so sure, it was my opinion the the one suing me is after the moolah.

    @ jun — yup, I will post some non-legal advice later. :)

    @ selboy — kung marami lang talga akong pera, hahabulin ko din sya. pero lots of lawyers tell me na inaabot ng taon yun and magasto talaga.

    @ nick, nightshift — will send you copies of the decision.

    Thanks everyone!

  25. wilson ng says:

    can you not sue back?

  26. Jeffrey Wong says:

    Sir Wilson,

    Abe said, he wants to sue back if only he has the finances.

  27. poell says:

    the good always prevails.

    i remember reading this issue the first time and all i can say is what the heck was wrong with those people.

    anyway charge everything to experience. just keep the ball rolling and keep those breads coming at you and save it. just surprise us when you do sue them back ;) anyway, they deserve it!

  28. yuga says:

    I did file a perjury case against the complainant in lieu of a counter-affidavit. All cases were consolidated and was all dismissed (the ones that are particular to me).

  29. Mike Abundo says:

    Congratulations, Abe. People like Aquino who can’t handle the rough-and-tumble of the Web should stay off it.

  30. Jeffrey Wong says:

    Abe, some Bible tips:
    Proverbs 25:21-23

    “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the LORD will reward you. ”

    Continually be nice to JEA. Give him gifts of sorts.

  31. How says:

    Searched for this Joel Aquino dude and found some interesting tidbits on the following site (WARNING: PROFANE LANGUAGE AND POSSIBLY ADULT CONTENT)


  32. The truth will eventually surface. I am one of those defendants in this libel case. I am just taking my time… this is nothing but a class act of bullying. People think they know too much.

  33. reyna elena says:

    wow, i just read about the libel case yesterday at work and i got so interested. good that’s its over and you got out unscathed!

  34. KK says:

    You were just the hosting company and you were sued for contents? Wow, that’s lame!

    Congratulations for the dismissal of the case!

  35. beeps says:

    No Cold metal bars for you my friend. :)

  36. Pilip San Diego says:

    several question to address
    1. accounting of the legal fund.
    2. how did you get a subpoena from the pasig rtc (?) when it is obviously at a fiscal level only.

  37. obi-one-two-tri says:

    that company you are mentioning must go down.. hahahaha… that company searches for holes to bring down employees who are complaining of the cash bond which they should have received after a year (written in the contract), but then the company say’s that the cash bond will be given upon resignation… this situation cause some employees to resign…

    company Webcom also known as Netpros Inc. and also known as Versomina Inc. (ang dami)
    located at Unit 1006 Centerpoint Condominium J. Vargas St. cor. Emerald Ave. Ortigas Pasig City

    This company is involve in many labor code violations.. including no ID card for employees, salary delays, unable to give their new entry employees their ITR and TIN number… etc… ask the employees…

    Libel issues? someone is being charged at this time by the same company…

  38. youllsee says:

    He’s at it again! He’s got a previous supervisor there which worked with him for 5 years, he filed a case against the poor guy. I heard that he did resign, filed and submitted a resignation letter. It was that Joel Aquino who did not accept the resignation letter. Now he’s filing a case against him? How pathetic! The truth shall prevail! There is justice! He is just wasting all his money chasing people down, whom he’d actually wronged while his current employees are suffering in there. God knows and he is very just. Humanda siya! Well I guess, Jeffrey Wong’s idea is much better, which gift should the former employees give to him to heap burning coals on his head? hehehe

  39. jef says:

    wow, interesting news…

  40. geoff says:

    nagbago na yata ulit sya ng company name, strat visions na! lolz

  41. geoff says:

    nagbago na yata ulit sya ng company name, strat visions na! lolz..

  42. pandar bear says:

    oo nga yata, nagbago nanaman ng company name.. d ko tlga megets kung bakit nagpapalit palit sya ng name! lolz!

  43. Kitkat says:

    Kasi mainit ang company s mga authorities. Medyo related kasi work nila s porn. Tpos balita ko marami tlgang kaaway yan lalo na mga dating employees nila, dinidemanda yata lahat ng umalis sa kanila at pinapabayad ng 25k.

  44. junkshop says:

    Huwat? nasa news nanaman.. sikat ang pinoy! lolz! pero mukhang kakaiba na this time, its NBI versus them!

  45. candy says:

    hi there… this is one of the hell true about this company. they have many company names. The post in the inquirer its true daw. They even make illegal actiities daw true internet cc daw. I dont know if its true.

  46. jerky says:

    Stratvisions is still alive and still suing joel disini. What an evil and greedy owner of a crap company

  47. frix says:

    matagal na tapos ang kaso na to! Na curious lang talaga ako. Meron pala ito sa blogging world?

  48. Liz says:

    I googled about libel and this came up. I am just really curious about filing of libels against bloggers. You might shed some light on my blog because I am facing such situation. Thanks and see you there!

  49. garz says:

    Congrats for getting through it! :D

  50. Congrats!!! you made it through….

  51. Jeffery says:

    The video below gives more information about how the slime
    mold U. The first case in point is the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
    s definition to include climate activism, human rights, and micro-financing.

  52. Francesco says:

    Which makes him nothing mroe than a village idiot gravelling at the feet of America’s enemies. Undeterred by his constant jailing, Xiaobo took his political ideas to the Internet, which he called “God’s gift to China”. Relationships amongst people are difficult but they are oh, so valuable and rewarding.

  53. KLINTGEM says:

    I never know that there’s some bloggers who faced this kind of libel case and I stumbled on this blog while searching it. I must be careful.

  54. Rey Balbiran says:

    my i know the details of aquino vs rp nuclei case? which branch in pasig city it was assigned?

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