In the first Facebook internet libel lawsuit in the Philippines, Judge Mary Josephine Lazaro of the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court threw out the case stating that it could not be prosecuted because internet libel had jurisdictional constraint.
The online defamation lawsuit was brought against Lawyer Argee Guevarra for allegedly posting defamatory statements on his Facbook page about Cosmetic Surgeon Vicki Belo. Guevarra launched a smear campaign after his former client suffered complications from two surgeries performed by doctors at Belo’s clinic.
Guevarra, in a statement released on Tuesday, said Lazaro anchored her dismissal on improper venue without considering the issues he raised such as the Justice Department's ruling that there is no such crime as Internet libel "which should bar prosecutors from even entertaining such complaints."
"To begin with, it is already indicative that Dra. Belo shopped for a friendly fiscal, that's why she filed the libel law case in the province of Rizal despite the fact that she resides in Makati and I live in Pasig City," he said.
Counsel for Guevarra said the decision is a step forward, as the court’s decision would allow for the millions of Facebook users in the Philippines to exercise their right to free speech and expression.
Worldwide Facebook internet libel cases:
Matthew Firsht wins online libel law case over Facebook group, Channel 4 News www.channel4.com
The Internet Libel Case of Omni Hospital vs Prita Mulyasarif, JakarataGlobe