Press Release
February 3, 2021

Pasay court convicts fugitive social media blogger anew over libelous FB posts against Drilon

The Pasay Regional Trial Court has convicted anew a fugitive social media blogger, who has an outstanding warrant of arrest to serve his earlier sentence of up to four years imprisonment for libelous articles against Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

This time, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 188 found Manuel Mejorada guilty for four counts of online libel under Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

In a 28-page decision penned by Presiding Judge Wilhelmina B. Jorge-Wagan dated January 25, 2021, the court found four out of five Facebook posts that were subject of Drilon's complaint "guilty beyond reasonable doubt of libel" and sentenced Mejorada to two to four years of imprisonment.

The court also issued a warrant of arrest against Mejorada. An outstanding warrant of arrest has already been issued against Mejorada in 2020 after the Supreme Court affirmed with finality the earlier decision of the court that found Mejorada guilty of four counts of libel and sentenced him to an imprisonment of two to four years.

Mejorada has since been in hiding following the issuance of a warrant of arrest last year.

"Mejorada did not pause to recalculate his options after his complaint was dismissed, but relentlessly went on public reiterating the same accusations of corruption and defaming the private complainant. Such is a 'clear indication of his intent to malign,'" the court said.

"This court is not mindful of the intent to air grievances against public officials as well as in the discharge of their official functions. But, such must be 'an expression of opinion based on established facts, or can be reasonably inferred from the facts,'" the decision read.

"It is beyond cavil the identity of the person defamed in the Facebook posts are manifestly mentioned," it added.

The subjects of the libelous Facebook posts are some of the projects pushed and supported by the Ilonggo senator in Iloilo City, including the Iloilo Convention Center and a circumferential road, a boulevard, wherein Mejorada accused Drilon of corruption.

In 2015, the Ombudsman dismissed as "baseless and malicious" all the accusations Mejorada hurled against Drilon in connection with the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center.

"I welcome the Pasay Regional Trial Court's decision that found Mejorada guilty beyond reasonable doubt of libel. This new decision and the earlier ruling by the Pasay RTC only validate the fact that Mejorada's allegations against me are complete lies and fabrications," Drilon said in a statement.

"It saddens me, and it is an insult to the court, that the man has no respect for the rule of law. Despite his conviction, Mejorada did not stop from fabricating vitriolic and false accusations against me and he is now hiding from the authorities to avoid serving his jail term," Drilon said.

"Mejorada should face the consequences of his actions and must serve his sentence," he added.

Aside from his conviction, Mejorada is facing another four cases of online libel in the same court, for which he has a pending warrant of arrest.

In 2020, Mejorada was also found guilty of graft by the Sandiganbayan for an "overpriced laptop purchase'' when he was Iloilo provincial administrator. The anti-graft court sentenced Mejorada to a maximum of eight years in prison and perpetually disqualified him from holding public office.

News Latest News Feed