Medialdea slaps yet another libel complaint vs. Mon Tulfo

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea filed his third libel complaint against his fellow presidential appointee, columnist Ramon Tulfo, over two new columns which supposedly contain defamatory statements against him.

This time, Medialdea wants Tulfo prosecuted for two counts of libel over his July 25 and August 1 columns in The Manila Times where he alleged that the executive secretary is involved in corruption and is incompetent.

“Tulfo assassinated my character and raised suspicion on my honesty, integrity and credibility, not just as an individual, but as the Executive Secretary of the Republic of the Philippines,” Medialdea said in his 18-page complaint before the Manila prosecutor’s office.

Tulfo, who will sit as President Rodrigo Duterte’s special envoy to China until November, has claimed in his columns that Medialdea is withholding the release of P270.07 million to an informant and called him incompetent.

Medialdea denied the accusations, adding that Tulfo failed to exert any effort to verify his claims before publishing them.

“Tulfo’s malicious allegations … are false and baseless. Respondent Tulfo did not even bother to explain how he obtained those pieces of so-called information … nor did he substantiate the statements made in the same,” Medialdea said.

The Executive Secretary had earlier written to The Manila Times editors to refute Tulfo’s claims in his July 25 article and asked them to publish his letter in full.

This is the third in a string of libel cases Medialdea filed against Tulfo, whom he accused in his latest complaint to be “clearly on a sinister mission” against him.

After filing his first complaint against Tulfo, Medialdea said he does not care if he continues writing, but he should expect more cases to come.

Tulfo was first to announce that he had been slapped with a libel complaint stemming from a May 28 column which alleged that Medialdea is the "connection to the president" of jueteng whistleblower-turned-Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Sandra Cam.

The article further claimed that Medialdea and Cam have an “unholy alliance” and that they caused Duterte to fire retired military general Alexander Balutan as PCSO general manager.

Medialdea complained about two more of Tulfo’s columns in his second case against him.

One article accused Medialdea of issuing a memorandum circular, without Duterte’s knowledge, to support the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee Foundation which was rocked by corruption allegations. Tulfo berated Medialdea in another column titled “You will have your karma, Bingbong Medialdea.”

Tulfo has decried the charges against him as harassment. He also called Medialdea “onion-skinned.”

“Tulfo is actually the first journalist that I have filed a libel case against and I am not doing this just because I am offended by what he has written but because he is obviously using his position as a journalist to maliciously malign my honor, integrity and reputation,” Medialdea said.

Aside from Tulfo, Medialdea also named top Manila Times officers and editors as respondents in all of his complaints.

The Revised Penal Code defines libel as "public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead." It is punishable with up to six months imprisonment.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.