Former DLSU professor Richard Heydarian says calling Leni Robredo “empty-headed” is libel. Find out what is the legal opinion of this lady lawyer!

Former DLSU professor Richard Heydarian said in a Facebook post calling Leni Robredo “empty-headed” is not freedom of expression and asserted that insulting the VP is libelous.

Was Heydarian correct to say that calling Robredo “empty-headed” constitutes libel?

However, as far as lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles is concerned, the assertion of former DLSU prof and currently GMA News resident political analyst Richard Heydarian is wrong.

Angeles went on to explain why Heydarian’s assertion calling Robredo “empty-headed” does not constitute libel.

Angeles cited two Supreme Court cases, Borjal v. CA G.R. No. 126466 January 14, 1999 and US v. Bustos G.R. No. L-12592 March 8, 1918 involving a public figure versus a private citizen in trashing Heydarian’s argument.

You may read Trixie Cruz-Angeles’ full FB post below

Heydarian implies libel.

He may be free to express his opinion that calling VP Leni “empty headed” is an insult. But Heydarian clearly says so to make it appear that such a statement is libelous.

Libel is a “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 dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” (Art. 353 Revised Penal Code)

Since it is public, publicity is required. Posting on social media makes such a comment public.

Art 354 of the Revised Penal Code says, “Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown”

Sa madaling sabi, kung insulto lang, at walang ikabubuting lalabas dito, malicious yon at posibleng libel.

Pero, ang di sinasabi ni Richey ay ang sinabi ng pinakamataas na hukuman ukol dito. Sabi sa Borjal v. CA
G.R. No. 126466 January 14, 1999, “In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be inferred from the facts.”

Ibig sabihn, kapag public person ka, kahit di tutoo, o mali, kung may konting basehan yng post o sinabi, walang malice at posibleng walang libel.

Eto sabi ni Justice Malcolm sa kasong US v. Bustos G.R. No. L-12592 March 8, 1918, “The interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Completely liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the intelligence and the dignity of the individual be exalted. Of course, criticism does not authorize defamation. Nevertheless, as the individual is less than the State, so must expected criticism be born for the common good. Rising superior to any official or set of officials, to the Chief of Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary — to any or all the agencies of Government — public opinion should be the constant source of liberty and democracy.

Translation: wag balat sibuyas, dahil may public interest ang komentaryo sa mga opisyales ng gobyerno.

Leni Robredo has been the favorite subject of memes of her critics, portraying the Vice President as “dumb” or “empty-headed” for her penchant of making stupid statements.

For example, Leni Robredo was immortalized for her “4X40 = 1600 remarks” when the Vice President was commenting on the skyrocketing price of rice not so long ago.

“As of today, 42 yung presyo ng bigas, that’s 4 pesos mas mahal kaysa doon sa pag-umpisa ng pagkwenta ng TRAIN. Ang 4 pesos, ang estimate nila, 10 kilos per week per Filipino family… So kung 10 kilos per week per Filipino family e di ano na yon? 40 a week na kaagad. Sa isang buwan, yung 40 times 4, Php 1600.” Credits to Thinking Pinoy for providing the text of Robredo’s commentary on TRAIN law and its effect on the price of rice.

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