Senator Enverga ‘happy’ with result
By Ted Alcuitas
Updated: March 25, 2017, 9:18 PM
The publisher of Toronto’s Balita and his editor has been found guilty of contempt March 8 for violating the injunction in a previous libel case filed by Senator Tobias Enverga.
Balita Inc., its publisher, Tess Cusipag and Editor Romeo P. Marquez were named defendants in the case. A fourth defendant, Carlos Padilla died before the case was filed.
“From the very start, we knew that the truth would prevail, but, sometimes, the law is too slow,” Enverga told The Philippine Reporter in an interview after the verdict.
“And, sometimes, being slow leads to injustice. I am happy with the judgment on criminal contempt. I believe it will teach them, the press, some lessons on how to be a responsible press. Criticism is fine. I don’t have a problem with constructive criticisms, but when you spread lies, that’s the worst thing you could ever do to any person,” Enverga said.
Sentencing is scheduled for another date after Justice Frederick Myers of the Ontario Court releases his reasons for his judgement.
Plaintiff Enverga was asking for a penalty of $25,000 or an alternate prison term for the defendants plus court costs.
Balita and Cusipag has been ordered $340,000 in the libel case filed by Senator Enverga last year.
The appeal on that case will be heard on April 8, 2017. .
Justice Myers said “For reasons to be delivered in the near future, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the ‘Media Defendants’ defined in its Notice of Motion have committed criminal contempt as alleged. I write this now so as to give Media Defendants fair warning that the Order of Lederman J. remains binding on them and is to be obeyed in letter and in spirit. Sentencing will be scheduled at a case conference to be held after my reasons are released. I make no further order today. There is no need to do so given the continued validity of Justice Lederman’s order.”
“Essentially what Justice Myers said that Judge Lederman’s order is valid and it’s to be complied with and he’s made that point in his endorsement that that order continues valid and binding on Ms Cusipag and Balita newspaper,” Howard W. Winkler, lawyer of Senator Enverga siad in an interview.
“The motion was for the finding of contempt on the part of Tess Cusipag and Balita Newspaper. The Judge today made the finding of contempt and what will happen next is that the matter will proceed on a future date where the sentencing before the consent will be imposed on Cusipag. The finding of criminal contempt could be appealed, however, based on our perspective it is straightforward. In fact, ‘the contempt was clear, intentional and deliberate by Ms. Cusipag,’” Winkler further said.
Senator Tobias Enverga Jr. and his wife Rosemer Albovias Enverga were in court to hear the judgement. According to The Philippine Reporter, both “were overjoyed” upon hearing the ruling in their favor while listening quietly inside the courtroom. The long overdue judgment that took four years they said “has finally come to an end.”
“To the Filipino community, huwag kayong matakot (don’t be afraid); just do the right thing. Don’t be scared about people criticizing you, as long as you’re doing good and helping the community and the poor people in the Philippines or here in Canada,” Enverga added.
“I always forgive and I always pray that people will change for the better, however, it is all up to the law now and I cannot do anything about it. I just hope people will learn and be responsible. We are one community. We should be united and we should always think of other Filipinos. We don’t like crab mentality. Let’s support each other. Let’s support everybody. Pataasin natin ang community. Huwag nating pabagsakin (Let us lift the community. Let’s not destroy it.),” Enverga quipped.
The Philippine Reporter said J. Chow, lawyer for Balita and Tess Cusipag, declined to comment on the judgment.
“I was given a strict gag order so any questions would have to be directed to Tobias to ask why.” Cusipag told philippinecanadiannws.com in an email.
“What decision? What case?” was Romeo P. Marquez’s curt reply to our request for comment.
In 2016, Judge Lederman released a permanent injunction order prohibiting ‘media defendants’ directly or indirectly “from publishing and/or broadcasting, or encouraging or assisting others to publish or broadcast any statements in any manner whatsoever which in their plain or ordinary meaning or by innuendo suggest in relation to fundraising activities for Kalayaan Cultural Centre (KCCC) Senator Enverga committed criminal fraud and on Senator Enverga’s involvement in fundraising activities for KCCC in 2001 and by virtue of his statements in relation to the charitable status of the Philippine Charitable Foundation (PCCF).”
According to The Philippine Reporter, the 32-page Factum of Senator Tobias Enverga said that “on October 6, 2016, Cusipag sent a blind copy of an email to Senator Salma Ataullahjan of the Senate of Canada suggesting that Justice Lederman is corrupt and that the Jewish faith of both Senator Enverga’s lawyer and Justice Lederman influenced the outcome of the case.” The Factum also narrated that when Cusipag was asked by Joseph Lariosa of Journal GlobalLinks why she lost the case she responded by saying: “I was shocked when the verdict came out… They all said that there was another hand that worked on the judges etc. May Karma get to them both. His lawyer and the judge are both Jews.”