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Title: Fermin v.

People

Facts:

Cristy Fermin is the publisher and Bogs Tugas is the editor-in-chief of Gossip Tabloid
The June 14, 1995 headline and lead story of the tabloid says that it is improbable for Annabelle
Rama to go to the US should it be true that she is evading her conviction in an estafa case here
in the Philippines for she and husband Eddie have more problems/cases to confront there. This
was said to be due to their, especially Annabelle's, using fellow Filipinos money, failure to remit
proceeds to the manufacturing company of the cookware they were selling and not being on good
terms with the latter.
Annabelle and Eddie filed libel cases against Fermin and Tugas before RTC of QC, Br. 218.
RTC: Fermin and Tugas found guilty of libel.
CA: Tugas was acquitted on account of non-participation but Fermin's conviction was affirmed.
Fermin's motion for reconsideration was denied hence, this petition. She argues that she had no
knowledge and participation in the publication of the article, that the article is not libelous and is
covered by the freedom of the press.

Issue: WON Cristy Fermin is guilty of libel?

Held/Ratio: YES.

Proof of knowledge of and participation in the publication is not required, if the accused has been
specifically identified as author, editor, or proprietor or printer/publisher of the publication.
Petitioner was not only the publisher, but also the president and chairperson.Petitioners criminal
guilt should be affirmed, whether or not she had actual knowledge and participation.

The elements of libel were present.

o Evident imputation of the crime of malversation (converting money for personal use),
of vices or defects for being fugitives from the law (evading prosecution in America)
and of being a wastrel
o Attribution made publicly. Gossip Tabloid had a nationwide circulation.
o The victims were identified and identifiable.
o The article reeks of malice, as it tends to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of
the complainants.
Malice in law - the article was malicious in itself; the imputations were false.
Malice in fact - there was motive to talk ill against complainants during the electoral
campaign as Fermin is a close friend of Eddie's opponent in the Congressional race

While complainants are considered public figures for being personalities in the entertainment
business, media people do not have the unbridled license to malign their honor and dignity by
indiscriminately airing fabricated and malicious comments, whether in broadcast media or in print,
about their personal lives.