Journalist fires back after declared “non grata”

Lawyer Salvador Diputado, the media practitioner and former IBP president declared “persona non grata” by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan did not receive the action of the provincial lawmakers well as he questioned the technicalities in taking such action against him.

Diputado, an acnhorman and Bohol Times columnist/editor, filed a civil case against provincial board members Venzencio Arcamo, Kristine Alexie Tutor, Abeleon Damalerio, Ricky Masamayor, Elpidio Jala, Agapito Avenido and Romulo Cepedoza, the lawmakers who signed the committee report.

Board Members Tomas Abapo, Jr. Dionisio Vitor A. Balite and Vice-Gov. Dionisio Balite did not affix their signature in the committee report containing the recommendation of persona non grata. The father and son Balite who are in-laws of Diputado inhibited themselves during the committee hearing while BM Jade A. Bautista and BM Nino Rey F. Boniel were absent.   Amidst claim of a  political manuever, ex-officio SP member as president of the Philippine councilors League (PCL) Bohol chapter Gloria Gementiza withdrew her signature to the committee report containing such declaration.

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The charge sheet is docketed in civil case No. 8798 “for nullification of Resolution and Damages” subscribed and sworn to by lawyer Romulo Puagang, Clerk of Court VI, Regional Trial Court branch.

 Diputado asked the court to invalidate the SP Resolution No. 2016-508, declaring him as persona non grata “for being ultra vires, invalid and illegal”

 The said SP Resolution in question was based on the Committee of the Whole report No. 2016-15 dated September 7, 2016, Diputado said.

 Diputado also asked the court to order the respondents (the SP members who signed the said committee report) to pay him Php2 million for moral damages; Php500,000 for exemplary damages; and Php20,000 for incidental cost.
The alleged illegal acts of the defendants caused him “sleepless nights, mental anxiety and untold social humiliation,” Diputado said in his complaint.

 It will be recalled that Diputado figured in a high profile discussion of a public issue after he made an expose’ in his radio program and newspaper column of an alleged $81 million deposit in a dollar account of a ranking Capitol official. The discussion over the airlanes  for several weeks caused the public to demand from Diputado to identify the said Capitol official.

After the broadcaster failed to identify the Captiol official, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to invited him during committee hearing as well as officials of the Bohol Bankers Association to shed light on the matter.

Diputado maintained that he has a source who reveal this bank account and that he would not reveal the identity of his source since the said information (on bank account) still has to be verified.

However, after his failure to identify the Capitol official in front of the provincial lawmakers, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) stepped in to conduct an independent probe.

The NBI declared  the Diputado expose’ as “rumor” as the lawyer could not provide the source of his information as well as documents to prove the alleged huge dollar deposit. Even officials of the Bohol Bankers Association who were likewise invited to the public hearing said it was impossible for one to hold the $81 million deposit.

Following the independent probe of the NBI,  the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution declaring Diputado, a former IBP president as  “persona non grata,” or “unwelcome person” by the provincial law making body.
Senior Board Member Vencenzo Arecamo who sponsored the resolution explained the declaration against Diputado is the provincial lawmakers’ “expression of sentiments” arising from what he did in spreading the unfounded report of an alleged millions of dollar account of a Bohol provincial official. However, he clarified the declaration will not curtail  any rights of Diputado as a citizen.

The provincial government of Bohol would wish the public to know that the lawyer-journalist from Negros Oriental is “not welcome” to be in the province.

The provincial lawmakers likewise cited in their report that it was not the first time Diputado engaged in spreading unfounded reports. The lawmakers recalled that the same lawyer-journalist, in his radio program over dyTR reported that a CCTV footage allegedly showed a radio reporter present present few minutes before the raid at the residence of the late drug personality Sherwin Bautista, this city. He aired in his radio program the CIDG will release to him the said CCTV footage showing a mediaman. He even claimed that the mediaman requested “authorities to obliterate his face in the CCTV in possession of the CIDG.”

The allegations of Diputado was debunked  by the Philippine National police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). The Diputado story triggered controversy in the local media circle after he sound definite of a CCTV footage, when there was actually none.



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