ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio ‘Gabby’ Lopez III and other current and former employees of the network posted bail in connection with the case after, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court issued arrest warrants for them last week.
The arrest warrants were issued against Lopez, Erwin Tulfo, Lynda Jumilla, Beth Frondoso, Maria Progena Estonilo Reyes, Annie Eugenio, Dondi Garcia, Luis Alejandro, Jose Ramon Olives, Jesus Maderazo, Luchi Cruz-Valdes, Jose Magsaysay Jr., and Alfonso Marquez.
In a press statement, head of ABS-CBN Integrated Corporate Communications Bong Osorio said the accused “will avail themselves of all legal remedies to question the findings of probable cause for the arrest warrants.”
“It is unfortunate that the respondents are being pilloried as criminals, when in fact, it was ABS-CBN whose rights were violated. They are confident that this libel suit will eventually be dismissed,” Osorio said.
ABS-CBN had accused GMA of using without permission ABS-CBN’s broadcast coverage of overseas Filipino worker Angelo dela Cruz’ arrival in the Philippines after he was released by Iraqi militants in 2004.
GMA picked up and aired the footage from foreign news agency Reuters Television Service despite an advisory sent by Reuters stating “No Access Philippines” or that the material could not be used by its subscribers in the Philippines without consent. The “no access” rule is also contained in the standard Reuters agreement with its subscribers in relation to video material sourced from other subscribers in a particular territory.
Osorio pointed out that GMA used the ABS-CBN coverage “without its authority and consent and thus was charged by ABS-CBN with copyright infringement.”
GMA’s libel complaint against ABS-CBN was dismissed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) private prosecutor ACP Venturaza in 2004, and which dismissal was affirmed by former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez in 2005.
However, in 2010, former acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra reversed Gonzalez’ resolution. And in 2011, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima affirmed Agra’s resolution.
ABS-CBN has a pending petition with the Court of Apppeals questioning the DOJ’s resolution finding probable cause for libel against them.