Prominent Bicolano businessman Elizaldy Co and his Misibis Bay Resort have filed a P1-billion cyber libel suit against social media giants Facebook and YouTube and Peter Advincula, the self-confessed “Bikoy,” over the controversial “Ang Totoong Narco List” video that implicated them in the illegal drug trade.
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This is the first prominent suit filed against social media giants Facebook and YouTube in the Philippines.
Co and the resort management filed two separate complaints before the Legazpi City prosecutor’s office seeking the criminal indictment of respondents Advincula, Facebook and YouTube, for cyber libel under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
“The truth is finally out. By his own admission, Bikoy said everything in the viral video series that implicated me, Misibis Bay resort and other personalities in the illegal drug trade are pure fabrication,” Co said in an interview.
Apart from Advincula, who surfaced last May 13 to unmask himself and reaffirm his allegations in the videos only to surface again yesterday to retract his claims, the first charge sheet also included as respondent Facebook Philippines, represented by country director John Rubio, and other unidentified individuals responsible for the malicious video.
The complaint sought civil damages from the respondents amounting to P150 million in moral damages and P100 million in exemplary damages as well as payment of 10 percent for attorney’s fees for each of the two complainants, or a total of P550 million.
The second complaint named Advincula, Google Philippines as owner of YouTube where the videos circulated, through its country manager Kenneth Lingan, and other unidentified persons as respondents.
Co and Misibis Resort Management demanded the same amount of damages of P500 million and P50 million in attorney’s fees from the second set of respondents, for a total civil damage claims of at least P1.1 billion.
The complainants said the “false, malicious and libelous accusations in the video” that went viral on Facebook and Youtube affected not only his good reputation in the business field but also the operations of the popular resort destination in Albay.
The complainants also said that some banks with which the company did business raised questions about their creditworthiness.
“In particular, one bank, upon learning about the video, immediately suspended the processing of my pending application for a significant amount of loan,” Co said.
The complainants said they asked both Facebook and YouTube to take down the video on April 26, but both social media giants have ignored the request and the video has remained online.
They said this was why they included Facebook and YouTube in the complaint.
The complainants said all necessary elements of cyber libel under the law were present in the case to find the respondents criminally and civilly liable.
Co lamented how the video destroyed the reputation he built for many years.
He said Misibis Bay Resort has also built its image “not only throughout the country but also throughout the world as… a reputable tourism-oriented luxury establishment of which every Bicolano can be proud of” only to be destroyed by the respondents.
In the fifth episode of the “Ang Totoong Narco List” series, Bikoy said a drug syndicate working out of Bicol was called the “Quadrangle Group” and included former politicians and businessmen.
Bikoy identified Co as the supposed leader of the group and claimed that the illegal operations were conducted inside Misibis Bay Resort.
He also identified the other members of the group as Albay Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado, former Camarines Sur congressman and Gov. Luis Villafuerte, Catanduanes
Gov. Joseph Cua, Sorsogon senior provincial board member Krunimar Escudero, Victor Lorenzo Rosales, Naga businessman Thomas Enrile and businesswoman Tess Rañola.
Advincula is a former convict who had served a sentence at the national penitentiary for an estafa case. After he surfaced in a press conference at the headquarters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
, it was learned that he is also a wanted man facing multiple cases of estafa and illegal recruitment in several provinces.
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