Rivera, Gacal agree to settle libel case

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – Almost 10 years after businessman Rodrigo “Junjun” Rivera Jr. sued former city councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., both camps finally agreed to an amicable settlement.

Gacal is the chief of staff of the congressional office of Rep. Manny Pacquiao and also the latter’s long time lawyer.

In an oral manifestation on January 10, 2008 before Regional Trial Court Branch 37 Judge Panambulan Mimbisa, Gacal said he regretted having caused anxiety to the complainant Rivera for the interview he gave to the local media confirming the alleged death threat issued against him by the businessman.

He said he only answered queries from the media who was apparently told by a certain Gerry Girado of the said death threat.

Rivera vehemently denied the allegations and filed separate libel suits against two local newspapers here for reporting the alleged death threat.

Rivera said Girado has personally apologized to him in writing and that the latter may have been misquoted by the local media.

Rivera likewise agreed to drop his complaint against former editor of the defunct Sun.Star General Santos, Edwin Espejo, and circulation in charge Joel Jumilla.

Espejo and Jumilla are co-accused of Gacal.

Espejo, for his part, joined Gacal in expressing the same regret for whatever anxiety the Sun.Star headline dated January 25, 2002 has caused the complainant.

In addition, Rivera also sued Southern Review editor Resty Cartojano, reporter Roniel Degorio and circulation manager Lito Acebedo.

The Southern Review said that while it is ready to prove that the article was not libelous, Girado’s apparent recantation made the local weekly to take back “all that was written” in the article that appeared as headline of its January 19-25, 2002 issue. (MindaNews)