GENERAL SANTOS CITY Boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Manny Pacquiao has filed a libel case against a newspaper correspondent here over a controversy involving the alleged selling of a stolen car by one of his close associates.
Pacquiaos counsels filed the charges before the City Prosecution Office late Monday afternoon against freelance journalist Edwin Espejo, who mainly writes for online site Asian Correspondent.
A former editor-in-chief of defunct Sun Star daily General Santos, Espejo also contributes for the Davao-based news service MindaNews, Sun Star Davao and the Mindanao Times.
Based on the complaint, the boxing champion is seeking P75 million in damages against Espejo, who is also chairperson of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City chapter.
Pacquiaos case stemmed from the recent articles of Espejo, which appeared at online news outfits Asian Correspondent and MindaNews.
At the Asian Correspondent, the piece was entitled, Stolen car dealer finds refuge in Pacman mansion, while MindaNews titled it Dealer of stolen cars last seen in Pacman mansion".
Citing reports, Espejo wrote that Mohammad Bong Akia, former head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group in Region 12 or Central Mindanao, was seen disembarking from a commercial plane from Manila two weeks ago, and immediately boarded the waiting vehicle of Pacquiao who flew in on the same flight.
Reports said Akia accompanied Pacquiao in the latters residence and has not been seen since, Espejo reported.
In an earlier press statement, the Philippine National Police (PNP) central office said the suspect (whose surname was spelled Aquia) has been charged with violation of Republic Act 6539 or the Anti-Carnapping Act.
The case was filed against Aquia after the Highway Patrol Group arrested a village official here for possession of a stolen Hyundai Starex van. The village official identified Mr. Aquia as the source of the hot car that was forcibly carjacked from a businessman in Angeles City and replaced with a license plate registered to showbiz celebrity Luis Manzano, according to the PNP statement.
Espejo said he has yet to formally receive a copy of the complaint but was able to obtain a copy from a third party.
Ill stand by my story, he said, adding that he is still trying to find a lawyer to help him and waiting for the official copy of the complaint before issuing any more comments. (PNA)