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P. M. R.

Gairanod

Constitutional Law 2

Prof. F. Hilbay

NEWSWEEK, INC. vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT Newsweek, Inc. vs The IAC, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc., BinalbaganIsabela Planters Association, Inc., Associaciom de Agricultores de la Carlota, La Catellana y Pontevedra, Inc., Donedco Planters Association Inc., private respondents May 30, 1986 J. Feria Nature of the Case: - Special action for certiorari, prohibition with preliminary injunction seeking to annul the decision of the IAC sustaining the Order of CFI Bacolod denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss the complaint for libel led by private respondents Facts: - Private respondents, incorporated associations of sugarcane planters in Negros Occidental led a case in their own behalf and/or as a class suit in behalf of all sugarcane planters in the province against Newsweek Inc. and two of their non-resident correspondents/reporters, Fred Bruning and Barry Came. - The complaint alleged that petitioner committed libel against them by the publication of the article "An Island of Fear" in their magazine. The article supposedly portrayed the island as a place dominated by big landowners or sugarcane planters who exploited the impoverished sugarcane laborers and brutalized and killed them with impunity. They claim that the article showed a malicious use of falsehood, slanted presentation and misrepresentation of facts, putting them in a bad light - Petitioner argues that private respondents' complaint failed to state a cause of action because the complainant made no allegation that anything contained in the article referred specically to any one of them--and libel can be committed only against individual reputation OR, if is claimed to be directed at a group, there i defamation only if the libel can be said to reach beyond the mere collectivity to do damage to a specic, individual group member's reputation. Ruling: - Decision of the IAC is reversed and the respondents' complaint is dismissed. Rationale: - There is no cause of action. - Corpus v Cuaderno, Sr.: In order to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim be identiable, although it is not necessary that he be named. - Defamatory matter which does not reveal the identity of the person upon whom the imputation is case affords no ground of action unless it be shown that the readers could have identied the personality of the individual defamed. - This principle is important especially where a group or class of persons claim to have been defamed because the larger the collectivity, the more difcult it is for the individual member to prove that the defamatory remarks apply to him. - Where the defamatory is alleged to have been directed at a group or lass, it is essential that the statement must be so sweeping or all-embracing as to apply to every individual in the that group OR sufciently specic so that each individual

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P. M. R. Gairanod

Constitutional Law 2

Prof. F. Hilbay

can prove the defamatory statement specically pointed to him so that he can bring action separately. - The case is NOT a class suit. It is not a case where one or more may sue for the benet of all or where the representation of class interest affected by the decree is indispensable to make each member an actual party. - The plaintiffs here have a separate and distinct reputation in the community. They do not have a common or general interest in this controversy. - The disputed portion of the article that they claim is libelous never singled out plaintiff Sola as a sugar planter. The report merely stated that the victim has been arrested by members of a special police unit brought into the area by Sola, the mayor of Kabankalan. The report, referring as it does to an ofcial act performed by an elective public ofcial, is within the real of privilege and protected by the constitutional guarantees of free speech and press. - The article in question is not libelous in nature. - The complaint contains a recital of the favorable working conditions of the agricultural workers in the sugar industry and various foundations and programs supported by planters' associations for the benet of the workers. - Undoubtedly, the statements in the article are sweeping and exaggerated, but these articles may also serve to prick the consciences of those who have but are not doing anything or enough for those who do not have.

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