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Facts: January 1956 Front-page story on the Manila Chronicle Fidel Cruz, sanitary inspector

assigned to the Babuyan Islands, sent distress signals to US Airforce planes which forwarded such
message to Manila. An American Army plane dropped emergency sustenance kits on the beach of the
island which contained, among other things, a two way radio set. Using the radio set Cruz reported to
the authorities in Manila that the locals were living in terror due to a series of killings committed on
the island since Christmas of 1955.
Philippine defense forces (scout rangers) were immediately deployed to the babuyan claro. They were
led by Major Wilfredo Encarnacion who discovered that Cruz only fabricated the story about the killings
to get attention. Cruz merely wanted transportation home to Manila. Major Encarnacion branded the
fiasco as a hoax the same word to be used by the newspapers who covered the same
January 13, 1956 - This Week Magazine of the Manila Chronicle, edited by Gatbonton devoted a
pictorial article to it. It claimed that despite the story of Cruz being a hoax it brought to light the
misery of the people living in that place, with almost everybody sick, only 2 individuals able to read
and write and food and clothing being scarce
January 29, 1956 - This Week Magazine in the "January News Quiz" made reference to Cruz as a
health inspector who suddenly felt "lonely" in his isolated post, cooked up a story about a murderer
running loose on the island of Calayan so that he could be ferried back to civilization. Called it
Hoax of the year
In both issues photos of a Fidel Cruz were published but both photos were of a different person of the
same name Fidel G. Cruz former mayor, business man, contractor from Santa Maria, Bulacan.
January 27, 1957 published statements correcting their misprint and explained that confusion and
error happened due to the rush to meet the Jan 13 th issues deadline. Cruz sued herein petitioners for
libel in CFI Manila. Cruz won and was awarded P11,000 in damages (5k actual, 5k moral, 1k attorneys
fees) CA affirmed CFI decision hence this case
Issue: WON petitioners should be held liable for their error in printing the wrong Fidel
Cruzs photo in relation to the hoax of the year?
WON such error is sufficient ground for an action for libel to prosper?
Held:
Yes they are liable but damages awarded to Cruz is reduced to P1,000.00. Mistake is no
excuse to absolve publishers because libel is harmful on its face by the fact that it exposes the injured
party to more than trivial ridicule, whether it is fact or opinion is irrelevant.
Citing Lu Chu Sing v. Lu Tiong Gui libel is "malicious defamation, expressed either in writing,
printing, or by signs or pictures, or the like, ..., tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead or
to impeach the honesty, virtue, or reputation, or publish the alleged or natural defects of one who is
alive, and thereby "pose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule,"
Citing standard treatise of Newell on Slander and Libel "Publication of a person's photograph in
connection with an article libelous of a third person, is a libel on the person whose picture is published,
where the acts set out in the article are imputed to such person."
In this case 3rd person was Cruz his picture being published beside the article imputes him as the
purveyor of the hoax of the year
Libel cannot be used to curtail press freedom however it also can not claim any talismanic immunity
form constitutional limitations. State interest in press freedom citing Justice Malcolm: Full discussion
of public affairs is necessary for the maintenance of good governance Public officials must not be
too thin-skinned with reference to comments on official actsof course criticism does not authorize
defamation. Nevertheless, as an individual is less than the state, so must expected criticism be born
for the common good.

So long as it was done in good faith, the press should have the legal right to have and express their
opinions on legal questions. To deny them that right would be to infringe upon freedom of the press.
Last word on the subject Citing Quisumbing v. Lopez: Press should be given leeway and tolerance
as to enable them to courageously and effectively perform their important role in our democracy.
Freedom of the press ranks high in the hierarchy of legal values
TEST of LIABLITY must prove there was actual malice in publishing the story/photo! (Note: but this
was not done in this case)