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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, August 18, 2016
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Cano hits back


Enough is enough. This was the message of Bacolod's No. 1 Councilor Ricardo “Cano” Tan against certain persons that had been using the internet to what he charged to be a concentrated attack against him and his family. Heretofore, the malicious messages posted in the cyberspace were personal but now the assaults are also implicating his business, primarily the world-renowned Campuestohan Highland Resort.

In a press conference he called Tuesday in Campuestohan, Councilor Tan was in an impassioned mood and is fighting back. He distributed to the press copies of his complaint-affidavit filed before the Bacolod City Prosecutor's Office on August 16, that same day against Ivan Joseph Serofia and Rhomar Joe Gonzaga.

According to Tan, these two exchanged messages “which were made public and posted under the FB account of the resort and with a clear intent of maliciously painting us as a drug trader and manufacturer, and to tarnish and besmirch the reputation of the resort and its owner”.

These two did exchange messages between themselves but posted it under the CHR site that brought the messages throughout the world.

The damage is therefore not just on the person of Councilor Tan and his family but to the resort as well. Thus aside from the criminal aspect of the case he is also demanding civil damages of at least P5 million “to be assessed jointly and severalty against the two”.

If two people exchanged messages of whatever kind between themselves that would not constitute a crime of libel but they not only published it throughout the world, they used the FB account of the resort which makes their messages malicious.

I wrote before that Councilor Tan had sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation. His letter to the NBI was dated July 26 and the NBI immediately went on a search. According to the councilor, the case is the result of the findings of the NBI. There is therefore not just a libel case but also a cybercrime.

In that letter he told the NBI that “some unknown groups or individuals… had been using the mass media and even the internet to destroy” his good name. He added that anonymous individuals using certain accounts in the internet are malicious and without basis whatsoever” linking him to the drug trade.

Note that he mentioned some people in “mass media” which are different from that of the internet messages. This means that aside from those using the cyberspace there will be others that I presume would be local media people who repeat and spread out what he calls the same malicious lies.

Indeed when asked, Councilor Tan said that these two are just the first to be charged. There will be more as the NBI and his lawyers are still collating the information. At least three more will be charged shortly.

The messages being sent out into cyberspace claims that Tan is “engaged in the manufacture of illegal drugs and that the resort was raided and searched”. They also said that there is a drug laboratory within the resort.

The two further claimed the raider found an underground shabu laboratory and that “the resort was ordered closed and its opening was only temporary”.

Tan explained that he called the press conference right in the resort to show that the resort is open and operational and there is no “underground” shabu laboratory. Indeed it was open and there were tourists, a few of them were foreigners. Some members of the press went under the giant King Kong where Sellora and Gonzaga were reported to have said the laboratory was located.

The day was exhilarating. The noonday sun gave us warmth while the fog that covered the entire range of Mt. Marapara protected us from the sun and gave us cold winds.

Indeed if the resort was raided and closed that would have been big news. The raid, closure and discovery of a shabu laboratory are headlines news. The duo did not say who conducted the raid.

The councilor also revealed that at one time a Bacolod newspaper called him to confirm a report from someone that he had been arrested. Cano was near the swimming pool and he told the caller to tell whoever called to come over so he could dump him into the pool.

The information being feed to media are similar. Is there a conspiracy, I asked him?

Let's continue tomorrow.*



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