Arrest over Facebook post teaches lesson, says mayor

Posted at 10/24/2012 12:24 AM | Updated as of 10/24/2012 12:39 AM

'Perling Garcia's libel case not harassment' - Pentecostes

MANILA, Philippines – The mayor of Gonzaga town in Cagayan, Carlito Pentecostes, Jr., said on Tuesday that he doesn't want anti-mining advocate Esperlita 'Perling' Garcia thrown in jail, adding that the libel case he filed last year was only meant to teach her a lesson.

“Wala akong intensyon na makulong siya. At that time, gusto ko lang siya mabigyan ng leksyon,” Pentecostes told Studio 23’s “Iba-Balita”.

Pentecostes also denied having a hand in Garcia’s arrest. He claimed that he had already forgotten the libel charges filed last year, and he had no knowledge of the arrest.

“Nakalimutan ko na ‘yang kaso na ‘yan. At that time na inaresto si Mrs. Garcia, nasa seminar ako, saka ko lang nalaman ng 10:30 ng gabi na si Mrs. Garcia ay kinuha ng NBI. Wala akong alam na kinuha siya ng NBI,” he said.

Anti-mining advocate Esperlita 'Perling' Garcia

The 62-year-old Garcia, an anti-mining advocate, was arrested in Cagayan last Thursday over an allegedly libelous statement she posted against the mayor on Facebook.

But Pentecostes said he can no longer recall the exact statement made by Garcia, only that it was damaging to his reputation.

“Dahil sa ipinost niya sa Facebook niya na nakakasira ng puri, talagang libelous masyado ‘yung pinost niya sa Facebook niya,” he said.

Garcia's arrest raised the ire of several militant groups amid the controversy stirred by the recently signed Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Garcia spent a night in jail and was released after posting bail of P10,000.

2013 mayoralty race

Pentecostes stressed he has no intentions to harass Garcia, whom he said is running against him in the 2013 midterm elections.

“Ayaw ko na ma-sensationalize ito dahil siya pa naman ang makakalaban ko sa eleksyon, baka sabihin nila ay may relasyon ito sa pagtakbo niyang mayor laban sa akin. Wala iyon. Lahat naman ng gustong lumaban sa akin bilang mayor ng Gonzaga ay hindi ko naman pinipigilan, kaya lang pinapalaki lang ni Mrs. Garcia ito,” he said.

“Pinapairal ko lang naman ang batas, wala akong hina-harass sa bayan ko. Tinutupad ko lang ang mga batas na dapat kong sundin,” he added.

He also claimed that he has a good relationship with Garcia and he has no ill feelings despite the alleged libelous remarks against him.

However, Pentecostes stressed that although everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, he will not tolerate libelous statements.

“Sana huwag siya mag-post ng paninirang puri at sana maging constructive ang mga opinyon niya at hindi ‘yung nakakasira. May sarili naman tayong mga opinyon, lalo na dito sa pagmimina sa amin. In fact, pumunta pa sa opisina ko si Mrs. Garcia at sabi niya sa akin, ‘Mayor, pwede ba mag-peace na tayo? I appreciate what your doing in Gonzaga.’ Hindi ko makalimutan na sinabi niya ‘yun sa akin. Pero hindi ko alam na pagkukunwari lang pala ‘yun,” the mayor said.

“Wala akong sama ng loob sa’yo, dahil kung may sama ako ng loob sa’yo, hindi na kita iisyuhan ng mayor’s permit sa negosyo mo kahit hindi siya nagbabayad ng tax. So walang harassment, kundi ginagawa ko lang ang karapatan ko dahil sinira nila ang puri ko kaya nag-file ako ng libel case,” he added.

Environmentalist?

Pentecostes also questioned Garcia’s stand against mining, alleging that several private properties of Garcia and her family in the province have been open to mining operations.

“Ang totoo, may mining operation dito sa bayan namin pero hinihigpitan namin ang monitoring dito. Ang hindi ko lang maintindihan, sinasabi niya na siya ay environmentalist. Siya mismo ang nagpapamina sa tabi ng bahay niya at sa tabi ng mga bahay ng mga kapatid at magulang niya. Hindi ko maintindihan,” he said.

“Sinasabi niya na anti-mining siya, eh bakit niya pinayagang ipamina ang mga private property nila?” he added.