Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Jacinto Paras sued on Wednesday (Feb. 24, 2021) Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan for libel over damaging allegations made by the lawmaker in a privilege speech delivered on Feb. 8, 2021.
Paras is seeking P6 million in damages, and insisted that parliamentary immunity did not cover the defamation that Tan made against him in her speech in the House.
Tan, Chairperson of the House Committee on Health, delivered a privilege speech claiming that Paras was responsible for a TikTok video using material from a news website, www.sovereignph.com, which Paras owned that reported about allegations of corruption involving her and her husband Ronel Tan, the Regional Director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region 1. The news report published in the website was based on a complaint filed by a councilor from Lopez town in Quezon province.
Paras denied posting any TikTok video especially the video cited by Tan in her privilege speech. Tan said in her speech the video has been pulled out from TikTok since.
In his complaint, Paras said Tan made libelous statements against him “when she delivered her malicious and defamatory speech accusing me of being involved in stealing a cell phone or theft of a cell phone in the premises of the House of Representatives …”
“Calling me a cellphone theft is reckless and irresponsible. First, she said she does not know me personally, second, the accusation from a former Congressman Villlarin that I stole his cell phone was outright dismissed by the Fiscal’s Office, so how could Angelina Tan hurl malicious and defamatory words against me calling me cellphone theft unless she is thoughtless and carefree without being considerate to her fellow human being,” Paras said.
“It is indisputably clear that there was an imputation of an act, condition, circumstance, or status against me as evinced by her statement that I was involved in theft of a cellphone, tantamount to saying I am a thief. And for that she is guilty of committing libel against me,” he stressed.
The PLLO Undersecretary said that the “the malicious and libelous imputation by respondent Angelina Tan in her speech” had the sole purpose of injuring and ridiculing him. SOVEREIGNPH