Barbers' libel suit vs Newsbreak settled

A politician and his sons’ libel suit against Newsbreak over the magazine’s report on their unexplained wealth has been settled. Both sides have agreed to a compromise.

The libel suit, filed by the late Senator Robert Barbers and his sons, Lyndon, Ace, and Dean, versus Gemma Bagayaua and Marites Danguilan Vitug of Newsbreak was settled without payment, and Newsbreak did not issue an apology for the article, "Barbers’ Cut," which appeared in the Oct. 13, 2003 issue.

Newsbreak was then a fortnightly news magazine. Currently, it is a mainly online magazine with occasional hard-copy editions and a partner of www.abs-cbnnews.com.

In the compromise agreement filed with the Quezon City regional trial court Tuesday (March 10), Newsbreak agreed to publish in the Web sites www.newsbreak.com.ph and in www.abs-cbnnews.com a Q and A with the Barbers brothers—Lyndon, Ace and Dean. The interview will cover a range of issues including the brothers’ views on current events and their plans.

After publication, the civil and criminal case filed against Newsbreak will be dismissed.

The Barbers filed a libel suit in October 2004, almost a year after the story was published. Senator Barbers died in December 2005.

In their suit, the Barbers claimed that the articles were written with malice and with reckless disregard to the reputation and standing of the plaintiffs in the community and sought P10 million in actual, moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees.

In the article, the writer, Gemma Bagayaua, found out that the senator’s properties did not match his income and that he owned a business that bagged a government contract in his province, showing conflict of interest.

Bagayaua won second prize in the Jaime V. Ongpin (JVO) investigative reporting awards in 2004 for this story. (abs-cbnnews.com)

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