Taguig court dismisses ‘Sir Chief’s’ libel cases vs. Mabatid; ex-councilor feels ‘vindicated’

CITING lack of jurisdiction, a regional trial court (RTC) in Taguig City, Metro Manila has dismissed two cyber libel cases against former Cebu City councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid who said she felt vindicated by the decision.

The RTC dismissed the cases filed by businessman and celebrity Richard Edison Yap or commonly known as Richard “Sir Chief” Yap, who also ran as house representative for Cebu City’s north district in the 2022 national and local elections. Both Yap and Mabatid failed to win the elections as Rachel “Cutie” del Mar emerged as the winner.

When a court has no jurisdiction over a case, the only power it has is to dismiss the action, as any act it performs without jurisdiction is null and void, and without any binding legal effects, according to Lawphil.net.

Mabatid said she felt vindicated after the dismissal of two cyber libel cases filed against her by Yap in September 2022.

In a statement sent to SunStar Cebu Wednesday, March 8, 2023, Mabatid said the court’s decision only proved that “no power from anyone can stop the truth from coming out.”

Taguig City RTC Assisting Judge Jaime Santiago promulgated the decision on March 3, 2023. He penned that the court concurs with the argument of Mabatid’s camp that in criminal cases, the venue is jurisdictional, and “at the time the alleged defamatory or libelous remarks were made, both parties are residing in Cebu City.”

Mabatid further questioned the residency of Yap since the latter was under oath in his pleading that he is from Taguig and not from Cebu City.

Yap sued Mabatid due to the latter’s alleged remarks that the former used funds and rice from the government thus committing theft, robbery and conspiracy in embezzling public funds and properties.

Mabatid was also charged for saying that Yap has an illegitimate child that he refused to recognize and support since birth.

On Sept. 30, 2022, the court found probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against Mabatid. On Nov. 11, the court received an endorsement from the office of the Clerk of Court of the 7th Judicial Region in Dumaguete City that Mabatid “voluntarily surrendered” and was able to post bail.

Mabatid’s legal counsel then filed a motion to quash information on Jan. 25, 2023, and stated that the Taguig RTC has no jurisdiction over the offense charged.

According to Mabatid, the venue Yap chose to file the case in is doubtful and she further questioned if the complainant has “connections” in Taguig.

“I was a good public servant. I gave everything. Money, time and effort just to serve the Cebuanos and God knows that. It is just unfortunate that kani tanan nalimtan (all of these have been forgotten) because of the manipulation done by political syndicates, which I thought were my friends,” said Mabatid.