In a 24-page decision prepared by Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, entertainment columnist and TV-radio host Cristy Fermin (inset) was ordered to pay the amount of P1 million to celebrity couple Eddie Gutierrez and Anabelle Rama (main photo) to escape prison time.
The Supreme Court ordered entertainment columnist Cristy Fermin to pay the hefty sum of P1-million in damages and P6,000 in fines to couple Eddie Gutierrez and Anabelle Rama in connection with the libel conviction handed out initially by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals.
The monetary penalty slapped on Fermin would serve as her only bailout to avoid serving the jail sentence issued by the court, which sentenced her to a minimum of three months to a maximum of one year, eight months and twenty-one days.
Cristy, who used to be the publisher of the now defunct showbiz magazine Gossip, repeatedly contested that she had no hand in the article published on June 14, 1995. The article tackled Anabelle’s case filed in the United States. She also said that the article was not damaging against its subject.
The high court said the articles, written by a member of her reportorial team, fueled “speculations” that Ms. Rama, along with her husband, was hiding in the United States to evade the estafa charges filed by a certain Ligaya Santos.
This, after a warrant of arrest was already issued.
The articles also went to note that they could not just go there since there were more estafa cases waiting for them there.
The high court, however, junked Fermin’s plea and noted that by admitting she was the chairperson and president of the said publication, she was actually on top of everything and was aware of all the articles being put out.
The verdict, as written in a national daily, stated: “Petitioner’s criminal guilt should be affirmed, whether or not she had actual knowledge and participation, having furnished the means of carrying on the publication of the article purportedly prepared by the members of the Gossip reportorial team, who are employees under her control and supervision.”
In a phone interview with GMA News, Fermin said she has accepted the court’s decision and her relationship with the Gutierrez family is okay now.
Philippine Entertainment Portal