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QC court dismisses libel case filed by former party list congressman against Teduray leader

"Naalarma ako nung humiling ang prosecution ng provisional dismissal na naman. Naisip ko na nangyari na ito noon -- na-provisionally dismiss tapos na-revive. Naisip ko na kung papayagan ni Judge, magiging walang katapusan; na masmaigi na lang na ipagtuloy natin ang hearing sa susunod na buwan kesa sa provisional dismissal," ("I was alarmed when the prosecution asked for a provisional dismissal. I remembered that they asked for provisional dismissal before -- which was granted, then after some time the case was just revived. I thought that if the Judge would grant the prosecution's request, there would be no end to the provisional dismissal and revival; it would just be better then for us to continue with the hearings scheduled next month rather than have this provisional dismissal...") said Alim Bandara, the accused in one of two libel cases filed in the Quezon City regional trial court by incumbent ARMM Governor, and former ANAK MINDANAO (AMIN) Party List Representative, Mujiv Hataman.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 84 Judge Luisito G. Cortez earlier ordered the dismissal of the case on the ground that "...prosecution witness failed to appear and to present their evidence despite ample opportunities given by the court..."

Around May 2008, former AMIN Party List representative Mujiv Hataman filed two complaints for Libel against Alim Bandara -- former President of AMIN Party List -- and another former AMIN officer, on the basis of letters they signed and addressed to officials in the House of Representatives, and to the AMIN Chairman Emeritus. They asked for investigation on alleged misuse by former AMIN Rep. Mujiv Hataman of pork barrel funds.

"[If the lawyer for the accused from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center was to absent herself...] I was ready to give a speech on behalf of the Accused..." said former Constitutional Commissioner and anthropologist Ponciano Bennagen in jest. "I was ready to give a speech on the blurred vision of the Philippine Justice System... Nagka-cataract na nga," ("[The Philippine Justice System] appears afflicted with cataract,") he said jokingly. Prof. Bennagen is Mr Bandara's friend and was instrumental in availing of the services of a defense counsel for the latter. He was also referring to the other libel case filed against Mr Bandara and Ms Yennah Torres -- former AMIN secretary general -- where both Accused were found guilty by another QC court last September 2015. The motion for reconsideration is awaiting resolution.

"We're still grateful to all who supported us, and to all who believe in justice," said Ms Yennah Torres, Mr Bandara's co-acccused in the other libel case, who attended the Branch 84 hearing earlier to lend support. #

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