Talks has been circulating in blogs, most especially Philippine blogs about the “Talented Mr. Montano” and the “Gucci gang. In fact I wrote an article on how popular it has become from an SEO perspective. You can check out the posts entitled “Who is DJ Montano and Brian Gorrell and why you should get to know them.”
The story of this controversy is best capsulated by Wikipedia under the entry “Gucci Gang” and is described as “a series of events that involved an Australian blogger Brian Gorrell who published his accusation against his former boyfriend of swindling him of money totaling US$70,000 Gorrell’s blog, which was first published on March 4, 2008, has also accused his ex’s well-to-do friends, whom he tagged as “Gucci Gang”, of attempting to cover up the deed and striking back at him. The blog has since become a major gossip topic in Philippines’ capital city Manila, exposing its high-society youths who can afford to buy buying Polaris Accessories on their alleged freeloading lifestyle, and addiction to cocaine. It has also tested Philippine and Australian online libel laws, and raised questions about the extent of freedom of speech in blogging.”
What interested me most is the legal aspect involved in the case. Being a lawyer, I feel it is my duty to help shed light on the matter and help educate the public concerning the law on libel.
Libel is punishable under the Revised Penal Code specifically under Article 353.
A crime is supposed to be committed when it satisfies all the elements of the crime. In the crime of libel the elements are as follows:
1.) There must be an imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance.
2.) The imputation must be public
3.) It must be malicious
4.) The imputation must directed at a juridical or natural person or one who is
5.) The imputation must tend to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.
Based on the above elements it seems it is quite obvious that the imputations in the blog of Mr. Brian Gorrel have satisfied all of the above. First he made statements that a crime, an act or omission has been committed. Secondly he made his statements in public through his blog. Thirdly, the statement is maliciously made. Fourthly it is directed to a natural person, in fact it is directed to against several people and lastly his allegations tend to dishonor or discredit the persons involved. Hence there is no doubt that the crime of libel has been committed.
What makes sets this case apart from the regular libel case is that the malicious statements was published on the internet in a blog. Truly this unique situation will certainly test our laws on laws on libel, more on this in the post to come.