Zaldy Co seeks P1-B damages for Bikoy videos

Bicolano businessman Elizaldy Co, one of prominent personalities implicated in the "Ang Totoong Narco List" video series by Peter Advincula (aka ‘Bikoy’), said he is seeking P1.1-billion in damages against the self-confessed ‘Bikoy’ including social media giants Facebook and Youtube.

“The truth is finally out. By his own admission, ‘Bikoy’ said everything in the viral video series that implicates me, Misibis Bay Resort and other personalities in the illegal drug trade are pure fabrication. While my family and I are happy that this episode is finally over, our fight to clear our tarnished name and reputation continues,” Co stressed.

He said he filed cyberlibel cases against Advincula and social media giants Facebook and Youtube last week for allowing ‘Bikoy’ to use their online platforms to spread false and malicious information. He said repeated written requests by his lawyers to FB and Youtube to take down the offending videos were ignored.

“Like ‘Bikoy’, Facebook and Youtube must be held accountable. Our legal system shouldn’t allow them to be part of a systematic campaign to destroy people and simply get away with it,” he said.

In two separate complaints filed before the Legazpi City prosecutor's office last May 14, Co and the Misibis Bay resort management sought the criminal indictment of respondents for cyber libel under Section 4 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, in relation to libel under Articles 353, 354 and 356 of the Revised Penal Code.

Apart from Advincula, the first charge sheet included as respondent Facebook Philippines, represented by country director John Rubio, and other unidentified individuals responsible for the malicious video.

The complaint sought civil damages from the respondents amounting to P150 million in moral damages and P100 million in exemplary damages as well as payment of 10% for attorney's fees for each of the two complainants, or a total of P550 million.

The second complaint, on the other hand, named Advincula, Google Philippines as owner of Youtube where the videos circulated, through its country manager Kenneth Lingan, and other unidentified persons as respondents.

Co and Misibis Resort Management likewise demanded the same amount of damages of P500 million and P50 million in attorney's fee from the second set of respondents, for a total civil damage claims of at least P1.1 billion.

The complaint stressed that the "false, malicious and libelous accusations in the video" that went viral on Facebook and Youtube affected not only his good reputation in the business field but also the operations of the popular resort destination in Albay.

"I and other officers of the Complainant Corporation received several phone calls and/or messages from our business partners, suppliers, creditors, clients and some concerned individuals, inquiring about the veracity of the statements in the said video," Co lamented in the complaint-affidavit.

"Evidently, my good name, business reputation and social standing, as well as the good name, business reputation and good will of Misibis Bay Resort, as well as its owner, Complainant Corporation, Misibis Resort and Hotel Management Inc., which were painstakingly built through the years, were gravely tarnished, irreparably tainted and/or unduly smeared as a result of the publication of the subject video," he pointed out.

Co revealed that "some banking and financial institutions with which we have significant financial dealings even raised questions on my credit worthiness."

He added that his lawyers asked both Facebook and Youtube to take down the video last April 26, but both social media giants ignored the request and the video has remained online. This was why Facebook and Youtube were impleaded in the complaint.