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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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Ombudsman find probable
cause in case of Distrito vs. Alejandrino

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas has determined that the late Nilo Alejandrino, former Secretary to the Sanggunian of Bacolod City, had violated Republic Act 7277 (as amended by RA 9442), or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, in the case filed against him by Councilor Caesar Distrito.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, said in his decision issued June 29, 2012, that the words Alejandrino uttered publicly against Distrito, showed probable cause to charge him for violation of the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability.

The Ombudsman cited that Alejandrino's statement “kay man gapabulag-bulag ka mo (because you are pretending to be blind)”, referring to Distrito, cannot be established as slanderous or defamatory by the evidences submitted, but can be rightfully considered as violation of RA 7277.

What made Alejandrino's words offensive, the Ombudsman also said, is the fact that Distrito is indeed suffering from visual disability and such can be classified as public ridicule, which is defined as an act of making fun or contemptuous imitating or making mockery of persons with disability whether in writing, or in words, or in action due to their impairment which could result in loss of self-esteem of the complainant.

The decision also states that the use of terms related to vision, in the light of Distrito's visual disability or impairment, whether or not the utterance was made to convey a message against Distrito's purported inaction on documents in his office, would clearly offend and intimidate or cause his loss of esteem.

The decision also said any person who violates R.A. 7277, which protects the welfare of persons with disability, will be meted a fine of not less than P50,000 but not exceeding P100,000 or an imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than two years, or both, at the discretion of the court.*CGS






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