By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – An assistant in the office Filipino Canadian Senator Tobias C. Enverga, Jr. said that he
believes “Senator Enverga does ‘not want Fil-Can publisher jailed.’
The assistant, who holds office in Senator Enverga’s office in the Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, was referring to Tess Cusipag, the editor-publisher of Balita, a twice-a-week newspaper based in Toronto, Canada. Cusipag and her Balita Newspaper and Balita Media Inc., publisher of Balita Newspaper, were asked by Enverga to be cited for contempt of court.
Aside from Cusipag, her other co-defendants are the deceased Carlos Padilla, the president of the Kalayaan (Independence) Cultural Community Center (KCCC), Romeo P. Marquez (a.k.a. Romy Marquez), who wrote the alleged defamatory article, in the related defamation lawsuit.
TESS CUSIPAG, PUBLISHER-EDITOR, BALITA
The motion for contempt was personally addressed to Ms. Cusipag, who will also be representing Balita Newspaper and Balita Media, Inc., publisher of Balita. She will appear before Judge Sidney Lederman, who will hear the motion for contempt Enverga filed against her. The motion for contempt does not include Mr. Marquez. The hearing will take place on Wednesday (March 8) at 10 a.m. inside the Superior Court of Justice at 393 University Avenue in Toronto.
The assistant, who refused to be identified because his opinion is “considered my response as a private dialogue between you and I,” said in an email message to this reporter that “I want to add that Senator Enverga does not ‘want Fil-Can publisher jailed’. He merely wants the lies that Balita writes about him to stop.
“Breaking the law comes with the consequences that it comes with, and if that means being sent to jail, then, unfortunately, that is the consequence. Should the judge find this to be appropriate, Ms. Cusipag can only blame herself for not complying with a court order.”
The assistant clarified that he is not speaking on behalf of Mr. Enverga, saying, the Senator “is not commenting on any facets of the case until the court proceedings have been completed.”
He rued, however, “I wish you had contacted our office before you wrote your piece so that it may have reflected certain realities that you have conveniently or mistakenly left out of your story.”
SURPRISED BY THE STATEMENT
But this reporter was surprised that the assistant issued a statement regarding the article. Senator Enverga never responded to request for comment by this reporter since Enverga was appointed senator by the former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012. The 58-year-old Enverga will be in line as senator that pays $138,700 annually while in good behavior until he reaches 75 years old.
COAT OF ARMS
The assistant said, “It is easy to re-publish one-sided accusations of lies, theft and fraud. What you may have missed, considering it was left out of your story, is that the judge in the initial judgment of July 13, 2016, at paragraph 33 states in part:
“In fact, Cusipag admitted on discovery that it is not true that Senator Enverga committed fraud in relation to fund-raising activities and that the PCCF allegations are false.”
“I feel confident that I can comment on the finding of guilt since that has been settled and the defendants are not appealing this decision; rather, they are appealing the size of damages and cost as you rightly state.
“You also neglected to mention the plain and direct words of Justice Lederman in justifying his decision. An example is from paragraphs 46 and 47 of the judgment, which states in part:
“They engaged in absolutely no investigation whatsoever as to the truth of what they were publishing. They were recklessly indifferent to the truth of the Article ... At no time has there been any retraction or apology given.
“Cusipag vows to continue to make defamatory statements against the plaintiff [Senator Enverga] and has shown no interest in stopping her efforts or refraining from misconduct. Cusipag was motivated by malice. She obviously holds a deep-seated resentment towards Senator Enverga.”
The assistant also said, “I also take your publishing Ms. Cusipag’s claim that the lawsuit filed by Senator Enverga led to Carlos Padilla’s death as highly disappointing. The last time I checked, Ms. Cusipag does not have a medical degree and is not registered as a member of a Canadian college of physicians. This is an outrageous claim, and I would rather highlight the fact that Ms. Cusipag is quoted in your story as saying: “... we were caught unprepared”.
CUSIPAG DENIES FAULTING ENVERGA FOR DEATH OF PADILLA
Cusipag denied ever making the claim faulting Enverga that his filing of lawsuit as the cause of Padilla’s death.
When asked by this reporter why Enverga waited for Consolacion “Mama Ching” Quejas and Carlos Padilla, presidents of KCCC, to die before Enverga filed a defamation suit against Cusipag and four others, the assistant did not comment.
The assistant added, “At the end of the day, the Canadian justice system prides itself with being independent and reliable. Once a judge has handed down a decision, most Canadians accept that and act accordingly. That is the issue before the courts at this moment and I am certain that the judge will consider all the relevant evidence and rule accordingly.”
Enverga’s assistant, however, cannot explain why the Senator still included Carlos Padilla as co-defendant in the motion for contempt although Padilla died more than two years ago.
The assistant also refused to comment when prodded by this reporter if Senator Enverga was going to take up the challenge of this reporter if he can propose in the Parliament to limit the of awards throughout Canada of damages in libel suits, whose large amounts are used by plaintiffs to oppress and harass journalists into bankruptcy. Mr. Enverga could cite Quebec Province, which adopted the New York v. Sullivan actual malice standard and replaced its own strict liability standard now in place in Ontario Province and most of Canada.
The motion for contempt singled out that “Tess Cusipag be personally and as an officer and director of Balita Media be imprisoned if she fails to comply the term of the order of the court.”
In the motion for contempt Enverga filed last Feb. 13, 2017, the first and only Filipino Canadian senator, also asked Judge Lederman to issue the following orders:
1. Order defendants to be “collectively” cited for contempt of court based on the order of Judge Lederman granted July 13, 2016 and be made a permanent injunction order;
2. Order media defendants to comply with the terms of the Permanent Injunction Order;
3. Balita Media must publish “an order and endorsement of the court on the within motion on the first page of Balita newspaper above fold in 11 points and bolded font in the first print edition of Balita newspaper;”
4. Balita Media must publish “within seven days of the release of the home page of the online edition in 11-point and bolded font and remain there for a period of ninety days;”
5. Order defendants to pay the Crown $25,000;
6. Pay costs of the motion on a substantial indemnity basis to be fixed and payable within 30 days of the date of the order; and
7. Other reliefs, which the court, may deem just.
"ENVERGA NO INTENTION OF PAYING $6,000"
The motion for contempt was an offshoot of decision of Judge Lederman on a motion for summary judgment last July when Enverga won a large libel judgment from Ms. Cusipag, Mr. Marquez, Mr. Padilla and Balita Media defendants to pay Enverga $150,000 in general and in aggravated damages, $100,000 in punitive damages and $90,000 towards legal costs “plus judgment interests” in a defamation suit.
HALL OF TORONTO SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE
Balita reported the claim of Quejas that Enverga had “no intention to pay the $6,000” that Enverga allegedly collected from the Filipino Canadian community for KCCC when Enverga was not yet appointed as Ontario’s Conservative senator.
Quejas’ claim was seconded by Padilla, who wrote an article for Balita. Balita sought Enverga’s request for comment before Padilla’s article came out. But Balita did not get any response from Enverga.
Quejas and Padilla died before they could affirm their allegations in court.
Their deaths allegedly caused Enverga to initiate a defamation lawsuit against Cusipag and four others on April 25, 2014 based among “other things, (on) a false, malicious and defamatory article that was published in the Feb. 1-15, 2014 print edition of Balita” written by Romy P. Marquez entitled, “A biological liar?”
Enverga said the other alleged defamation includes as follows:
“In 2001, Padilla went to Peel Regional Police in Mississauga and filed a complaint alleging some “chicanery against another KCCC Director;
“In October 2013, ‘Padilla got the police officer to corroborate the fact that he had indeed reported to the Fraud Department what he believed to be a fundraising scam;’
“I recall Mr. Padilla accusing a community director of skimming fundraising money for his own purpose;
“Mama Ching [Quejas], current president of KCCC, emailed him saying Tobias Enverga had promised to deliver $6,000 in 2000 to KCCC..;
“Another controversy is the status of his Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF), which is questionable as he said his minions continue to assert what Canada Revenue Agency indicates, i.e. that is not a registered charity!