By Vince Alvic A. F. Nonato, Reporter

Profriends sues hazards mapper for cyberlibel

Posted on October 26, 2015

MASS HOUSING developer Property Company of Friends, Inc. (Profriends) has sued an advocate of hazards mapping for cyberlibel over online posts alleging structural flaws and flooding hazards in a Cavite project.

Ervin B. Malicdem, a resident of Lancaster New City in Imus City, said in an Oct. 24 blog post on the Schadow1 Expeditions Web site that the real estate company filed a criminal complaint against him with the Mandaluyong City Prosecutor’s Office.

A copy of the 10-page complaint posted on the Web site read that litigation head Arnaldo C. Malabanan, Jr., sought to charge Mr. Malicdem with six counts of online libel for posting “derogatory materials against Profriends and its employees.”

The Sept. 24 complaint pointed to Mr. Malicdem’s Facebook post identifying portions of the Lancaster New City Cavite Zone 2 project as “completely High Flood Hazard areas.”

The complaint also cited a hazard map Mr. Malicdem posted alongside a composite image that aims to show “substandard drainage,” flood-prone areas, and a “road-level irrigation canal.”

These carried the annotation: “The real reason why there is flooding in our village. And the real status of our drainage system.”

The complaint also cited yet another post where Mr. Malicdem commented on supposedly substandard construction.

“At the pretext of helping supposed aggrieved purchasers of housing units from Profriends,... [Mr.] Malicdem took advantage of the social networking site and used it as a convenient tool to spread malicious and untrue claims...,” read the complaint.

The complaint said the posts were made on the “Profriends Victims” Facebook page. It also pointed out that as an “alleged victim himself,” Mr. Malicdem “developed ill will and hostility” that exposed the intention to injure the firm.

Profriends also “incurred damage such that there was a loss of sales in its projects, as well as an increase in the number of demands for refund from buyers,” it said.

Mr. Malicdem in his nine-page counter-affidavit dated Oct. 21 said he never identified Profriends. But his posts also said his advocacy for disaster risk mapping is “being smothered” by the developer, when private individuals like him could have used data on possible hazards.

“How can the people embrace disaster risk reduction when in the first place, the information is being gagged using a libel law?,” he said.

Profriends did not reply to this reporter’s request for confirmation and comment.