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Annette Gozon-Abrogar Says Sarah Lahbati, Lawyer Disrespected Media, Judiciary

Atty. Annette Gozon-Abrogar has said that Sarah Lahbati and her lawyer did a disservice to the media and judiciary institutions of the country.

The comment was made by the lawyer who is currently GMA Films president after learning that the cases reported in the media to have been filed by Sarah Lahbati against her are not yet filed.

In a statement made to the Philippine Entertainment Portal, Abrogar said that she was shocked to learn that details of the cases reported to have been filed by Lahbati and her lawyer were shared to the media. In another statement, a more complete and formal one published by GMA News itself, Abrogar said the actions of Lahbati and her lawyer are disrespectful to the media and the judiciary.

Atty. Marie Glen Abraham revealed earlier this week that there was an error in communicating with the media leading many esteemed media outlets to report that Lahbati has filed three cases – grave coercion, libel and perjury – against Abrogar and others.

“Medyo nagkamali kasi... kasi ang naano namin dun is we will be filing it. So, nung may mga nagtanong na na mga media on the issue of filing, so we just used the lingo of 'filed' dun sa 'subscribed.'” Abraham is quoted as saying in another PEP report.

Revealing that what should have been reported was that Lahbati has sworn to affidavits to be used in the cases, the lawyer of the actress added, “Pero yun, we had the intention to clarify it when we were interviewed in Makati, but I believed that we were not... intensively explained that matter.”

After reports that the cases were filed have been published, Abrogar said in statements that she welcomes the cases as she believes the courts are the proper venues to discuss the issues. She also said then that she and her lawyers are yet to receive copies of the complaints.

In her statement published by GMA News, Abrogar said that she had three things to say.

First, she said that she is unhappy that the cases have not been filed yet. She said that she wants “the public to know who is telling the truth and who the real aggrieved party is in all of this. Kung hindi nila i-file, hindi malalaman ng mga tao kung totoo ba ang laman ng complaints and kung may basis ba talaga sila sa pagsampa ng kaso.”

She added that she is studying what cases she can file against Lahbati and her lawyer for “making it appear to the media and the public that the complaints have already been filed when they were not and having media carry their detailed and unsubstantiated allegations as if they have already filed the case”.

Furthermore, Abrogar noted that as a member of the media, she feels that “whether [Lahbati and her lawyer] made that mistake with malice or not or with gross negligence or not,” they showed disrespect to media organizations.

“Members of the media who carried their story as if the complaints have been filed were victimized by them. By making the media believe that the complaints have been filed, the complaints were treated as public documents that may be exempt from libel when they carry or publish them,” Abrogar said.

According to the lawyer, Lahbati and Abraham “exposed media organizations to potential criminal liability” because of what they did.

Abrogar’s third point was made as a member of the legal profession. She said that as a lawyer, she hopes that the judiciary system is “given the respect it deserves.”

“For me, making it appear that a case was being filed in a prosecutor's office for publicity purposes shows disrespect to our judiciary and our legal system. Sana, sa mga actions natin, respetuhin naman natin ang ating judicial system,” she said.

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Annette Gozon-Abrogar Says Sarah Lahbati, Lawyer Disrespected Media, Judiciary

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