November 23, 2012
The long ordeal is finally over. In a decision released last October 17, RTC Judge Danilo Buemio dismissed the libel case filed against dotPH by
Joel Aquino and Versomina Inc.
It started back in 2008 when a blogger on dotPH's i.ph blogging service wrote several posts warning web designers to stay away from a web design
firm called Versomina Inc., also operating under the names Stratvisions, Netpros, Webcomm, Team Creatives, MyTuscany and others. The blogger cited questionable employment practices and oppressive working conditions as reasons for avoiding these companies.
The posts also identified company executives that the blogger claimed were responsible for the questionable practices, including the owner, Mr. Joel
Aquino. Comments left on the blog supported these claims, some using profane language. Versomina requested that dotPH take the blog down but
dotPH refused, citing the principle of free speech.
“We couldn't take the blog down just because someone said they don't like what it says,” said Emil Avancena of dotPH. “We'll only take it down if
there's a court order saying it's libelous or otherwise violating the law. So we told Versomina to defend themselves against the accusations online
by responding to the comments or putting up their own blog.” Joel Aquino responded by filing a libel case against dotPH instead.
Just deleting the blog instead of fighting a court case would have been the easy (and cheaper) alternative, but dotPH didn't back down. “Our CEO,
Joel Disini, felt that fighting for the principle was important. Someone should stand up for the man on the street, especially if there was truth to what the blog claimed.” said Avancena.
After years of legal fees and showing up for court hearings (several of which were rescheduled because the opposing attorney would not show up),
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dotPH won when the charges were finally dismissed. “It's a relief that it's over. And finding out that doing the right thing pays off in the end is a great feeling.”