On July 13, the Honourable Sidney Lederman, Judge of the Superior Court of Justice, ruled in favour of the Honourable Tobias C. Enverga Jr., Ontario Senator, in his defamation lawsuit against Balita Media Inc. and publisher Tess Cusipag, in a damning verdict over false and defamatory remarks published about the Senator which alleged fraud related to fundraising efforts on behalf of the Kalayaan Cultural Community Centre (KCCC) in 2000.
The judge awarded Senator Enverga general and aggravated damages, in addition to punitive damages and a permanent injunction against the publisher and her company to publish/broadcast, or assist or encourage others to publish/broadcast, any statements about the issues related to the Senator’s role in KCCC fundraising, the charitable status of the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) and Senator Enverga being a biological and pathological liar.
In the judgement, Justice Lederman wrote in part: “In the end, the defendants have no reliable evidence to prove the truth of the $6,000 fraud allegation or the PCCF donation/tax credit allegation. In fact, Cusipag admitted on discovery that it is not true that Senator Enverga committed a fraud in relation to fund raising activities and that the PCCF allegations are false.”
“… an award of punitive damages is necessary in this case. The defendants, and in particular Cusipag, has done virtually everything she could to destroy and discredit Senator Enverga in an unrelenting manner … 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. In 2010, after Senator Enverga was elected as a Catholic school board trustee, he arrived late to a press event held by Cusipag [Senator Enverga went to a wake for a good friend]. She published a warning to Senator Enverga. ‘First off is to respect the press who can wield its power to make or break you.’ In the article and on her Facebook page, she is fulfilling the threat that she made against the plaintiff in 2010 that she would destroy him,” the judge continued.
The judgement is clear on the motivation of the Balita publisher, stating that: “Cusipag was motivated by malice. She obviously holds a deep seated resentment towards Senator Enverga. She used his comments to the Philippine press as a springboard to vent her unfounded allegations in the published Article and her Facebook to intentionally besmirch Senator Enverga’s reputation in the Filipino-Canadian community.” After receiving the decision, Senator Enverga’s counsel, Howard W. Winkler, told the Senator: “The decision is a complete vindication of your reputation. The decision is a complete indictment of Ms. Cusipag.”
“I am relieved by the court’s decision on this matter,” said Senator Enverga in a statement. “This is a victory for the community,” Senator Enverga ended.