US Charity body files libel suit

ANGELES CITY — Top executives of Michigan-based World Medical Relief Inc. (WMRI) has filed libel case against a member of a local foundation and two journalists for alleged malicious imputations against the 67-year old charity organization. 

In a 10-page complaint, George Samson, WMRI president and CEO, filed last December 13, 2019 before the office of the City Prosecutor Office in Angeles City, Pampanga a violation of section 4 (c) paragraph 4 of RA 10175 known as Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 against William J. Lima, a former member of Board of Trustee of WMR-Philippine National Business and Coordination Center Foundation Inc. (PNBCCFI), Benjamin Pulta and Cynthia V. Luna, writer and acting managing editor of Philippine News Agency  (PNA), respectively.

The complaint stemmed from a PNA article published in its website last October 15, 2019 which allegedly discredited the honor of WMRI’s philanthropic mission in the Philippines.

The PNA news story online stated that (brokers of) “an international aid group which has been allegedly dumping medical wastes and defective medical equipment into the country.”  

Lima was the alleged originator of information written by Pulta and published in the PNA website. 

Samson complained that Lima, et al, published the article “without due regard for truth, propriety and fairness.” He said that the statement (of Lima) caused the online writing and publication of scurrilous, injurious, defamatory and libelous article at the PNA, allegedly with the “intention of attacking and exposing WMRI to public ridicule, contempt and hatred.”

In the said article, he furthered, the respondents “knowingly and maliciously ascribed and fabricated fictitious acts” and alleged that for the past 12 years, WMRI has been dumping medical wastes and defective medical equipment in the country.

It was also stated in the article that the last shipment made by WMRI are alleged “cancer medicines” which managed to enter the country without the necessary permit from the United States regulatory offices as to their legitimacy.

Samson belied said article published by the PNA and stated that WMRI has neither dumped medical wastes into the Philippines or to other parts of the world nor gave medicines without necessary permit from the US regulatory offices.

“WMRI’s track record, not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world, will belie all of Lima and other respondents’ malicious imputations against the honor of WMRI,” he stressed.

“As President and Chief Executive Officer, WMRI has always acted within the scope and bounds of its aim and vision which is serving the sick and poor locally, nationally and internationally since 1953,” Samson furthered.

Samson claimed that such defamatory statements and published by the PNA are unsupported by any proof and clearly reveal that these were specifically crafted and maliciously engineered to cause damage to the good name and reputation of WMRI. It was given 4 Star Rating by Charity Navigator, a premier evaluator for charities.

WMRI, for years now, had extended countless medical assistance and donated medical equipment and supplies. Some of them include those given to Bayugan Community Hospital  in Agusan del Sur (40-ft container medical equipment and supplies worth $402,690); St. Claire Hospital, Quezon Bukidnon, three 40-ft containers amounting to $987,521; Ricardo Limso Memorial Hospital, Davao City, a 40-ft container with estimated appraisal of $429,440; Digos Doctors Hospital, Davao Del Sur; Municipalities of La Paz and San Luis, Agusan Del Sur, three 40-ft containers and two Ford E-350 Diesel Ambulances worth $1.3 million; Provincial Government of Camarines Sur; and PRO 11 PNP General Hospital, Davao City received three 40-ft containers worth $1.3 million.

In recognition, WMRI had received numerous citations and commendations from various LGUs including Angeles City, Cebu City, Toledo City, Municipality of Janiuay, Iloilo, Municipality of Itogon Benguet, and City of Mati, Davao City.

Armed with purpose of coordinating WMRI’s passion to help the country, Lima together with David Lee Zarate, Bernardito Ang, and two others organized and registered a non-stock and non-profit corporation under the name of WMR-Philippine National Business and Coordination Center Foundation Inc (WMR-PNBCCFI), and became member of its board of trustees.

As coordinator to the Philippines, PNBCCFI acted as screening committee of the Philippine entity applicants that would become the beneficiaries of WMRI.

Being a former member of the Board of Trustees, Lima is aware of the track record of WMRI’s philanthropic activities.

He knows earnestly and truthfully the good intention of WMRI towards the Philippines, and that Lima is cognizant of the fact that WMRI means no harm to the country, the complaint stated.

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