Ramos said they anticipated a counter-charge after they opposed the Cordova reclamation project initiated by Sitoy.
Sitoy filed the complaint Monday at the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City against Cordova fishermen Cirilo Pagobo, Eduardo Quijano, Alejandro Baguio and their lawyers Santiago Ortiz and Ramos.
Ramos, however, said they hadn’t yet received a copy of the complant.
“Wala pa mi kadawat sa complaint. Giuna nila og hatag ang media (We have not received a copy of the complaint. They prioritized giving a copy to the media.),” Ramos said.
Ramos said they were expecting the counter charge but he and Ortiz didn’t expect to be included in the damage suit.
“It’s quite unprecedented, but it’s part of our job,” added Ramos.
In his complaint, Sitoy said he “suffered mental anguish, sleepless nights, serious anxiety, loss of goodwill, besmirched reputation and social humiliation.”
But Ramos asked: “how could that be considered damaging to him? What is he talking about? Serious anxiety, when he’s the one who is aggressive?”
The fishermen earlier filed a writ of amparo, asking the court that they be protected from alleged “harrassment” by Sitoy and his “men.”
The writ however was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Ramos earlier called the case a strategic legal action against public participation (SLAPP) suit.
“It’s pure and simple SLAPP suit. It’s very clear that the root of all these is the complaint filed by my wife (lawyer Gloria Ramos) and the case against Governor Garcia, Mayor Sitoy,” Ramos exclaimed referring to the case against the proposed Cordova reclamation project.
He added that once proven a SLAPP suit, the respondents will receive double amount of the damages asked by the complainant.
Pagobo said threats might be a normal part of their everyday life.
He said he was staying in the safe house with two other fishermen.
“We must not be scared and remain strong. Since this has been started, we must continue fighting against the project that affected several fisherfolk,” Pagobo said in Cebuano.
Ramos said their legal battle would reveal “what kind of official he (Sitoy) is, how he treats little people like the fisherfolk.”
Quijano for his part said he would face the case and if he ever would win because we don’t have millions to pay the mayor then he would let himself be imprisoned. /Correspondent Jessa Agua and Norman Mendoza