Actor Enchong Dee was granted bail after willfully surrendering to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Quezon City in relation with the P1 billion cyber libel lawsuit brought against him.
Per an ABS-CBN report, Dee, 33, apparently posted P48,000 bail in exchange for his momentary freedom.
Previously, authorities attempted to serve a warrant for his arrest at his last place of residence in Cubao, Quezon City, but were unsuccessful. Neighbors apparently notified the police that Dee had not frequented the area in quite a while.
Cristy Fermin, an entertainment broadcaster, has urged Dee to turn himself in to authorities voluntarily.
“Ito ang pinakamagandang gagawin ni Enchong dito,” she said during her radio program recently. “Hindi po pwedeng pagtaguan ito. Huwag mong paliitin ang mundo mo, magpiyansa ka.”
Dee issued a statement from his lawyers on his Instagram account, clarifying that, contradictory to some reports, he has not attempted to escape arrest.
His lawyer stated that he willfully agreed to surrender "as a show of respect for the rule of law," but that the actor will "take all appropriate and necessary legal steps to defend himself against the pending lawsuit."
Dee was among those who chastised Drivers United for Mass Progress and Equal Rights (DUMPER) Representative Claudine Diana Bautista-Lim for holding a lavish wedding in the midst of a pandemic. He was then charged with cyber libel in December of 2021.
In a tweet on August 14, 2021, Dee said “The money for commuters and drivers went to her wedding. Let’s not prolong this conversation and don’t say otherwise.”
He later removed the post and apologized for posting it, claiming a "lapse in judgment."
Lim filed a complaint against Dee in November 2021, claiming that his tweet was "defamatory" and "malicious," and that it portrayed her as a crooked government servant.
She sued Dee as well as another Twitter user who retweeted him for P1 billion in damages each.
“The anxiety, anguish, humiliation and the impact on my and my family’s reputation left us no choice but to file cases against those responsible for causing us so much grief and worry, which almost led to me losing our baby, and which adversely affected some of our constituents’ trust in us,” Bautista said.
Lim's complaint also named singer-actor Agot Isidro, comedians Pokwang and Ogie Diaz, Deedee Marie Holliday, Kristina Mae Misajon, and a Jane Doe. The complaint against them, however, was dismissed.
“Considering that these tweets are mere expressions of disapproval (or disgust, if you may) at varying degrees on the action, this Office could not attribute malice and ill motive to the said respondents who have taken upon themselves to be the so-called watchdogs of our society,” read part of the resolution approved by Davao Occidental Provincial Prosecutor Marte Melchor Velasco.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, claimed Dee accused Lim with a crime – misappropriation of public funds – during a COVID-19 pandemic. “which peremptorily makes the complainant a soft target for heavy criticism and pillory, placing her thereby in a bad light due to such reckless and irresponsible tweet of the respondent.”
They asserted that Dee's allegation that Bautista-Lim was a thief "cannot also be considered within the purview of qualifiedly privileged communications."