$2.5 million defamation action against Balita’s Cusipag, Marquez

Community News & Features Jun 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm
MELINDA RUSTIA

MELINDA RUSTIA

TORONTO–Kol Hope Foundation for Children, a Canadian charity to help kids in need, and Filipino-Canadian philanthropists Melinda Rustia (the President of Kol Hope) and her son, a Canadian broadcaster/fashion producer Jeff Rustia have filed a $2.5 million defamation suit against Teresita Cusipag, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Balita, and Romeo P. Marquez, Balita’s Associate Editor and Publisher/Editor of Philippine Village Voice, Mabuhay Radio and Filipino Web Channel.

Counsel for Kol Hope and the Rustias, Michael Alexander, well known for his 2005 Supreme Court win against State Farm Insurance (U.S.), said the $2.5 Million defamation suit is set out in three separate actions filed at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Ontario on December 11, 2013, April 17, 2014 and July 28, 2014. The plaintiffs are suing Cusipag and Marquez and their publishing arms for making a series of defamatory statements about Kol Hope, Mrs. Melinda Rustia and her son Jeff Rustia, including false attacks on the legitimacy of their charitable work and accusations of fraud and impropriety. The falsity of the statements is easily proved since charitable organizations must post their annual reports on a public website maintained by the Canada Revenue Agency. Furthermore, a recent routine audit has simply confirmed what the public reports have already established, which is that Kol Hope has used its revenue to benefit children’s charities.

Kol Hope Foundation, Mrs. Rustia and Jeff Rustia have initially requested an apology and a retraction when the Defendants’ campaign of defamatory email blasts, videos and articles began in May 2013, but none has been provided to date.

Michael Alexander stated, “The defendants have been given ample time to apologize and retract their false and injurious statements. The Foundation doesn’t like to sue, but the assertion that the charity and its members are involved in fraud and self-dealing is a vicious lie.”

JEFF RUSTIA

JEFF RUSTIA

In a statement released June 15, 2015, Mrs. Melinda Rustia said, “We formed this children’s foundation in honor of my late grandson Kol, and have dedicated our lives to helping all the little “Kols” of the world. The unfounded accusations of Cusipag and Marquez seriously damage and undermine the good work of our foundation and the wonderful legacy of love, charity and hope that Kol has left behind.”

Mr. Alexander noted that his clients have given Foundation money to SickKids, World Vision, Easter Seals in Canada, and Bacolod Boys Home, Holy Infant Nursery, and St, Martin De Porres Special School in the Philippines. To date, Kol Hope has donated the following amounts to its beneficiaries: Sick Kids Hospital ($107,500); World Vision ($50,560); Easter Seals, Canada ($65,000); Bacolod Boys Home and Holy Infant Home, Philippines ($45,000); and St. Martin de Porres School, Philippines ($5,000). These contributions comprise a cumulative total of $273,060.

Father John L. Cardinal SDD, Executive Director, Bacolod Boys Home, stated, “The Rustias have been our dearest benefactors, who helped us so much… They are very good people who have a heart for the poor.”

kol-hope-foundationAccording to Delia Locsin, Executive Director, Holy Infant Nursery Foundation, Philippines, “For all they have done, we are sincerely thankful and hope that Mrs. Rustia will be blessed with good health and longer life so that she can continue to help Holy Infant Nursery Foundation care for destitute, abandoned, neglected and surrendered children.”

Balita, Cusipag and Marquez are also the defendants in two other separate lawsuits filed in Ontario Superior Court by Oswald Magno and Voltaire de Leon.

Magno’s lawsuit seeks $1 million in general, punitive and aggravated damages for alleged serial defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of mental distress and harassment.

De Leon’s lawsuit is for alleged libelous statements and publications by defendants and seeks $ .5 million in general, punitive and aggravated damages.

There is also a separate lawsuit against Balita and Cusipag filed by Tobias Enverga Jr. Additional details regarding this lawsuit are presently not available.

In all, there are currently six active lawsuits pending in Ontario Superior Court against the Balita organization.
(PRESS RELEASE)