The issue is whether petitioner is guilty of slight or serious oral defamation. In resolving the issue, we are guided by a doctrine of ancient respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending not only upon their sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary meaning judging them separately, but also upon the special circumstances of the case, antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender, which might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.
Unquestionably, the words uttered were defamatory. Considering, however, the factual backdrop of the case, the oral defamation was only slight. The trial court, in arriving at its decision, considered that the defamation was deliberately done to destroy Atty. Escolango’s reputation since the parties were political opponents.
We do not agree. Somehow, the trial court failed to appreciate the fact that the parties were also neighbors; that petitioner was drunk at the time he uttered the defamatory words; and the fact that petitioner’s anger was instigated by what Atty. Escolango did when petitioner’s father died. In which case, the oral defamation was not of serious or insulting nature.
In Reyes vs. People, we ruled that the expression “putang ina mo” is a common enough utterance in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slender but rather to express anger or displeasure. In fact, more often, it is just an expletive that punctuates one’s expression of profanity. We do not find it seriously insulting that after a previous incident involving his father, a drunk Rogelio Pader on seeing Atty. Escolango would utter words expressing anger. Obviously, the intention was to show his feelings of resentment and not necessarily to insult the latter. Being a candidate running for vice mayor, occasional gestures and words of disapproval or dislike of his person are not uncommon.