SE Texas Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

North Texas Filipino cultural group claims ex-members defamed it to others, including Philippine government official


By John Suayan | Jan 7, 2019

Psgen3 leoncio evasco jr 2018 04 17 22 26 34
A lawsuit claims Leoncio Evasco (pictured left) was a recipient of an email bearing defamatory statements about its plaintiffs.

HOUSTON – A Filipino cultural organization based in North Texas and two of its leaders have filed a state district defamation lawsuit against a pair of ex-group members who reside in Richmond.

In the 17-page suit filed on Dec. 31, 2018 in the Harris County 295th District Court, Gus and Ethel Mercado and the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of Texas accuse Leonides Reyes and Noemi Noriega Frias of disseminating a “false belief” that they were using a citizen assistance event performed in conjunction and cooperation with the Philippine Consulate General’s Office in Los Angeles to enrich themselves and their nonprofit.

Gus Mercado is the executive director of the PACCTX while Ethel Mercado is its president emeritus. The Mercados, who live in Denton County, explain in court papers that the purpose of the event in question, the Philippine Consular Outreach, is to assist Texas residents who are of Philippine citizenry to apply for new passports, passport renewal, dual citizenship, document authentication, and other services.

The outreach program is held in Dallas, Houston, and McAllen for about eight weekends per calendar year.

Court filings assert that Reyes and Frias made the defamatory statements after the ceased their respective PACCTX memberships, claiming an email bearing “false and libelous” information was sent to “numerous undisclosed recipients” at the beginning of last year. Another email was reportedly sent to then-Philippine Presidential Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr.

According to the plaintiffs, neither they nor the PACCTX “have ever capitalized on, or received any personal remuneration, or monetary benefit from the Consular Outreach projects.”

“Such statements were published to one or more third parties, and have injured the Mercados’ and PACCTX’s reputation, exposing them to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury, and further impeaching their honesty, integrity or virtue,” the original petition says.

The complaint alleges the emails were sent from a desktop computer at a television station owned and controlled by the defendants.

Consequently, the plaintiffs seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

They are represented by Richard L. Armstrong of Armstrong The Law Firm, P.C. in Plano.

Harris County 295th District Court Case No. 2018-91624

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