Being the subject of unfair criticism and gossip are matters which adversely affect persons from all walks of life. At one point, we have encountered situations wherein we have been victimized by insulting and defamatory remarks. Oftentimes, we ignore such hurtful and unfounded insinuations. However, when things get out of hand and our reputation is besmirched in the process, we need to pursue legal remedies to defend ourselves.
Slander or oral defamation are penalized under the Revised Penal Code. In order to successfully lodge a case for slander, the following elements must be proven:
1. There is an imputation of a crime, vice, defect, act, omission, condition, status or circumstance.
2. The imputation is made publicly.
3. The imputation must be made maliciously.
4. The imputation is directed against a natural or juridical person or one who is dead.
5. The imputation tends to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt of a person or tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead.
If the imputation is verbally made, then it is considered as slander. However, if the imputation is made through writing, printing, lithography, radio and other similar means, it is punishable as libel.
It must be borne in mind that the intention of the speaker is immaterial in slander. What is relevant is how the same is construed by ordinary people. Moreover, proof of truth is not admissible if the imputation pertains to an act or omission not constituting a crime, except when it relates to acts of government employees with respect to their duties.
Slander is a serious matter since one can be imprisoned if convicted. Serious slander is punishable by imprisonment of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period or 4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months while simple slander is punishable by arresto menor or 1 day to 1 month or a fine not exceeding P200.
Update: With the enactment of Republic Act No. 10951, which amended various provisions of the Revised Penal Code, the fines for both serious and simple slander have both been revised. Serious slander is now punishable by imprisonment of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period or 4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months or a fine ranging from P20,000 to P100,000, while simple slander is punishable by arresto menor or 1 day to 1 month or a fine not exceeding P20,000. (Updated on June 11, 2019.)