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  PLDT.com Press Release <http://www.pldt.com>


The cross-examination of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company's (PLDT) director of media relations Horacio Lavides continued today, with Philippine League for Democratic Telecommunications Inc. (PLDTI) counsel Rod Domingo joining pldt.com counsel Teddy Cruz in a double-barreled assault on Lavides credibility.

Lavides statement that Internet users who visit Gerry Kaimo's pldt.com website would be misled into thinking that it was the plaintiff s website elicited a barrage of questions from both defense counsel.

On cross-examination by Cruz, Lavides admitted that PLDT has been advertising its own website pldt.com.ph since 1996 up to the present, on radio, TV and print media, even prior to the creation of Kaimo's pldt.com website in December 1998.

When shown an exhibit presented by the plaintiff itself, Lavides confirmed a statement on Kaimo's website that pldt.com is a forum for consumer complaints.

Lavides tried to downplay the fact that, with the company s registration of a local domain name and the development of its own website, PLDT's ad campaign since 1996 has included mention of their website pldt.com.ph not just in print, but also on radio and television.

With his lawyer Carlos Lopez objecting or asking for clarifications on most of the questions posed by Cruz and Domingo, Lavides hesitated to answer directly questions about how much PLDT's media budget was, or how much PLDT was spending on advertising that included mention of the website pldt.com.ph.

At one point, the judge prodded Lavides on, asking him if he would be able to answer the questions, which Lavides claimed would cost him a reprimand by his superiors.

According to PLDT's 1998 annual report, total operating expenses covering selling and promotions was P2.06 billion, but those figures include expenses of wholly-owned subsidiary Pilipino Telephone Corporation, which PLDT absorbed last year. In 1997, PLDT's total operating expenses covering selling and promotions was P1.09 billion. Various independent sources have estimated PLDT s 1998 budget for media promotion to have been in the vicinity of P850 million.

Lavides refused to disclose the amount in court, prompting PLDTI counsel to remark that PLDT was a public corporation, and that all PLDT telephone users were, in fact, stockholders who were entitled to such information as he was requesting. Domingo also said, in the same breath, that he was ready to summon PLDT president and chief executive officer Manuel Pangilinan to provide such information if necessary.

Completing his cross-examination of Lavides, Cruz yielded to co-counsel Domingo, who set the tone for his cross-examination of Lavides by reminding Lavides and the court that Lavides had stated in his affidavit that everything contained therein was either obtained through personal knowledge or through documents that he had access to in his capacity as chief of PLDT's media division.

When Domingo asked Lavides to state whether his statement in his affidavit that PLDTI had registered pldt.com was, in fact, based on personal knowledge or through documents provided him, Lavides replied that it was through the latter.

Domingo then showed Lavides a copy of Kaimo's registration of the pldt.com domain name through Network Solutions Inc., which PLDT had entered as an exhibit accompanying Lavides' affidavit, and asked him where in the registration was there any indication that PLDTI was a party to the registration. Lavides and Lopez replied almost simultaneously that Kaimo was a director of PLDTI and "maybe even a trustee" of the organization, items that were not mentioned anywhere in the document.

Domingo showed Lavides a copy of PLDTI's home page, another exhibit that PLDT had entered in support of Lavides' affidavit, and asked him where in the document was there any indication that PLDTI was a party to the registration or the ownership of pldt.com. Lavides, and Lopez, again replied that Kaimo was a director of PLDTI, which, again, was not mentioned anywhere in the document.

"At the previous hearing, we elicited the fact the PLDT had created its own website some 28 months before Gerry Kaimo obtained the rights to pldt.com, and that when PLDT launched its own website, Gerry Kaimo was not even the registered owner of pldt.com. Furthermore, from today's examination, we elicited the fact that PLDT has spent considerable resources to advertise the existence of a website called pldt.com.ph," said Cruz. "How could the public then be misled into thinking that pldt.com was owned by PLDT? Rather than speculate, I think we will let the facts lead us to the truth."

Almost lost in the legal brawling over what questions PLDT counsel Lopez would actually let Lavides answer was the failure of Lopez to honor his promise, made at the previous hearing, to verify the exact status of PLDT's recent application for registration of its trademark, widely believed to be still pending at the Intellectual Property Office.

The trial resumes on Monday, December 13, at 2 PM.


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