MANILA, Nov. 14 -- The Philippines' Court of Appeals acquitted Tuesday a newspaper publisher and a former columnist of libel charges filed by former President Corazon 'Cory' Aquino when she was still in power. In its 54-page decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the original guilty ruling of the Manila Regional Trial Court because the article in question 'was a fair comment of a public event and made without malice.
' Aquino filed the libel suit in 1991 against now deceased columnist Louie Beltran, who wrote in his column that the then president 'hid under the bed' during a bloody coup attempt staged by military rebels in December 1989. The article appeared in the newspaper The Philippine Star so its publisher, Maximo Soliven, was included in the suit. Mrs. Aquino said she filed the libel suit because she was insulted by Beltran's article which ridiculed her stature as Philippines president andchief of staff of the Armed Forces. The Court of Appeals did not agree with her. 'Looking for cover is not an indication of cowardice,' the court said. 'It was an intelligent decision.' The Court of Appeals said the prosecution failed to prove that Beltran had any knowledge whatsoever of Mrs. Aquino's bed. The former president made it a point to take journalists to her room shortly after the article was printed to prove there was no space under her bed in which an individual could hide.