Osmeña sues ex-city hall worker for FB post
THE libel complaint filed by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña against former city hall employee Aniceto Abbey Canturias before the Office of the City Prosecutor last Aug. 18 has been elevated to the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Osmeña accused Canturias of five counts of libel over allegations that he posted on the Facebook page “Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bai” on November 9, 2015, which elicited likes and reactions from netizens.
In her resolution, city prosecutor Johanna Desamparado-Calustre found probable cause to indict Canturias of the crime of libel under the RA 10175 but reduced the original five counts to only one count as there was only a single intent to discredit or cause dishonor on the part of Canturias despite the fact acts complained of were committed on different dates.
According to Calustre’s resolution, all the elements of libel were present in Canturias’ Facebook post.
Canturias, on his Facebook post, accused Osmeña of driving a Dodge Charger car “at break-neck speed” in Lapu-Lapu City and hitting a woman, which resulted to her death.
In Osmeña’s complaint, it was pointed out that the spot report and progress report that the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office made regarding the incident would belie such accusations as both did not mention that the mayor was a party to the road mishap.
For his part, Canturias did not deny making the post on Facebook but pointed out that it was erroneous to consider his post and subsequent comments as malicious or libelous.
In his counter-affidavit, Canturias insisted that he did not commit libel as the post was allegedly not defamatory or aimed to malign or destroy Osmeña’s reputation and that they were fair comments on matters of public concern.
Canturias likewise raised the fact that Osmeña is a public figure and “should not be too sensitive to the opinions of the general public, should be open for comments and criticisms, and should not be too thin-skinned.”
As a last point on his affidavit, Canturias said that he used to work as a journalist and is very well aware of the law against libel. “…and that I am careful so as not to violate the said law,” Canturias’ affidavit reads.
“To reiterate, I posted the statements complained of in Facebook in good faith and in the exercise of my right to free speech.”
However, in his reply-affidavit, Osmeña countered that at the time the Facebook post was made, he was not anymore a public figure as he was not reelected yet into public office at that time and that his subsequent filing of a certificate of candidacy for the May 2016 elections did not open his private life to the public domain.
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