Libel rap against Nalzaro to get a full-blown trial
The libel complaint filed by former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña against columnist-broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro will get a full-blown court trial.
Prosecutor Jesus Rodrigo Taga-an recommended elevating the libel charges against Nalzaro to the Regional Trial Court last Monday.
In his resolution, Taga-an said Nalzaro’s use of the word “fabricated” in his Sun.Star column maligned the former mayor when Nalzaro wrote that he fabricated charges against Cebu City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas in order to sabotage the administration of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Osmena earlier filed 38 counts in an administrative complaint against Cuevas before the Department of Finance over alleged lapses in handling financial transactions of Cebu City based on findings in the 2012 and 2013 audit reports of the Commission on Audit (COA).
The prosecutor said Osmeña showed proof that the administrative cases he filed against Cuevas were not fabricated and were all based on COA findings.
“Hence, it is false to say that complainant fabricated charges against Diwa Cuevas,” the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said the word “fabricated” was clearly defamatory and that Nalzaro insinuated that Osmeña had lied.
“When a person is said to ‘fabricate’ stories, he is guilty of lying or is deemed a liar or a peddler of falsehood. Certainly, to lie is a discreditable act and being a liar is a discreditable condition,” he said.
The prosecutor dismissed for “lack of probable cause” another complaint against Nalzaro for alleged violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The prosecutor said it was not Nalzaro who posted his column on the website of Sun.Star Cebu and that its online edition contains other materials that saw print in the newspaper.
Sought for comment yesterday, Nalzaro said he is ready to face the libel case.
He and his lawyers will first ask the prosecutor to to reconsider his ruling. If that fails, he will file a petition for review with the Department of Justice.
“Well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It’s one of the hazards of the profession. But it’s not the end of the fight yet. There’s still a very long way to go,” said Nalzaro in a text message to Cebu Daily News.
Osmeña, meanwhile, was elated over the development.
“I’m happy. Maybe, Nalzaro now has one foot inside BBRC (Cebu City Jail). At least, I’m beginning to prove that Nalzaro is a liar. He can attack me any time. That’s all right as long as he will end up in jail,” the former mayor said.
Taga-an, who is based in Lapu-Lapu City, was assigned to handle the case by Regional State Proesecutor Fernando Gubalane and no longer requires review or approval by Cebu City Prosecutor Ma. Luisa Ratilla.
A panel of three prosecutors in Cebu City was earlier evaluating the cases filed against Nalzaro but he asked that two inhibit and withdraw to erase any doubt of bias — Prosecutors Gandhi Truya and Ma. Theresa Casiño.
When both declined to inhibit from the case, Nalzaro sought the intervention of the Regional State Prosecutor who designated Taga-an.
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