2nd judge inhibits in Nalzaro libel case
A SECOND judge has backed off from handling the libel case filed against tri-media practitioner Pablito “Bobby” Nalzaro by former mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Judge Generosa Labra of the Regional Trial Court Branch 23 in Cebu City has let go of the case, saying both parties were her “friends.” She said they failed to reconcile their differences “despite her “earnest efforts”. To “avoid doubt or an iota of suspicion”, she said she was inhibiting herslef from hearing the case.
The order was dated Sept. 18 but released to the media only last Friday. She asked the Office of the Clerk of Court to re-raffle the case.
Last June, RTC Judge Ricky Jones Macabaya also withdrew from the case saying he served as the public prosecutor in another libel case filed by Osmeña against businessman Jonathan Guardo in 2010.
Macabaya at the time was the resident prosecutor of RTC 18 where the case between Osmeña and Guardo was tried.
Judge Labra said judges are given the option to recuse themselves from hearing cases which may cast doubt on their ability to make an impartial ruling.
She said voluntary inhibition becomes “primarily a matter of conscience and sound discretion on the part of the judge” based on a Supreme Court ruling.
Nalzaro accepted the judge’s decision.
“It’s her prerogative and I respect her decision,” he said.
Osmeña filed a libel case against Nalzaro for writing in his Oct. 25, 2014 Sun.Star column that Osmeña fabricated charges against Cebu City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas in order to sabotage the administration of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Prosecutor Jesus Rodrigo Taga-an said the columnist’s use of the word “fabricated” placed Osmeña in a bad light and was “malicious”. The prosecutor said Osmeña was able to prove that administrative cases he had filed against the city treasurer were based on findings of the Commission on Audit.
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