BROADCASTER and columnist Pablito “Bobby” Nalzaro is facing trial in court for allegedly maligning the reputation of former Cebu City mayor and congressman Tomas Osmeña.

Lapu-Lapu City Acting Prosecutor Jesus Rodrigo Taga-an denied Nalzaro’s motion that sought to reverse his resolution charging Nalzaro with libel (Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code) when the broadcaster alleged in his column, which saw print in this paper in October last year, that some of the cases that Osmeña filed against Cebu City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas were based on “fabricated charges.”

“After careful consideration of the arguments advanced by movant (Nalzaro), however, this office finds no cogent reason to reverse, revise, or modify the impugned resolution,” read Tagaan’s two-page resolution.

The case information was filed before the Cebu City Regional Trial Court on Wednesday. Bail bond was set at P10,000.

J.P. Garcia and Associates, the law firm that assists Nalzaro in the case, sent a letter to the Office of the Clerk of Court requesting for copies of case documents.

Petition

The firm also said that it is filing a petition for review before the Department of Justice.

Osmeña filed last Dec. 14, 2014 two libel complaints against Nalzaro for allegedly besmirching his reputation.

The broadcaster, Osmeña said, accused him of fabricating charges when he filed multiple administrative complaints against Cuevas before the Civil Service Commission.

Nalzaro, through his lawyer Joan Baron, denied he maligned Osmeña. He argued that his column was written solely in response to his “journalistic duty.”

Nalzaro, a Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star SuperBalita columnist, said that his column did not malign Osmeña.

Nalzaro pointed out that he used the phrase “fabricated charges” in his column after he read the Commission on Audit (COA) report, which he said would show that Cuevas could be criminally or administratively held liable.

In the resolution, Prosecutor Taga-an said the “fabricated charges” phrase that Nalzaro used in his column is libelous. “Jurisprudence is settled that libel is not a constitutionally protected speech,” said Taga-an.

The prosecutor pointed out, though, that a finding of probable cause is “not a pronouncement of guilt, but merely binds over the suspect to stand trial.”

The prosecutor dismissed for lack of probable cause the complaint for violation of the Cybercrime Law against Nalzaro.

“Fabricated”

In the motion for reconsideration, Baron, Nalzaro’s lawyer, argued that the broadcaster’s use of word “fabricated” was not meant to discredit Osmeña.

When Nalzaro used the word “fabricated” in his column, he referred to the administrative charges that the former mayor filed against the city treasurer as being baseless.

Nalzaro argued that his column constitutes “fair comment” on public officials, which falls under privileged communication.

But Prosecutor Tagaan, in his latest resolution, struck down the broadcaster’s argument.

“Despite movant’s attempt to play with words, a reading of the entirety of the entire article had devised false charges against (Diwa) Cuevas as part of his plan to sabotage the administration of Mayor Mike Rama,” said Tagaan.

Tagaan said that privileged communication is a matter of defense that the broadcaster may use during a full-blown trial.