Fiscal junks appeal of ex-mayor

THE Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor has affirmed the dismissal of the libel complaint filed by former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama against Mayor Tomas Osmeña over the latter's Facebook posts accusing the former of being a drug addict last year.

Prosecutor Naruzen Delfin-Lorete denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Rama, who sought the indictment of Osmeña for slander/grave oral defamation and for violation of the cybercrime law.

“Accordingly, there are no compelling reasons to disturb, modify, or reverse the questioned resolution,” read Lorete's two-page resolution.

Last December, Prosecutor Delfin-Lorete dismissed for lack of evidence complaints of slander/grave oral defamation and violation of the cybercrime law against Osmeña.

Being an elected official, Rama should not be onion-skinned especially on issues of public concern, the prosecutor pointed out.

“He should embrace the fact that being such, his acts are always interesting to the public eye. How he behaves or conducts himself in public is prone to scrutiny,” read Lorete's five-page resolution.

The case stemmed from the complaints that Rama filed, accusing Osmeña of five counts of online libel and two counts of slander and grave oral defamation.

Rama's son Mikel filed the libel charges against Osmeña for allegedly accusing the former mayor of being a drug addict on social and print media.

Replying to the charges, Osmeña said that his Facebook post was “a way of sharing his thoughts, emotions, comments and sentiments and opinions as an ordinary and private constituent of Cebu City.”

In the joint resolution, Lorete cited the Supreme Court ruling in the case of United States vs Bustos, which guarantees “complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men in a scalpel in the case of free speech.”

Lorete said Rama did not introduce “newly found evidence.” “After a careful review of the case, it is clear that respondent's remarks were made in exercise of his right of freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Osmeña said Rama should undergo drug rehabilitation instead of denying he is a drug addict.

Osmeña believes that naming Rama a drug addict is not libelous, saying President Rodrigo Duterte, who name the latter as a drug protector twice, is his best witness.

“I have the best witness, President Duterte. Why does he sue Duterte for libel (he named Rama as alleged drug protector) two times, the second one was unsolicited,” the mayor told reporters.

For his part, Rama said he will let his lawyers handle the matter and proceed with any legal remedy available.

“We are not expecting a reconsideration to be approved, but we are only pursuing what is required by the law and that we should first seek the motion for reconsideration and with that, we can already go up,” he said.

He also laughed off Osmeña's suggestion that he undergo rehab, opting not to comment further.

Rama said before releasing any statement against him involving illegal drugs, Osmeña should provide first the result of his drug test using hair follicle and submit himself to another drug test using urine sample.

But Osmeña said he has no idea yet on the result of his drug test, saying he gave his sample to Atty. Augusto Go, owner of a hospital and allowed him to send it to a laboratory to testing.

Rama said the mayor should brace himself because he has information that Osmeña is on the President's drug list.

“I think he should be ready because I've been hearing that he is the one who is being put in that black book, included his name. It's coming from reliable source. He better shut up,” Rama said.
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