THIS is a continuation of my column last Saturday, May 26, 2019, entitled “On my libel cases.”
Prosecutor Russel Busico, who conducted the preliminary investigation on the four libel cases—two under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code and another two in violation of the Cyber Prevention Act of 2012--filed against me by Ramon Miguel Osmeña, son of defeated Mayor Tomas Osmeña, dismissed my arguments that it was a matter of privileged communication and that Osmeña is a “public figure.”
The columns were published in SunStar Cebu and Superbalita Cebu, respectively, sometime in September last year. The columns, where I discussed the alleged involvement of the young Osmeña in the illegal butane canister refilling business, were also published in the online editions of the two newspapers.
So, Miguel is not a “public figure?” I don’t know what is the definition of Busico on public figure? According to Wikipedia, “a public figure is a popular and famous person. Even a person who is known for his notoriety is classified as a public figure.” Is Miguel not a popular and famous personality being the only son of the outgoing mayor and his mother is also a politician? He is the scion of the powerful and influential Osmeña clan. He manages the social media account of his father where he is employing several “keyboard warriors.” He would join political activities of his parents. He was involved in several controversies and now that his father had just lost in the recently concluded elections and is very sickly, he is groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Miguel is not a private person but a public figure. And being under such category he is always a subject of public scrutiny, comments and discussions and, like public officials, he should not be onion-skinned. He is only good in attacking and criticizing people in defense of his father, but if he is the subject of commentaries he resorts to filing libel cases. He also filed a libel case against the daughter of Rico Dionsion, owner of the famous lechon store, who was his former business partner. Maayo lang manaway, pero kung mabaslan, moreklamo man diay.
Busico said that I have no evidence linking Miguel to the illegal butane business. What evidence does he want? Is he expecting me to come up with documentary evidences like business permit and regulatory permits when the business is illegal? Butane business using liquefied petroleum gas is a violation of Presidential Decree 1865 as it is the common cause of fire incidents.
Before the resolution, I filed a motion for inhibition against the entire city prosecutor on the grounds that all city prosecutors are receiving a monthly allowance from the City Government and that City Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco Rabillas was a recommendee of the mayor and the complainant is the latter’s son. I don’t know why Rabillas insisted on handling the case. For payback?
I think this is not a violation of the Sotto Law, which protects journalists from divulging their sources if I will reveal my source because my source, Douglas Labra, has already come out in the open. Labra, Osmena’s former partner in the butane business, had executed an affidavit naming the older and young Osmeña and Peter Osmeña Visitacion as behind the distribution of butane canisters, which are proliferating in the local market.
In the 2016 elections, Osmeña provided butane canisters to his supporters for free with the brand “Type O,” which carries the same logo of his BOPK party. But after elections and when they had a disagreement with Labra and knowing that the business was making good, Osmeña took over the operation from Visitacion. This time, they were selling it. That was the reason Osmeña intervened in the arrest of his three workers by the police. He was later charged by the police before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas. Now, the Osmeñas are denying any involvement in the business?
Who is more credible? Labra confessed to his involvement in the business, while Miguel denied any involvement, but was actually behind the business. Of course, like any thief, we cannot expect Osmeña to admit the crime. I am not saying that Osmeña is a thief. I am attaching Labra’s affidavit in my motion for reconsideration.