Naga broadcaster to appeal decision on libel conviction

By Jason B. Neola


Naga-based popular hard-hitting broadcaster Jufre “Joe” Osabal is set to file a motion for reconsideration of the decision of Judge Maria Carmela Ng Pee Mendiola of Branch 33 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pili, Camarines Sur, convicting him and his co-accused, Joaquin “Bebot” Calleja of libel.

Osabal said his lead counsel, Atty. Marion Eloisa Legacion, is already preparing the motion for reconsideration.


“I will still be filing a motion for reconsideration for that judgment and will appeal the case to the highest court. As to the merits (of the case) I need to beg off in discussing (them) because they might preempt the result of the motion. Joe Osabal did not commit any violation. He will prove his innocence,” Legacion said in a statement sent to Bicol Mail.


To recall, Dr. Jose “Sonny” C. Rañola filed the libel case against Osabal and Calleja docketed as Criminal Case No. P-4324.


The case, according to Rañola, who currently serves as city councilor in Naga City, stemmed from the allegations made on-air by Calleja and Osabal in 2009 that Rañola had pocketed 10 million US dollars from St. John Hospital where he served as the hospital’s medical director.


Osabal told Bicol Mail that he just interviewed Calleja in his radio program and that it was Calleja who made the allegations against Rañola.


Mendiola found the accused, Calleja and Osabal, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of libel. They were sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 6 months of arresto mayor in its maximum period, as minimum, to 2 years, 11 months, and 1 day of prision correccional in its medium period, as maximum.


The duo were also ordered to pay, jointly and severally, Ranola, the amount of P1 million as moral damages and the amount of P1 million as exemplary damages, including their interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the time of finality of this judgement until full payment.


Mendiola’s decision was dated Sept. 28, 2021.


Bicol Mail tried to get Calleja’s comment on the decision, however, he cannot be reached by phone.