Ozamiz court acquits Aglipayan bishop, peace consultant – Bulatlat

July 3, 2024


“Indeed, to a fair and impartial judge, who assert her independence, a contrived case, similar to what Bishop Carlo and Rommel had to endure, cannot survive judicial scrutiny. Lest we forget, this is the exception rather than the rule. It is a glitch in the system that tilted the scale and favored the innocent.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A local court in Ozamiz City dismissed the charges against Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Carlo Morales and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rommel Salinas.

In a decision dated July 2, Ozamiz Regional Trial Court Branch 15 Presiding Judge Grace Yulo said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the two are guilty of the alleged charges.

On May 11, Morales, along with his wife and driver, and Salinas were arrested in a checkpoint in Gango, Ozamiz City on May 11, 2017. Their two companions were later released but Morales and Salinas were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Read: Aglipayan bishop, 3 others arrested in Ozamiz City
Read: With Army’s arrest of peace consultant, NDFP assails threats to the peace talks
Read: Church groups launch campaign to free detained Aglipayan bishop

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) President Ephraim Cortez said, “Indeed, to a fair and impartial judge, who assert her independence, a contrived case, similar to what Bishop Carlo and Rommel had to endure, cannot survive judicial scrutiny. Lest we forget, this is the exception rather than the rule. It is a glitch in the system that tilted the scale and favored the innocent.”

In her decision, Yulo said that to convict an accused for illegal possession of explosives, two essential elements must be indubitably established:
– the existence of the subject firearm or explosive which may be proved by the presentation of witnesses who saw accused in possession of the same;
– the negative fact that the accused had no license or permit to own or posses the firearm or explosive which fact may be established by the testimony or certification of a representative of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Unit that the accused has no license or permit to possess the subject firearm or explosive.

According to Yulo, upon examination of the prosecution’s evidence, the court noticed that the prosecution failed to present evidence that the accused had no license or permit to own or possess of the alleged explosives found against Morales and Salinas.

The court also said that in order to secure a conviction, testimonial evidence regarding the possession, the actual evidence seized and the confiscation receipt (of the seized evidence) are not enough.

“Whether or not the failure to prove the negative fact or the certification from the explosives unit is by mere oversight or deliberate on the part of the prosecution, the fact is: it is not among the prosecution’s exhibits,” Yulo said in her decision.

“Without this, the court said there is no need to ‘belabor discussing what the defense has to offer,’” she added. (JJE,RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)





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