BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
The lawyers of the 11 punks arrested last February in Buguias, this province while on their way to Sagada, Mountain Province may file a case of arbitrary detention against the Philippine National Police (PNP) officers and personnel who collared them, in addition with the criminal and administrative cases they filed earlier.
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The lawyers of the 11 punks arrested last February in Buguias, this province while on their way to Sagada, Mountain Province may file a case of arbitrary detention against the Philippine National Police (PNP) officers and personnel who collared them, in addition with the criminal and administrative cases they filed earlier.
Judge Agapito K. Laoagan of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 64 here has ruled as illegal the warrantless arrest of 10 of the 11 punks who were accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and taking part in a raid of a military detachment in Mankayan town, this province last February.
Nordis learned from lawyer Pablito Sanidad of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) that he and other defense counsels are considering filing cases against the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of Benguet who “falsely accused” the punks when they (punks) had nothing to do with the raid.
The 10 punks whose cases were ordered quashed by Judge Laoagan are Darwin Alagar, Arbie Nunez, Aldoz Christian Manoza, Neil Russel Balajadia, Jethro Villagracia, Rondon Pandino, Anderson Alonzo, Jefferson de la Rosa and minors Ray Lester Mendoza and Frencess Ann Bernal, Sanidad added.
The case of Rundren Lao, who escaped detention two days after the arrest to tell their horrible story but was rearrested latter, was not ordered dismissed as Laoagan argued that his arrest was based on a warrant.
In his nine-page order, Laoagan supported the defense counsels’ contention that the warrantless arrest was contrary to law and the Constitution, adding that in warrantless arrest based on hot pursuit, there must be an immediacy between the date of the commission of the crime and the arrest.
The court pointed out that the incident in Mankayan took place on February 10 while the warrantless arrests were made only four days later. It argued then that the crime had not “just been committed” as required by law.
Laoagan also pointed that the said PNP officers and members were not present when the alleged crime took place and they had no personal knowledge of the crime or that the accused had actually committed them. They relied only on second hand knowledge gathered through interviews after the crime was committed and it is not the kind of personal knowledge also required by law, added Laoagan in his order.
Sanidad said that the 11 punks were hitchhiking on their way to Sagada, Mountain Province when they were arrested in a PNP checkpoint at Bangao, Buguias, on February 14 by a team identified as P/Supt. Brent Madjaco, SPO1 Alyson Kalang-ad, PS1 Joseph Paulo Bayongasan, PO1 Jonathan Pucya, PO2 Wendell B. Baglao, and PO2 James M. Ayan Jr. They were afterwards charged for robbery with homicide at the Benguet Regional Trial Court Branch 64.
The counsels, aside from Sanidad, are Reynaldo Cortes, Jose Molintas, Noe Villanueva, Randy Kinaud, Joris Dacawi and Eric Santos, who filed the motion to quash which Laoagan granted on May 19.
Laoagan’s order gives the prosecution 15 days from notice of the order to file new information against the 10 punks. If the 15 days lapse without the new information, the 10 punks will have to be released, Sanidad clarified.
Meanwhile, due to Republic Act No. 9344 known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 which exempts minors to criminal liability, the prosecutor’s office in this province filed a motion to release the two minors among the punks: Bernal, 15, and Mendoza, 16, at the RTC Branch 64 on May 19.
“We welcome the move by the prosecution,” added Sanidad. But he shared that Laoagan has yet to set a hearing to determine the age of their minor clients. Northern Dispatch / (Bulatlat.com)