A Bago City judge has dismissed the criminal cases filed against 10 persons, including two policemen and two security guards, apprehended during a raid by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on the ancestral house of former Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña in Pulupandan town on May 2.
Assisting Judge Manuel Cardinal Jr. of the Bago City Regional Trial Court Branch 62 Monday dismissed the criminal cases for illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives, and obstruction of justice against the accused and ordered their release from the Negros Occidental District Jail in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City.
Eight of the 10 accused who have been detained since May 2 were released from jail yesterday, their lawyer, Roem Arbolado, said.
PO2 Pedrito Provido Lupo and SPO1 Vicente Maguad Castillo had earlier been freed on bail, he said.
Released from jail yesterday were Rey Ganancial Asgar, Manny Dublar Rio, Joey Carpentero Yunque, Nelvon Depra Gange, Jay Gallego Gange, Jimmy Pasilan Castaños, and security guards Deolito Morancil and Amando Martinez Dela Paz, Arbolado said.
The cases against the 10 stemmed from a search warrant issued by Quezon City Judge Maria Filomena Singh sought by Police Senior Superintendent Jose Mario Meneses Espino, then CIDG Anti Organized Crime Division chief, against Peña, for alleged illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives at his ancestral home in Barangay Ubay, Pulupandan.
But Cardinal, in his joint resolution, quashed the search warrant for lack of probable cause and for being issued in violation of pertinent provisions of the Constitution and Rules of Court on the issuance of search warrants.
Consequently, all items seized and evidence obtained by virtue of the search warrant are declared inadmissible as evidence, said the judge, who also ordered the immediate return of the firearms and ammunition seized.
Records indicate that the search party seized licensed firearms despite the fact that the warrant was issued for the search of unlicensed firearms only, the judge noted.
“Indeed, this is a sad and classic example of a void search warrant implemented illegally,” he said.
The court also found testimonies of witnesses that two explosives allegedly seized from the guard’s quarters in Ubay were indeed planted during the implementation of the search warrant.
The search of the guards’ quarters where the explosives were allegedly found was also in itself illegal, as it was not made in the presence of a lawful occupant and of two witnesses from the same locality, the judge noted.
Arbolado said Peña was not included in the charges filed before the Bago Court. Charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against the former mayor before the Department of Justice.
Peña had maintained that the 90 guns seized at the Ubay ancestral home were all legal and did not belong to him.
Arbolado said Peña had also earlier filed a motion to quash the search warrant before the Quezon City RTC that has yet to be resolved.*CPG