An interesting year in the Halls of Justice-A A +A
Monday, December 30, 2013
THE year 2013 saw the involvement of public officials and notable personalities from the private sector in various criminal and civil cases. Some of them were the complainants while some were indicted.
Take into account the case of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte who filed charges against an Aussie who tried to run him and his police escort over in a heated road altercation last August 27. The respondent, Michael Hatcher, was briefly detained at the Talomo Police Station before posting a P225,000 bail for his temporary freedom.
Hatcher's bail, however, was recently invalidated after Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio issued a warrant of arrest against the respondent for failing to attend a scheduled hearing last November 27.
Another notable public official who filed complaints before the court was former village chief of Barangay 76-A Robert Olanolan. Olanolan filed an election protest after he was allegedly cheated in the October barangay polls. Newly-elected Barangay 76-A chief Rolando Trajera, on the other hand, shrugged of the protest as he believes that he and his staff committed no election fraud.
But while Olanolan has an election protest which is yet to be decided before the sala of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 2, he is also facing charges after being accused of circulating lewd photos of his former live-in partner in the eve of the barangay polls.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) 11, meanwhile, filed charges against Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. (PPPI) president Dennis Ang and his broker Jorlan Cabanes for 12 counts of violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines. The Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary Leila de Lima affirmed the charges against Uy and Cabanes after BOC 11 cited that PPPI had a dutiable value of P589,523,451.77 and that the oil company failed to comply on the 30-day payment period for the P1.56 billion worth of petroleum products imported at the Port of Davao between January to March of 2011.
But contrary to the find on the import discrepancies of PPPI, RTC Branch 16 ordered BOC 11 not to issue seizures nor hold orders on the P21 million worth of rice owned by Joseph Ngo, a Dabawenyo businessman who filed complaints after the imported rice was seized by BOC 11.
Suns.Star Davao editor-in-chief Stella Estremera and former publisher Antonio Ajero, meanwhile, were convicted for libel last September 3 after they were adjudged guilty of publishing a derogatory police blotter report against Baguio Saripada, a former officer of the Digos City General Services Office.
The biggest news that made waves this year, however, was the alleged involvement of lawmakers in the multibillion scam on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. Among the lawmakers in Davao Region accused of malversation of public funds were former congressmen Douglas Cagas and his son Marc Douglas Cagas IV of Davao del Sur (1st District) and Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte (1st District). And as the DOJ continues to prosecute those involved in the pork barrel scam, the Supreme Court (SC) has already declared the unconstitutionality of the PDAF.
The primary officials tasked to serve justice to the people also proved to be subjects of prosecution as the SC ordered the dismissal of RTC Branch 14 Judge George Omelio and imposed penalties on the late MTCC Tagum City Judge Ismael Salubre and the late former MTCC Tagum City Clerk of Court (COC) Nerio Edig. Omelio was dismissed for persistent violation of court proceedings while Salubre and Edig along with former cashiers Delia Palero and Mario Aventurado were charged for mishandling the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and Fiduciary Fund (FF).
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 31, 2013.