Ex-Basilan lawmaker cleared in 2007 Batasan bombing case-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
MANILA -- Former Basilan representative Gerry Salapuddin can now surface after more than two years in hiding after the Supreme Court (SC) junked the multiple murder and frustrated murder cases filed against him in connection with the 2007 bombing at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
The blast led to the death of Salapuddin's political rival Wahab Akbar and four others and inflicted serious injuries on Representatives Henry Teves and Luzviminda Ilagan, Ismael Lim, Vercita Garcia, Kumhar Indanan, Larry Noda and Paula Dunga.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, the SC Third Division on February 25 sided with the resolution issued by then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales on April 23, 2008 that excluded Salapuddin from the list of respondents.
The resolution was reversed by the Court of Appeals on August 6 and October 16, 2008, making Salapuddin a potential mastermind in the killings that has yet to be resolved by Judge Ralph Lee of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court branch 83.
Lee issued a warrant of arrest in August 2010 but authorities failed to find Salapuddin up to this day.
Prior to Gonzales' resolution, then Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño recommended the filing of cases against Salapuddin.
But the SC said the Justice secretary has the power to overturn his prosecutors and this is not subject to the review of trial courts.
"Indeed, the Secretary of Justice has decided in accordance with the dictates of our jurisprudence in overturning the investigating prosecutors and ordering Salapuddin's exclusion from the Information. The secretary cannot plausibly be found culpable of grave abuse of his discretion. The appellate court has committed a reversible error in holding otherwise," the decision read.
A certain Ikram Indama tagged Salapuddin in the crime, saying he was beside suspected Abu Sayyaf member Redwan Indama when the former lawmaker ordered the killing of Akbar.
Redwan died in a gun battle with policemen last November 15, 2007, or two days after the blast.
"[N]o evidence or testimony, not even Ikram's, suggests the presence of Salapuddin during the blast that killed Congressman Akbar and injured several others. He cannot, therefore, be properly accused of exerting an 'overt act' by extending 'assistance' to whoever was responsible for the commission of the felony," the Court said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)