MOISES Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo and her husband, Felix Mathias Segundo Yulo III, surrendered to the authorities in Bacolod City Tuesday, September 11.
The couple, accompanied by their family and lawyer, Karol Joseph Chiu, arrived at the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) headquarters past 9 a.m. and surrendered to Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office (PRO)–Western Visayas in coordination with Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, acting BCPO director.
After they were processed for documentation which includes taking their fingerprints and mug shots, the couple was presented to the members of the media during a press conference at the BCPO on Tuesday.
The couple is facing charges for illegal possession of explosives, and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition both issued by La Carlota City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 63 Judge Cyclamen Jison-Fernandez.
The warrant of arrest for illegal possession of explosives has no bail while the other arrest warrant has a bail of P200, 000 each.
Bulalacao said the couple shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court of law.
“We take their act of voluntarily surrendering as a manifestation of respect for the rule of law and the justice system,” he added.
Bulalacao said the couple had previously sent surrender feelers to him through text messages.
“We appreciate this humble act as this will dispense the police of the necessary resources needed to serve the warrants of arrest as the police are mandated to enforce the law and implement orders of the court,” he added.
With the couple’s surrender, Bulalacao assured them that their rights shall be upheld and that they will be duly accorded with the due process of law.
The vice mayor said they originally planned to surrender at La Castellana town but later decided to do it in Bacolod City, which is the nearest point for Bulalacao, who travelled from Iloilo City to facilitate their surrender.
“We even tried to do it in Iloilo City but it will be difficult, so we opted to do it here,” she said.
Ella said she decided to do their surrender at the BCPO because they had several “not good” experiences with Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo).
The couple was detained at Moises Padilla Municipal Police Station in December 2017 after they were arrested in a police checkpoint for the said offense, including illegal possession of dangerous drugs, which was already dismissed by the court because they found out that the recovered illegal drugs were fake.
Ella said they did not immediately surrender because they fear for their safety, adding she continues to receive threats, which she refused to give details. But she clarified they had no intention to run or hide.
“I will have to face this because this is just political harassment,” she said, claiming the alleged confiscated two fragmentation grenades and several other firearms were just “planted.”
“This is just trials of life. I believe this will end,” she said.
As she faces the charges against her, the vice mayor said she took an indefinite leave from her work at the municipal hall.
She said they are planning to post bail for their illegal possession of firearms and ammunition case while also waiting for the decision of the court in their other case.
For his part, Felix said they have no intention to run because they know that they are innocent.
“We also want justice for this,” he added.
“Anything can happen if we will be placed under the custody of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), we just need to be secured,” the vice mayor said.
For security reasons, Bulalacao, who assured the couple of their security, said they will assist the BJMP if the couple will be placed under their custody.
The couple was brought to La Carlota RTC so the judge can decide where they will be placed for custody.
Meanwhile, Bulalacao said he will also talk to Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., provincial police director, regarding the vice mayor’s reason of not surrendering at Nocppo.
Castil, for his part, said it is the vice mayor’s decision or choice to whom or which unit or office she will surrender.
He said he had also talked with the vice mayor's brother regarding their surrender. “It is also her right to choose where or when she will surrender,” he added.
Vice Governor Eugenio opined the surrender of the couple is a proper thing to do.
"There was never any question turning themselves in. They just wanted to make sure about their security and they are now convinced that the police will secure them,” he said.
“I wish them well and they will just have to face the case. It's definitely very uncomfortable for them now. They said they are innocent so they have to prove that to the court,” he added.
He said that the Yulo couple has not asked help from him or the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
"It's unfortunate for them the court decided there is prima facie evidence but they will have their day in court,” the vice governor said.
Lacson also said he expects a vice mayor officer-in-charge would take the place of Garcia in Moises Padilla, depending on the progress of the case against her. (with reports from Teresa D. Ellera)