A REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City dismissed the charges filed against two Traffic Management Center personnel who were charged for extorting money from motorists last year.

RTC Branch 17 Acting Judge Emmanuel Carpio cleared Herman Jandayan, 25, of Purok 20 in Bucana and Benito Abores Jr., 27, of Sto. Niño in Tugbok district after the prosecution failed to prove that the two indeed participated in the alleged crime.

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Accused Loreto Patatag Arante Jr., 50, of Dumoy in Toril, Davao City earlier pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

PO3 Edgar Allan Marces of the Davao City Police Office-Investigation and Management Detection Section (DCPO-IDMS), in an affidavit, said he received information on the alleged illegal activities of the three last March 26, 2009.

The three were said to have been extorting from motorists in the Panacan-Tibungco area.

A dragnet was set with a borrowed truck made to pass by the area the three were said to be operating in.

Arante was said to have flagged down the truck and asked for money so as not to delay the trip.

At the time Arante demanded the money, the two accused were behind the truck, around seven to eight meters away, inspecting its cargo and were not in a position to hear Arante's demand.

The two accused, Jandayan and Abores, submitted a demurrer to evidence, and claimed that their mere presence in the vicinity of the crime scene is not enough to conclude that they have acted in conspiracy with Arante.

The demurrer was not opposed by the prosecution.

The court ruled that the prosecution has not all given a bit of evidence against the two and ended their case without ever overcoming the presumption of innocence, which the Fundamental Law afforded the accused, thus the acquittal.

The three were earlier charged with extortion based on the accounts of SPO1 Rito Lao and PO3 Edgar Allan Marces of the DCPO-IDMS.

They said that around 2 p.m. on March 26, they were instructed to monitor the reported rampant mulcting of TMC personnel in Panacan and Tibungco.

They said they were also informed that this illegal activity of TMC personnel has already reached the knowledge of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Around 8:30 p.m. of the same day, they went to the area with their deputy chief onboard a private vehicle. When they reached the area, they saw a TMC pick-up parked beside the road while the four accused TMC personnel were flagging down vehicles loaded with cargos.

Armed with a video camera and a marked P100 bill, they carried out an entrapment operation with the help of a certain Felix Quino, who allowed them to use his Elf truck loaded with vegetables.

The police investigators said they then headed to the direction of Tagum City and upon approaching the TMC personnel on the highway, they were flagged down.

They said the TMC personnel told them they were overloaded and were threatened with a huge fine imposed by the Land Transportation Office.

The policemen said the TMC personnel demanded that for them not to be delayed, they should give them money.

The TMC member agreed to just settle for P100 after some negotiation. (RMH)