THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Northern Mindanao (PDEA-X) was set to file administrative charges against a judge of a Bukidnon regional court.
Backed by the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, PDEA-X Director Gilberto Abanto, Jr. said a complaint for “gross ignorance of the law” would be filed against Malaybalay City (not Valencia City, as earlier reported) Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Executive Judge Josefina Bacal for allowing two drugs suspects to post bail even if cases against them had yet to be lodged.
The case was expected to be filed before the Supreme Court anytime Thursday.
“She (Bacal) granted the motion of the accused to post bail without asking the prosecutor the nature of the case,” Abanto told reporters during a press conference Thursday held inside the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor.
Granting that the case had been filed, the PDEA-X official pointed out that cases involved were non-bailable.
Attempts to contact Bacal failed Thursday afternoon. A relative who asked not to be named in this story declined to give the judge’s cell phone number, lacking permission to do so.
Bacal was the unnamed judge that Regional State Prosecutor Jaime Umpa had earlier blamed for the release of the two drug suspects, identified as 45-year-old Alice Canque and her live-in partner, Leonilo Carreon, Jr., both of Valencia City.
Umpa linked the judge to the release of Carreon and Canque after Abanto blamed a government prosecutor for bungling the case against the suspects.
Umpa and Abanto have since reconciled their misunderstanding on the issue, and agreed that the serious error was made by the magistrate.
Bukidnon Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Giovanni Alfred Navarro corroborated this assumption, saying he was asked by Bacal to comment on the suspects’ motion to post bail.
“I could not comment and react to the motion because I don’t have the authority over the case, especially that it wasn’t filed yet in court,” Navarro said.
Umpa found the judge’s action to be “highly irregular.”
“This is the first time that we experience such incident, and it’s very surprising for a judge to easily release the accused with a mere motion, which for all intents and purposes cannot be granted simply because the case had not been filed yet,” the regional prosecutor said.
Abanto expressed disappointment over the release of the suspects, saying they have a “strong case” against the accused.
Canque and Carreon, he said, were in PDEA’s “target list” of notorious drug pushers since 1997.
Out of Northern Mindanao’s 1,350 resolved drug cases in 2009, 362 or 27 percent resulted in the acquittal of the accused, compared to the national rate of 7.9 percent.
Twenty five percent or 333 drug cases, meanwhile, were dismissed by the courts, record from the Dangerous Drugs Board show.
Earlier, DDB said at least six local officials in Northern Mindanao are being suspected for their links to illegal drugs.
Oaminal said the six officials are likely getting funds from drug lords to finance their respective campaigns, and that their involvement in illicit narcotics varies.
In its 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Northern Mindanao was named, alongside Cebu and Manila, as one of the most illegal drug-hit areas in the Philippines.