‘Tanim bala’ case vs engineer junked

THE City Prosecutor's Office (CPO) dismissed the case filed against an engineer working on a Davao City Water District project who was charged after two bullets were found in the pocket of his luggage at the Davao International Airport last October 30.

The engineer was believed to be a victim of “tabim bala” (bulleting planting) scam.

In a resolution dated October 12 signed by Prosecutor Maria Cynthia Prat and Associate Prosecution Attorney II Jay Karel Sanchez, charges for violation of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) filed against respondent Engr. Augusto Dorde Dagan was dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The resolution was approved by City Prosecutor lawyer Nestor Ledesma.
Ledesma said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao Thursday that Dagan was charged by the police for illegal possession of ammunition but based on Section 3 of RA 10591, elements such as bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case, and primer or loaded shell must all be present in the evidence in order for it to be called ammunition.

"Clearly, the bullet is only one of the four vital parts of an ammunition [and if any of the essential components are absent] an article perceived to be a bullet cannot be considered an ammunition," the resolution stated.

Ledesma said that the police had attached the picture of the alleged bullets found in the respondent's luggage in their affidavit of complaint but this evidence is insufficient and still needs to undergo through a ballistic examination to determine if all the components of ammunition is present something which the police failed to submit to their office.

Ledesma also explained that based on their findings, respondent Dagan has no firearm which was certified by the Philippine National Police firearms and explosives office in Manila so it would be useless for him to carry around bullets especially that the respondent, is well-travelled and well-informed on the alleged bullet planting schemes.

Dagan could have been a victim of the alleged laglag-bala where he himself claimed that the bullets found in his luggage could have been inserted by someone at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"Engineer Dagan does not have the criminal intent and has no intent to possess ammunitions," Ledesma said explaining further that it is not only the job of a prosecutor to make sure that those who are criminally liable are punished adding that it is also their job to ensure that the innocent are spared from embarrassment.

The P120,000 bail paid by Dagan to the Regional Trial Court for the charges can be claimed back by the respondent now that the case has been dismissed, Ledesma explained.

Sun.Star Davao earlier reported that the two live bullets found inside the side pockets of Dagan's luggage are believed to be from a 9mm pistol.

The Security Screening Officer of the Davao International Airport reportedly detected the bullets through images displayed by the x-ray baggage scanner.

According to the same report, the incident is similar to the current laglagbala extortion racket (bullet planting) by officials and personnel of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) where tourists and overseas Filipino workers are victimized.

But it was theorized that Dagan must have been victimized at NAIA but was able to go undetected.

He arrived last Monday from Manila and flew out last Friday when the bullets were found as he entered the airport. (RCP)
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