CEBU CITY (Updated) -- JOAVAN Fernandez could face up 50 years in prison for illegal possession of firearms and an explosive in 2013, during an election gun ban.
Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras gave no weight to Fernandez’s defense that the evidence had been planted and found the former Talisay mayor’s son guilty of all three cases filed against him.
Fernandez declined to comment on the decision, saying he has yet to talk with his lawyer, George Bragat.
The latest decision came less than two months after another conviction. Judge Ester Veloso has also convicted Fernandez and five of his friends for two counts of serious illegal detention. They were sentenced to spend nine to 20 years in jail.
Talisay City Councilor Socrates Fernandez told Sun.Star Cebu he plans to meet with his lawyer to discuss what to do next.
Fernandez, who was city mayor when his adopted son was arrested for the gun ban violation, said he and his lawyers are looking into the possibility of asking the court to reconsider Joavan’s conviction.
Joavan will reportedly be transferred to the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Southern Leyte.
He had pleaded not guilty to the three charges filed before Regional Trial Court Branch 10 last May 31, 2013.
According to the prosecution, the Talisay Police arrested Fernandez in his father’s house using a bench warrant issued for a slight physical injuries case. That case was filed after the younger Fernandez allegedly shot and injured a car shop watchman in Barangay San Isidro in April 2013.
He was caught allegedly carrying a pineapple-type grenade along with a Dillinger Black Widow revolver with four bullets.
Fernandez was detained in Talisay City but escaped on May 8, 2013. He was arrested again 12 days later in a resort in Moalboal town, while preparing to leave for another province.
During the trial, the defense offered the affidavits of two of Councilor Fernandez’s neighbors, Elmer Tan and Jaime Esperanza, who said that Joavan didn’t carry firearms when he was arrested on May 6, 2013.
Joavan also testified that he had gone to his father’s house in Barangay Bulacao around 7 p.m. last May 6, 2013. Moments later, policemen arrived and pointed their guns at him.
The police frisked him, Joavan said, but did not find any gun in his possession.
He was later brought to the police station where authorities “planted” the hand grenade and the firearm as evidence to pin him down, the former mayor’s son testified.
Judge Peras ruled that Joavan’s denial failed to overturn the “positive declaration” by prosecution witness.
“The defense failed to show or present any proof that the prosecution witnesses were actuated with bad faith, revenge, hatred or ill motive to frame up the accused of a crime he did not commit,” said Peras.
He sentenced Joavan to spend 20 to 40 years in jail for illegal possession of an explosive.
Joavan was also meted an additional prison term of four to six years for illegal possession of a firearm and up to four more years for violating an election-period gun ban.
Last March this year, Judge Veloso convicted Joavan and his five friends for serious illegal detention. The other convicts are Teodoro Ligaray, Benedeck Gabasa, Mark Perez, Leoniver Singson and Roland Perez.
Apart from jail term of nine to 20 years, Judge Veloso also ordered the convicts to pay the victims Winston and Osbert Abellana P150,000 for moral and exemplary damages. The Abellanas are cousins who worked in the same vulcanizing shop.
The judge, however, suspended the jail term of Singson and Perez since they were still minors at the time the crime was committed in 2008.
It was the loss of his father’s spare tire that allegedly infuriated Joavan and caused him to go after the Abellanas. (Sunnex)