Tuesday July 17, 2018

Tighter jail security plan sought

CEBU City Councilor David Tumulak, deputy mayor for peace and order, requested the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to come up with a security plan for the Cebu City Jail.

Tumulak made the request after two prisoners from Bukidnon identified as Lumna Bongcarao and Nicolas Elloren were transferred to the city jail last June.

Tumulak wants the BJMP to consider both detainees, who were arrested by law enforcement officers in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last Oct. 4, 2015 for selling and possessing illegal drugs, as high-risk prisoners.

Following their arrests, Bongcarao and Elloren were accused of threatening the judges that handled their cases by firing at them and throwing a grenade to their car back in Bukidnon and in Cagayan de Oro.

Even before a cross-examination could be conducted, Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 Emmanuel Pascal of Malaybalay inhibited himself from holding the case for “loss of impartiality.”

In his order dated April 21, Pascal cited an alleged attempt on his life and numerous follow-ups on the case by unknown persons, which caused him to feel biased against Bongcarao.

The accused filed a petition for bail, while the prosecution presented SPO2 Ronnel Diez, who acted as a decoy during the operation.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor III Ma. Almira Tomampos who is assigned at the RTC Branch 8 filed a motion for consolidation of charges last May 24 citing the same grounds as Pascal’s.

Tomampos also moved for the suspension of the proceedings due to threats on the lives of the people handling the case.

Included in her motion was a petition requesting for a change of venue that she filed before the Supreme Court (SC).

She said that Pascal barely missed a bullet to his head while traveling in Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City sometime in April.

Tomampos said that the following month while in Puerto of the same city, men riding in tandem reportedly threw a grenade at Pascal’s car. The culprit also fired at the judge.

Pascal was reportedly not the only one who had attempts on his life.

Last May 17, Tomampos, who was riding a taxi at 11 p.m. was attacked by unknown men.

She said that the cab she took would have been rammed by a black Toyota Hilux, if the taxi driver was not quick enough to swerve to the other lane.

The SC granted Tomampos’ petition. In an en banc resolution dated June 7, the detainees were transferred to the Cebu City Jail.

Although the case was already re-raffled to RTC Branch 8 presided by Judge Mirabeaus Undaluk, the SC ordered for the transfer of the two accused.

The records of the two were also forwarded for the Cebu City RTC to raffle these to any of its court branches.

“The judge of RTC, Cebu City to whom the subject cases may be raffled to head and decide the cases with dispatch,” SC said.

The cases are now with RTC Branch 21 under Judge Soliver Peras. Bongcarao’s counsel filed a motion to resume hearings last Aug. 16.

Peras granted the motion and a set of cases for hearing will begin on Friday.