Piñol asks court to reconsider murder case vs ex-mayor

Israel Torreon, Pi
nol’s lawyer, argued the court should look into the ‘alibi’ used by former Banisilan Mayor Floro Allado that the killing of four Maguindanaon natives on Nov 2, 2006 was done through ‘self-defense’.

Torreon said the use of self-defense as an excuse is a question of fact that must be “judiciously determined.” 

Allado can very well prove his innocence during a full-blown trial, he added.

On Nov 2, 2006, four natives were killed and four others were wounded in Barangay Thailand, Banisilan. The slain victims were identified as Mama Kadil, Cajelo Utod, Jailon Dagandal and Usman Muhammad.

The next day, Allado, then the town mayor and a suspect in the incident, voluntarily surrendered and was immediately placed under the custody of the Kidapawan City police.

Cotabato Provincial Prosecutor Jose Agerico de Guzman subsequently ruled there was probable cause to charge Allado, Police Officer 2 Dindo Celarta of the Banisilan police, a certain Boy Molina, and several others, at the Midsayap RTC.

Allado filed a motion for reconsideration at the Department of Justice (DoJ). Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales ordered Cagayan de Oro City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag to reinvestigate the case.

On August 23, 2007, Macauyag dismissed the complaint filed against Allado and the other suspects for lack of probable cause, saying it was politically motivated and not given due course. 

“[It was] clear from the records that respondent Allado was not arrested when the inquest proceeding was conducted. The mayor was subjected to an inquest proceeding and eventually charged with a heinous crime with no bail recommended,” the prosecutor said in his resolution dated August 22, 2007.

Gonzales used Macauyag’s ruling in asking the court later in 2007 to withdraw the information filed against Allado and the other suspects.

Pinol’s camp immediately questioned the ruling and in early 2008 submitted a petition for review.

On February 13 this year, when President Arroyo visited Kidapawan City, Pinol handed her a petition requesting the Office of the President to order the DoJ to review the resolution.

Arroyo then ordered Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to study the petition. 

But Allado’s camp cried foul, saying the Office of the President is not the right forum to submit such petition.  

“This is forum shopping. Under the Rules of Court, this is not allowed. Pinol’s camp should have studied their move. The petition should be submitted not to the Office of the President but to the Court of Appeals,” said lawyer Gregorio Andolana, Allado’s counsel.

Torreon hit Andolana saying the Office of the President has jurisdiction over Allado’s case as the resolution was penned by a quasi-judicial body, citing as basis Memorandum Circular Order Number 58 issued more than a decade ago. 

“It’s not forum shopping. This is the right course. Under Memo Circular 58, a petition questioning DoJ resolution, in cases punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, should be submitted for review at the Office of the President before it goes directly to the Court of Appeals,” said Torreon. 

The court in Midsayap will hear the rebuttal of Allado’s camp in the coming weeks.

Torreon, in a radio interview, clarified that the filing of a petition for review “was not done to harass Allado.” 

“This is about justice. There were four people who were unjustly killed, four others were seriously wounded, and others who miraculously survived the killing spree of a person who, at that time, held a very powerful position in his locality. We’re seeking justice here,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)