Dumaguings to file motion for reconsideration re dismissal of complaint vs Camiguin Gov
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/31 May)- The panel of prosecutors tasked by the Regional Prosecutors Office to look into a complaint on pre-election day mauling allegedly involving Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualo and Catarman Mayor Nestor Jacot, has dismissed the complaint for “insufficiency of evidence” but complainants vowed to file a motion for reconsideration.
LawyerNeil Pacana of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), the lead counsel for Herbert Hugo Dumaguing and his son Herbert Hubert, announced at the press conference Monday that they will file a motion for reconsideration at the RPO even though it is an “exercise in futility since no prosecutor has reversed its own decision.”
Pacana said they will file for a petition for review with the Secretary of Justice if the motion is denied.
He added they will also study the possibility of filing for certiorari before the Supreme Court for excess in jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion.
“The Regional Prosecutors Office has no right to question whether the Dumaguings are legitimate media practitioners or not,” Florencio Narido, Jr., a collaborating counsel, said at the press conference.
Narido said RPO 10 overstepped its mandate when the panel of prosecutors, citing “insufficiency of evidence” dismissed the complaint filed against Camiguin governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo and Catarman mayor Nestor Jacot for robbery, kidnapping, grave threats, physical injuries, and for carrying firearms outside their residence.
Narido was the Liberal Party candidate for the lone congressional district of Camiguin in the May 2010 elections. He lost to Pedro Romualdo, father of the incumbent governor who previously served as three-term governor.
“It’s not in their (panel of prosecutors’) province to determine the truthfulness of Romualdo’s denial. Reserve na for the trial to determine. Probable cause lang ang gi-require sa ila that’s why we did not present all of our witnesses yet. They stated flimsy reasons to dismiss the cases in effect they made their office as a judge of the case,” Narido said.
Tasked by the RPO to conduct a preliminary investigation, the three-member panel of prosecutors in an 18-page joint resolution, dismissed the complaints filed by the Dumaguings, Alphyn Cabanog and Algin Lobino, citing “insufficiency of evidence.” It also questioned the credibility of the complainants, likening them to “guns-for-hire.”
The Dumaguings and five others complained they were mauled by supporters of Romualdo in Catarman, Camiguin on May 9, 2010, after the latter was captured on video allegedly paying off voters. May 9 was the day before the national elections.
They filed the complaint June 10, 2010 at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Camiguin but through a motion filed by LENTE, hearing for the complaint was transferred to the RPO-10 in Cagayan de Oro City on July 7, 2010 and a panel of three prosecutors was created to conduct a preliminary investigation.
The panel issued the resolution dated May 11 but the Dumaguings received their copies only on Friday.
“Walay justice dinhi sa Pilipinas,” (There is no justice here in the Philippines), the elder Dumaguing said when he learned about the dismissal last Friday.
The elder Dumaguing said he wonders if the panel watched the video they submitted as evidence of the mauling.
“It was clear in the video that Jacot took part in mauling my son,” he said.
The resolution said the son’s statements that he saw Romualdo punching and bashing his father’s head with a gun was not believable because “he was also being beaten up and mauled by allegedly 10 to 20 people, about a distance from his father.”
“Even if I was beaten up at the same, I still maintain that I saw Romualdo take part in the mauling,” the younger Dumaguing said last Friday.
JB Deveza, coordinator of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) Mindanao Media Safety said ethical issues on media workers should not be used as an excuse on any attack
“An attack on a media practitioner can never be justified and it is not within the purview of the panel of prosecutors to determine the legitimacy of any journalist,” he said.
“This is tantamount to regulating the media,” Deveza added
Prosecutor Eldred Cole chaired the panel with members Merlyn Barola-Uy and Irene Alejado-Meso.
The NUJP last year described the Dumaguings as a “news team for RR Productions, a production outfit that contracts airtime from a local cable TV company” and Cabanog and Lobino as their crew members.
It said that aside from being beaten up, the assailants also seized from them a camera and other belongings.
“These brazen violations, not only of election laws, but of criminal laws and of the basic human and civil rights enshrined in our Constitution cannot and should not be countenanced,” the NUJP said in a statement in May last year.
The panel of prosecutors likened the complainants to “guns for hire.”
“By their own admissions,” the panel said, “all complainants were not truthful as to their affiliation with TV 13, and despite having known that they are not affiliated with such media outfit, continually used TV 13 in their identification cards so as to mislead people who do not know that they are not connected with TV 13.”
The panel said the complainants “were hired in May 2010 by RR Productions which is associated with the political opponents of (Romualdo and Yacot). A legitimate media would not let themselves be a gun for hire of any political party for they are supposed to be neutral. Proceeding from their claim that they are legitimate media personalities, they should have known The Journalists’ Code of Ethics adopted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, particularly number 5, which states ‘I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties, nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my professional integrity…’”
Under the law, the Prosecutors’ Office is tasked to determine probable cause for the offense or offenses charged.
If the evidence is insufficient to establish probable cause, the Prosecutor’s Office issues a resolution dismissing the complaint. If probable cause is determined, the Prosecutor’s Office issues a resolution recommending the filing of charges along with the criminal information of the offense or offenses charged which are then filed before the appropriate courts. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)