Judge on release of Talaingod 18: “their supreme right to liberty must be upheld”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 December) — Executive Judge Arlene Palabrica of the Regional Trial Court in Tagum City on Saturday night ruled that since the 18 persons arrested in Talaingod, Davao del Norte for alleged kidnapping, trafficking and child abuse have posted bail and are still presumed innocent as no information has been filed against them in court, “their supreme right ot liberty must be upheld.”

Palabrica ordered oficers of the lock up jails of the police stations in Talaingod and Kapalong towns in Davao del Norte and in Tagum City to “release the accused, unless detained for some other lawful cause/s.”

But tension soon followed inside the courtroom after Palabrica issued the release order at around 7 p.m., prompting her to issue a supplemental order an hour later.

December 1, 2018 supplemental order issued by Executive Judge Arlene Palabrica. The judge said the 18 respondents are still presumed innocent as no information has been filed against them in court and “their supreme right ot liberty must be upheld.”

Palabrica narrated in her supplemental order that police officer and lawyer Louie Padillo manifested they will not release the 18 because they are still undergoing preliminary invstigation for kidnapping and failure to retun a minor and that the bail of P80,000 recommended by Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis is for violation of RA 7610 only.

She said Padillo and another lawyer had approached her in chamber seeking clarification “as well as insisting on his view” that the 18 should not be released

The 18 respondents are ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Bayan Muna President Satur Ocampo, Meggie Nolasco, executive director of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center; Pastor Edgar Ugal, Reverends Ryan Magpayo and Jurie Jaime of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Davao; Pastor Eller Ordeza of the United Methodist Davao; Jesus Modamo and Maryro Poquita, staff of the ACT Teachers’ Party List; and Salugpongan Community Learning Center teachers Maria Concepcion Ibarra, Jenevive Paraba, Nerhaya Talledo, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Ariel Ansan, Mariane Aga, Nerfa Awing and Wingwing Dansay.

The judge said she asked Padillo to “file a pleading and the other laweyr to clarify the matter with Prosecutor Solis, to enable us to rule on it. They failed to heed the advice.”

She refered to Padillo’s manifestation as “unexpected nay inappropriate” which prompted an “angry reaction” from Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and the other respondents who were epxecting to be released.

Joel Mahinay of the National Union of People’s Lawyers had earlier said they posted the 1.44 million peso bail bond  (at 80,000 pesos each) at around 1 p.m. but by 6 p.m. the court in Tagum City was still waiting for the police to bring to it the respondents detained in Talaingod and Kapalong towns.

The 18 were distributed in three detention areas — nine at the lock-up cell in the municipal station in Talaingod, five in Kaplong and four in Tagum.

“We do admire and aprpeciate our police force for doing their job. We also admire the good argument of PO laywer Louie Padiollo. However, we must rule in favor of the respondents. It must be borne in mind that the prosecution merely recommends bail, the court has the final and ultimate say on it.”

The judge maintained the 18 respondents are “still presumed innocent” and

“their supreme right to liberty must be upheld.”

The judge also declared that the 80,000 peso bail bond posted by each of the repsonent “is for the cases they are charged and are pending before the Provincial Prosecution’s office” and reiterated her order for the police officer or military personnel or anyone who has custody of the respondents “release them from custody and detention.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., twitted his disgust over the ‘human trafficking’ complaint against Ocampo. “Human trafficking? Bullshit. I won’t even bother to get the other side. I know Satur. We protected him in our Congress against warrants of arrest,” Locsin wrote.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas and Mart Sambalud / MindaNews)