Why lawyer thinks Dennis Roldan is innocent

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 27 2014 04:51 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2014 05:18 AM

MANILA – Former congressman and actor Dennis Roldan is set to ask the Court of Appeals (CA) to overturn his conviction for kidnapping with ransom, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Lawyer Orlando Salatandre told dzMM his client has sufficient evidence that could overturn the guilty verdict of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 167.

Salatandre noted that during a court hearing four years after the abduction in 2005, the Chinese-Filipino victim was not initially able to identify Roldan as his abductor.

"Nandun sa court kaming lahat, hindi maituro, nag-recess. Humingi ang prosecution ng recess, dinala ang bata sa kwarto [ng] judge, kay Judge (Rodolfo) Bonifacio. Ngayon pagbalik eto na, ang bata na nagsabi, 'Do you want me to step down? I will point to the suspect,'' Salatandre said.

Salatandre said it would be almost impossible for the victim, who was three years old at the time of abduction, to identify Roldan in a court hearing that took place four years after the abduction.

"Ang bata nag-testify seven years old na eh. He was kidnapped when he was three years old," Salatandre explained.

"Nagtanong kami sa psychologist, ang three years mahirap ang capability na maka-remember."

The lawyer also criticized the irregular arrest of his client.

"Walang search warrant, walang anumang hot pursuit. Wala namang personal knowledge 'yung pulis na pumasok sa bahay nila. Illegal ang pagkahuli niyan,'' he said.

He added that surveillance footage presented before the court did not show Roldan supposedly visiting the safehouse.

He said weak evidence against Roldan was the reason why he was allowed to post bail in the first place.

The lawyer also echoed his client's concern that the judge who decided on the case was not the same judge who heard it.

Judge Rolando Mislang of Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 167 ruled that Roldan -- Mitchell Gumabao in real life -- and two of his companions, Rowena San Andres and Adrian Domingo, are guilty beyond reasonable doubt in the kidnap-for-ransom case.

The judge sentenced the three to reclusion perpetua. No parole was recommended for the three.

The judge also ordered the three to pay 100,000 pesos in civil indemnity, 100,000 pesos for moral damages and 100,000 pesos for exemplary damages to the family of the kidnap victim.

The judge ordered Roldan and the two others to be brought to New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

One of Roldan's co-accused, Octavio Garces, was acquitted in the case and ordered released. The judge also terminated the charges against two of Roldan's co-accused after they died.
Suzette Wang, Roldan's alleged girlfriend, is still at large.