Police in Cebu town release woman mistakenly jailed for human trafficking

Junrey Nadela, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2017 09:11 PM

RONDA — A woman jailed for a month after she was arrested for human trafficking was ordered released on Wednesday after a judge ruled she was innocent of the crime.

Ronda police arrested Jocelyn Batiling Cardona, 37 years old, on December 21, 2016, at her home in Barangay Palanas, Ronda, Cebu, after authorities served her an arrest warrant in 2008 for human trafficking.

Cardona's lawyer, Glen Villariza, said that another Jocelyn Cardona was previously convicted for human trafficking, not his client.

At the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24, Cardona's team presented evidence to Judge Jose Nathaniel Andal proving she and the suspect were not the same person. 

A fingerprint comparison between the two Cardonas didn't match. The suspect also had a mole in her left cheek.

Andal ordered Cardona’s release after seeing that her arrest was a mistake by local police.

Cardona said in an interview with ABS-CBN News that she was shocked when police officers came to her home and picked her up. They did not even ask her if she was the right person in the warrant, she said.

Cardona's camp claimed that the police merely identified her through Facebook, and did not bother to verify her middle name. They also alleged that the police did not verify if Cardona’s middle name matched that of the accused.

However, PO1 Tirso Sol, desk officer of the Ronda Police Station, denied in a phone interview that they relied primarily on Facebook to establish Cardona’s identity.

They had an informant who identified Cardona and guided police to her home, Sol said. He added that Cardona did not deny the accusations when they served the arrest warrant.

Jocelyn's camp is thinking of filing charges against the Ronda police.