DOJ seeks SC OK to move trial of Catanduanes shabu lab case to Metro Manila

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2018 11:33 PM

MANILA—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally asked the Supreme Court (SC) to move the trial of drug cases against a former official of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and several others in connection with the shabu laboratory busted in Virac town, Catanduanes in November 2016.

In a letter dated March 26, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II urged the high court to grant its request for the trial of three drug cases against former NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Unit chief Atty. Eric Isidoro and 9 others to be held in Makati City or Quezon City.

Aguirre cited the local Virac judge’s “partiality” and “local political connections of the accused" in his letter to Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.

Although the DOJ letter did not name the presiding judge of Virac Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 43, it said the same judge also presides over Branch 42 and is the town's only judge.

In March 2017, the Catanduanes Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution urging the SC to immediately relieve Executive Judge Lelu Contreras of her appointment to RTC Branches 42 and 43 for “lack of trust and confidence” in the performance of her duty in connection with the "shabu" laboratory case. 

The raid at the "mega shabu laboratory" in Virac yielded 22.509 kilos of shabu, and more than 359 kilos of ephedrine and other chemicals.

“[T]here is an imperious necessity to change the venue of trial of these cases,” Aguirre’s letter to the high court read.

The NBI confirmed on Friday that Isidoro is now under its custody.