Davao Oriental court junks murder charges vs NGO worker

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 07:17 PM

MANILA — A Davao Oriental court has dismissed murder and attempted murder charges against a non-governmental organization (NGO) worker who was in Kenya when an alleged encounter between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA) took place in Davao.

Lupon, Davao Oriental Regional Trial Court Branch 32 on Monday granted the motion to quash the amended information of Albino Reynaldo Oliveros, a trustee of IBON Foundation.

Oliveros was accused of being an NPA member involved in a September 13, 2018 shootout which led to the death of 1 soldier and the wounding of 2 others.

Not included in the original charge, Oliveros was impleaded in the amended information after a soldier supposedly positively identified him.

But Oliveros was able to produce official travel records from the Bureau of Immigration and his passport which showed “he left the Philippines for Kenya on May 4, 2018 and did not return to the country until November 15, 2018.”

He also attended the Pan Africanism Today conferences in Ghana from September 20 to 23, 2018, as shown by a copy of his request letter from the Socialist Forum of Ghana.

“[I]t is of judicial notice that the Republic of Kenya is about nine thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine kilometers (9,989 km) away from Lupon, Davao Oriental, Philippines. It would even take fourteen (14) hours to travel from Nairobi to Manila by airplane and one (1) [hour] and forty-five (45) minutes from Manila to Davao, exclusive of air travel protocols and layovers at airport terminals,” Oliveros’ lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers argued.

After initially denying the motion to quash the amended information, Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III granted the motion for reconsideration.

“[T]he Court is satisfied that the government-issued documentary evidence presented by Movant Oliveros prevails over the positive identification of PVT Petere Jr. Not only that these pieces of evidence enjoy the presumption of regularity, but the prosecution also failed to present any countervailing evidence,” he said.

The court also pointed to another former co-accused who was dropped from the case after he was able to show he was outside the country when the alleged encounter happened.

NUPL’s Kathy Panguban, who represented Oliveros, said her client was not even informed about the preliminary investigation on the case, the stage before the filing of the information or criminal charge in court, where he could have presented evidence to rebut the accusations.

She said it was Oliveros’ wife who learned about the charge and the warrant of arrest.

However, Oliveros was not arrested and questioned the proceedings through a special appearance.