'Tatay Elmer devastated': Piston 6 counsel validating drivers' existing criminal raps

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2020 09:56 AM | Updated as of Jun 09 2020 10:46 AM

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MANILA - Two of the 6 members of PISTON transport group are facing existing criminal charges which led to their remaining in jail despite posting bail, the group's lawyer said Tuesday.

Lawyer VJ Topacio said their camp is validating the estafa case against Elmer Cordero filed in 2002, while Wilson Ramilla had a carjacking case.

Cordero said he cannot recall the case while Ramilla said he had already served his sentence, according to Topacio.

"Tatay Elmer was devastated. We thought all along all of the 6 of them will be out yesterday. He was sad of course, he was praying and hopeful his release order will be given anytime soon. With his condition and age, it’s really disheartening," he told ANC.

"With this moral setback it’s difficult to motivate him to fight more. But given the support given by the public as well as local personalities...drivers and ordinary Filipinos donating P20, P50, that’s what keeps him going, keeps us going."

Cordero, in an interview with ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, said he was charged with estafa in 2002 for missing his house rent.

The 2 elderly jeepney drivers face threats of the coronavirus in their detention cells, Topacio said.

"There is zero social distancing, the threat of virus is high and real. This does not apply only to persons deprived of liberty, it applies to visitors and lawyers as well," he said.

"The reality is there is no social distancing there. It’s very humid, hot, no clear facility to at least help them clean up or freshen up. The situation is absolutely disheartening."

The 6 jeepney drivers were arrested last Tuesday for disobedience to authority when they allegedly refused to stop protesting in EDSA for government aid and permission for jeepney drivers to ply the roads.

Topacio, however, said the 6 drivers and 12 other members peacefully dispersed after gathering that morning and the former were invited to the police station for questioning.

"They voluntarily joined. The rest of the 20 peacefully dispersed. There was no resistance, disobedience whatsoever," he said.

"If you look at the body types of my clients, these are old people, very frail. It’s illogical to think they resisted the able-bodied policemen who were supposed to arrest them. We will have this case dismissed."

Jeepney drivers should be "allowed some form of livelihood" if they are not authorized to ply the streets, Topacio said.

"We know for fact there are generals who conducted mañanita during the quarantine. There’s a senator who’s saying ang sarap ng buhay niya dahil nasa bahay lang siya. And yet the common Filipino is facing all the difficulties the pandemic has brought," he said.

--With a report from Lyza Aquino, ABS-CBN News