PNP claims bias vs judge who granted bail to alleged mastermind in Batocabe slay

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2019 04:59 PM

MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday claimed that the judge presiding over the trial of the murder of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe was biased in favor of suspected mastermind Carlwyn Baldo.

This after the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 granted his petition for bail in September.

In a briefing before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, lawyer Joseph Orsos of the PNP Legal Division maintained that the evidence they cited in filing cases for murder and frustrated murder against Baldo were strong. 

“Reading the order granting bail, we were very surprised. For us, this should be denied outright because we believe we have a very strong case, strong evidence,” Orsos said.

Orsos said the evidence they presented include the extrajudicial confession of 6 of those involved as well as the murder weapon. 

"For one thing, the court never mentioned about the extrajudicial confession as if we did not obtain the confession from all the accused for the court. As if the extrajudicial confession never existed. So that’s why we urged the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) to make a move to recuse the presiding judge to inhibit,” he said.

Orsos said after the defense sought the inhibition of the prosecutors of Albay and Camarines Sur, the prosecutors of Legazpi City ordered the filing of criminal information that led to the issuance of warrants of arrest against Baldo. The judge later set this aside by granting the accused bail. 

The late lawmaker’s son, lawyer Justin Batocabe, was also at the briefing and blasted the ruling before his father’s colleagues. 

He pointed out that some of the witnesses flip-flopped in favor of Baldo, former mayor of Daraga. 

“In my view, Mr. Chairman, there should be some focus on those 3 witnesses…why were they allowed to flip-flop, sana hindi napabayaan ang pagbabantay sa mga witnesses,” he said.

(The witnesses should not have been neglected.)

He also took up the cudgels for the PNP as he disagreed with the judge’s ruling.

“In all fairness to the PNP, the quantum of evidence used by the judge was not presence of evidence but beyond reasonable doubt. Her first line was the prosecution failed to put the smoking gun in the hands of Mr. Baldo. Who, in their right mind as a mastermind would have the smoking gun in their hands?” he said.

Batocabe’s colleagues at the House called for an investigation as lawmakers of the 17th Congress pooled together personal funds to donate P13 million as reward money for information on Batocabe’s murderers. Batocabe was planning to contest Baldo for the Daraga mayoralty in the last elections.