YEAREANDER 2016| What we see in court

THE YEAR 2016 was a banner year for Davaoeños as Rodrigo Duterte, the longest serving mayor of the city, became the country’s 16th president.

Most cases filed in court, particularly those sensational cases, were connected with the President.

Drug cases

After he became the country’s top man, President Rodrigo Duterte immediately launched an all-out war against illegal drugs.

As a result, almost a hundred drug charges reached the Office of the City Prosecutor and most were forwarded to the court.

The most sensational case was the arrest of lawyer Lorenzo Ballesteros Ta-asan III who was eventually sued for drug charges.

Ta-asan was sued for violating of Sec. 5 (selling of illegal drugs), Sec. 11 (possession of illegal drugs) and Sec. 12 (possession of illegal drugs paraphernalia) of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9165) as he was arrested in a buy-bust operation inside an apartelle in Barrio Obrero on Sept. 29.

Among the charges, Section 5 carries the stiffest penalty — life imprisonment and a maximum of P10 million fine to any person who sells any dangerous drug, regardless of the quantity and purity involved.

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SPECIAL Investigation Task Group Night Market spokesperson Chief Insp. Andrea Dela Cerna shows the composite sketch of the prime suspect in the night market bombing.

Terrorism

The city was the damage in the terroristic act staged by a group who wanted to sow fear in the hometown of the President.

On Dec. 7, government prosecutors indicted 14 suspects in connection with the Sept. 2 Roxas Night Market Bombing that killed 15 and injured 69 others.

In a 17-page resolution, investigating prosecutors Jay Karel Sanchez II, Armand Tirol and Jose Paulo Evangelista found probable cause to charge Abu Calid, Abu Hadid Dilangalen, Wendel Facturan (aka Muraimin), Zack Haron Lopez, TJ Macabalang (aka Abu Tufael), Pendatum Coy Mahurom, Ausa Abdullah Mamasapano (aka Abu Hamsa), Musali Mustapha (aka Abu Hurayra), Jessy Vicent Original (aka Aisha), Datu Masla Sema (aka DM), Abu Solaiman, Jackson Usi (aka Abu Mansur), Abubakar Zulkifli (aka Abs), and a certain Cocoy/Jericho.

The respondents were charged for violation of Sec. 3 (terrorism) of Republic Act 9374 (Human Security Act) and multiple murder with multiple attempted murder under the Revised Penal Code.

The prosecutors relied on the extrajudicial confessions of Usi and Mamasapano who claimed that they targeted the city because it is the hometown of President Duterte as they wanted to compel the government to reduce the military forces in Basilan in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Matobato charges

After Edgar Matobato claimed in a Senate investigation that President Duterte was behind the Davao Death Squad (DDS), three dormant cases against the self-confessed hitman became active.

In the city, the 2014 gun case against Matobato was revived. Judge Silverio Mandalupe of Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 3 set the arraignment of the case. The judge revoked the bail bond and ordered the arrest of the accused when the self-confessed killer failed to appear for his supposed arraignment.

Mandalupe and the defense panel spent a tug of war for the rest of the year as Matobato’s camp wanted the judge to quit handling the case as they requested for the transfer of the case trial to Manila.

Mandalupe eventually gave up handling the case, as MTCC Branch 6 Judge Nanette Limana now handles the case that stemmed from the June 19, 2014 arrest of Matobato for allegedly bringing a Colt .45 caliber pistol without a permit outside of his house in Familia Sagrada, Km. 12 in Sasa.

In Digos City, Davao del Sur, Matobato is also facing a frustrated murder case.

The frustrated murder case, still pending before the prosecution office, was filed on Sept. 23 by lawyer Abeto Salcedo Jr., a former adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Davao Del Sur, who claimed the self-proclaimed DDS member was the one who ambushed him in Digos on Oct. 23, 2014, causing him six gunshot wounds.

The case could have been unsolved until Matobato appeared in the Senate investigation on extrajudicial killngs. Salcedo said he was watching the live TV coverage of the investigation when he took notice that Matobato was the one who attempted to kill him.

Matobato’s testimony before the Senate investigation also brought back the ghost of a crime that happened in 2000.

He is facing a kidnapping trial in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte in connection with the disappearance of Sali Makdum, a Turkish national, sometime in 2000.

Matobato claimed Makdum was a terrorist.

But the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI XI) revealed that Matobato’s group kidnapped Makdum and demanded P100,000 ransom.

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JUDGE Emmanuel Carpio of Branch 16 leads the inspection on the establishment owned by Richard King where he was killed in 2014.

Update on Richard King murder case

The 2014 murder case of Richard King moved this year.

Despite the Senate hearing claim of Matobato that Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte masterminded the assassination, the court trial against accused brains, Police Supt. Leonardo Felonia, and three others, continued.

Witnesses Boboy Roldan, the on-duty nurse of Vital-C office where the billionaire trader was killed, pointed Paul Dave Molina Labang as the gunman during his testimony in the court.

Julius Buot, another witness, claimed that he was the one who initially asked by Felonia to kill King.

Last Nov. 22 Regional Trial Court Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio, along with the lawyers of both camps, conducted an ocular inspection of the crime scene.

De Lima sued over release of Abu Sayyaf terrorist

President Duterte’s arch critic, Sen. Leila de Lima has been charged before the Office of the Ombudsman – Mindanao for graft and corruption for allegedly coddling terrorists.

Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie and Abner Salahi Tahil filed on Nov. 18 the case against de Lima together with former Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan and three other officials.

Tulawie and Tahil charged them for violating of Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 10168 (‘The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012′) for allegedly protecting and releasing suspected terrorists Mohammad Sali Said, Jul Ahmad Ahadi and Robin Sahiyal from the Special Intensive Care Area of Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on Feb. 15, 2013.

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PROTESTERS picket outside the Regional Trial Court calling to drop the cases against the Haran 15 charged for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of lumads.

DOJ dismisses cases vs ‘Haran 15′

A leftover from 2015 when President Duterte was the still the mayor of the city was the criminal charge of the so-called Haran 15, a group of militant and human rights fighters who were accused of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of around 700 lumads.

When Duterte assumed the presidency, the Department of Justice reversed its earlier decision charging the respondents for the August 2015 incident where the lumads coming from Davao del Norte were allegedly detained at the Haran evacuation center at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines Compound in the city.

Cleared were Rev. Jurie Jaime, Bayan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) secretary general Sheena Duazo, Karapatan SMR secretary general Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Laniba, Tony Salubre, Jimboy Maciano, Gabriela Davao secretary general Mary Ann Sapar, Jaja Encosio, Pedro Arnado, Pasaka SMR chairperson Kerlan Fanagel, Sr. Stella Matutina, Sr. Restita Miles, Isidro Andao, Kharlo Manano, and Save Our Schools (SOS) Network spokesperson Rius Valle.

Charges against pyramid scam

Last July, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-XI) filed several complaints before the Office of the City Prosecutor against firms that were allegedly involved in a pyramiding scheme in the city.

NBI-XI director Arnold Rosales charged King Elise, Jacama Sales and Marketing, Dragon One, Ponciano Davao Credit Coop., Potential Development Ventures Corporation and Bitworks Enterprise.

The companies promised big return of their money to the victims.

Based on NBI-XI records, more than 100 were victimized.

The city government then formed the Anti-Bulatik team that aims to address the proliferation of investment scam and will also provide free legal assistance to the victims.

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