I decided to answer in writing the issues raised by the PDLs detained at Virac District Jail even when I already granted an interview by two (2) media men.
The bottom line of these charges hurled against me by these PDLs is the plea bargaining agreement being offered by those charged with violations of R.A. 9165 since, as of this writing, none of them has availed of said agreement and I am the one being blamed. I am just following the Revised Guidelines on Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases which require the consent of the law enforcement officer and the conformity by the handling prosecutor. Once there is consent by the law enforcement officer and conformity by the prosecutor, then, my discretion is in the imposition of the sentence. The imposable penalty has a range – from minimum to maximum period. Thus, I could impose the penalty within this range. Should the law enforcement officer object and/or the prosecutor refuse to conform, I could not override it lest I be charged for non-compliance with the provision of the Revised Guidelines. Worse still, I will, again, be tagged as drug protector.
All my decisions are based on evidence presented during trial, supported by law and jurisprudence. Any aggrieved party can always appeal my decision to the Court of Appeals. In convicting those accused for maintenance of a drug den under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9165, it is not only the object evidence which was considered but also the general reputation of the accused and the place that was searched.
These PDLs have only their eyes on the decisions where I convicted the accused and charged me for conniving with the police authorities. They simply disregarded those cases where I acquitted the accused or granted their demurrer to evidence.
As for the search warrants that I issued, I conduct searching questions on the applicant and witnesses to determine probable cause. Any question on its issuance can be raised by the accused through a Motion to Quash Search Warrant or to Suppress Evidence, or elevate the issue to the Court of Appeals.
Coming now to the search warrant issued against the accused who are residents of Pulang Lupa. The reason why the Court of Appeals invalidated the search warrant that I have issued was because, they considered that the clause in the search warrant that “’there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that the persons named therein have in their possession undetermined amount of illegal drugs’ is too broad to infer that the required examination was made and from which the factual basis for probable cause to issue the search warrant was derived”. Since I was not allowed to file motion or other pleadings in connection with this case being just a nominal party, I requested to be allowed to manifest and to admit my manifestation where I pointed out that the questioned search warrant was patterned on the form provided under Section 6, Issuance and form of search warrant in Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, and I furnished the Office of the Solicitor General with a copy. Sad to say that no one from the said office lifted a finger to avail of any possible remedy, like filing a motion for reconsideration, or elevating the case to the Supreme Court.
As for the cases against John Tabor and Ulpiano Lumbao and their co-accused, the Court of Appeals has not rendered any decision on the petition filed on their behalf, which is separate from the petition filed for the Posadas, which was resolved expeditiously even when it was filed later than their petition. There is, therefore, no basis for this Court to order their release from detention since this Court has not yet received a resolution from the Court of Appeals and the resolution in the case of the Posadas is distinct and separate from their petition. Neither is it the duty of this Court to follow up the resolution of their petition by the appellate court
of a drug den
Cases filed with the court are the results of an investigation conducted by the Provincial Prosecution Office. It is not I who decide on the filing of cases for maintenance of a drug den under Sec. 6 of R.A. 9165. The Joint Resolution mentioned by the PDLs referred to the cases filed against Aran Ballador and Cory de Florencia. While it is true that my resolution in denying their petition for bail mentioned the other object evidence seized from the house of Nestor Magtangob and from the SIV Lodge, however, it is very clear that I did not rely mainly on the object evidence seized from them but on the general reputation in the community, as testified to by Punong Barangay Natividad Toledo. The judgment which will be promulgated on September 24, 2018 dwells only on the object evidence seized from their house.
Granting of bail bond
for humanitarian reasons
It is true that, for humanitarian reasons, I have granted bail to those charged under Sec. 6 pending the hearing of their petition. These complaining PDLs should have known that I allowed only the wife or live-in partner with children to attend to and those who need medical attention to post bail bond, but with a condition stated in their Affidavit of Undertaking that, should they commit any illegal act, they will be recommitted to detention. However, petitions for certiorari were filed and the appellate court reversed my orders which resulted to the arrest of two (2) of them. These complaining PDLs should have known that I have recommitted to detention two (2) PDLs earlier granted bail for having violated the condition in their Affidavit of Undertaking.
Ironically, however, the humanitarian consideration which was the basis of my grant of bail to these PDLs, that did not result to the termination of their cases but only giving them back their liberty, is now overrun by the plea bargaining allowed in drug cases, which, necessarily terminates the case. Naturally, humanitarian consideration will come into play in consenting and conforming to the offer of the accused to enter into plea bargaining.
It is very surprising why these PDLs complained of reserved witnesses when even their own lawyer also reserved both documents and witnesses during the preliminary/pre-trial conference. In the case against Manuel Huit, Jr., there was a hearing on the Motion to Discharge an Accused to Become a State Witness. Naturally, this was not expected during the preliminary/pre-trial conference. Thus, the witnesses presented by the prosecution were not indicated in the Pre-Trial Order.
The case of Jayson Alano
As for the decision in the case of Jayson Alano y Sabado, these PDLs simply overlooked the fact that the sentence imposed on him was based on the agreement of both parties, assisted by their counsel. Jayson Alano was charged of Homicide, which is punishable by reclusion temporal, or imprisonment from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. However, since Jayson is the nephew of the victim, both the prosecution and the defense “agreed that he will be meted with a straight penalty of three (3) years of imprisonment without granting him any reduction of his service of sentence in the form of good conduct time allowance” and they even waived civil liability.
These PDLs should bear in mind that when parties enter into plea bargaining agreement, assisted by their respective counsel, they just inform the Court of what they have agreed upon, both as to the criminal and civil liabilities.
Admission of the crime
I have not forced any PDLs to admit the crime for which they are being charged. I simply explain to them that they are the ones who know what actually transpired – not their lawyer or the court – and my decision will always be based on evidence. However, if they wish to enter a plea of guilty, it will be considered as a mitigating circumstance that will reduce the penalty.
Furlough of PDLs
These PDLs singled out Michelle Diaz Gonzales and Mary Joy Sarmiento and charged me for granting them furlough to attend a fiesta in Gigmoto. I would not have granted them furlough if not for the jail officers who convinced me that they will be the one to escort them and it was not to attend a fiesta but to visit the ailing member of the family of Mary Joy Sarmiento. I do not grant furlough to PDLs out of my whims and caprices nor do I force any jail officer to escort them.
Alleged abuses against
the accused, witnesses
These PDLs should specifically indicate the date, time, name of the accused, witnesses and lawyers, who they claimed, were subjected to abuses in the courtroom so that I could recall what transpired during the particular hearing. I have not lost my temper even when one lawyer banged his fist on the table. I could have cited him in direct contempt for his utter disrespect to the court, yet I did not.
of the PDLs
It was I who was subjected to verbal abuses by PDL Augusto Eric Isidoro last April 20, 2018 when I personally delivered the Order, upon instruction by the Office of the Court Administrator, which he refused to receive. While Isidoro was on his way back to the main lobby, he shouted at me and the PDLs, who were by the windows of the lobby, clapped and cheered for him, which is an utter disrespect to my presence. I could have censured or reprimanded them, yet I did not. After I have calmed myself with a drink of water, I approached the PDLs and told them how their behavior had changed in a short period of time that Isidoro was detained there, and just because Isidoro shared his food with them, they already forgot what I have done for them to alleviate their situation, not to mention the material things I have provided them.
P/Supt. Alex Pederio’s
I contemplated on filing a complaint against Pederio for perjury because of his perjurious Malaya at Kusang-Loob na Salaysay dated December 2, 2016, which contradicted his Sworn Affidavit dated November 26. 2016 and his answers to my searching questions relative to the application for search warrant for the shabu laboratory. When I confronted him about the December 2 Malaya at Kusang-Loob na Salaysay, he feigned innocence. Thus, I told him that I will charge him for perjury and that I have information as to why there was no generator during the inventory at the shabu laboratory, as well as the missing CCTV cameras. I never consent to wrongdoings, so I mentioned this when Isidoro was presented to the Court upon his arrival from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention facility and publicly announced my intent to inhibit from the shabu lab cases. However, what is very surprising is that I did not mention that the generator cost Php3.1 Million. Why, then, did these PDLs categorically indicate this amount? This only proves that it is Isidoro who masterminded the preparation of this complaint since he knows very well the price of the generator because he was privy to its acquisition.
Media and DOJ
I have no hand in choosing who will represent the media and/or the DOJ during the drug operations of the PNP. Neither do I have a say on the allowance given to them, if ever they were paid for their presence. The decisions that I have rendered were based on evidence, law and jurisprudence and never on the identity of the media and DOJ representatives.
Police escorts and driver
I could not understand why these PDLs complained about the duty escorts tasked to ensure my security and made it appear that I have a squad of bodyguards. Are these PDLs not aware of those judges, prosecutors and lawyers whose lives were snuffed simply because of cases that they were handling? Have I no right to be secured while in the performance of my duty?
As for the driver, dubbed by these PDLs as my personal driver, he is being paid by the province on a daily basis, including Saturdays and Sundays. These PDLs should have known that I go to the office during weekends for writing decisions or resolutions. Am I not entitled to a driver, a trusted and confidential employee, who is part of my security?
Alleged spy in the jail
I am greatly surprised why these PDLs claimed that I have a spy in their midst. Why should I need a spy? What good will a spy do for me? As I have earlier stated, my decisions are based on evidence presented during trial, supported by law and jurisprudence, and never on information coming from anyone, including a spy.
Proceedings during the
I have repeatedly been accused of lying during the congressional hearing despite the fact that the Transcript of the proceedings clearly show that I apologized for having misinterpreted their question, which I thought referred to my presence inside the shabu laboratory in the morning of November 26, 2016, when what they referred to was the premises. I have addressed this issue many times, and in different fora, yet people simply refused to accept my explanation, especially these complaining PDLs who were not even present during the hearing.
Alleged fear of politicians
I am glad to know that these politicians are afraid of me because their fear will deter them from approaching me for any favor. I have made it public over and over again that no one ever attempted to seek favor from me because of the reputation that I have established in the province UNTIL a case was filed against Isidoro.
When I was informed that Isidoro was already in the custody of the NBI, I issued an order to the NBI Director for him to be brought to the Court. In fact, I did not act on the motions filed by his lawyer since the Court has not yet acquired jurisdiction over him. Outright, upon issuance of said order, I received calls from NBI agents, retired and incumbent, requesting me to reconsider my Order for him to be detained in Virac. The last person who called me up was the governor of the province, upon Isidoro’s request. I turned down all their requests. So, it is very clear that it was only upon the instance of Isidoro that I received calls requesting for favour for him.
Stay at Fiat House
These PDLs even had the temerity of implicating the Most Rev. Manolo A. delos Santos in their desire to put me down by accusing him of being “bulag, bingi at pipi” and allowed me to stay at FIAT House “ng libre o free board/lodging.” Have they seen the records at the Chancery? Isidoro could ask his mother, who is close to the clergy of the Diocese, to verify from the records of the Chancery if my stay at Fiat House is free.
the call of duty
It is but unfortunate that these PDLs simply forgot the services that I have rendered to them, even beyond the call of duty. Allow me, then, to name a few:
- Improvement of the jail facility –
- I assisted them in procuring lumber materials and plywood for their bunk beds.
- I personally provided every cell with rubber mats for the floor, followed by native mats (banig).
- I personally provided linoleum for the cell of the female PDLs.
- I brought the TESDA personnel who caused the construction of the second floor extension, and the sink in the washing area, and open shelves for the staff, by training the PDLs.
- I provided 3’ x 4’ tarpaulin with scenic views for every cell, and a speaker for nature sounds, to ease their boredom of being surrounded by concrete walls.
- Livelihood skills training –
- I brought TESDA personnel who trained the PDLs on massage, carpentry, masonry, bread and pastry making
- Medical and Dental treatment –
- I personally coordinated with Dr. Hazel A. Palmes, Chief of Office of the Provincial Health Office and she brought the dental bus right in front of the gate of the jail and provided both medical and dental treatment of the PDLs.
- I always act favorably on requests for medical check-up of the PDLs even after office hours. In fact, one time when I passed by the jail and one PDL needed to be brought to the hospital, I personally accompanied him instead of issuing an Order since it was on a weekend.
- A PDL who complained of a boil at his back, which could not be treated by oral medication, had undergone incision at a nearby hospital upon my referral through the husband of the Clerk of Court who is the Hospital Director.
- Transfer of the Jail facility
- I have been working for the transfer of the jail facility to another site. During the time of Gov. Araceli Wong, a lot in Casoocan was considered for donation only to discover that it is not owned by the province but by the Department of Agriculture
- When Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes assumed office, he offered the unfinished building in Calatagan Tibang, which is now being used as municipal nursery, only that the previous officials of the BJMP rejected it for security reasons.
- During the visit BJMP Regional Director Cesar Langawin, I accompanied him to the site and he approved the location. Outright, I advised Jail Warden Arandia to write a letter to LGU-Virac requesting for a donation of said lot. A deed of usufruct is being considered by the Sangguniang Bayan.
- When the establishment of a Balay Silangan was discussed during the meeting on August 16, 2018, I objected to the proposal to use this structure since it was already identified for BJMP Virac. I contacted Vice-Mayor Arlynn H. Arcilla, being the presiding officer of Sangguniang Bayan about this proposal and she confirmed that, indeed, it was intended for the jail. Thus, it is now the old provincial jail that will be used as Balay Silangan.
I have always served the judiciary and the people of Catanduanes with utmost integrity, without fear or favor, even going beyond the call of duty, and I will remain as such until my retirement.
As for these detractors, MAY THE LORD HAVE MERCY ON THEIR SOUL when final JUDGMENT DAY comes.
LELU P. CONTRERAS
Executive Judge Presiding Judge – Branch 43
Acting Presiding Judge – Branch 42
Regional Trial Court