Monday 24 September, 2018
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Batangas court junks gun possession charges versus ‘Taysan 3’

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A Batangas trial court has acquitted the three detainees known as the Taysan 3—including a former University of the Philippines (UP) student—of illegal gun possession charges eight years after their indictment.

In a recent decision, Rosario Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 87 Judge Rose Marie Manalang-Austria granted the demurrer filed by the lawyers of former UP film student Maricon Montajes, Anakbayan member Ronilo Baes and farmer Romiel Canete.

The court found “material and significant inconsistencies” in the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies. It also said the accused’s inability to present a license was “not conclusive proof” that they were the owners of the seized illegal firearms.

“Thus, for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the three accused were carrying firearms, explosives without proper authority, license or permit, then all of them must be exculpated from criminal liability under [Presidential Decree No.] 1866, as amended,” read the decision.

The court also dismissed the charge of electoral offenses. Although the June 3, 2010 encounter took place during the election period, the court noted that the prosecution did not state if the three carried firearms “near the polling place or precinct.”

The prosecution witnesses—two Air Force officers—had claimed that they engaged in a firefight with armed persons within the premises of a house in Taysan, Batangas during wee hours.

They claimed the armed persons threw the guns out of the window, and the three accused emerged from the house.

In a Facebook post, lawyer Kristina Conti said: “Prosecution did a fine job of destroying their own case, with vague testimonies, poor evidence keeping etc. (missing bullets, engraved initial turned out to be masking tape labels).”

“There was even no need for controverting/defense evidence,” she quipped. “But is this is end? Lintik lang ang walang ganti, di ba?”

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