Witnesses against block timer recant

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The radio block timer  who was charged for purportedly causing the Feb. 6 tsunami scare in Cebu City has something to smile about.

The two witnesses against Danilo Cogtas recanted their testimonies.

Asst. City Prosecutor Gandhi Truya declined to subscribe their affidavit of desistance  because he earlier resolved the complaint against Cogtas.

Truya said other prosecutors declined to subscribe the document because it was  “pejurious.”

He said he recommended the filing of a case against Cogtas in court on accusations of causing “tumults and other disturbances of public orders.”

The prosecutor said he doesn’t have to conduct a preliminary investigation because the offense constitutes a penalty of only 30 days to six months.

Asst. City Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas is reviewing Truya’s findings.

If his ruling is sustained, Truya said Cogtas may submit his counter-affidavit before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities.

The affidavit of desistance will also be tackled by the court.

But  if his findings are disapproved, Truya said he may entertain the witnesses’ affidavit of desistance.

Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, head of the Cebu City Police Office City Intelligence Branch, said he heard that the witnesses against Cogtas retracted their testimonies, but “I still have to talk to the witnesses, I still need to confirm it.”

Early this month, Cogtas was sued before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office for violating article 153 of the Revised Penal Code or the law against “tumults and other disturbances of public orders.”

In their affidavit, witnesses Roldan Espina and Ryan Pedrosa, who are habal-habal drivers, said they went to barangay Pasil on board their motorcycles to verify reports that a tsunami hit the shoreline in downtown Cebu City.

When they arrived near the Pasil fishport, they saw  people running away from the place, some dragging along with them little children.

They said they saw a man on board a motorcycle, shouting loudly that a tsunami was coming.

Espina and Pedrosa said the man was wearing a big identification card around his neck and dark sleeveless vest “like the ones worn by media people.”

The two witnesses then returned to barangay Lahug where they worked as motorcycle-for-hire drivers and later learned that police are looking for the man who spread the tsunami alarm.

The witnesses identified Cogtas through his photo printed on a tabloid.

They said Cogtas was the same man whom they saw spread the false tsunami alarm.

Cogtas was invited by the Cebu City police to explain about the incident.

He said people in barangay Pasil may have heard him calling his son in his mobile phone three times.

Cogtas said he advised his son to head to a higher ground.

He said  he was even scared when several people panicked out of fear that a tsunami might hit the city.

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