DoJ rejects Gatdula’s bid to dismiss kidnap caseBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DoJ) dismissed the motion of former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula to stop the formal investigation against him in connection with his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and extortion of Japanese national Noriyo Ohara.
In an omnibus ordered dated July 16, 2012, the investigating panel said the decision of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 8 is not about the preliminary investigation but about the results of the fact-finding probe conducted by the DoJ which is different from the formal preliminary investigation.
The panel composed of Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Irwin Maraya and Hazel Decena-Valdez said the preliminary investigation is about the complaint filed by Ohara.
“The issue raised in the civil actions before the Manila RTC is whether or not the fact-finding panel’s actions and proceedings violated respondents – movants’ constitutional rights to due process, to counsel, and against self-incrimination,” the panel said.
“On the other hand, the only issue raised in this preliminary investigation, is whether or not there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that the crimes as alleged by the complainant had been committed and the respondents are probable guilty thereof and should be held for trial,” the DoJ panel added.
The panel also denied the motion filed by Virgelito “Labsky” Gutierrez that sought the dismissal of the case against him. Gutierrez accused the panel of being biased because they were appointed by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
“Respondents-movants failed to allege a specific circumstance or conduct on the part of the panel members that clearly show partiality in favor of the complainant and adverse to the respondents, save for the sweeping and mistaken assumption that the undersigned prosecutors are biased because they are ‘under the control and supervision’ of the secretary of Justice,” they explained.
With the ruling, the DoJ panel ordered Gatdula and the other respondents to submit their counter-affidavits.
Ohara charged Gatdula, former NBI Security Management Division (SMD) Chief Mario Garcia; NBI ‘assets’ Chona Elen Esplana and Gutierrez alias ‘Labsky;’ Gatdula’s former special assistant Raul Dimaano; former NBI-SMD Executive Officer Jose Odellon Cabillan and Gutierrez’s driver, Jay Ducusin for her alleged kidnapping last October. She also accused them of extorting P6 million from her.