What Went Before: RTC Judge Juanita Guerrero
In August 2011, Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Judge Juanita Guerrero dismissed charges against Richard Brodett and Jorge Joseph, also known as the “Alabang Boys,” citing the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
In her 46-page decision, Guerrero questioned the handling by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) officials of the illegal drugs they said they had seized from the two men during a buy-bust operation in 2008.
Then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima sought a reversal of Guerrero’s decision, saying the judge might have committed “gross misappreciation of procedure.”
De Lima lamented that Guerrero focused her decision on the alleged failure of the PDEA custodian of evidence to maintain the integrity of the seized illegal drugs from the accused when then PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago presented the confiscated items in a press briefing.
“She focused on the alleged break in chain of custody. The judge made a lot of fuss about that press conference of General Santiago and (former PDEA agent) Major Ferdinand Marcelino,” she said. “She made a mountain out of a molehill.”
De Lima denied suggestions that the Department of Justice had sought a nearly impossible reversal of the acquittal of the Alabang Boys because of her political ambition.
“Every time I open my mouth, they accuse me of either grandstanding or electioneering,” she said. “Maybe you should not ask me questions anymore so I don’t have to talk.” —INQUIRER RESEARCH
Source: Inquirer Archives
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