DOJ chief won’t interfere in 2 Church leaders’ cases
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday said it is not for him to dismiss the criminal cases filed against two Church leaders arrested by the military.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) through its co-chairperson Fr. Rolly de Leon urged the DOJ to dismiss the cases filed against Bishop Carlo Morales and Pastor Kama Sanong.
Morales, a leader and clergy of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, was taken into custody on May 11, 2017, in Ozamiz City in Mindanao. He was arrested along with National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultant Rommel Salinas. Authorities alleged that a grenade was found in the bag of Salinas while Morales attempted to lunge toward the police in an attempt to grab the bag.
On the other hand, Sanong was arrested last July 11, 2017, in Sultan Kudarat by members of the Marines Landing Battalion and the police. Sanong is an active member of the Lumad organization Kessabanay Dulangan Manobo (KeDuMa). Authorities claimed they found a .38-caliber firearm and a grenade at his house.
In both instances, PCPR said those seized from the two Church leaders were planted evidence.
“These cases should summon the DOJ to corrective action, as even Church pastors and bishops have been victimized through the planting of evidence. To this end, we also request any advice and kind assistance that you can provide for dismissing these false charges as well as ensuring a fair and speedy process for Bishop Carlo Morales, Rommel Salinas and Pastor Kama Sanong,” the letter to Aguirre stated.
But the DOJ chief said it has been his “adopted policy and practice to give our prosecutors in the field a free hand in the discharge of their functions, particularly in the conduct of preliminary investigations and in the disposal of pending cases.”
“That principle will also be observed in the cases referred to in the PCPR letter,” Aguirre said although he instructed the National Prosecution Services (NPS) to give him an update on the complaint filed against the three. JPV
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