Ex-judge charged for anomalous grant of bail
A former Tacloban City judge has been charged in the Sandiganbayan with graft for granting bail to trafficking suspects even without them filing a petition.
Tacloban City Regional Trial Court Branch 7 Judge Crisologo Bitas was charged with two counts of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly giving unwarranted benefits to Danilo Miralles and Lynna Brito in February 2011.
Bitas’ grant of bail for the duo’s two trafficking cases was also questioned because no hearing was held, even as the charges involved a crime punishable by life imprisonment.
Under Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, such serious charges are nonbailable, unless the court finds the prosecution’s evidence insufficient to deny the accused the right to temporary liberty.
Thus, “bail is not a matter of right” in the case of Miralles and Brito, read the charge sheets signed by Assistant Special Prosecutor III Jorge Espinal of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Prosecutors recommended bail of P60,000 for Bitas.
The Supreme Court on March 5, 2014, already found Bitas guilty of gross ignorance of the law in the administrative aspect of the case. The judge was ordered suspended for three months. —Vince F. Nonato