Alleged mastermind of Batocabe murder allowed to post bail
MANILA, Philippines — Former Mayor Carlwyn Baldo of Daraga town in Albay has been allowed by a court to post bail in murder cases regarding the killing of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe in December 2018.
According to the order from the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Legazpi City on Friday, Baldo can enjoy provisional liberty for P3 million for each count of murder. He is facing two counts of murder — one for Batocabe and another for Batocabe’s police aide, Master Sgt. Orlando Diaz.
The court cited several inconsistencies in the prosecution’s evidence, such as the absence and actual distance of Baldo from the scene of the crime, that the spent shells and slugs found the crime scene did not match any of firearms owned by Baldo — registered or not.
“The above are just some of the reasons why this Court is convinced that evidence of Baldo’s guilt is not strong enough. Juxtaposed with the fact that he appears to be a productive member of society, with an established family that has its roots in the province, the Court is inclined to grant his motion to fix bail,” the order signed by Presiding Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) pinpointed Baldo as the mastermind behind the killing of Batocabe and Diaz. People insist that he was the one who could have benefit most from Batocabe’s death, as the latter sought to challenge the former mayor’s grip on the town in the last 2019 elections.
However, Baldo insisted several times that he did not kill the lawmaker and his police aide, saying that he was being blamed because he was an easy target.
In case Baldo fails to pay the P6 million in cash, he can submit a bail of P4 million for each case through surety or the presentation of his properties or those of his relatives.
He is also ordered to appear in court whenever required, inform the court if he travels outside the court’s jurisdiction, and refrain from talking to the media about the case. If he fails to follow these instructions, it may be used as a ground for cancellation of his bail.
Still, the court clarified that the granting of bail did not mean Baldo was entirely innocent of the crime.
“He must have an inkling of some wrongdoing because he managed to evade the service of the warrant of arrest for almost five days before he surrendered; albeit the court will not touch this aspect at this early stage,” the order said.
“The Court will still have to conduct hearings on the main cases in order to determine his culpability,” it added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.