Bail grant on ex-mayor in Batocabe slay disappoints Bicol police chief
MANILA, Philippines — Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol Region) Brig. Gen. Arnel Escobal expressed his disappointment on Thursday over the granting of bail to former Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo who was linked to the murder of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
“Well of course, kasi talagang joint effort ito ng lahat ng PNP (Philippine National Police) units just to immediately arrest Baldo, but then bigla na lang magkakaroon ng papalayain while the case is still pending [and] in fact na non-bailable naman ito,” Escobal said in a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City when asked if he is disappointed with the court’s decision.
(Well of course, because this was a joint effort of all PNP units just to immediately arrest Baldo, but then there will be a decision freeing him while the case is still pending and even if the case is non-bailable.)
Despite murder being a non-bailable offense, the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Albay allowed Baldo to post bail for P3 million for each of two counts of murder filed against him. The court said that if he could not pay the amount in cash, Baldo will have to submit a surety of properties in his or his relatives’ possession worth P4 million per each count.
In its decision, the court cited several inconsistencies in the evidence gathered by the police and presented by the prosecution, such as Baldo’s absence and actual distance from the crime scene in Daraga where Batocabe and police escort Senior Master Sgt. Orlando Diaz were killed on December 22. The decision also said the shells and slugs found in the crime scene did not match any of Baldo’s guns.
However, Escobal is convinced that police was able to secure “airtight evidence” against Baldo.
“I have been talking to some of the judges. Sabi naman nila (They said), it depends on the appreciation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case against Mayor Baldo. Sabi nila talagang depende sa judge na humahawak ng kaso (They said it really depends on the judge handling the case),” he said.
Baldo however remains under custody after the prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision before the local court.
Investigators identified Baldo as the alleged mastermind in the murders of Batocabe and Diaz. Batocabe was supposed to challenge Baldo in the Daraga mayoral race during the May elections. /muf
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