Cabanatuan judge subpoenas Baguio enforcers who took his license plates
A Cabanatuan City judge has subpoenaed traffic enforcers of Baguio City, who handed him a ticket for illegal parking during a visit there in October.
Bernard Batnag, a member of the city’s public order and safety division, and the traffic enforcement chief assigned to the Baguio City Public Market, were directed to appear at the sala of Municipal Court Judge Nelson V. Largo of Branch III on Nov. 29 to explain why they should not be cited for indirect contempt.
The Oct. 28 subpoena order says Batnag and traffic enforcers also removed the license plate of Largo’s vehicle, which was parked near a jeepney terminal along Kayang Street on Oct. 25. Removing his license plate was a violation of due process, the judge complained.
The subpoena says Largo attended a security seminar in Baguio and was headed back to Cabanatuan when he parked briefly at the market.
Settling the fine and recovering his license plates “evidently caused delay in the scheduled hearings” and “the administration of justice,” according to Largo’s order.
“Due process is a basic right and enshrined and protected in our Constitution and it applies even in the cases of confiscations of license plates,” the subpoena asserts.
The Baguio City Police Office and the city government have consulted lawyers and are preparing to defend their actions, said Police Col. Allen Rae Co, Baguio police director, on Nov. 13.
Co said the traffic enforcers acted in good faith and applied local ordinances that regulate traffic and parking in Baguio, which is dealing with overcrowding and daily traffic jams.
“There was no way of knowing he was a judge,” Co said because it was a private vehicle. “Here in Baguio, we enforce the laws strictly and equally and even our judges and prosecutors and government officials follow traffic rules and regulations.” Reports from Armand Galang and Vincent Cabreza/lzb
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