Trader, aide cleared in gun possession case
MANILA, Philippines — A businessman who gained notoriety after he was caught on a video mauling a traffic enforcer who flagged him for a traffic violation in Makati City in 2018 and his bodyguard have been cleared of the charges by a local court.
The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 133 acquitted Arnold Padilla and his bodyguard Alfie Ortiz of the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives after the prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The court ordered their release from the city jail after Tuesday’s promulgation.
Judge Augusto Jose Arreza ruled that the pieces of evidence seized by the police officers during a search of Padilla’s houses in upscale Magallanes Village were planted.
On Aug. 24, 2018, members of the National Capital Region Police Office raided two houses of Padilla on San Antonio Street in Magallanes.
They were armed with a warrant to search Padilla’s residence and the staff house for his bodyguards following complaints that he was keeping loose firearms.
In one of the houses, the policemen found guns and shotgun ammunition in Ortiz’s sling bag, and two canisters containing hand grenades inside the cabinet in the dirty kitchen.
Padilla and Ortiz were arrested and detained without bail.
“It certainly boggles the mind how one would prepare to protect himself against a possible unlawful search and planting of evidence and then still keep hand grenades in an open cabinet in his kitchen,” he said in the decision, noting that Padilla and his live-in partner Glocel Razon installed the CCTV cameras in the two houses in anticipation of the police search.
On Aug. 13, 2018, Padilla and Razon were caught on video beating up a traffic enforcer, who flagged them down for driving past a red light at the intersection of Magallanes Village Gate 1 and Edsa.
The court also noted that the CCTV cameras installed in the kitchen were “intentionally moved up to keep its focus on the ceiling,” concealing the alleged planting of evidence.
The court also found it “incredible” that Padilla and his men would keep the grenades inside a kitchen cabinet, along with cat food, medical masks, ice cream box, baby wipes, and alcohol.
“One would ordinarily find explosive devices, such as hand grenades, far from the reach of other people,” it said.
The court said the prosecution “inexplicably failed” to rebut the defense’s evidence.
Padilla’s lawyer, Raymond Fortun, said they would be filing countercharges against the police officers.
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