CA rules DOJ violated rights of ex-NBI chief Gatdula in kidnapping case | Inquirer News
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CA rules DOJ violated rights of ex-NBI chief Gatdula in kidnapping case

/ 04:45 PM April 01, 2015

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the decision of the Manila City Regional Trial Court nullifying the fact-finding investigation conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against dismissed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a Japanese woman, Noriyo Ohara, in October 2011.

In a 27-page decision dated March 24, the appeals court ninth division said that while the creation of an investigating panel was constitutional, the evidence it gathered was not.

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For one, the appeals court said Gatdula was not given the opportunity to air his side thru a counter-affidavit.

The appeals court said while Gatdula was questioned by the panel, he was not informed that he was being implicated in the case.

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“For depriving petitioner-appellee [Gatdula] of his right to due process, even as to his administrative liability, as recommended in the report, it is only proper that the whole proceeding be declared null and void,” the appeals court said.

The appellate court considered the results of the probe “fruits of the poisonous tree” since they were based on inadmissible evidence.

“While the creation of the panel was constitutional, the evidence gathered against petitioner-appellee from the proceedings of the panel up to its issuance of the report, regarding his administrative and criminal liability, are hereby declared as the ‘poisonous tree’ and ‘fruits’ therefrom cannot be consumed by any other body,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Victoria Isabela Paredes.

“This court cannot permit and stay on the sidelines when the rights of a person, whether a high-ranking official or an ordinary civilian, have been violated … While the prosecutor alone determines the sufficiency of evidence that will establish probable cause in filing a criminal information, it is within the court’s power to intervene when it is shown that there is grave abuse of discretion,” the court said.

Concurring in the decision are Associate Justices Isaias Dicdican and Elibu Ybañez.

On March 2013, the appeals court sixth division issued a similar decision in favor of Gatdula.

With the consistent decisions of the Court of Appeals, the DOJ has to resolve the kidnapping charges based solely on the testimony of Ohara vis-à-vis defense and evidence presented by Gatdula and other respondents.

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In her complaint filed in February last year, Ohara accused Gatdula of conspiring with other respondents—dismissed NBI-Security Management Division (SMD) chief Mario Garcia; his executive officer Jose Odelon Cabillan; their assets Chona Elen Esplana, SMD civilian agent Virgelito Gutierrez and security volunteer Jay Ducusin Gutierrez, and Gatdula’s special assistant Raul Dimaano—in kidnapping her and extorting P6 million from her. RC

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TAGS: Court of Appeals, Department of Justice (DoJ), due process, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Kidnapping, Magtanggol Gatdula, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Noriyo Ohara
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