De Lima may run to SC over CA move to junk kidnap case vs ex-NBI head
The Department of Justice (DOJ) may elevate to the Supreme Court (SC) a Court of Appeals (CA) decision that voided a fact-finding investigation recommending criminal charges against former National Bureau of Investigation Director Magtanggol Gatdula for the abduction and extortion of a Japanese woman in 2011.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in a recent interview with reporters, said she has not received a copy of the decision by the Court of Appeals Ninth Division.
“Let me first go over the resolution before I make a decision on whether or not to question it further or to elevate further to the Supreme Court, or file a motion of reconsideration at the Court of Appeals,” De Lima said.
The appellate court’s decision is a setback to the DOJ’s case against Gatdula, as the court ruled that the proceedings of the fact-finding panel that De Lima herself created were null and void and the pieces of evidence gathered inadmissible.
The court, upholding the ruling of a Manila judge trying the case, said that while the creation of the fact-finding panel was constitutional, its proceedings were not since it also determined the criminal liabilities of Gatdula and was thus transformed to a preliminary investigation panel.
Gatdula said the fact-finding body chaired by DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III violated his constitutional rights to due process, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and to confront the evidence and witnesses presented against him, among others.
The case stemmed from the alleged “arrest” by NBI agents of Noriyo Ohara in Bugallon, Pangasinan, in October 2011. Ohara was said to be a rich heiress who reportedly fled her late father’s creditors in Japan and hid in the Philippines in 2009 under an assumed name.
Ohara said her foster family, to secure her release, paid up to P6 million to an NBI asset. She claimed Gatdula knew what was going on as she visited him while she was detained at the NBI office hours after her abduction and she recognized him from his picture hanging on the wall.
After Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo exposed Ohara’s ordeal in December 2012, President Benigno Aquino III ordered Gatdula to turn over Ohara to the Bureau of Immigration. When the NBI chief reportedly failed to do so, the Chief Executive dismissed him for insubordination and loss of confidence the following month.
The panel eventually recommended charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Gatdula and other NBI agents and assets involved in the abduction. SM/RC
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