Court OKs preliminary probe of 5 UP frat men for June 18 attacks
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has ordered a preliminary investigation on the charges of frustrated murder and illegal possession of ammunition against the five members of Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity accused of attacking members of Alpha Sigma on the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines.
Judge Charito Gonzales of the RTC Branch 80 also directed the public prosecutor to submit a result of the preliminary investigation within 60 days from receipt of the order.
The arraignment of the accused — Cheran Cabrito, Elias Miles Villanueva, Rudolf Gene Karlo Neral, Rannie Mercado and Sean Rodriguez — will be set after the court receives the result of the preliminary investigation.
The court order, dated July 10, partially grants the omnibus motion filed on June 29 by the defense counsel, which principally sought the referral of the case for preliminary investigation.
On June 18, two attacks happened involving men wearing black ski masks and wielding lead pipes. The attacks happened an hour apart and with different getaway vehicles.
The five suspects were arrested in a chase after the second attack against Ernesto Luis Pangalangan and Mario Adrefanio Santos.
The first attack against Jesus Blas Vitangcol and Joevie dela Cruz is where the frustrated murder complaint stems.
Alex Avisado, lead counsel for the accused, meanwhile said the three rounds of shotgun ammunition found in the suspects’ van were “planted” by the UP Police.
The charges of frustrated murder and illegal possession of ammunition were initially recommended for further investigation during inquest proceedings but the decision was reversed by the chief inquest officer.
The court order said an inquest was an informal and summary investigation held to determine whether the accused should remain under custody and be charged in court.
“The right to have a preliminary investigation conducted before being bound over to trial for a criminal offense and hence, formally at risk of incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere formal or technical right, it is a substantive right,” the court said.
“We thank the Honorable court for this ruling as this would give us the opportunity to have these fabricated and malicious charges of frustrated murder and illegal possession of ammunition dismissed,” Avisado told the Inquirer.
(With a report from Veronica Roque, trainee)
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