Manila court orders transfer of Atio slay suspects from NBI to city jail
Updated 6:41 p.m.
The Manila Regional Trial Court has ordered the transfer of members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity implicated in the death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to the Manila City Jail.
A commitment order was issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali telling the NBI to transfer within 48-hours accused Arvin A. Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose Miguel Salamat, Danielle Hans Matthew and Marcelino Bagtang.
The Manila court issued the commitment order after it denied the urgent ex parte motion filed by the accused that they remain at the NBI citing their safety.
In his motion, Trangia said he and his father received death threats through calls and text messages. He added that there were several posts on social media wanting him dead.
While they do not underestimate the capability of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) that facilitates the local jails, Trangia said “the prison guards cannot ensure the security of each of the prisoners detained therein. That it would only take a paltry sum of money for anyone at the Manila City Jail to have accused killed inside the Manila City jail.”
Other accused Hipe, Onofre, Salamat, Ramos, Bagtang also feared for their safety. On the other hand, Macabali, Rodrigo and Chan, in their separate motions, urged the court to take note of the number of detainees at the Manila City Jail which has exceeded the maximum jail capacity.
Aside from fear for their safety, they said they still enjoy the presumption of innocence and would like to continue their law studies. They added that several detainees at the Manila City Jail “are recidivists and habitual delinquents while others are incorrigible and hard-core criminals which would make their transfer to the said facility as detrimental to their personal growth and development being of frail age.”
The prosecution opposed the separate motions of the accused, saying the NBI is not a regular detention facility and allowing them to stay would negatively be perceived “to be rendering favor and advantage…which is inconsistent with law, due process and fair play.”
The prosecutors further argued that “fairness and equity dictate that the herein accused be similarly situated with the majority of persons under detention. There is no reason to take the case of the accused in isolation necessitating better treatment than the rest. It puts in a quandary the very basic principle in Constitution that is the equal protection of the laws.”
The court, in its order, agreed with the prosecution that the NBI is not a regular detention facility and the Anti-Hazing Law is not among the crimes mentioned in the duties and responsibilities under the NBI Reorganization Act.
The court added that the Manila Police District (MPD) is different from the BJMP.
“The the elements of the MPD have threatened their safety and the accused. Suffice it to state that the BJMP is not under the jurisdiction of the MPD. Thus, it does not take orders from the MPD,” the court added.
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