Batanes hearings too expensive for Balintang shooting accused
Jack Castaño (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2015 - 12:00am

BASCO, Batanes, Philippines – The eight Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel accused in the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in Balintang Channel are complaining about the expenses they have to bear every time they attend the hearing here.

The eight accused, who are out on bail but under the custody of the PCG, need to travel to and from Manila to attend the hearing.

“While we are confident that we will be acquitted, the cost of attending the hearing is too much for our families to bear,” one of the accused, who refused to be identified, said.

“A one-way air fare from Manila to Batanes costs at least P9,000. We have to pay for our board and lodging here,” another accused said, adding they also have to pay lawyers’ fees and other incidental expenses.

Earlier, the accused filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the trial from Batanes to Manila.

After a three-month break, Batanes Judge Ramon Barona, who is handling the homicide case against the eight PCG personnel, ordered the hearing resumed on Feb. 23 and 24.

The prosecution is expected to continue presenting its witnesses, while the defense will start the cross-examination.

Charged for the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng were PCG commander Arnold Enrique dela Cruz; Seamen First Class Mhelvin Bendo II, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sunny Masangkay, Endrando Aguila and Henry Solomon Baco; SN2 Nickey Reynolds Aurelio, and Petty Officer 2 Richard Corpuz.

They pleaded not guilty during their arraignment last year.

ANDY GIBB GOLFO ARNOLD ENRIQUE BALINTANG CHANNEL BATANES BATANES JUDGE RAMON BARONA ENDRANDO AGUILA AND HENRY SOLOMON BACO HUNG SHIH NICKEY REYNOLDS AURELIO PETTY OFFICER PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD RICHARD CORPUZ
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