Cebu News

Fiscal out on bail: Criminal raps filed vs Castro

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Prosecutors found enough grounds to elevate to court criminal charges against Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor May Ann Castro in relation to the ruckus at the office of the Regional Special Operations Group-7 Monday night.

Castro is facing two counts of direct assault charges and one count of malicious mischief. Her companions that night at the ROSG office – William Contamina, Benjielito Lapera, Leo Suaso, Jonas Niñez, Hazel Mabuyo, and Gaudiosa Rodrigo – are also facing the same charges.

Castro is out on bail but her co-accused, as of yesterday, remain behind bars for failing to post the recommended bail of P12,000 for the direct assault charges.

No bail was recommended for the malicious mischief charge, which only has a prescribed penalty of less than six months imprisonment.

Prosecutors, however, dismissed the complaints of grave oral defamation, grave coercion, and resistance and disobedience to persons in authority for lack of evidence.

Legal detention

Also yesterday, Regional Trial Court Judge Gilbert Moises denied the petition for habeas corpus filed by Castro’s group.

The petition is a recourse wherein a detainee can seek relief from unlawful detention.

During the hearing on the petition yesterday, Moises agreed with the contention of the prosecution that the filing of charges against a person unlawfully detained cures the defect of the detention.

Castro’s group has said they were immediately taken into custody without a warrant of arrest and detained without any criminal charges being filed against them within the required 16 hours.

The prosecution, however, argued that the charges were filed before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office within the prescribed period. Prosecution lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna said that because the time element runs only during office hours, the 16-hour period should start from 8 a.m. the day following Castro’s arrest.

Despite the dismissal of the other complaints, Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, deputy regional director for operation, stood ground that the arrest of Castro and her companions was legal because they were caught in the act of violating laws.

Lawas believes the cops who made the arrest informed Castro of her rights and exercised maximum tolerance.

 “Based on the report of our police personnel, we have enough bases to do the arrest,” he said.

He argued that if Castro felt her rights were violated, perhaps it would proper for the prosecutor to also examine if she showed the policemen respect.

“She could have conformed herself being a highly respectable government employee,” he said.

Still, Lawas assured that his office will look into Castro’s allegations and policemen found violating laws in making an arrest will face charges.

He also assured that the cops who made the arrest and who filed the charges against Castro and her companions have the full support of the PNP.

Regional Police Director, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, himself directed his staff to assist their men in the proceedings.

 Castro allegedly appeared before the RSOG 7 office at past 6 p.m. on Monday upon learning that Maricel Gregory whom she sued for libel surrendered after warrants of arrest were issued against her.

Castro did not stay long but at past 10 p.m., she returned with the six accused. Castro allegedly wanted to go inside the office but when because the door was locked, she allegedly ordered her companions to destroy it.

 When the policemen intervened, Castro and her companions allegedly resisted, which caused a commotion with Senior Insp. Ruel Burlat accusing Castro of biting him in his right arm.

 Castro reportedly demanded for Gregory’s release so she could be detained at the Talisay City Police Office instead, stressing that she has jurisdiction over the libel cases.

Gregory is the live-in partner of Leodegreco “Greco” Sanchez whom Castro married in a Muslim ceremony in August last year. Their relationship, however, turned sour after six months of living together.

Castro’s companions have said they were made to believe that they were going to a restaurant but Castro brought them to RSOG-7

No hand

Meanwhile, Sanchez’ sister, Board Member Grecilda “Gigi” Sanchez, belied allegations she hid Gregory from Castro nor directed the police to arrest the prosecutor.

 “I had nothing to do with the incident. Ilaha ng problema,” she told reporters yesterday, adding, she found the allegations “too ridiculous.”

 She said she did not have any idea about what happened until she arrived from the Liberal Party’s photoshoot in Manila at around 10 p.m. on Monday. She reportedly learned about it only from her brother who called her that night. — With Kristine B. Quintas (FREEMAN)

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