PB: Allowing cops to prosecute cases illegal
Gregg M. Rubio (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu Provincial Board has opposed the move of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of tapping the assistance of the members of the Philippine National Police in prosecuting criminal cases in municipal courts.

Provincial Prosecutor Ludivico Vistal Cutaran has issued Memorandum No. 2019-92 on September 23 addressed to all prosecutors to address the issue on the shortage of prosecutors to handle criminal cases in court, perform inquest duties and conduct preliminary investigations.

One such measure instituted by Cutaran is the tapping of the assistance of the PNP in prosecuting criminal cases in municipal courts in accordance with Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court.

Last Monday, the PB, through a resolution sponsored by Board Member John Ismael Borgonia, requested Cutaran to reinstate provincial prosecutors assigned in Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, and Municipal Trial Courts in Cities or lower courts all over the Province of Cebu and to hold in abeyance provisions of his memorandum relative thereto.

The purported purpose of said memorandum is to address the problem of the shortage of prosecutors in Cebu with the current number of prosecutors being inadequate to handle the criminal cases pending in court, as well the other equally important duties of a prosecutor such as inquest duties and conducting preliminary investigations.

Borgonia said that while Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court previously allows any peace officer to prosecute cases when the prosecutor assigned to a particular court or case is not available, the same has been amended by A.M. No. 02-2-07-SC issued by the Supreme Court, effective May 1, 2002.

“In A.M. No. 02-2-07-SC, which amended Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, there is no longer any provision allowing peace officers to prosecute cases,” said Borgonia.

A.M. No. 02-2-07-SC specifically addresses a situation when there is a lack of public prosecutors, as in case of heavy work schedule of the public prosecutor or in the event of lack of public prosecutors, it is the private prosecutor, authorized in writing by the Chief of the Prosecution Office or the Regional State Prosecutor, who may prosecute the case subject to the approval of the court.

“Nibalik ta sa karaan, mao na sa una sa kuwang pa ang prosecutors,” Borgonia told The FREEMAN.

He said there is also a need for Cutaran to present the data he has culled as basis for said memorandum considering that the deputization of the members of the PNP to prosecute criminal cases cognizable by the municipal courts would invariably affect cases involving residents of the Province of Cebu.

The PB also passed a separate resolution sponsored by Borgonia inviting to appear before the body on Monday’s regular session to shed light on the matter.  JMD (FREEMAN)

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