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Cebu News

Court junks criminal charges vs Arquillanos

Le Phyllis F. Antojado - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Regional Trial Court has dismissed the criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the two top officials of the town of San Francisco in Camotes Islands due to the insufficiency of evidence.

RTC Branch 90 Judge Ma. Josefa Pinza Ramos in Danao City granted the demurer to evidence filed by Mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr. and Vice Mayor Aly Arquillano on the charges for violations of Republic Act 9516 (illegal possession of explosives) and R.A. 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition regulation Act) against them.

A demurer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. It is a remedy available to the defendant, to the effect that the evidence produced by the prosecution is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain an issue.

The Arquillanos were arrested on April 4, 2019 during a raid conducted by the operatives of Provincial Intelligence Branch and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) at their residence in Barangay Poblacion, San Francisco.

The raiding team was armed with a search warrant issued by RTC Branch 10 Judge Leopoldo Cañete in Barili, Cebu. Seized during the operation were a caliber .45 pistol, a caliber .22 rifle, AR 15 rifle with expired license, grenade, and several rounds of ammunition.

During the operation Aly was the mayor while Alfredo was his vice mayor—yesterday they swapped positions, Alfredo took his oath as the new mayor while Aly as his vice mayor.

Instead of presenting evidence for their defense, the Arquillanos filed a demurer to evidence after the prosecution concluded its presentation of evidence. They argued that the search warrant was illegally obtained and therefore the pieces of evidence obtained during the raid are “inadmissible in court.”

Ramos, in her 10-page decision, sustained the arguments of the Arquillanos.

“It must be remembered that warrantless searches are mere exceptions to the constitutional right of a person against unreasonable searches and seizures; thus, they must be strictly construed against the government and its agents,” read part of the ruling.

“The prosecution is reasonably burdened to present every ounce of evidence in order to justify a warrantless search. While the power to search and seize is necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law enforced, without transgressing the constitutional rights of the Filpino citizens” it added.

The decision was issued on June 24, 2022 but copies of the ruling were released to the media only yesterday. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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