HomeNewsOzamiz court acquits Aglipayan bishop, peace consultant

Ozamiz court acquits Aglipayan bishop, peace consultant

A local court in Ozamiz City dismissed the charges against Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Carlo Morales and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rommel Salinas.

In a decision dated July 2, Ozamiz Regional Trial Court Branch 15 Presiding Judge Grace Yulo said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the two are guilty of the alleged charges.

On May 11, Morales, along with his wife and driver, and Salinas were arrested at a checkpoint in Gango, Ozamiz City on May 11, 2017. Their two companions were later released but Morales and Salinas were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) President Ephraim Cortez said, “Indeed, to a fair and impartial judge, who asserts her independence, a contrived case, similar to what Bishop Carlo and Rommel had to endure, cannot survive judicial scrutiny. Lest we forget, this is the exception rather than the rule. It is a glitch in the system that tilted the scale and favored the innocent.”

In her decision, Yulo said that to convict an accused of illegal possession of explosives, two essential elements must be indubitably established:
– the existence of the subject firearm or explosive which may be proved by the presentation of witnesses who saw the accused in possession of the same;
– the negative fact that the accused had no license or permit to own or possess the firearm or explosive which fact may be established by the testimony or certification of a representative of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Unit that the accused has no license or permit to possess the subject firearm or explosive.

According to Yulo, upon examination of the prosecution’s evidence, the court noticed that the prosecution failed to present evidence that the accused had no license or permit to own or possess the alleged explosives found against Morales and Salinas.

The court also said that in order to secure a conviction, testimonial evidence regarding the possession, the actual evidence seized, and the confiscation receipt (of the seized evidence) are not enough.

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“Whether or not the failure to prove the negative fact or the certification from the explosives unit is by mere oversight or deliberate on the part of the prosecution, the fact is: it is not among the prosecution’s exhibits,” Yulo said in her decision.

“Without this, the court said there is no need to ‘belabor discussing what the defense has to offer,’” she added.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente meanwhile welcomes the acquittal of Morales and Salinas.

IFI Supreme Bishop Joel Porlares said that the acquittal of Morales and Salinas “speaks about the enduring power of justice.”

“Despite the falsehoods and violence perpetrated by the enemies of justice and truth, this verdict stands as a resounding declaration that justice will always prevail. It affirms our faith that God will guide us to discern truth from falsehood, even in the face of contrived and malicious accusations,” Porlares said in a statement.

He added, “As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let us remember that this victory is not just for Bishop Carlo and Rommel Salinas, but for all who seek justice and truth. It is a reminder that the enemies of justice and truth—those who wield power to oppress and falsely accuse—cannot prevail against the steadfast commitment to righteousness that we, as a people of faith, uphold.”

The Supreme Bishop expressed the church’s gratitude to those who advocated for Morales and Salinas as well as the assistance of the NUPL.

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