Tiamzon case may see delay

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Defense is asking the court to postpone the arraignment of Tiamzon couple and five others who are accused of allegedly violating RA 9516 for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, RA 10591, or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act

DEFENSE lawyers want today’s arraignment of two communist officials and their five companions before the Toledo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 postponed.

They filed a motion asking RTC Branch 29 Judge Ruben Altubar to reconsider his decision in denying their petition for judicial determination of probable cause with a prayer to dismiss the criminal cases against Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) officials Benito Enriquez Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria Tiamzon and five others.


The Tiamzons, Joel Enano, Arlene Panea and Rex Villaflor are accused of violating Republic Act (RA) 9516 for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Nona Castillo and Jeosi Nepa are charged with violating RA 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

“The Honorable Court erred in not considering the affidavits and documents submitted by the accused and the circumstances of their arrest and in simply relying on the joint statement of the arresting officers, even if said officers did not comply with the proper procedure of search and seizure which is vital to the determination of the existence of probable cause,” the motion for reconsideration read.

‘Planted evidence’

Probable cause is a “level of reasonable belief, based on facts that can be articulated, that is required to sue a person in civil court or to arrest and prosecute a person in criminal court.”

The defense argued that all accused were illegally arrested because the firearms used as evidence against them were planted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) during warrantless searches in Aloguinsan, Cebu last March.

CIDG had denied the allegation

The defense also said there are two instances where the “question of the existence of probable cause becomes paramount” in the cases against all accused.

These are probable causes at the time of arrest to justify the warrantless searches and the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor’s filing of cases against all accused in court.

Altubar considered only the evidence of the prosecution in determining the existence of the probable cause of the arrest, according to the defense.

“In determining probable cause, it is not required that the complete or entire records of the case during the preliminary investigation be submitted to and examined by the judge,” the motion for reconsideration read. “What is required is that the judge must have sufficient supporting documents...upon which to make his independent judgment or, at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as to the existence of probable cause.”

Not enough

In his decision, dated July 11, Altubar denied the motion for judicial determination of probable cause filed by the defense, saying there is enough evidence to hold all accused in trial.

He said the defense’s accusation of illegal warrantless searches and arrests are “evidentiary in nature” and are best raised during the trial.

As to the defense’s assertion that the DOJ has no jurisdiction to conduct inquest proceeding on the accused, Altubar said the department’s jurisdiction is “nationwide” and the inquest was done “in due time.”

The judge said the warrantless searches were lawful because they were incidental to the service of the arrest warrants against the Tiamzons, who were then wanted for multiple murder in Leyte.

He ordered Enano, Panea, Villaflor, Castillo and Nepa to be transferred from Camp Crame’s detention center to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

The Tiamzons, he said, should stay in Camp Crame for security reasons. KAL

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2014.

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