TACLOBAN CITY – The nine cops accused of the murder of Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino and his two aides posted bail following a release order issued by Judge Janet Cabalona of the Regional Trial Court Branch 33 in Calbiga, Samar recently.

“Having posted the necessary bail bond for their provisional liberty, only in so far as there exist no other cause/s to the effect that the above-mentioned persons remain confined under your custody,” the order to the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 8 (CIDG-8) reads.

Earlier, Calbayog Regional Trial Court Branch 31 Judge Maricar Lucero, in a resolution, allowed the accused to post a PHP 120-thousand bail each.

Said resolution based on the summary hearing also stated that the accused were admitted to bail because it found the evidence of the prosecution weak. It also failed to establish strong and convincing evidence of guilt for murder.

She further explained that bail is not granted to prevent the accused from committing additional crimes.

“The purpose of the bail is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the trial court,” added Judge Lucero.

However, Judge Lucero voluntarily inhibited from the case after private prosecutor Alma Uy filed a manifestation with a motion to inhibit.

Lucero was the third judge to withdraw from the case when Calbayog City RTC Branch 31 Judge Reynaldo Clemens also inhibited from the case he inherited from Calbayog RTC Branch 32 Judge Cicero Lampasa who issued warrants of arrest against the accused.

On the other hand, lawyer Uy in a Facebook post pointed out that the release order is “a clear contravention of rules. A lack of judicial courtesy. So bold, I cannot even comprehend that a judge can do that.”

She said a lady stenographer in an RTC in Tacloban stood as bondsman for the 9 accused, posting more than PHP 6 million in bail for all of them.

“Seems that, whoever provided this fund, can be linked to the masterminds. The accused were not even brought to the court, which ordered their release. The bail documents do not have the undertaking of the accused, that they will appear once required, etc.,” she further said.

Uy has been cited by Lucero for allegedly violating the sub judice rule continuously by accommodating media interviews discussing not only the proceedings but the merits of the case. “The repeated strong pronouncements made publicly by the Private Prosecutor that these cases are strong through interviews and social media platforms negatively impacted the Court as it conditioned the minds of the supporters of Mayor Aquino that there will be no acceptable verdict on these cases other than her strong announcements of guilt of all accused, albeit prematurely,” she added. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail March 20-26, 2023 issue)