Criminal suit vs. mayor; no warrant

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Criminal suit vs. mayor; no warrant

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Ubay Mayor Galicano Atup is facing criminal suit before the 6th Municipl Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in Ubay – Pres. Garcia. Docketed as Crim. Case No. 7006-15 Falsification of Public Document was filed at the instance of ex-vice mayor Constantino Reyes the defeated mayoralty candidate against Atup during the 2013 local elections.

On this aspect, the mayor vehemently denied having been issued a Warrant of Arrest saying, “dili tinuod nga may Warrant of Arrest, wala akoy Warrant of Arrest, kun gi-unsa man kana, ang ako ra abogado ang nasayud” (it’s not true there’s a Warrant of Arrest, I have no Warrant of Arrest, how did it happen, my lawyer only knows).

In an inquiry to MCTC presiding judge Jose Daniel Garces, the latter thru text message replied he did not issue the same considering that Mayor Atup had already posted a Bail Bond and the posting of the same in the amount of P12,000 was based on the recommended bail in the Information.

On this score, Atup categorically stated that only his counsel could explain on the matter adding “kun walay Warrant dili pod seguro mahitabo nga naa nang usa kay ang saktong  proceso mauna ang warrant una ang usa” (if there’s no Warrant then the other should not happen because the proper process is that the Warrant should be issued first).

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However, the Chronicle learned from Aladino Lumayno, the clerk of court that respondent Atup had posted the said bailbond on Dec. 10, 2015 at about 3:35 in the afternoon at the sala of acting presiding judge Azucena M. Credo of the 4th MCTC in Talibon and Getafe as judge Garces was on leave at the time.

Lumayno further explained that the Arraignment was not yet scheduled as Judge Garces, accordingly has yet to make judicial determination and issue an Order whether there is probable cause to proceed with the case or to dismiss the same outright.

It maybe recalled that on May 12, 2013 (Sunday) or eve of the Election Day, then Vice Mayor Reyes who was a candidate for mayor against Atup learned that a warrant of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan purportedly against him (Reyes) was circulated and distributed to the voting populace of this municipality. This information practically shocked Reyes he being unaware of any pending civil or criminal case filed against him with the said office. It was late found out that a certain Nicy Atup and Allan Boiser, known political leaders and associates of respondent Atup were responsible in the distribution of the said warrant. The two, however became the vital witness in favor of Reyes.

Reyes checked the matter with NBI and sent a letter inquiry to the Sandiganbayan which office replied issuing a certification dated September 02, 2013 attesting “that per records, no criminal or administrative case had been filed against Reyes with their Office.” Thus, Reyes concluded that Atup authored the falsification of the warrant of arrest intended for one Ricardo Enriquez Rotoras in a case pending before the Sandiganbayan docketed as SB-10-CRM-0222 by superimposing Reyes name as accused in the said document.

In their respective judicial affidavit, witnesses Niceforo Atup Mendez, Allan Boiser and a certain Joel Rubillo, houseboy of Atup, declared that they were present when Atup called for a meeting with his leaders and “pinpointed the common respondent as the source of the falsified warrant and the one who ordered its distribution.”

On the other hand, Atup interposed the defense of denial and imputed ill motive on the witnesses testifying for the complaint. Atup reasoned that it is improbable for him to cause the falsification of the warrant, he being a lowly citizen and never had connection with the NBI from which the warrant came. Respondent, however, said he heard of the warrant against complainant but did not know of its details.

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In the same vein, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Aida I. Digaum-Langcamon who handled the preliminary investigation, in her Resolution, portion of the Findings would read, thus, “The admission of the respondent and his witnesses that they heard about a warrant of arrest issued against the complainant establish the existence of the said disputed document at time proximate to the said election. The probability that the said warrant against the complainant is falsified is likewise established by the non-existence of a pending criminal or civil case against Reyes before the Sandiganbayan as certified to by the said office.”

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The prosecutor further said “The rule is that if a person had in his possession and he made use of it, taking advantage of it and profiting there by, the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification.”

The indictment of Atup, the lady fiscal said, “to the crime is anchored mainly on circumstantial evidence, which is possession of the falsified warrant and of ordering its distribution.” Hence, finding prima facie case against the respondent and recommended the filing of the Information. (Wenny Reyes)

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