Exactly two years since the tragic death of the former Calbayog City Mayor shook the country, the residents of Calbayog are yet again caught off-guard after the presiding judge granted bail to all of the 9 accused.
In an order released on March 7, Presiding Judge in Mayor Aquino Ambush Cases Hon. Maricar Lucero, allowed each of the accused to post bail in the amount of P120,000 for each of the cases filed against them relative to the tragic incident at Labuyao Bridge, Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City.
The court cited the alleged “failure of the prosecution to establish strong and convincing evidence of guilt for the crime of Murder," as reason to admit to bail all of 9 accused, turning a blind eye on the evidence and confessions of the suspects that were earlier presented by Aquino’s camp.
OpinYon 8 tried several times to reach Judge Lucero for comment, but all failed.
In a Facebook page, the victim’s lawyer Atty. Alma Uy – Lampasa expressed her disappointment and shock of the court decision as much as everyone else.
“On the second anniversary of their deaths today, these four souls seemed to die a second death. Despite overwhelming evidence against the policemen accused, the judge rules to grant them bail, during pendency of trial in the murder cases,” Uy- Lampasa posted.
The lawyer further stated that the evidence that the NBI gathered and presented in court seemed to have been ignored and witnesses risked their lives in testifying against the accused, only for the judge to declare the evidence weak.
“The state of things here in Samar really tears my heart to shreds. And it had to be timed with the commemoration of their death? While today, Calbayognons recall and relieve the pain of the brutal murder of a beloved mayor, his killers will be set free, to dance upon his grave,” she added.
In an interview with Uy – Lampasa, the lawyer disclosed that they immediately filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution and of their plan to file a motion to inhibit Judge Lucero.
The motion for inhibition is based on the fact that Lucero has failed to disclose that both her present husband and ex-husband are appointed to positions in the city government of Calbayog.
The said issue is apparently due to the fact that one of the alleged masterminds is the current city mayor of Calbayog.
Uy – Lampasa said that with the information the appearance of neutrality seemed to have been compromised and the judge’s neutrality was somehow affected.
“Han una nag trust kami nga objective hiya. Neutral. So yana nga na inform ako nga husband is gin appoint hin usa nga gin tutudlok nga mastermind. Syempre maski pa ano mag sususpect ka gihapon nga siguro an iya neutrality na compromised,” the lawyer said.
Furthermore, Uy-Lumpasa stated that the resolution was seemingly based solely on the versions of the accused despite the lack of presentation of evidence during the bail hearing.
“One sided ini, kanan prosecution evidence tapos an bigla na lutaw an ira version han isturya,” she said.
There also seems to be an abuse of authority on Lucero’s part after she seemingly ignored the glaring evidence that proved that mayor Aquino’s case was an ambush.
“Gin piyungan niya an mga evidence. Gin patay man gud ini. Gin ambush man gud ini pero bagan tikadto hi judge han isturya nga ‘firefight’,” the lawyer added.
With the “obvious” biases, Uy-Lumpasa’s motion for inhibition could deter the possibility that Lucero might still handle the case, and the suspects may even be acquitted by the end of the trials.
The lawyer said she hopes that with the motion for reconsideration, Lucero will refrain from accepting any posted bail until the motion is resolved. Furthermore, Uy- Lumpasa noted that they will insist that Lucero be no longer allowed to resolve it and give the case to another judge with a fresh perspective, a neutral judgement and someone without connection to Calbayog politics..
“Ginpapatapod ko gad an Calbayog, diri la para han pamilya Aquino kundi ipakita ha Calbayog nga may namamatay dida, dapat nareklamo kay mayda pa korte. Mayda pa hustisya. Ini, ada an hustisya kailangan la nga kun an judge bias, tagan hin chance nga mangadto ha judge nga mayda impartiality,” Uy- Lumpasa said.