March 30, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City court has dismissed the case filed against five cops who have been criminally charged for allegedly not informing the sister-in-law and household helpers of broadcast journalist Ted Failon of their rights when they were arrested after the broadcaster’s wife committed suicide in 2009.
Acquitted in the case were Senior Superintendent Franklin Moises Mabanag, Superintendent Gerardo Ratuita, Chief Inspectors Cherry Lou Donato and Enrico Figueroa and Senior Inspector Roberto Razon, all formerly of the Quezon City Police District’s (QCPD) Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.
The policemen were charged for violation of Section 2 (b) of Republic Act 7438 or the Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation.
The case stemmed from the complaints of Failon, his sister in-law, Pamela Arteche-Trinchera; and household helpers Pacifico Apacible, Carlota Morbos, Wilfredo Bolicer and Glen Polan.
Failon’s camp claimed that they were not informed of their rights to remain silent and to have counsel of their own choice when the policemen arrested them on April 16, 2009.
The broadcaster’s camp also said they were illegally arrested as they were not committing any crime during the time the policemen arrested them.
They were arrested shortly after Failon’s wife, Trina Etong, shot herself in the head inside her home in Quezon City, for alleged obstruction of justice when they refused to give details of the suicide to investigators.
In their defense, the police officers denied the allegations, saying that the complainants were never denied of their right to counsel.
They also said the complainants had lawyers even before they were arrested, during their arrest, and during the inquest proceedings.
They further noted that even the complainants’ counsel admitted having heard Mabanag read the Miranda rights in English to Morbos.
The policemen added that they did not violate RA 7438 since probable cause does not exist.
In a 22-page joint decision released Wednesday, Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 100 said the charges against the police were dismissed as the court gave weight and credence to the consistent declarations of the policemen that they informed the complainants of their constitutional rights.
The judge also said the prosecution panel failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond the reasonable doubt.
She added that the evidence presented was not enough to overturn the presumption of regularity in the performance of the police official duty when they made the arrest.