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Manila Standard : JPE on the dismissal of Ongpin’s case

News & Interviews
23 November 2021

By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard

"The former Senate president felt compelled to comment on the case."

I have read the 12-page decision of the presiding judge, Honorable Romeo E. Agacita Jr. of the First Judicial Region of San Fernando City, La Union, Branch 27, not once but twice. I was impressed by his meticulous and lucid decision on the drug case against Julian Robert S. Ongpin.

Actually, he had no choice but to dismiss the drug charges on the accused for alleged violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 not only for the lack of probable cause but for the mishandling of the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) of the case. This gave reasonable doubt on the integrity of what is called “chain of custody rule,” under the law.

Santa Banana, here’s the comment of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on the case:

“I learned about the case of Julian Robert S. Ongpin for alleged violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9175 - the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002. And I also read thoroughly the decision of the presiding Judge, Honorable Romeo E. Agacita Jr. Of the First Judicial Region of San Fernando City, La Union. I must say that Julian Robert S . Ongpin was fortunate in having such a very judicious and capable judge to be the one to try his case.

“The decision is very lucid and well-written. Judge Agacita Jr, meticulously analyzed the case step by step, according to existing and current precedents and jurisprudence, to arrive at his decision to dismiss the case against Julian Robert S. Ongpin for the lack of probable cause to Judge Agacita jr. is truly a meritorious act of justice.”

For somebody like Enrile to come out publicly on the decision of the judge on a very prominent case is a big thing. I myself cannot but praise the judge for his step-by-step study leading to the decision to dismiss outright the case for lack of probable cause. Being a lawyer myself, I know that the moment there is reasonable doubt, as in the case of Julian when the chain of custody was broken and violated, the integrity of the whole case collapses. Thus, the judge, as I repeatedly said, had to dismiss it outright, my gulay!

As every lawyer knows, the moment there is a reasonable doubt on the integrity of the so-called chain of custody rule as provided for by law, the case cannot be beyond doubt. I might also add that the Department of Justice and the police SOCO could learn a lesson or two on how to handle crime cases, especially involving drug cases against RA No. 9165.

•••

The endorsement of President Duterte of a Bong Go-Sara Duterte tandem, to my mind, is a stupid move. The President may think that he was doing his daughter a favor, but I see it as against Sara. Why?

By endorsing Sara as the vice president of Bong Go, the “alalay” of Duterte, people will find reason that the President is trying to consolidate and monopolize power in Davao City. In the first place, with Bong Go as president, and with Sara as vice president, and with him (Duterte) as Senate president, there would be in Davao City three of the most powerful personalities in the country . The opposition and critics of President Duterte will find cause to attack and criticize him.

The tandem of Bongbong Marcos and Sara is formidable. It is a winning combination. For this reason, I believe that the aspiration of a man-servant of Duterte like Bong Go will also hurt and cut into the runaway lead of Bongbong for president as shown in all poll surveys. And with Sara as vice president of Bongbong, as I have been saying in the vernacular, “Tapos na ang boksing.” Wanna bet?

I have lost all my respect and admiration for Bong Go. He has been, at best, a faithful alalay. Go, as president, will always be Duterte’s sidekick. That’s not only hilarious, but a big embarrassment for the country.

•••

With President Duterte running for the Senate, the Senate race becomes tight. As of now the Magic 12 circle of would-be senators is already very tight. Only four newcomers have so far entered the Magic Circle: broadcaster Raffy Tulfo, Mark Villar, former Vice President Jojo Binay and movie actor Robin Padilla. With the entry of Duterte in the race, there will only be seven slots left available for returning senators and reelectionists.

So far, the returning senators who are leading the race are Chiz Escudero, governor of Sorsogon, Loren Legarda, Representative of Antique and deputy speaker, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, reelectionist Migz Zubiri, Riza Hontiveros, Jinggoy Estrada and Joel Villanueva. Clinging to the 12th the 13th place are Dick Gordon, Win Gatchalian and Leila de Lima.

Personally, I would like Dick Gordon to return to the Senate to continue his chairmanship of the Senate Blue-Ribbon committee.

Santa Banana, if his “alalay” Bong Go becomes President, and Duterte’s daughter Sara as Vice President and with himself as Senate President, Davao City would corner the three highest national positions of the republic! That is, if the people are crazy enough.

•••

OCTA Research Group is predicting that by December next month, Metro Manila may already be on Alert Level 1, the least of health protocols and restrictions.

Many people are looking forward to this not only to enjoy the Christmas season but to look forward to a Happy New Year. Frankly, though, I would rather not have Alert Level One: We may just see another COVID-19 surge after the holidays because of overcrowding, and easing of health protocols. I hope not.

My gulay, let’s not be complacent about COVID-19, an enemy we cannot see. My wife and I at our age would rather stay home. Our shopping days are over and going to malls is an exercise in futility because of the ravages of old age. Leave that to the young and healthy.

When it comes to a choice between caution and taking risks, my wife and I are always on the side of extra caution. Yes, the daily cases of COVID-19 are now low but, there’s always the possibility of another surge.

•••

The Presidential Communication Operation Office (PCOO) should launch a massive information and education campaign for the benefit of the people now that we are looking into the possible “new normal” next year - what to do and what not to do.

I am afraid that with the possibility of going into Alert Level One, people may think that we have already overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Far from it, in the wake of reports that the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us next year.

There is no substitute for caution.