Legazpi court slammed for ‘nitpicking of evidence’: CA nullifies bail proceedings for Carlwyn Baldo


The Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled in favor of a petition filed by government lawyers, questioning the Legazpi Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision to allow the posting of bail of former Daraga town mayor and double murder suspect Carlwyn Baldo in 2019.

Baldo was charged for the death of Ako Bicol Partylist congressman Rodel Batocabe and his security aide, M/Sgt. Orlando Diaz, on Dec. 22, 2018 while at a Christmas event in Daraga.

In a decision released online on Tuesday, the CA Twelfth Division granted the petition of the Office of the Solicitor General questioning the Aug. 29, 2019 order of Legazpi City RTC Branch 10 judge Ma. Theresa San Juan-Loquillan not to consider the testimony of some witnesses.

“(S)uch deliberate omissions or nitpicking of evidence by the trial court indubitably denied the state of its right to due process,” the CA said in declaring the RTC ruling as null and void.

It ordered the lower court to resolve the accused’s petition for bail, but this time “taking into consideration all the evidence presented during the bail hearing.”

“The three witnesses and their testimonies should have been considered and should not have been left out. The trial court overstepped its discretion when it intentionally excluded the three witnesses without offering any valid reason or explanation other than citing its very authority to exercise discretion. This line of reasoning is absurd, if not shallow,” the tribunal added.

The CA said a “new, immediate and updated assessment of all the evidence at hand” is “an equitable course of action.”

Baldo was freed in September 2019 following the posting of PHP8.7 million in bail and land titles as surety bonds, including PHP3 million each for the two murder raps.

The RTC cited inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses, Baldo’s absence at the crime scene at the time of the killing, and a witness who said the former mayor did not give specific instructions to the hitmen who were supposedly hired to trail Batocabe. (PNA)

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