By Czarina Nicole Ong
Both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the prosecution are opposing the motions filed by former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles and former cop and Asian Gaming Service Providers Association Inc. (AGSPA) president Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero Jr. seeking to be detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center instead of the Quezon City Jail Annex of Camp Bagong Diwa.
In its consolidated opposition, the prosecution stressed that their detention should be at the institution controlled by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) since they are persons awaiting trial.
PC Insp. Romulo Z. Flores II, in his capacity as chief of the Custodial Service Unit of the PNP, likewise filed his comment and opposition to their motion. He said that for reasons of “practicality, frugality in using public funds and ensuring the safety and security of both the accused and government personnel,” the respondents should be jailed under the supervision of the BJMP.
“The detention of accused Argosino, Robles and Sombero Jr. necessarily entails expense of the taxpayers’ money and utilization of the government’s invaluable human resource which in this case is the police, whose time and energy should be properly channeled to law enforcement functions,” his opposition read.
The three of them were charged for violating Republic Act 7080 or the act defining and penalizing plunder, as well as Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code or Bribery, and P.D. 46 due to their involvement in the P500-million bribery scandal involving 1,316 arrested Chinese nationals on November 27, 2016.
Argosino and Robles cited “security reasons” for their transfer request. They said it “is due to the imminent and real threats to the safety and security of both accused.”
“Prior to his appointment to the BI, accused Argosino was a practising lawyer for almost 20 years and had handled various cases. Since he sent many people to the Quezon City Jail Annex, there are “serious threats” to his life.
On the other hand, Robles was a public prosecutor for 10 years and handled many criminal cases as well.
They also added that they are known fraternity brothers of President Duterte. And because of the President’s war on drugs, they might be targeted by the people who are detained in Camp Bagong Diwa.
Sombero’s motion was rooted in the same grounds. As a “decorated” police officer, Sombero neutralized several high-profile syndicates and crime groups throughout his career.
“Going after crime syndicates exposes the life of a police officer to grave danger, even after retirement, or especially after retirement, when the police officer no longer exercises the power of a law enforcer or enjoys the backing and support of his police unit,” his motion read.
He also cited a “host of ailments” such as coronary artery disease, cardiac dysrhythmia, sick sinus syndrome, severe sleep apnea, exogenous obesity, and type 2 diabetes milletus. “To date, he has suffered two heart attacks and has undergone two coronary stenting procedures,” his motion further read.
By being detained at the PNP Custodial Center, Sombero would be ensured accessible and prompt medical attention at the PNP Hospital, which is only around 200 meters away.
But the prosecution stated that concerns for their safety are merely “speculative” since there is really no evidence that would substantiate threats to their lives.
As for their argument that their health conditions would be better addressed at the PNP Custodial Center, the prosecution said there is “absence of any clear and convincing proof that their continued detention at the BJMP facility will be detrimental to their health.”
“Unless and until accused-movants can show factual and legal basis for their arguments, no special accommodation and safety protocols should be accorded to them, nor should they be treated differently from all other detained persons facing criminal charges in court,” the opposition read.