By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the filing of charges against arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Renante Gamara who was caught in possession of a handgun and grenades in Imus, Cavite last week.
In an eight-page resolution dated March 25, the DOJ Task Force on Special Cases said it has found probable cause to indict Gamara with illegal possession firearms and explosives in violation of Republic Act 10591 and Presidential Decree No. 1866.
“After evaluation of the evidence presented in this case, the undersigned investigating prosecutors find and so hold that probable cause exists for the violation of Section 28 Republic Act No. 10591, and violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 as amended by Republic Act No. 9516 against respondent Renante M. Gamara,” read the resolution signed by Assistant State Prosecutors Florencio Dela Cruz Jr. and Miguel Flores, with the approval of Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.
Gamara was arrested, along with former priest Arturo Joseph Balagat, by operatives of the Philippine National Police-Regional Special Operations Unit (PNP-RSUO) on the afternoon of March 20 at the residence of the ex-cleric in Barangay Poblacion in Imus, Cavite.
Armed with a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Cynthia Marino-Ricablanca of Santa Cruz, Laguna, policemen found in the room occupied by Gamara a Parabellum 9mm caliber pistol, two hand grenades, and pieces of ammunition.
Following their arrest, the two were brought to the DOJ in Manila last March 22 for inquest.
“It is clearly established by the joint affidavit of arrest and seizure by RSOU operatives that the firearms and ammunitions were found inside the room occupied and under the control of respondent Gamara. Furthermore, the result of the firearms verification from the PNP-FEO (Firearms and Explosives Office) confirmed that the respondent Gamara is not a licensed/registered firearm holder nor is he authorized to possess firearms of any kind/caliber as well as ammunitions,” the DOJ resolution read.
“It is clear that respondent Gamara was also found in possession and control of two live hand grenades as shown by the fact that these items were seized inside the room he occupied under his control. Moreover, the said explosives were certified as serviceable and capable of detonation by the Explosives Ordinance Division specialist of the PNP-NCRPO),” it added.
On the other hand, the DOJ cleared Gamara of violating the Omnibus Election Code as it pointed out “what is considered as an election offense is the carrying of firearms whether licensed or not outside the residence or place of business of a person.”
The DOJ also dismissed the complaints against Gamara’s co-respondent, Balagat, since “his culpability for the charges has not been sufficiently established by the available evidence in this case.”
Gamara was already arrested back in 2012 in Las Pinas City based on two arrest warrants, one concerning the kidnapping with murder of a soldier and the other for frustrated murder.
He was eventually allowed temporary release to participate in peace talks in Oslo, Norway in 2016.
However, he went into hiding after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks in 2017 and then ordered the arrests of those freed.