By Glazyl Masculino
BACOLOD CITY – The Office of the City Prosecutor here dismissed the charges for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and illegal possession of explosives filed against 31 out of 42 persons, following the series of raids at the offices of some progressive groups here last week.
Capt. Cenon Pancito III, spokesperson of Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said yesterday that Fiscal Fernand Castro dismissed the charges against the 31 individuals for lack of probable cause.
Of the 31 individuals, 21 of whom were former bus workers, who were present in one of the offices, for their personal concern.
Pancito said the presence of these individuals at the premises of the militant groups offices were only “incidental,” and they have not committed any violation.
Pancito said the 31 individuals will be released as soon as the necessary documents are completed.
Charged last Monday for illegal possession of firearms were Karina Mae Dela Cerna, Cherryl Catalogo, Albert Dela Cerna, Proceso Quiatzon, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) secretary-general Noly Rosales, National Federation of Sugar Workers (NSFW) secretary-general John Milton Lozande, Mary Anne Krueger, Mermalyn Bito-on, Romulo Bito-on, Danilo Tabura, and Roberto Lachica. However, Lozande, Krueger, Lachica, and Tabura were only allowed to post bail for the said offense.
For illegal possession of explosives, the same suspects were also charged except for Lozande, Krueger, Lachica, and Tabura.
Pancito said authorities did not recover any explosives from Krueger at Gabriela office and they also failed to establish the recovery of explosives from Lozande, Lachica, and Tabura.
These suspects were arrested at the offices of KMU and Gabriela at Barangay Bata, NSFW office at Barangay 33, and Bito-on couple’s house at Barangay Taculing last Oct. 31.
With the dismissal of the cases against the 31 individuals, Pancito said they will just follow the proper authority.
“That’s how our legal system works,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pancito said that some members of progressive groups, accompanied by Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, and former partylist representative Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño went to Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) headquarters here yesterday to visit the arrested persons but they were barred by the police to enter the vicinity because of security reasons.
Pancito said that only the families and lawyers of the arrested individuals were allowed to see them inside the provincial police headquarters.