By Jeffrey Damicog
The arraignment of Police Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV was postponed on Friday, March 13, due to measures that has been implemented because of the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus diseas (COVID-19).
“The hearing has been canceled,” said Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Saurez, a member of the prosecution team handling the case.
“No notice yet from the court when the arraignment will be reset,” he added.
Baloyo’s 11 co-accused who are former and current officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were already arraigned last March 6.
Baloyo was supposed to be arraigned before the San Fernando Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 44 for violating Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly, Section 27, Article II for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs; Section 29, Article II, planting of evidence; and Section 92, Artiel XI, delay and bungling in the prosecution of drugs cases; and qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The case concerns the alleged anomalous 2013 illegal drugs operations in Mexico, Pampanga where a team led by Baloyo was supposed to have arrested suspected foreign drug trader Johnson Lee.
Under the charges, the accused only declared having seized 36.6 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, and P300,000 when they actually recovered 200 kilos of shabu, P10 million, and a Toyota Fortuner.
They also allegedly filed false charges against Chinese national Ding Wenkun instead of Lee.
Last Thursday, March 12, Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta ordered the suspension of court hearings from March 13-18 as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 threat.
Aside from the SC, covered by the suspension are the Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), regional trial courts (RTCs), metropolitan trial courts (MeTCs), metropolitan trial courts in cities (MTCCs), municipal trial court (MTCs), municipal circuit trial courts (MCTCs), and the Shari’a courts.