Detained Pastor Berlin Guerrero was ordered released to the custody of his lawyers this morning by the Court of Appeals (CA).
A United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor, Guerrero was abducted May 27, 2007 by elements of the Naval Intelligence Security Forces. He was allegedly tortured before being turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP). Only then was he shown a copy of a warrant of arrest for murder charges.
The Court of Appeals began hearing petitions filed by Guerrero’s lawyers former Sen.Jovito Salonga and Emilio Capulong after the case was remanded to the appelate court by the Supreme Court. Court of Appeals Associate Justice Martin Villarama granted a temporary restraining order barring the Cavite Regional Court Branch 19 from proceeding with the hearings on the murder case and directed government lawyers to submit more evidence to justify the trial of Guerrero.
Capulong said that while they were hoping for the dismissal of the case, he deemed that the court’s decision is already favorable. “Bagamat hindi pa tapos, lumiliwanag na ang ating ipinaglalaban para sa katarungan.” (Although the case is not yet over, we are seeing light in our struggle for justice.)
In an interview, Guerrero said, “Bagamat naghihintay pa ng final resolution, magandang patunay na talagang walang batayan ang kaso.” (Although we are still awaiting for the final resolution, today’s decision is proof that the charges filed against me have no basis at all.)
Guerrero was detained for one year, three months and 15 days.