Prosecutors keep journalist, labor organizer in jail despite dismissal of charges

Lawyers of journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor organizer Rodrigo Esparago asserted that the court’s decision dismissing the charges against two is final and executory, thus, their clients should be released immediately.

By EMILY VITAL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Government prosecutors are blocking the release of journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor organizer Rodrigo Esparago despite the local court’s dismissing the charges against them last Feb. 5.

The City Prosecutor Office of Mandaluyong, on behalf of the Philippine National Police, filed on Feb. 9 an opposition to the urgent motion for release filed by Salem’s lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC).

The prosecutors claimed that the decision of the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209 is not yet final, thus, Salem and Esparago could not yet be released.

Salem’s lawyers disagreed, saying that “the rules on criminal proceedings require that a judgment of acquittal, whether ordered by the trial or the appellate court, is final, unappealable, and immediately executory upon its promulgation.”

“The dismissal of the cases, drawn upon the quashal of the search warrant and consequential declaration that the seized evidence is inadmissible as evidence, is one tantamount to an acquittal,” PILC said in its reply.

“The Order of the Honorable Court, being an adjudication on the merits, is final and executory,” Salem’s lawyers asserted.

Salem, editor of Manila Today and communications officer of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), and Esparago were arrested on December 10 last year. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

On Feb. 5, Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio dismissed the charges, noting “numerous inconsistencies and contradictions” in the sworn statements and testimonies cited in the search warrant. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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