By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — A local court in Iloilo City acquitted National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala of charges of illegal possession of explosives and illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.
In a decision dated January 6, Iloilo City Regional Trial Court Branch 23 Presiding Judge Emerald K. Requina-Contreras said that the evidence against Bocala such as the fragmentation grenade, .45 and .22 caliber firearms “were not established through the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses who failed to bring them to court and identify the evidence.”
The prosecution also failed to provide the court formal offer of exhibits on record to prove the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the decision read.
Citing the Supreme Court decision, the court said, “The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and unless it discharges that burden the accused need not even offer evidence in his behalf, and he would be entitled to an acquittal.”