CA revives case vs. alleged kidnappers of Ces Drilon, 3 others PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 November 2011 16:40

The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the revival of the kidnapping with ransom charges against former mayor Alvarez Isnaji of Indanan, Sulu and his son Haider after being cleared last year of any involvement in the June 8, 2008 abduction of TV news anchor Ces Drilon and three other persons.

In a 15-page ruling, the CA’s Eleventh Division found meritorious the petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) assailing the lower court order dated April 12, 2010 denying OSG’s motion to defer promulgation of judgment to further present evidence.

The CA said that the lower court rendered its decision with grave abuse of discretion. Thus, the CA ruling said that “... the doctrine of double jeopardy, as correctly argued by the petitioner, could not come into play.”

“... the decision acquitting private respondents of the crime of kidnapping with ransom is hereby recalled and set aside,” the CA said.

The CA remanded the case to Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 271 Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes “for further appropriate proceedings.”

Alvarez and his son Haider left jail after being cleared of any involvement in the kidnapping of Drilon. They were detained from June 2008 to April 12, 2010.

On April 12, 2010, Cortes ordered the release of the father and son after acquitting them of multiple kidnapping charges on the abduction of Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama.

Drilon and her TV crew, along with Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo who served as guide, were on an exclusive coverage trip in the far-flung Sulu province when they were abducted. They were freed eight days later following the reported payment of a P20-million ransom. Dinampo was also held captive by the alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The captors themselves alleged that they handpicked the Isnajis to negotiate for the TV crew. The Isnajis were then accused of plotting the abduction as they allegedly benefitted from the multi million-peso payoff due to their role as mediators.

In its ruling, the CA said that “the decision in this case was rendered with grave abuse of discretion.”

The appellate court noted that “the lower court violated petitioner’s (OSG) right to due process.”

The CA decision, penned by Associate Justice Romeo Barza, cited the case of Saldana vs. Court of Appeals, which said that “the order of the CA [Court of Appeals]
reinstating the criminal case for further hearing by the trial court does not violate the rule on double jeopardy.”

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and Edwin Sorongon.