Court junks drug charges vs North Cotabato state college president

Rappler.com
Kidapawan City Regional Trial Court Judge Henelinda Diaz says the search warrants used to conduct the raid on the home of then CFCST president Samson Molao are invalid

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A  North Cotabato court has junked the drug charges filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against the president of a state college in that province.

Kidapawan City Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Henelinda Diaz dismissed the charges of involvement in the illegal drug trade and illegal possession of firearms filed by PDEA against Samson Molao, president of the Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST) in Barangay Doruloman in Arakan town.

Molao had earlier filed a motion to quash before the court following the charges filed against him that stemmed from a raid conducted in his college staff house in January 2018, which yielded 126 grams of shabu and high-powered firearms.

The court issued its decision on the case on June 28 but Molao’s camp released a copy of the decision to the media on Monday, July 15.

In her decision, the judge said that the search warrants authorities had for the raid were invalid as each cited violations for both illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms. The judge said that under the rules of court, warrants should be specific and should only cite one offense.

She said the fact that the warrants were both for two offenses voided them and because the warrants were invalid, the evidence supposedly seized were considered “fruits of poisonous tree.”

“Otherwise known as the exclusionary rule of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, this constitutional provision prohibits the issuance of general warrants that encourage law enforcers to go on fishing expeditions. Evidence obtained through unlawful seizures should be excluded as evidence,” Diaz ruled.

She also noted that PDEA violated the custody rule when instead of turning over the pieces of evidence, particularly the drug, to the court that issued the search warrants, these were brought to General Santos City.

Diaz also said the seizing officer did not submit a detailed report after the raid, which resulted in the seizure of at least 125 grams of suspected shabu and high-powered firearms.

She said while the firearms seized from the raid should be returned to CFCST, the seized shabu should remain with PDEA for proper disposition.

Molao had denied the possession of shabu but said the firearms were owned by CFCST.

Molao’s lawyer, Israelito Torreon, said Diaz’s  5-page decision had detailed why the charges against his client were dismissed.

Molao’s camp, reports said, was working on his reinstatement as CFCST president, a position he assumed in 2011.

Molao had wanted to return as CFCST president as early as May last year but the school’s board of trustees denied it, saying the charges against him had to be resolved first. The college’s board ot trustees designated Dr Zainudin Adam as officer-in-charge of  while Molao went on study leave following the filing of the charges against him.

Molao was previously implicated in cases of frustrated murder, corruption, and management. In 2016, hundreds of members of the Save CFCST Movement – which included farmers, students, and college employees – protested against him, after he was accused of plotting killing attempts against school personnel who were critical of his management. – Rappler.com