Batangas court dismisses case vs former UP film student

MANILA, Philippines – A  Batangas court has dismissed cases filed against former University of the Philippines (UP) film student Maricon Montajes and two others.

In a 25-page decision on June 28, Presiding Judge Rose Maria Manalang Austria of Batangas Regional Trial Court Branch 87 cited insufficient evidence to prove that the 3 accused were carrying firearms when they were arrested in June 2010.

Montajes was doing her research for her thesis in Mayabas village in Taysan, Batangas, when armed military men arrested her, Anakbayan member Ronilo Baes, and farmer Rommiel Cañete in June 2010.

"[T]he Court grants demurrer to evidence of the accused and hereby dismisses the cases against the 3 accused, for failure of the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt," the court said.

A demurrer to evidence dismisses the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. 

Montajes, Baes, and Cañete – collectively known as the Taysan 3 – charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of explosives, and violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

In her decision, Austria said that the prosecution was not able to prove that the firearms seized by military officers were from the accused.

She also said that the prosecution failed to mention in their testimonies that the accused carried firearms near a polling station in violation of the Election Code.

In March 2017, the court found insufficient evidence to prosecute the 3, allowing them to post bail. 

In July 2017, Montajes was released after posting a P400,000-bail, 7 years after she was detained. The other two did not post bail.

Austria ordered the release of Baes and Cañete from detention. – Aika Rey/Rappler.com