Public Attorney's Office chief wants Caticlan airport ‘bullet’ case dismissed

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta asked a regional trial court in Aklan to dismiss the case against her client implicated in Caticlan airport “bullet” case. 

Acosta said they filed the motion to quash, motion for determination of probable cause, and motion to suspend arraignment of Jerome Sulit,  who was charged before RTC Branch 9 for illegal possession of ammunition.

“Naniniwala kami na walang kasalanan si Sulit, walang probable cause at walang intent to possess or animus possidendi ang kliyente namin,” she said in an interview by RMN DyKR Kalibo after the court hearing on Tuesday, May 24 in Kalibo, Aklan. (We believe Sulit is innocent, that our client no probable cause or intent to possess [bullets] ).

Sulit – from Fairview, Quezon City – was supposed to fly to Manila via Caticlan airport in Malay, Aklan last April 28 along with his wife when he was intercepted by airport screeners.

During the screening, the .22 caliber bulletswere allegedly ‘discovered’ inside his sling bag. He was arrested and charged.

Sulit, who had his vacation in Boracay after their wedding prior to the incident, denied that he owns the bullets.

Acosta said “mere possession of bullet is not punishable... without any firearm, the bullet and its parts cannot be construed as ammunition where possession of it would be punishable.”

Acosta also cited a similar case dismissing the ‘tanim bala’ (bullet-planting) case of American missionary Lane Michael White by RTC Pasay City Judge Pedro Gutierrez.

“Bakit pa kakasuhan si Sulit, wala naman siyang intent to possess? At hindi naman dapat makukulong ang tao dahil sa bala lang...ang ammunition dapat may bullet, may gunpowder, may primer, may cartridge, at gagamitin sa firearm,” Acosta stressed. (Why file a case against Sulit when he has no intent to posses. People shouldn't go to prison just for having a bullet. Ammunition should have a bullet, gunpowder, primer, cartridge, and a firearm to be used.)

“Sino ang mga madjikero sa airport? Dapat hindi natin kunsintihin sila... ang ebidensiya nila itong bala at affidavit ng arresting officers...walang namang private complainant,” she added. (Who are these magicians at the airport? We should not content to them, as their evidence is the bullet and the affidavit of the arresting officers, without any private complainant.)

Under Section 3 Article 1 of Republic Act No. 10591 defines ammunition as punishable as “a complete unfixed unit consisting of a bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer or loaded shell for use in any firearm.”

The PAO Chief added, “this is no case dahil maliwanag ang batas sa ammunition... ang batas common sense lang... the finest hour of a prosecutor is to move for the dismissal of the unmeritorious case of Sulit.” (There is no case because the laws on ammunition are clear. The law is common sense.)

“Makakaasa kayo na gagampanan natin ang ating tungkulin para maprotektahan kayo sa masasamang tao,” she concluded. (You can rest assured that we will do our duties to protect you from bad people.) –