MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, March 14, has granted the request of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla to transfer the cases related to the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo to a Manila court.
The Supreme Court announced that its en banc granted the request to transfer the cases from a Negros Oriental court to the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC). Remulla had written the Supreme Court on March 9, addressed to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, and coursed through Court Administrator Raul Villanueva.
In a memorandum to Gesmundo dated March 13, Villanueva said his office was “completely in agreement and convinced that, taking into account the reasons cited by Secretary Remulla, the venue of the cases he listed above should be transferred to the RTC of Manila.”
Villanueva also noted that a change of venue will be for the best interest of all parties, and that the transfer will provide a neutral venue for the trial, “free from any undue influence or bias.”
“For ‘all future cases’ that may be filed in relation to the subject charges now pending before the courts in Negros Oriental, Court Administrator Villanueva recommended that the Court may also order the transfer thereof to the RTC in Manila once these are filed in the proper courts in Negros Oriental,” the SC briefer read.
In seeking the transfer, Remulla said they “anticipate the filing of other cases related thereto, considering the number of victims who are yet to file their complaints.” The DOJ chief also cited at least three reasons why the cases should be transferred:
- The case gained significant attention in the province and created a hostile environment for the respondents.
- As three of the victims are politicians, the “political complexion” of the cases may intimidate the people involved in the case and could affect the trial’s integrity.
- Logistical difficulties in conducting the trial in the province. Four of the suspects are also now under the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) custody in Manila.
Degamo was slain just outside his family’s compound in Pamplona town on March 4. Some of the suspects arrested were said to be former members of the military. Two days later, murder complaints were filed against the suspects.
A day later, on March 7, the DOJ announced that the charges for three counts of murder and frustrated murder against the suspects were already filed in the Regional Trial Court of Tanjay, Negros Oriental. The separate charge for three counts of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives was also filed in Bayawan City RTC. – Rappler.com
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