Two Suspects in shooting of PDI man barred from leaving RP

2 suspects in shooting of PDI man barred from leaving RP

Marlon Ramos, INQUIRER Southern Luzon


LUCENA CITY- A regional trial court (RTC) judge here on Tuesday issued a hold departure order against two men suspected to be behind the foiled ambush on Lucena-based INQUIRER correspondent Delfin Mallari Jr. more than seven months ago.


In an open court order, Judge Norma Chionglo Sia of Branch 56 of the Lucena RTC ruled that suspects Armando Encanto and Renato Sudla should be barred from leaving the country while the frustrated murder and attempted murder cases filed against them are being tried in court.


Both Encanto and Sudla are out on bail after paying P320, 000 each after the court issued warrants for their arrest.


The two, who are both in their 40s, are members of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, the same fraternity to which incumbent Gov. Raffy Nantes belongs.


Mallari named Nantes as the brains of the failed attempt on his life, which the governor repeatedly denied.


Lawyers Marcelino Arias Jr. and Elizabeth Matta tried to block Sia’s order by assuring the judge that their clients would not go abroad to evade the charges against them.


Sia, however, doubted the lawyers’ guarantee as she instructed the clerk of court to immediately draft the hold departure order.


For the second time in as many hearings, the counsels of Encanto and Sudla moved for the deferment of the scheduled arraignment, saying the petition for review that they filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to be resolved.


The petition, which was filed last September 27, assailed the result of the preliminary investigation conducted by Lucena assistant prosecutor Manuel Garcia who endorsed the filing of criminal charges against the suspects.


Arias said they would also file a separate motion for reinvestigation of the case.


Tempers flared as lawyer Vicente Joyas, Mallari’s counsel, questioned Arias’ request for postponement of the arraignment.


Joyas argued that the prescription period of the petition filed by the accused lawyers before the DOJ has already lapsed.


Sia said the arraignment should resume “to give the adverse party (Mallari) an opportunity to air his side.”


“The court wants to have jurisdiction over the persons and of the case. This court wants the arraignment to start so the case can proceed. What do you fear then?” Sia told the suspects’ lawyers.


During the fiery exchange of arguments, an emotional Arias had to be restrained by the judge after he repeatedly raised rules over the prescription period of petition for review.


“Perhaps you can create your own rules but do not confuse this court,” Sia said, eliciting laughter from the people inside the courtroom.


At one time, Sia castigated Arias for raising his voice while he was explaining a point.


“Don’t raise your voice while you’re inside this court,” a visibly peeved Sia told the lawyer.


Sia also pointed out that Arias and Matta’s actions were obviously meant to delay the formal hearing of the case.


“Cases in courts are being delayed because lawyers of caliber like you invoke everything to defer arraignment. If you believe your clients are really innocent, then let them be arraigned,” she said.


After a 40-minute debate, Sia eventually allowed the resetting of the arraignment to February 11 “in the interest of fair delivery of justice.”


Mallari decided not to attend the hearing. He said he doesn’t want to again experience the “sleepless nights” he had after the first time he saw his supposed assassins during the first hearing last September 24.


In an unexpected move, Encanto approached radio DZMM correspondent Johnny Glorioso after the court proceeding and insisted that he was innocent of the charges against him.


Glorioso was with Mallari when they were ambushed while on their way to their radio program last April 19.


“I told him that it would be better if he answers the accusations against him in court,” Glorioso said.


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