Ex-Anakpawis solon, group not yet ‘off the hook’ despite dismissal of charges – DILG

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao and six members of the group are not yet off the hook despite the Norzagaray Municipal Trial Court’s dismissal of one of the criminal charges filed against them, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement on Thursday, DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said Casilao and his companions will still be facing other criminal charges from the Department of Justice.

“It was clear that Casilao and his group committed criminal offenses when they conducted an unauthorized travel outside of Metro Manila and conducted a mass gathering during ECQ. One case against them may have been dismissed but it is certain that they have not been absolved from other criminal liabilities. Magpapatuloy po ang pagdinig sa iba pa nilang mga kaso,” Malaya said.

The DILG filed complaints against Casilao and six other members of the left-leaning group for allegedly organizing mass gathering and distribution of relief goods in Norzagaray, Bulacan while the enhanced community quarantine was in effect.

Judge Julie Rita Suarez-Badillo of the Norzagaray Municipal Trial Court dismissed only the charge arising from Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, saying the “alleged facts do not constitute an offense.”

Suarez-Badilla expressed through an order dated May 13 that “while such act [traveling outside the residence without the travel permit or quarantine pass] illustrates defiance for the open directive to observe the ECQ, such infraction does not fall under the prohibited acts of RA 11332.”

“In dismissing the charge against the former Anakpawis Representative and his group, the judge stated that RA 11332 may not be the law violated at this point,” Malaya said.

“We respect the decision of the court, which clearly shows the independence of the judiciary, but they will still face the other charges filed by the DOJ (Department of Justice),” he added.

Malaya explained that the dismissal is without prejudice to the prosecutor’s filing of another information in relation to non-cooperation.

The DILG official said the accused are still facing prosecution for the other charges on Resistance and Disobedience to a Person in Authority or the Agents; attempted inciting of sedition; and in the case of Casilao, usurpation of authority filed by the DOJ. 

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