Court junks falsification raps vs. TFK commander, journalist

BACOLOD City – The Regional Trial in La Carlota City , Negros Occidental dismissed the falsification charges against Task Force Kasanag national commander John Chiong and Daily Guardian Negros Bureau Chief Dolly Yasa after the complainants and their lawyer did not show up in the hearing Wednesday afternoon.

In her decision, Judge Mila D. Camiso-Yap of RTC Branch 74 said “that from the records of these cases it appears that all the plaintiffs including their counsel are duly notified of the November 20, 2019 hearing.”

The complainants’ lawyer is Atty. Sahlee Gail M. Yparosa Lobaton.

Camiso-Yap gave the plaintiffs and their lawyer until 3 p.m. on Nov 20 but they did not show up.

In her decision, the judge noted that “It is already past 3:00 in the afternoon and yet all the plaintiffs in these cases failed to appear before this court including their counsel Atty. Sahlee Gail M. Yparosa Lobaton. Only the defendant John Chiong without his counsel Atty. Jomax Ortiz appeared.”

“(The) Court noted that the last time these cases were called for hearing, the same plaintiffs and counsel failed to appear signifying their lack of interest to pursue with the instant cases. This lack of interest to pursue the instant cases is coupled with the submission by the defendant of the affidavit of desistance of the plaintiffs.”

The plaintiffs who issued the affidavit of desistance submitted to the court were Eden D. Flores, Louie Jin D. Presidente, Heide L. Vicente, Ely G. Estacio Sr., Jerry B. Larona Jr., and Gerardo Aligaen.

The case stemmed from a petition against former Moises Padilla Mayor Magdaleno Peña for habitual absences during his term. The complainants claimed that their signatures in the petition were falsified.

Chiong, who submitted the petition to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), claimed that the said petition signed by more than 200 residents of Moises Padilla town was left at the TFK office by unidentified person/persons.

Yasa was implicated by the complainants for allegedly helping Chiong, being a former councilor in the municipality.

Yasa denied knowing the complainants or even meeting with them at all.

She said she simply wrote the story after a DILG document indicated that the complaint was received by the said office.

Earlier, the same case filed by two other complainants with the Provincial Prosecutor against Chiong and Yasa were also dismissed for lack of merit.

(Photo Courtesy of Stockphoto)