CA voids DOJ kidnap probe vs Gatdula
MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has invalidated a fact-finding investigation conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against dismissed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Magtanggol Gatdula in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a Japanese woman in October 2011.
In a ruling promulgated on March 5 but received only yesterday by the parties involved, the CA’s Sixth Division partially granted Gatdula’s petition questioning the ongoing preliminary investigation (PI) against him and others tagged in alleged kidnapping of Noriyo Ohara.
The CA said the findings of the Department of Justice probe panel created by DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima are “inadmissible” as evidence in the PI on Ohara’s complaint.
The CA cited a ruling of a Manila regional trial court last January which declared the fact-finding probe as unconstitutional for violating Gatdula’s right to counsel and to remain silent was violated since the investigation was conducted by pretense of custodial questioning.
This, according to the appellate court, made the results of the probe “fruits of the poisonous tree.”
It stressed that the DOJ should have not proceeded with its PI considering the constitutional questions raised by petitioner in the court.
With this ruling, the DOJ will have to resolve the kidnapping charges based solely on the testimony of Ohara vis-à-vis defense and evidence presented by Gatdula and other respondents.
In her complaint filed in February last year, Ohara accused Gatdula of conspiring with other respondents – dismissed NBI-Security Management Division (SMD) chief Mario Garcia; his executive officer Jose Odelon Cabillan; their assets Chona Elen Esplana, SMD civilian agent Virgelito Gutierrez and security volunteer Jay Ducusin Gutierrez; and Gatdula’s special assistant Raul Dimaano – in kidnapping her and extorting P6 million from her.