By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2013 – 12:00am
In a decision promulgated on June 11, the seventh division of the appellate court granted the petition for habeas corpus filed by Joanne Urbina against the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The CA said Urbina’s incarceration was a violation of her constitutional right to speedy disposition of the case and her human rights.
“More than five years of detention, without valid information filed in court, is unreasonable. It is intolerable. It is shockingly unimaginable. It smacks of persecution rather than prosecution and pierces through the very essence of fairness and justice,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam.
“It conjures up images of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have never been allowed a speedy and fair trial, a civil right granted to all by the Constitution,” the ruling said.
Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Ramon Cruz concurred with the decision.
Urbina, together with a certain Ben Ryan Chua, was arrested by the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force on Dec. 14, 2007. A day later, inquest proceedings were conducted.
On Jan. 25, 2008, the DOJ through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and prosecutors Alfredo Agcaoili and Wilfredo Andres, dismissed the case against Chua while charging Urbina with violation of Sections 11 and 12 of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for possession of illegal drugs and possession of equipment/apparatus for dangerous drugs.
However, despite finding probable cause against Urbina, no case was filed in court.
The DOJ filed a case against Urbina only after she questioned her detention.
But the CA said that “in the absence of any clear and acceptable explanation, this court is compelled to believe that the belated filing of the information is a product of mere afterthought designed to thwart a valid and legal recourse of the petitioner.”
Urbina has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame for five years and four months.
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