The Supreme Court has allowed the transfer from the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court to the Manila RTC of the criminal cases filed against former Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and several others for the deaths of Ako Bicol party-List Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his escort in 2018.
In a resolution, the SC directed the clerk of court of the RTC Branch 10 in Legazpi City “to forward the entire records of the criminal cases” to the Office of the Executive Judge of RTC Manila within three days from receipt of the resolution dated Nov. 27, 2019.
Once the records are received, the executive judge of RTC Manila is directed to raffle the cases among the judges and “to hear and decide the cases with utmost dispatch.”
The transfer of the venue of the criminal cases was sought by Batocabe’s widow, Gertrudes, and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. who both cited the alleged partiality and bias of Legazpi RTC Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano to the accused.
They pointed out that they cannot have a fair trial before the sala of Loquillano and that they fear for the safety of their family and witnesses especially because accused Baldo is already out on bail.
Batocabe and his security escort, policeman Rolando Diaz, were killed after a gift-giving activity in a barangay in Daraga on Dec. 22, 2018.
Baldo was charged with two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murders before the Legazpi City RTC connection with the deaths of Batocabe and Diaz and the wounding of several bystanders. (Rey Panaligan)