Olongapo court junks appeal to reverse acquittal of 2 farmers charged under anti-terror law

AN OLONGAPO City court has denied the motion of the prosecution to reverse its decision acquitting farmers Japer T. Gurung and Junior U. Ramos who were charged with a criminal case for violation of the controversial Anti-Terror law.

In its order dated July 27 and made public on Wednesday night, the Olongapo City court held that cases dismissed by the grant of a demurrer to evidence “may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused in double jeopardy.”

Double jeopardy means having the accused prosecuted for the same or a similar offense after an acquittal in the same jurisdiction.

Article III, Section 1(20) of the Philippine Constitution prohibits this act, stating that “(n)o person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.”

The court noted that the elements of double jeopardy are “the complaint or information was sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; the court had jurisdiction; the accused had been arraigned and had pleaded; and the accused was convicted or acquitted.”

The local court acquitted the two, who are members of the indigenous group Aeta, in a decision on July 15 for insufficiency of evidence.

Messrs. Gurung and Ramos were arrested on Aug. 21, 2020 as they were accused of being members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. They also allegedly participated in a shootout against military forces that left one soldier dead. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

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