Court dismisses case against priest and peace talks consultant in Ozamiz City after 7 years

This article is available in Pilipino

After seven years, the Ozamis City Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the charges of illegal possession of explosives against Bishop Carlo Adlaw Morales and Rommel Salinas on July 2. Bishop Morales is an Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest while Salinas is a consultant of the National Democratic Front on the peace negotiations.

The court ruled that the complainant failed to prove that the two were guilty “beyond reasonable doubt.” The police did not provide any evidence to prove that the accused were in possession of firearms or explosives.

Relatives, friends and lawyers of the two rejoiced at the dismissal of the case.

“We are happy with the acquittal, although it took seven long years for the wheels of justice to grind fine,” according to Atty. Virgilio Ponciano T. Ocaya of the Union of Peoples’s Lawyers in Mindanao who helped in the case of the two.

Salinas and Morales were arrested on May 11, 2017 while traveling in Ozamis City. Morales’ wife, Maria Teofila, and the driver of the vehicle, Isadome Dalid, were arrested with them. The latter two were immediately released. At that time, there was widespread condemnation of the arrest of Morales among church people inside and outside the country. He was granted bail in March 2018. The democratic sectors are calling for the immediate release of Salinas, who remains detained until now.

“While the decision vindicated our innocent clients, much is yet to be done since many more innocent people who are victims of political persecution are still languishing in jail and facing trumped-up charges similar to these dismissed cases,” he said.

The harassment and Red-tagging of IFI members also continues. Just recently, IFI Bishop Felixberto Calang of Cagayan de Oro became the target of intimidation and another priest, Bishop Antonio Ablon, was forced into exile because of it. IFI worker Adeem Yanez is still in prison on trumped-up charges.

AB: Court dismisses case against priest and peace talks consultant in Ozamiz City after 7 years