SolGen asked to appeal ruling downgrading conviction of ex-colonel in shabu lab case

SolGen asked to appeal ruling downgrading conviction of ex-colonel in shabu lab case

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Remember the drug laboratory busted by lawmen in Barangay Bimmotobot, Naguilian, La Union sometime in July 2008 wherein a ranking police officer was convicted by the court as protector after a long trial?

The prosecution panel that handled the case wrote the Office of Solicitor General (SolGen) Jose Calida asking him to appeal to the Supreme Court the decision of the Court of Appeals (15th Division) downgrading the life imprisonment meted on former Police Supt. Dionicio Borromeo, the accused lab protector, to only 12 to 20 years and the fine of PHP10 million to only PHP500,000.

Borromeo, who was chief of police of Dagupan at the time of the incident, is now serving his sentence at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

On June 5, 2013, Judge Ferdinand Fe of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bauang, La Union, Branch 67, sentenced Borromeo to suffer life imprisonment and also ordered him to pay a fine of PHP10 million after he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt as protector of the shabu laboratory.

SHABU CHEMICALS - La Union police director Sr. Supt. Noli Taliño ( in police uniform) lead the raiding team on Wednesday in checking some of the chemicals that were found inside a house in Naguilian, La Union which is suspected as shabu laboratory being operated by a syndicate.(Photo by: VIC ALHAMBRA, JR.)

 “It is our conviction that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion by deliberately twisting the facts that Borromeo was merely indicted as protector and yet it was crystal clear that he was charged as co-conspirator. The CA refuses to employ the basic principle of conspiracy, that the act of one is the act of all. Since it (CA) found Borromeo to have conspired with the other accused, it should have affirmed the sentence imposed by the RTC. It deliberately found a way to impose the (lesser) penalty on an accomplice which should not be done. There is a blatant disregard of the law in the application of the penalty,” reads part of the letter of the prosecution panel.

The prosecution panel, composed of La Union Prosecutor Danilo Bumacod and Assistant Prosecutors Manuel Dulnuan Jr. and Gaudencio Valdez Jr., claimed that the CA clearly found Borromeo guilty of conspiracy but still concluded and imposed the downgraded penalties based on their 45-page decision released on June 29, 2016.

The CA decision was signed by Associate Justices Jhosep Lopez, Ramon Garcia, and Leoncia Dimagiba and certified by Associate Justice Ramon Garcia, chair of the CA’s 15th Division.

The panel requested in their July 28, 2016 letter to the SolGen to conduct appropriate action on the case to attain justice concerning drug cases which is in line with the prime advocacy of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Aside from Borromeo, also charged in the shabu lab operation were Joselito Artuz, alias George Cordero, the alleged financier who has not been found since the discovery of the shabu lab; SPO1 Joey Abang, who died due to illness while inside the jail; and several unidentified Chinese who served as chemists.

During the investigation, the prosecutors found probable cause to indict Borromeo, Artuz, Abang and the unnamed Chinese citizens.

Borromeo has been indicted on the case after he was tagged as protector of the shabu lab based on the confession of Dante Tomas Palaganas, the arrested caretaker of the illegal drug facility who turned state witness.

Palaganas was placed under the custody of the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.

Borromeo was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1989.

Documents submitted by the prosecutors indicated that Borromeo and Artuz had been in constant communication with Palaganas.

The communication started from the time Borromeo and Artuz began the search for a site for the laboratory until July 9, 2008 when the facility was raided by joint operatives of the La Union police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency regional office, municipal health office of Naguilian and other operating units.

Investigation disclosed that the group used a piggery business as front for the illegal activity.

Borromeo was then the head of the Regional Mobile Group of the Region 1 police when he allegedly recruited Palaganas as his ‘police asset’ and ordered him to look for a lot where they could establish piggery.

Palaganas revealed in his testimony that he is the only witness of the prosecution who has knowledge on the identity and involvement of those who took part in the establishment and operation of the shabu laboratory, noting his active role as caretaker.

During the raid, authorities recovered at least six truckloads of chemicals and equipment used in cooking shabu.

Palaganas was arrested during the operation along with Andy Tangalin, a fellow caretaker.

Authorities said that around a billion pesos worth of shabu were manufactured in the lab in its more than one year operation.

All those indicted were accused of willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously manufacturing, producing, processing shabu, directly by means of chemical synthesis which is a violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act. JUN ELIAS and PNA/