CA voids bail grant to suspect in Batocabe’s 2018 murder case


The Court of Appeals (CA) has declared as “null and void” the two orders of a lower court in Legazpi City allowing the prime suspect in the killing of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe to post bail after finding that the judge may have committed grave abuse of discretion.

In a 10-page decision dated March 1, 2023, the CA 12th Division said that there was a grave abuse of discretion on the part of Legazpi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano when she allowed Carlwyn Baldo to be released on bail despite the evidence and witnesses that the prosecution presented against him.

The Appellate Court also instructed the lower court to resolve the petition for bail and consider all the evidence presented in the said bail hearing.

In the CA ruling, it said that the lower court erred when it ordered to hear only the testimony of two of the five witnesses without valid reason or explanation.

“The three witnesses and their testimonies should have been considered and should not have been left out. The trial court overstepped its discretion when it intentionally excluded the three witnesses without offering any valid reason or explanation other than citing its very authority to exercise discretion. This line of reasoning is absurd, if not shallow,” part of the CA ruling read.

“Based on the foregoing discussion, we find that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion by granting Baldo’s Petition for Bail without fully considering all of the prosecution’s evidence in the assailed Orders. Therefore, the assailed Orders are deemed null and void,” it added.

“Wherefore, premises considered, the Petition is Granted. The Orders dated August 29, 2019 and September 9, 2019 of the Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City, Branch 10, are hereby declared NULL and VOID.  The Regional Trial Court is hereby ORDERED to RESOLVE the Petition for Bail taking into consideration all the evidence presented during the bail hearing,” the Appellate Court ruled.

Meanwhile, the Batocabe family expressed contentment on the said CA decision and said that this is a big step for their search for justice for the murdered lawmaker.

“A significant step in the quest for justice for Dad. Sana tuloy tuloy na,” Justin Batocabe, son of the slain lawmaker, said in a Facebook post.

It can be recalled that Batocabe and his security aide SPO2 Orlando Diaz were killed in an ambush while leaving Burgos Elementary School in Daraga, Albay after giving gifts to the residents of the town in December 2018.

Baldo was charged with double murder and six counts of frustrated murder but was allowed to post bail in the amount of P8.72 million.