ORMOC CITY, Leyte: Pending cases are expected to mount as government prosecutors here have stopped attending court hearings since Monday in protest over the non-appointment of permanent assistant prosecutors.
The Manila Times learned that Provincial Prosecutors Erwin James Fabriga and Melissa Macapugas have been absent since Monday. Their absence reportedly had the blessing of the city chief prosecutor’s office where the duo is detailed in.
The only hearing Fabriga attended involved the rape and human trafficking charges against Mataas na Kahoy town Mayor Jay Manalo Ilagan that is pending before Regional Trial Court Branch 12.
RTC Branches 12 and 35 and the MTC are handling a total of about 1,700 cases. Each sala is entitled to one assistant prosecutor.
Chief City Prosecutor Marcelo Oñate disclosed to The Manila Times that, since July 2013, he is the only prosecutor with a permanent appointment even while the office is supposed to have four assistant prosecutors.
He said his office is only complemented by detailed assistant Provincial Prosecutors for the past three years. Most of the cases they handle are from the city.
Oñate said there were three applicants to the position. One was appointed as judge in a town in Leyte while lawyers Erwin Pedrosa and Jennifer Balboa-Cahig are still awaiting their appointment papers.
He added they hope Malacañang’s action to assign a permanent assistant prosecutor before the start of the appointment ban due to the 2016 National Elections.