After more than three months of detention, Elpidio Romanca, a peasant from Barangay Mabini in Basey, Samar, was released Friday after posting bail.
Romanca was arrested in November last year on suspicion that he was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Basey, Samar. He had a gunshot wound on his head and right thigh when arrested. It appeared that the military fired at his home during an encounter with the NPA in barangay Mabini.
Romanca was accused of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 in Basey, Samar.
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Director Persida Rueda-Acosta, together with Zacarias Duquilla, PAO lawyer assigned at Basey RTC Branch 30, pleaded for a reduction of bail from P200,000 to only P50,000.
Acosta argued that Romanca is an indigent and a poor peasant, citing the guidelines of the Supreme Court on the rights of accused persons to bail and to speedy trial (A.M. No. 12-11-2-SC).
The public prosecutor did not oppose the motion to reduce bail although AFP JAGO lawyer Paul Avila wanted bail to be P100,000.
Karapatan National Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor was asked by the court to ensure that Romanca attends his court hearings. Clamor also complained during the hearing that Karapatan, a human rights organization, was denied entry by the AFP when Romanca was still detained at the Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr., who presides over RTC Branch 30, granted the motion for the reduction of bail to P50,000 and immediately ordered the release of Romanca from military detention.
Romanca’s wife and three children also attended the hearing. In January this year, the military failed to present Romanca before the said court resulting to a temporary denial of his right to bail. Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas welcomed the release of Romanca. Romanca’s next hearing is scheduled in May this year.