The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the revival of kidnapping with ransom case against former Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji and his son, Haider Isnaji after being cleared last year of any connection to the June 8, 2008 kidnapping of TV news anchor Ces Drilon and three others.
In a 15-page decision, the CA’s Eleventh Division found meritorious the petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) assailing verbal orders dated April 12, 2010 denying OSG’s motion to defer promulgation of judgment to further present evidence.
The CA said that the court rendered its ruling with grave abuse of discretion.
Thus, the ruling said “…the doctrine of double jeopardy, as correctly argued by the petitioner, could not come into play.”
“…the decision acquitting private respondents of the crime of kidnapping with ransom is hereby recalled and set aside,” the CA stated.
The appeals court also remanded the case to Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 271 Judge Paz Esperanza Cortes “for further appropriate proceedings.”
Alvarez and his son, Haider left jail after being cleared of any connection to the kidnapping of Drilon. They were in jail from June 2008 to April 12, 2010.
On April 12 last year, Judge Cortes ordered the release of the father and son after acquitting them of multiple kidnapping charges on the abduction of Drilon and her cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama.
Drilon and her TV crew, along with Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo who served as guide, were on an exclusive coverage trip in the far-flung Sulu province.
They were freed eight days later following the reported payment of a P20-million ransom.
Dinampo was also held captive by the alleged members of Abu Sayyaf.
The captors themselves alleged that they handpicked the Isnajis to negotiate for the TV crew.
The Isnajis were then accused of plotting the abduction as they allegedly benefitted from the million peso payoff due to their role as mediators.
In its decision, the appellate court said that “the decision in this case was rendered with grave abuse of discretion.”
Likewise, the CA noted that “the lower court violated petitioner’s (OSG) right to due process.”
The ruling, penned by Associate Justice Romeo Barza, also cited the case of Saldana vs. Court of Appeals, which held that “the order of the CA [Court of Appeals] reinstating the criminal case for further hearing by the trial court does not violate the rule on double jeopardy.”
The decision was concurred by Associate Justices Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and Edwin Sorongon.