Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Detained SK Mayor tries to escape

MANILA, Philippines—Sheriffs and security guards of the Sandiganbayan detained a Sultan Kudarat mayor and his wife after they allegedly tried to flee while he was being arraigned for murder charges Wednesday afternoon.

Columbio, Sultan Kudarat mayor Edwin Bermudez and his wife Sheryl allegedly left the courtroom after the charges against him was read, took the stairs from the third floor down to the ground floor and went out the main gate of the six-story building in Quezon City.

Bermudez and his wife denied they were trying to escape and said they were just looking for the witness they will present for his bail petition, Chief Sheriff Edgardo Urieta said.

The Office of the Ombudsman had accused Bermudez of masterminding the killing of two supporters of his political rival Mohamad Paglas on May 15, 2004. The victims were gunned down in front of the town hall while joining a convoy to transfer ballot boxes to a nearby town.

Voluntary surrender

His arraignment was scheduled Wednesday afternoon. He also filed a petition for bail which is still pending with the court.

Bermudez had been at large since the case was filed with the Sandiganbayan in August 2008, but in an endorsement to the Sandiganbayan Wednesday, Columbio police chief Insp. Nathaniel Panaguiton said the mayor had voluntarily surrendered.

But Urieta noted that Bermudez was without any police escorts.

Second Division court bailiff Dennis Macaranas said that during the court hearing, the phone of Bermudez’ female lawyer suddenly rang. He advised her to answer the call outside the courtroom, but as she stepped out, Bermudez and his wife followed her.

The wife allegedly said they would be fetching a witness for the mayor’s bail petition.

Macaranas said he had asked them not to leave the court and that they had to be escorted by court sheriffs while the lawyer had insisted to return to the courtroom, her phone still in her ears, that the security guards had to take turns in telling her that it was not allowed.

But amid the commotion, Bermudez followed his wife who had already taken the stairs.

In his official report, Urieta said the guard on the third floor immediately asked through two-way radio his fellow guards on the ground floor “to hold the fleeing Bermudez and his wife” while Sheriffs Alexander Valencia and Federico Gamugamo ran after the couple.

The couple dashed out of the main gate fronting the Don Mariano Marcos Avenue, but security guard Noel Haddad saw them running. He also gave chase.

Haddad finally caught up with Sheryl about 30 meters from the main gate. Bermudez allegedly stopped running after seeing his wife had been accosted.

The couple were detained at the Office of the Sheriff as a nurse attended to Bermudez whose blood pressure reportedly shot up after the chase.

Urieta said because of the mayor’s condition, they would remain detained in his office instead of being turned over to the Quezon City Jail.(By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.; INQ.net)

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