Ex-Siquijor gov loses fight over obstruction of justice charge
15 February 2018
Former Siquijor Province Governor Orlando Fua, Jr. was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 1(e) of Presidential Decree No. 1829 (Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders), for impeding the service of a search warrant upon Barangay Captain James Largo in 2010. According to the complaint, Largo was included in the watch list of top drug personalities of the province.
Fua was sentenced to pay a fine of P6,000.00 and was meted the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Ranking officers from the Philippine National Police testified that during the search conducted on 25 November 2010, Fua arrived at the scene and repeatedly questioned the legality of the operation. After the search, physical inventory and marking of confiscated items, Fua shielded Largo and prevented the police officers from taking him into custody. Police Inspector Reynaldo Valmoria testified that Fua threatened him by saying that “if you will bring Largo, you will be sued in court. I guess you haven’t tried facing any charge against you before, Bay.”
“Accused’s presence therein raises question of his real motive. It should be pointed out that as Governor of the province of Siquijor at the time of incident, accused’s presence at the scene of operations could have easily influenced the proceeding,” the Court stated.
“As a lawyer, accused could have simply given Largo legal advice or assistance so that he can file a motion or pleading to quash the search warrant. However, accused did the opposite and displayed disrespect to the court’s lawful order, which is not expected from a lawyer or a public officer. Although, the welfare of his constituents may be his primary responsibility as governor of the province, in this case, there was nothing that would require his direct intervention,” the Court underscored.
P.D. No. 1829 imposes a penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period, or a fine ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 pesos, or both, to any person who knowingly or willfully obstructs, impedes, frustrates or delays the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases by delaying the prosecution of criminal cases, or by obstructing the service of process or court orders or disturbing proceedings in the fiscal's offices, in Tanodbayan, or in the courts. ###