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SC orders transfer of Batocabe slay case trial to Manila

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The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the transfer of the venue of the criminal cases filed against former Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo in connection with the death of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his security escort last year.

In a notice dated November 27 and made public Thursday, the high court’s Second Division granted the request filed by Batocabe’s family, represented by his wife Gertrudes and son Justin, and current party-list Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin Jr., for transfer of venue of the cases.

The court, through Deputy Division Clerk of Court Teresita A. Tuazon, directed the Clerk of Court of the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 in Albay to forward the records of the cases to the executive judge of the Manila RTC.

The court, in the notice, also directed the executive judge of the Manila RTC to raffle the cases among the judges in the Manila court that would “hear and decide the cases with utmost dispatch”.

It noted that the request for transfer of venue “is anchored on the alleged bias and partiality of Judge San Juan-Loquillano towards accused Baldo, claiming the cannot have a fair trial before the sala of Judge Maria Theresa San Juan-Loquillano, and that they fear for the safety of their family and witnesses should the trial continue in Albay or any part of the Bicol region”.

In September, the Legazpi court allowed Baldo to post a PHP8.72 million bail, prompting protests from Batocabe’s supporters.

Baldo is facing double murder and six attempted murder complaints for the death of Batocabe and his security escort, Sgt. Orlando Diaz, as well as injuries sustained by bystanders in an attack during a Christmas gift-giving activity in a village in Daraga, Albay on Dec. 22, 2018.

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