Court junks petition for habeas corpus

The Regional Trial Court has denied a Writ of Habeas Corpus petition by the wife of the former police bodyguard of Gov. Roel Degamo to return him to Negros Oriental.

In a 14-page decision dated Aug. 28, RTC Branch 39 Presiding Judge Arlene Catherine Dato-Villegas threw out the case, saying that β€œafter a thorough perusal of the records, and evidence presented by the parties, this Court finds that the remedy of the writ of habeas corpus is totally unavailing in this case.”

Nelly PiΓ±ero, wife of Police Executive Master Sgt. Reuel PiΓ±ero, filed the civil case in August, a few days after her husband left for his new assignment at the National Capital Region Police office.

Mrs. PiΓ±ero had filed the case four days after holding a press conference with selected members of the Dumaguete media, where she expressed fears that her husband was in danger after he refused to sign a document linking Gov. Roel Degamo to the killing of Dumaguete broadcaster Rex Cornelio Pepino.

Named respondents were Central Visayas PNP Director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Director Col. Arnel Banzon, Col. Crisaleo Tolentino, and Col. Randy Peralta.

Pepino, who broadcast commentaries on radio DYMD-FM that were often critical of Degamo’s administration, was killed by a gunman who followed him as he and his wife were going home on their motorcycle on the evening of May 5.

Car owner

Investigations by the National Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the Philippine National Police led to the identification of a car owned by the Provincial government that was allegedly used by the gunman on the night of Pepino’s murder.

Attempts by police to inspect the car were hampered by an order by Degamo blocking the police from inspecting the car without a Court order. The police were able to get a Search Warrant one week later, and examined the car.

After the car was examined by the police, the car was repaired and repainted by the Provincial General Services Office, which resulted in the erasure of the identifying marks that the police had seen on images caught on CCTV cameras. The car’s plate number had also been changed.

The NBI also tagged another vehicle, a Kia Rio, that was allegedly used in the Pepino murder. The vehicle was allegedly owned by a policeman. Both the car and its owner are now in Manila.

On Aug. 4, the PNP ordered PEMS PiΓ±ero to report to his new assignment in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Col. Crisaleo Tolentino, a DumagueteΓ±o and now regional head of the Aviation Security Unit for Region 6 based in Iloilo City, earlier told theΒ MetroPostΒ that PiΓ±ero had wanted to reveal what he knew about the murder of Rex Pepino.

However, PiΓ±ero has not issued any statement about Pepino’s murder as of Friday, Sept. 18.

PEMS PiΓ±ero left Dumaguete on Aug. 8 to report to his new assignment in Manila, passing through Cebu City.


In an affidavit, PiΓ±ero said he was surprised to learn upon his arrival in Cebu that Governor Degamo had written to PNP Chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa alleging that he was being detained by his superiors at PC Hills in Cebu City.

Habeas Corpus, the Court said, is a summary remedy to inquire into the legality of the detention, and if the detention is found to be illegal, to require the release of the detainee.

However, the National Capital Regional Police office issued a certification saying that PEMS PiΓ±ero was not detained, but was simply in quarantine, and presented photos of him showing copies of the day’s newspaper issue.

In dismissing the Habeas Corpus petition, the Court said that in the absence of confinement and custody, the Court has no power to act on the petition.

This story appears courtesy of Dumaguete MetroPost.

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