MAHINOG, CAMIGUIN - A municipal court judge here has denied defense attorney’s "demurer to evidence" to persuade the court to dismiss the criminal case that the municipal government of Mahinog filed against Mantigue island residents accused for unlawful occupation in the said island declared as forest land.
Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Eduardo E. Chan made the ruling on March 10.
A "demurrer to evidence" has the same effect of a motion to dismiss, with the connotation that the evidence of the prosecution was not sufficient.
Defense lawyer argued that on the basis of Section 53 of P.D. No. 1559 occupants who entered in forest lands before May 19, 1975, without permit or authority can not be prosecuted. Their lawyer claimed since accused entered Mantigue island in 1968 or long before May 19, 1975 they can not be prosecuted.
In a two-page resolution, the court said it cannot concede with the defense arguments because Section 53 should be interpreted in relation to Section 69 of P.D. 1559. Unlawful occupation or destruction of forest lands is when any person who enters and occupies or possesses any forest land without authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, refuses to vacate the area when ordered to do so pursuant to the provision of Section 53 of P.D. No. 1559.
The court said, a perusal of evidence of the prosecution show that the accused entered, occupied and possessed a forest land without authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit and that they refused to vacate the area when ordered to do so.
The court added, this elements taken together may somehow create the impression that accused are culpable of the crime charged. The issue of whether there was a proper demand for all the accused to vacate or was the person who made the demand was the proper authority are matters yet to be proven in full dress trial. For this reason the Demurer of evidence is set aside.
The case was calendared for further introduction of evidence.
The Municipal Government of Mahinog was represented by Provincial Prosecutor Renato Abbu, while the accused was represented by Atty. Gil Banaag.