Baguio LGU mulls raps vs judge who allegedly interfered in drunk taxi driver’s arrest

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020   •   810

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Baguio on Friday said it is mulling over the possibility of filing administrative charges against a local judge who allegedly interfered in the arrest of a drunk taxi driver for purportedly attacking a police officer.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said they are studying lodging complaints against the judge, identified as Judge Roberto Mabalot of the Municipal Trial Court, Benguet Branch 1.

Magalong said a report forwarded to him by the Baguio City Police showed that Mabalot allegedly intimidated and shouted at police officers on duty to secure the immediate release of the taxi driver, identified as Jone Buclay.

“According sa report na binigay sa akin ng ating City Director na si Col. Allen Co, talagang nakialam si Judge Mabalot, in fact he acted like a private lawyer,” he said.

“The way it was explained to me, very intimidating siya and outright nailabas niya agad ung lasing na driver at naiparelease pa niya yung taxi,” he added.

On Tuesday, December 31, 2019, an internet user posted a dashcam video showing a police officer, identified as Patrolman Julius Walang designated at the Baguio City Traffic Enforcement Unit, almost run over as he tried to stop a cab driver who committed a traffic violation.

Walang accosted the cabbie and tried to issue a citation ticket for causing traffic along Abanao Street in Baguio City. But instead of stopping, the taxi moved towards the police officer who had to cling onto the cab’s hood to prevent him from fleeing.

Buclay was later on brought to the police station and determined to be under the influence of alcohol.

During Buclay’s detention, police officers on duty claimed that Judge Mabalot suddenly entered the police station and scolded them for detaining the cab driver for a traffic violation that only carries a fine as penalty.

A CCTV footage also captured Judge Mabalot arriving at the police station around 9:25 in the morning and exiting with the taxi driver in tow several minutes later.

“He was lawyering for the accused and, of course, naintimidate po ung ating mga kapulisan doon and from his own words sabi niya ay ‘fine’ lang kasi ang aanuhin,” Baguio City Police director Col. Allen Rae Co said.

“Ipinakita po ng ating kapulisan sa kanya yung positive result po nung alcohol breath test at umamin po ung tao (taxi driver) mismo na nakainom siya,” he added.

It was later learned that Buclay works for a taxi company allegedly operated by a relative of Judge Mabalot.

In a message to Magalong, the judge insists that he did not interfere with the case, and that he only acted on a request he received to check up on the taxi driver for an alleged violation of reckless driving.

“I declare that I did not at all interfere. The police will confirm this fact,” he said, adding that he only told cops that they cannot detain the driver as the penalty for reckless driving is only a fine.

He, however, did not state in his message on whether he was aware that the taxi driver had tried to run over a traffic law enforcer.

The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), which supervises all judges and court personnel in the country, earlier said it is now checking the case.

“We would like to get all available information before we require the concerned judge to comment,” Supreme Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said.

Police said it will file multiple complaints against the taxi driver, including direct assault upon an agent of authority, resisting arrest and attempted homicide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Doctolero)

Baguio City, nasa 2nd wave ng infection; pagpapatupad ng checkpoint at lockdown, mas hihigpitan – Magalong

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020

Magpapatupad ng mas mahigpit na checkpoint at border control ang Baguio City government kasunod ng pagtaas ng kaso ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) sa lungsod, ayon kay Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

Naniniwala si Magalong na nasa ikalawang bugso na ng COVID-19 infections ang lungsod kasunod ng mga ulat ng panibagong kaso.

Aniya, lumobo ang kaso matapos dumagsa ang mga tao sa mga mall, palengke at iba pang pampublikong lugar sa siyudad at pag-uwi ng maraming locally-stranded individuals kasunod ng pagluluwag sa antas ng quarantine.

“We’re now experiencing the second wave yah were now on the second wave nag-flatten na tayo eh,” ani Magalong.

Upang mapigilan ang muling pagdami ng COVID-19 infections sa lungsod, sinabi ng alkalde na ilalagay sa lockdown ang buong lungsod tuwing araw ng linggo.

Mas hihigpitan rin ang pagbabantay sa mga checkpoint upang masegurong nasusunod ang ipinaiiral na health protocols.

Inatasan na rin ni Magalong ang mga ospital sa lungsod na maghanda sa posibleng muling pagdami ng mga pasyenteng magpapa-konsulta.

“This is a result of opening up the economy so we just have to innovate, continue innovation, very aggressive sa contact tracing and then sa testing,” sabi ng alkalde na nagsisilbi rin bilang national contact tracing czar sa gitna ng pandemiya.

“I issued an executive order requiring barangay officials be more vigilant, and the encourage flu-like symptoms to report to the barangay so that they can be PCR-tested,” dagdag pa niya.

Noong Hulyo 27, pumalo na sa 98 ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa lungsod; dalawa sa mga ito ang nasawi, 51 ang gumaling habang nasa 45 naman ang kasalukuyan pang naka-confine sa medical facilities. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Grace Doctolero)

Baguio, Cebu City mayors appeal for reclassification of cities’ quarantine status

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 29, 2020

The mayors of Baguio City and Cebu City have appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to reclassify their respective cities’ community quarantine status.

“Considering that Baguio is relatively successful in implementing COVID-19 response and management measures within our borders, we are inclined to seek a reconsideration of our classification before the IATF Screening and Validation Committee,” according to the appeal of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

Magalong has appealed to the IATF-MEID to place Baguio City under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) instead of General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

The IATF-MEID, under IATF Resolution No. 40, recommended that Baguio City be placed under GCQ until June 15.

Magalong noted that Baguio City was able to successfully control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through their mass testing, and implementation of health and safety protocols.

Baguio City has recorded 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases; 29 of them have already recovered.

“With the steps we have already taken, the innovations we seek to accomplish, and the disciplined character of the Cordilleran people, you are assured that the City of Baguio will be exemplary in the implementation of MGCQ regulations,” the appeal reads.

Meanwhile, Cebu Mayor Edgar Labella also filed an appeal to place the city under GCQ instead of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). The IATF-MEID recommended for Cebu City to be placed under MECQ.

“Our case fatality rate remains at 1% while our recovery rate is already at 22% and we are seeing a downtrend on our COVID19 cases. I really hope that IATF will grant our request,” Labella said.

“It is but a logical step for the city government to transition into General Community Quarantine but with the corollary discretion to place under segmental and sequential lockdown critical areas,” according to Labella’s appeal.

The IATF-MEID has given local government officials to submit their appeal until Friday (May 28).AAC

Baguio frontliner recovers from COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 6, 2020

Doctors, nurses, and other staff at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) erupted in cheers as a frontliner was discharged after recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The victory is even sweeter when they have to celebrate the recovery of a colleague, a fellow frontliner, a friend.

Jonover David, 33 years old, is among the frontliners who had to face the same virus they are fighting against.

“Ito iyong graduation na hindi ako nag-aral, pero ito iyong graduation na iniyakan ko talaga (This is the graduation I did not study for, but this is the graduation that brought me to tears),” he said.

Jonover is a CCU nurse at BGHMC and has been caring for people in the frontlines. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted on April 15. He said his personal battle against the virus was not easy, but he was glad to have faced it with his colleagues.

“Hindi ko na-feel na pinandirihan ako. Hindi nila pinaramdam sa akin na kailangan akong i-blame. Bagkus ay inalagaan pa nila ako, (I never felt discriminated. They did not make me feel that I was to blame, instead they took care of me),” he said.

For Jonovan, the battle for him is not yet over. Once he is given the clearance, he would gladly return to the frontlines. AAC

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