The Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office found probable cause against 10 individuals arrested for illegal hauling of helmet shells (budyong) last August 24.
Based on the evidence presented to him yesterday, Inquest Prosecutor Atty. Venice Balansay said, “Nasuta nako kamo naka violate sa balaod (I found out that you have violated the law).
The accused were charged with violation of section 97 of Republic Act 8550 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 for transporting endangered species. The offense is punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years.
The case includes a minor. Based on the findings of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the minor acted with discernment during the commission of the offense.
Arresting Officer Loy Anthony Madrigal and the social welfare officers of the Capitol tried to ask if the 16 year-old Eufol Delabahan can be spared from the case.
Social Worker Hazel Padeos of PSWDO said the child is only a victim of his circumstances. Delabahan is an orphan; his mother committed suicide and his father died in an accident when he was five years old.
To get a free meal, Delabahan joined his uncle as an errand boy on that particular shipment.
But Atty. Venice Balansag said the child cannot be exonerated from his liability as a minor based on the result of the PSWDO examination.
“He cannot be exonerated based on our findings. It is up to the court to conduct an extensive interview,” he said.
Balansag said the information will be filed immediately with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bogo City after the inquest proceedings last August 27.
If not, it will be filed in the following day.
Madrigal, team leader of the Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force, submitted the detainees for inquest proceedings around 10 am.
However, the inquest prosecutor of the case at the time stopped the proceeding for lack of documents particularly the identification/examination report of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7.
Madrigal only received BFAR’s report, which certified that helmet shells are regulated under Philippine laws, at around 4pm.
The offense however is bailable.
Alison Batahoy said they have no choice but to post bail for their temporary freedom after the filing of the case with the RTC.
“Mo pyansa gyud mi ana (We really need to file a bond),” he said.
He, however, cannot say the same for each of his fellow accused. He said they were only hired to load and unload the helmet shells for Php500 on that day.
Batahoy served as boat captain when the apprehension took place. He admitted to be a brother of the pumpboat owner Antonio Batahoy, but denied knowledge that the shipment was illegal.
The owners of the pumpboat and Isuzu truck, which was supposedly used to transport the shells to Mandaue City will also be charged with violation of RA 8550.
The respective owners remain at large.