Court to investigate judge who allegedly intervened on behalf of driver in Baguio ramming case

Baguio City map. Photo: Google maps
Baguio City map. Photo: Google maps

The Supreme Court is looking into the case of a judge who allegedly intervened on behalf of a driver who tried to run over a Baguio City police officer on New Year’s Eve.

Court administrator Jose Midas Marquez yesterday said that the court is looking into the incident involving Judge Roberto Mabalot, who works in Baguio’s Municipal Trial Court. In a text message sent to ABS-CBN News, Marquez said, “We would like to get all available information before we require the concerned judge to comment.”

Baguio City Police Chief Col. Rae Co alleged that taxi driver Jone Buclay cursed at and attempted to run over Patrolman Julius Walang after the latter flagged him for parking near the City Hall, according to GMA News Online. A video from the scene appears to show Patrolman Walang standing in front of the taxi as it continues to move forward, eventually grabbing onto the taxi’s hood in an effort to avoid being run over.  Buclay was ultimately brought to the police station, where he allegedly tested positive for alcohol.

However, before the cops were able to file a case against Buclay, he was reportedly fetched from the station by Judge Mabalot, who allegedly screamed in anger at the cops on duty without asking the details of the case. The judge then left the precinct with Buclay in tow.

Mabalot defended his actions, telling GMA News that he did not interfere in the case on behalf of Buclay, and that he had showed up at the precinct to merely check on the driver.

“He was in fear… and asked me if he will be detained. Knowing that the penalty for recklessness is only a fine, I told him he cannot be detained,” Mabalot said.

However, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said yesterday that Mabalot had disregarded the law and that what he allegedly did should “never be tolerated, and is very unbecoming.” The DILG supervises the country’s police force.

“There is a proper forum to secure the release of the suspect and that is not the police station. He must wait for the police to process the case, the prosecutor to file charges against the suspect and for the case to be raffled to his [courtroom] before he can assume jurisdiction,” Año said.

“The said judge has to follow the law, just like all of us. As guardian of the law, a judge must serve as an example in following the law, and not in breaking it.”

Año also called on the Supreme Court to investigate Mabalot’s actions.

“We should not let these people get away with abuse of power in our country,” he said.

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