Former Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday lauded a court decision dismissing the attempted murder case filed by a police officer against a University of Makati student and her family.
Binay, head of the UMak School of Law Center for Legal Aid, represented the accused Romalyn Gumapos, her sister Marleen Gumapos, stepfather Anselmo Degamo, and brother-in-law George Fernandez—with the assistance of lawyers Bernardine Madamba and Precious Pingol of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Manila-II Chapter and Angel CGI Valero-Nuñez and Jewel Bulos from the UMak School of Law.
In a two-page decision dated March 5, 2019, Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32, ordered the release of the accused after the prosecution manifested that it could not establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
“The private complainant PO3 Jegson Galang testified, among others, that he is now retracting his testimony given before this Court and that the incident subject matter of this case arose out of misapprehension of facts and misunderstanding between him and all the accused,” the decision said.
“In view of the tenor of the testimony of the private complainant, the public prosecutor manifested that the prosecution will not be able to establish the guilt of all accused beyond reasonable doubt and moved for the dismissal of the case. Finding the said motion to be well taken, the same is hereby granted,” the court order said.
Binay, who had his services for free, said when he accepted the case, the family had been in jail for seven months because they could not afford to hire a lawyer to represent them in court.
He added the family were also afraid because the principal complainant is a policeman.
One of the defendants, Romalyn Gumapos, is a student of the UMak College of Business and Financial Sciences.
Binay said the college secretary of CBFS sought the help of the UMak School of Law Center for Legal Aid after being informed by one of Romalyn’s professors of her detention.
The case is the first case handled by the UMak Legal Aid Center in partnership with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Manila-II Chapter.
“I am glad that our first case was a success but more than that, I am happy that we are finally realizing our vision of having a Legal Aid center,” Binay said.
“Through the UMak School of Law Center for Legal Aid, we hope to provide free legal help to people in need. Napakarami po ng gaya ni Roma na nakukulong kahit walang sala dahil lamang wala silang abogado na magtatanggol sa kanila,” he added.
Binay said aside from the Center of Legal Aid, the UMak School of Law also had other academic research centers each with its own focus and areas of expertise.
These centers are the Center for Human Rights, Center for Local Governance and Public Policy, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Center for Energy Studies, and Center for Law and Technology.
“We envision these centers as hubs of knowledge and practice so we can continue to provide relevant programs to our students, and even to our external stakeholders,” Binay said.