Australian seeks bail in child abuse case
THE Australian tourist accused of engaging in child pornography with children from Lapu-Lapu City is asking a court in Cebu to grant him bail.
Peter James Robinson who showed up yesterday escorted by a police officer, was dressed in an orange prison uniform, dark shades and a surgical mask to cover his face.
His defense lawyer Rex Fernandez said his client was entitled to speedy resolution of his application for bail.
“We’re asking the court to give us an opportunity to present our evidence to prove that my client was arrested illegally,” said the lawyer in open court.
Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Judge Glenda granted the request to defer the foreigner’s arraignment.
“Submit whatever documents or evidence deemed necessary,” said the judge, who gave the defense 10 days.
Robinson, a resident of Metro Manila, is facing charges of violating Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, and qualified trafficking.
Fernandez said his client was arrested without a warrant and will seek the dismissal of the charges.
The prosecution represented by lawyer Vincent Isles of the Children’s Legal Bureau was ordered by the court to submit a response to the pleadings.
The Australian has been detained in the city jail since his arrest last June 24.
He was accused of sexually abusing at least 15 boys and girls, whom he had invited to a resort in Cordova town where he checked in as a guest.
The CLB and government social workers helped prepare affidavits of the children. Some of them described being molested and photographed in lewd poses by the foreigner at the resrot.
Some children stayed for the weekend, occupying different rooms and taking turns being invited to Robinson’s room.
Defense lawyer Fernandez reminded the court that motions for bail should be resolved with dispatch.
Qualified trafficking is a non-bailable offense if evidence against the accused is strong.
Under new rules issued by the Supreme Court, judges are directed within 48 hours after hearing a petition to bail to decide whether the evidence of guilt against the accused is strong. The bail hearing, the SC said, should take only a few days.
The defense lawwyer said Robinson was arrested without an arrest warrant.
Under the Rules of Court, a warrantless arrest can only be implemented when the person to be arrested “has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.”
The arresting officer must have personal knowledge of facts that the accused committed a crime.
According to Fernandez, none of these circumstances were present in the Australian’s case.
According to the affidavit of one of the rescued boys, they were made to strip naked while Robinson took photographs of them with his cellphone camera.
The victim said the foreigner would also molest them and pay them cash.
According to a 10-year-old girl, Robinson would signal them to start undressing by asking “Want to pic?”
Robinson, an engineer who said he’s been living in Metro Manila for two years, had visited Cebu several times.
In an earlier interview, Robinson denied abusing the children and said he was just having a vacation in Cebu when he was arrested.
CLB lawyers said they found out that Robinson has been involved in online child pornography for several years, taking lewd photos of local children and bringing them from Cebu to Manila where he would allegedly molest them.
At least 15 minors aged 8 to 15 were rescued by police last June 24 from the Cordova Home Village resort.
The CLB also filed charges against against two mothers and a teenage sister of one of the victims who accompanied the child to the resort.
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