CEBU CITY, Philippines — A trial court here in Cebu acquitted the Arquillano brothers of San Francisco town on charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms.
Branch 90 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Danao City dismissed the criminal complaints filed against Aly Arquillano and Alfredo Arquillano Jr. Both were accused of violating the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
The court ruled in favor of the Arquillano brothers’ decision to file a Demurrer to Evidence or Motion to Acquit.
A copy of the 10-page decision, which was promulgated on June 24, 2022 and signed by presiding Judge Ma. Josefa Pinza Ramos, was furnished to members of the media on June 30.
Based on the ruling, the court said the prosecution failed to prove that the Arquillano brothers were ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’.
They pointed out that there was no ‘valid warrantless search made’ in the Arquillanos residence in 2019, and that the prosecution was unable to present a witness to corroborate the arresting officer’s claims.
“It must be remembered that warrantless searches are mere exceptions to the Constitutional right of a person against unreasonable searches and seizures; thus, they must be strictly construed against the government and its agent,” portions of the ruling stated.
“The prosecution is reasonably burdened to present every ounce of evidence in order to justify a warrantless search. While the power to search and seize is necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law enforced, without transgressing the constitutional rights of the Filipino citizens,” it added.
However, the court ordered that all firearms and ammunition seized from the Arquillanos be kept under government custody ‘for proper disposition’.
These included a fragmentation hand grenade, two rifles — a caliber 22 and an AR-15, a loaded, caliber .45 pistol, and several rifle magazines and ammunition.
To recall, the police arrested the Arquillanos after they found several firearms and a hand grenade in the brothers’ rooms during a raid in their ancestral house in April 2019.
At that time, Aly was seeking to be reelected as San Francisco’s mayor. The same goes with his brother in the vice mayoralty post.
Presently, Aly is the vice mayor of San Francisco while his brother, Alfredo, sits as its mayor.
San Francisco is among the four municipalities that comprise Camotes Island, located approximately 259 kilometers northeast of Cebu City.