ANOTHER 50 YEARS FOR JOAVAN
Joavan Fernandez may now have to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Executive Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City yesterday convicted the adopted son of Talisay City’s former mayor and now Councilor Socrates “Soc” Fernandez for illegal possession of a hand grenade and a gun in May 2013.
Joavan, 32, faces up to 50 years in prison. He was meted the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison for illegal possession of an explosive. He will also serve another six to 10 years in jail for illegal possession of firearms and for violating the 2013 election gun ban.
It was Joavan’s fourth conviction. Only last February, Joavan was meted a jail term of up to 36 years in prison for mauling and detaining two vulcanizing shop workers in 2008.
According to Regional State Prosecutor Llena Ipong-Avila, the jail terms of his past and present cases shall be implemented “one after another” since they involved separate cases.
Yesterday, Peras ordered Joavan’s transfer from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center to the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog town in Leyte, where he will serve the penalty.
Unless revoked by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, the jail terms imposed against Joavan stay.
Donning a pair of eyeglasses and the typical orange prisoner’s shirt and pants, Joavan did not show any emotion when the verdict was read past 2 p.m. inside the courtroom.
Sought for comment after the promulgation, Joavan said he would consult with his lawyer on their next step.
“Mag-estorya pa mi sa akong abogado (I’ll talk with my lawyer first),” he told reporters as he was escorted out of the courtroom.
His lawyer, George Bragat, who recently underwent an operation in his vocal chords, declined to say a word.
In 2014, Joavan was found guilty of “light threats” for threatening to kill a nurse. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Last year, Joavan was held liable for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to properties for ramming his green sports utility vehicle (SUV) into a police mobile car at the intersection of R. Rabaya Street and the South Coastal Road in Barangay San Roque, Talisay City. In that case, he was ordered to pay P13,700 to the Talisay City government, which owns the police car.
Last February, Joavan and his five friends were found guilty of abducting and mauling two vulcanizing shop workers whom he suspected to have stolen the spare tire of his father’s car in 2008, during which time his father was still the mayor of Talisay. In this case, Joavan was ordered to stay behind bars for at least 21 to 36 years.
Councilor Fernandez was not around when the verdict was read in court yesterday.
Reached by phone yesterday, the councilor only said, “Magdepende lang ko sa abogado kung unsay iyang buhaton (It’s all up to our lawyer on what actions he will take).”
Fernandez, who was reelected last May 9, begged off from giving further statement.
“Mahimo ba? (Can you please spare me a moment?),” said Fernandez before he cut off the phone conversation.
In a 16-page decision, Peras gave credence to the testimony of PO1 Edwin Campomanes, who arrested Joavan inside his father’s residence at South Gate Subdivision in Barangay Bulacao, Talisay City on May 6, 2013, barely a week before the May 13, 2013 midterm elections.
Campomanes and two other police officers went to the place to serve an arrest warrant issued by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities after Joavan failed to attend a court hearing for slight physical injury.
Campomanes said he recovered from Joavan’s pants pockets a live fragmentation grenade, a Derringer Black Widow 9 mm revolver, four live 9 mm ammunition, and a .45 caliber ammunition.
The judge said Joavan failed to present any proof that the police officer had ill motive and hatred to frame up the accused of the crime.
“It is the opinion of this court that the search on the person of the accused made by PO1 Campomanes after accused Fernandez was arrested was valid,” Peras said.
He said he was dumbfounded as to why the defense did not present the woman who was with Joavan when the latter was arrested.
“The inescapable conclusion would be that if this woman had been presented in court, she could not corroborate the claim (of the accused) of innocence,” Peras said.
The judge said the grenade in Joavan’s possession was so dangerous that it could blow at least the size of a medium-sized house.
Based on the Firearms Information Management System of the Philippine National Police, Joavan was not among the licensed or registered firearm or explosive holder. The Commission on Elections, through its legal officer Enerio Ocariza, also stated that Joavan has not applied for and was not granted an exemption from the gun ban for the 2013 elections.
When he testified in court, Joavan denied the accusations leveled against him.
He said he was waiting for his father to arrive at the latter’s house when three policemen arrived, pointed their guns at him, told him not to move.
Joavan said the police officers frisked him but found nothing. He said he was brought to the Talisay City Police Station where he was accused of possessing a hand grenade, gun, and ammunition.
He said the items allegedly recovered from him were “planted” by the police officers led by Supt. Elmer Lim, then Talisay City police chief.
Joavan has been detained at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center for nearly three years in relation to the charges of illegal possession of explosives, a non-bailable offense.
While Joavan now has four convictions, at least four other cases filed against him ended in acquittal or dismissal.
In 2008, the court acquitted Joavan of a murder charge for the death of a public utility jeep driver in Talisay in 2006.
In 2014, he was also cleared of a drug case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). In August 2015, he was acquitted of another drug case filed by the police.
A month after, the court dismissed a case of frustrated murder against Joavan after the complainant, a car shop watchman whom the accused allegedly shot in 2013, withdrew the charges he filed against the adopted son of Councilor Fernandez.
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