Ombudsman dismisses cases filed vs. ex-sulu governor

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (With a report from Joseph Zosobrado)

SULU - Ombudsman Conchita Morales has dismissed all charges filed against former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan by his political foe in connection to the declaration of state of emergency in the province in 2009.

Morales recently signed the dismissal order of cases filed by complainant Temogen Tulawie, alias Cocoy Tulawie, against Tan on September 9 this year.

Tulawie filed the complaint against Tan on November 16 last year for violation of Section 3(c) Republic Act Number 3019 - Usurpation of Authority or Official Function (Art.177, Revised Penal Code); and for Violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA No. 6713).

Information on the charges stated that on March 31, 2009, Tan issued Proclamation Number 1, declaring state of emergency in Sulu following the January 15, 2009 kidnapping by the Abu Sayyaf of 3 members of the International Committee of the Red Cross - Swiss national Andreas Notter, Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Filipina Jean Lacaba – after visiting a jail facility in Patikul town in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

The victims were eventually freed by the Abu Sayyaf.

Tan’s declaration of state of emergency allowed police and military to arrest suspected Abu Sayyaf members or their supporters without a warrant from the court. It was also supported by Sulu’s mayors and the public.

In his allegations, Tulawie said 8 people had been arrested by authorities without warrants and that he personally documented 20 more people arrested similarly.

The declaration of state of emergency by Tan in his capacity then as governor of Sulu was eventually declared null and void by the Supreme Court.

In dismissing the cases, the Ombudsman said there is no probable cause for both cases. When contacted for his reaction, Tan - a known philanthropist and respected political leader in Mindanao - said that he appreciates the relatively speedy disposition by the Ombudsman which strengthens further his confidence in the justice system.

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