Court throws out Leviste’s bail request

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A Makati City court has thrown out the petition of the Department of Justice to cancel the bail of former Batangas Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste, who is charged for murder.

“Mere conjectures, inferences, speculations and conclusions” said Judge Elmo Alameda of Regional Trial Court Branch 150, describing the arguments of the justice prosecution panel in appealing the decision that allowed Leviste to post a P300,000 bond for his temporary liberty.

Alameda maintained that the panel led by Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco failed to present sufficient evidence to foreclose the former governor’s right to bail.

“After a thorough evaluation of the arguments proffered and the cases cited by the prosecution in its attempts to support its arguments, the court still finds them insufficient to warrant a reconsideration of the questioned order,” Alameda said in dismissing the motion for reconsideration.

Leviste, estranged husband of Senator Loren Legarda, is facing trial for allegedly shooting to death his long-time aide Rafael de las Alas inside his office in Legaspi Village last Jan. 12.

After a series of hearings, the court found he was entitled to post bail.

Velasco insisted that the bail should have been withdrawn and Leviste returned to detention since he was facing murder, a non-bailable offense under Philippine law.

He argued that the three elements of murder—treachery, evident premeditation and cruelty—were evident in the commission of the crime.

Velasco stressed that the number and location of the victim proved that the case was not a simple homicide as the defense sought to show.

“What appears in the record is that during the bail hearing, prosecution failed to establish that treachery, evident premeditation and cruelty attended the commission of the crime charged in the information which led the court to grant bail to the accused,” Alameda ruled.

The judge also stressed that his May 21 order granting Leviste’s petition for bail merely tackled the accused’s evidence of guilt without direct reference to either murder or homicide case.

“Nowhere in the questioned order did the court rule that the crime committed by the accused on the basis of the evidence presented by the prosecution during the bail hearing is that of homicide or murder.”

Leviste admitted having gunned down De las Alas but claimed it was self-defense as the victim tried to pull out a gun at the time.

Witnesses said the two were arguing over financial matters when the shooting took place.

Leviste was earlier charged with homicide but the prosecution conducted a re-investigation and upgraded the case to murder.