Ilocos fiscal dismisses theft charges vs. UNP campus newshen

VIGAN CITY — A Vigan City prosecutor dismissed the theft charges filed against a student journalist of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP).

According to the Resolution signed by City Prosecutor Dedicacion Banua, the Criminal Complaint for Theft filed by . Nolito Ragunjan, coordinator for Student Publications of UNP-Vigan, was dismissed because the City Prosecutor’s Office finds no probable cause to hold Ma. Criselda Diocena for trial.

Said court resolution stated that the “taking” referred to in Art.308 of the Revised Penal Code, must be accompanied by the intention, at the time of the taking, of withholding the thing with some character of permanency.

“So if the taking is momentary as when the purpose of the offender is to return the things to the owner when he was apprehended, intent to gain is not present,” the resolution noted citing People vs. Visconde 75 Phil. 520.

Ragunjan charged Diocena and Rafal, editor-in-chief of Tandem and former student regent respectively, of robbery before the complaint was amended to theft charged solely to Diocena.

Intent to gain

The resolution upheld the stand of Diocena that she has the unlimited access to the Student Resource Center (SRC) where the alleged Central Processing Unit (CPU) is located.

“It is settled that the allegedly missing CPU is with the SRC of UNP and had been there since the report that the same was missing.” The resolution stated, and added that, “It was removed from one office only to be transferred to another office of the same University. Meaning, it is still within the custody of the University and not transferred to anybody, it is within the control and free disposal of the University.”

The resolution stressed that the elements of intent to gain and unlawful taking could “hardly be inferred”.

According to the Revised Penal Code, Theft has the following elements: a) Intent of gain; b) Unlawful taking; c) Personal property belonging to another; d) Absence of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things; and e) without the consent of the owner.

Persecution campaign

Human Rights groups in Ilocos welcomed the decision of the City Prosecutor’s Office. In a joint statement issued by Tanggulan Youth Network for the Advancement of Human Rights and Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA), said that the decision only showed that attempts to hide the truth would succeed.

However, they dismissed the thought that the harassments will stop.

These fabricated cases are meant to persecute the students fighting for the rights of the students. The statement noted stating that the dismissal of Diocena does not end the continuing persecution among student activists.

“As part of the educational system that is commercialized, colonial and fascist, it is expected that they will continue their vilification campaign against Diocena, Pelayo among others to demoralize the students in asserting their rights,” the statement stressed.

Diocena for her part, also welcomed the prosecutor’s decision, however, she feared that another trumped up charges are yet to come.

“According to Office of Student Affairs (OSA), there is still a pending case against me,” Diocena lamented. “With this continuing repression, my future is at stake,” she said.

As this developed, Diocena and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) lobbied the issue to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and rallied in front of CHED’s national office last week to call for the reopening of Tandem and to stop campus press freedom violations committed by the UNP administration. # Rod Tajon(NorDis)

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