Friday, May 12, 2006


CODAL expresses its alarmed at the pressure exerted by government on the judiciary which has already resulted in the decision of Batasan 5 judge to inhibit herself from the case. Government, through its Justice Secretary, cannot threaten judges every time it losses a case in court.

Lawyers groups express their respect for judges who had the courage to issue decisions contrary to government position, particularly the RTC judges who refused to downgrade the rape charges against US soldiers, who dismissed the rebellion charges against the Batasan Five and who issued a TRO on the unconstitutional peoples initiative.

The decision of Judge Benjamin Pozon merely followed the jurisprudence on conspiracy by refusing to follow the DOJ theory that the other soldiers were not part of the rape because they were merely cheering on while the principal accused was raping the complainant. The Supreme Court has convicted many conspirators as principals for merely serving as lookouts in a crime, and the DOJ cannot downgrade the act of ‘cheering’ during a rape incident to a nebulous “co-accused” lower than a principal conspirator. The statement of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez that “this judge [Pozon] is against the government," is a clear contempt of the RTC court which must be dealt with by the judiciary.

CODAL also hails the independence of Judge Jenny Delorino for her courageous decision to dismiss the Amended Complaint against the Batasan Five despite government prejudgment of their guilt. Judge Delorino’s decision was based on the Rules of Court since the amended complaint filed by the DOJ substantially ‘expanded’ the original complaint to the prejudice of the accused who will then face a new charge. The additional five witnesses in the amended complaint did not submit their affidavits, nor were they mentioned in the preliminary investigation, which is surely prejudicial to the rights the accused in this case as the accused would not have included this in their counter-affidavits. Furthermore, the failure of Sec. Gonzalez to attach the affidavits of their witnesses in the amended complaint was a violation, not only of Sec. 8, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court but also of the DOJs own Department Circular 15 dated 19 April 1991.

This amateurish lapse in trial preparation by the DOJ is to blame for the dismissal and not supposed ‘bias’ of the judge. The Motion for Inhibition filed by Sec. Gonzalez is certainly without basis.

Lawyers are dismayed that Judge Delorino has inhibited herself from the case. In the case of Espinosa vs. Kho, the Supreme Court through Justice Santiago Kapunan, has disapproved the inhibition of a good judge from the case, merely because his integrity was questioned by a party. CODAL hopes that the judges decision will be overturned by the Supreme Court.

CODAL also commends the timely action of Judge Edward Contreras of Roxas City RTC Branch 17 for issuing a TRO on the peoples initiative conducted in Capiz. In his decision, Judge Contreras said the verification process was an exercise in “futility” and was “contemptuous” as it ran counter to the Supreme Court ruling in Santiago vs. Comelec.

CODAL requests lawyers groups and IBP chapters to encourage judges in various RTCs throughout the country by striking out independent decisions and nullify verification of signatures in the highly illegal peoples initiative.

CODAL urges Sec. Gonzalez to refrain from threatening judges and calling them ‘anti-government’ every time he losses a case. He can comment on the cases without the used of threatening words. We ask the DOJ to carefully prepare and judiciously decide on cases before them to avoid similar legal setbacks in the future. We ask judges of the maligned RTCs to initiate proceedings to hold Sec. Gonzalez in contempt of their respective courts under Sec. 4, Rule 71 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Reference : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares—Spokesperson
Date : 12 May 2006


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6:09 AM  

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