Monday, May 08, 2006


Sec. Raul Gonzalez, whose legal opinions have been rebuffed by theSupreme Court thrice this month and recently by Solicitor GeneralEduardo Nachura, must be retired by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.The government has been suffering massive legal setbacks due in partto the adventurist legal opinions of its voluble Justice Secretary.

Sec. Gonzalez Wrong: Solgen Benipayo Right

Instead of claiming victory Pres. Gloria Arroyo has to now admitdefeat in the three recent decisions of the Supreme Court on CPR, EO464 and Proclamation 1017 cases. And for that, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez who served as her main legal adviser must go, for allowingher to go on with her plans to impose CPR, EO 464 and PP 1017. It isunfortunate that Pres. Arroyo chose to let go of Solicitor GeneralAlfredo Benipayo. The Supreme Court found Benipayo's legal position inProclamation 1017 correct—the proclamation was constitutional but theimplementation was unconstitutional.Sec. Gonzalez was recently rebuffed by the Arroyo government when itdisagreed with his excited and ecstatic 'legal opinion' to ask for theextradition of Michael Ray Aquino and prosecute those involved in theAragoncillo case. He was strongly rebuffed in his attempt to havethe Batasan 5 arrested which would have been politically costly forthe Arroyo government.

Beyond his Functions

Sec. Gonzalez has been overstepping his functions, which should notonly be a cause for concern for the executive branch but also a causefor embarrassment. The Functions of the Department of Justice and itsSecretary are enumerated in its government website( as:

Department of Justice - POWERS AND FUNCTIONS
•Act as the principal law agency of the government and as legalcounsel and representative thereof, whenever so required;
•Investigate the commission of crimes, prosecute offenders andadminister the probation and correction systems;
•Extend free legal assistance/representation to indigents and poorlitigants in criminal cases and non-commercial civil disputes, andother litigations;
•Preserve the integrity of land titles through proper registration;
•Investigate and arbitrate untitled land disputes involving smalllandowners and members of indigenous cultural communities;
•Provide immigration and naturalization regulatory services andimplement laws governing citizenship and the admission and stay ofaliens;
•Provide legal services to the national government and itsfunctionaries and their subsidiaries.

Nowhere in these functions does it provide that the JusticeSecretary has to provide advance legal opinion to the media anddiscuss government policies in public. Sec. Gonzalez has committedacts that are ultra vires, and has trampled on the functions of theExecutive Secretary, Press Secretary, the Presidential Spokesman, theSolicitor General and even the spokespersons of the AFP and the PNP.Due to his voluble opinions on the Batasan 5, the government has tobacktrack once more and admit that they cannot arrest the Batasan 5without a warrant.

Baseless and Warrantless Arrest of Batasan 5

Sec. Gonzalez showed his lack of legal expertise when he filed asubstantially and fatally defective amended complaint before theMakati Regional Trial Court. He has been substantially out ofpractice that he failed to notice the Revised Rules of Court whichprovides under Rule 110 Sec 14 that:Sec. 14 Amendment or Substitution—A Complaint or Information maybeamended in form or in substance without leave of court and when in canbe done, without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.

The Amended Complaint he filed with the RTC added voluminousdocuments and evidence that have no relevance to the offense charged,changed the theory of the case and substantially constituted a newoffense which is extremely prejudicial to the rights of the accused.He cannot therefore threaten the judge for following the Rules ofCourt. Since there is no case against the Batasan 5, there can be nowarrant for their arrest.

His opinion that the Batasan 5 can be arrested without warrant hasalso placed Malacanang in a bind, since such can only be executed ifthe suspect is committing or about to commit a crime in the presenceof the authorities or they have personal knowledge that a crime hasbeen committed by the accused as defined in Sec. 5, Rule 113 of theRevised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

None of the affidavits submittedby the DOJ to the RTC came from any police officer who claims to havesuch personal knowledge. In fact the affidavit of the previously hooded Mr. Fuentes, a civilian informer of the AFP, was about asupposed meeting by the CPP-NPA in 1992 when some of the accusedincluding Rep. Teddy Casino and Nat Santiago were in their teens!Experienced lawyers, if they have more current evidence, will alwayssubmit the latest evidence. The fact that the DOJ submitted a 1992affidavit shows that they have no evidence at all that is at least of2001 vintage when Bayan Muna started as a political party.

Considering the spate of legal defeats by the government, and Sec.Gonzalez refusal to resign, CODAL urges Pres. Arroyo to retire Sec.Raul Gonzalez from his post as Secretary of Justice.

Reference : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares—Spokesperson
Date : 8 May 2006


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