Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Men on motorcycles currently tailing the movements of CODAL lawyer: CODAL reiterates call for an End to the Attacks and Justice for the Victims!

CODAL denounces in the strongest terms the harassment and surveillance targeting one of its members. The lawyer’s identity is being withheld in the meantime for personal and security reasons. Since last week, men on motorcycles have been tailing the whereabouts of this lawyer by visiting the latter’s home and interrogating neighbors about the lawyer’s schedule.

Yesterday, two men also visited the home of one of this lawyer’s clients, who was away at the time. The men, however, demanded to know if the client and the lawyer were together at a hearing and wanted to know the location of said hearing. The client believes that the lawyer is the real target of these men.

A staunch defender of the rights of the poor, the lawyer has served as a counsel for workers and peasants. Only last year, the lawyer was harassed by an armed man who pretended to be a client. Now, with men on motorcycles aggressively trying to locate this lawyer, a very grave and imminent threat is posed on our colleague’s life.

Given the current pattern in the killing of activists, journalists, churchpeople and lawyers, CODAL expresses serious alarm about this threat on the safety and well-being of its member. It is ironic that CODAL, which was formed originally as the Committee for the Defense of Lawyers to protest the attacks on members of the legal profession and protect them from such attacks, is being targeted itself.

The impunity that surrounds the hundreds of human rights violations under the Arroyo regime and the almost daily killings has serious implications on the practice of the legal profession and the administration of justice, as lawyers who passionately defend human rights are themselves being targeted by death squads.

Since January 2006, CODAL has recorded at least six cases of serious harassment and threats on lawyers, one serious physical attack against one of the impeachment lawyers, and a total of three lawyers brutally killed: Atty. Carlo Magno Umingga, a member of the Pangasinan People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB); Prosecutor Godofredo Pacenio, Jr. in Agusan Del Norte; and Atty. Rogelio Montero in Bulacan. Four lawyers and three judges were killed in 2004 while seven lawyers and one judge were killed in 2005. CODAL also recorded 12 cases of non-fatal attacks including 2 cases of frustrated murders against lawyers in 2005.

CODAL reiterates its call on the international community, especially law groups in the United States and Europe, to condemn these attacks and pressure their governments to withdraw support from the current Arroyo administration in light of its abysmal human rights record.

Reference : Atty. Neri Colmenares, Spokesperson
Date : 31 May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


CODAL is seriously concerned over the Executive department’s continuing disrespect for the judiciary and the legislature. The failure of AFP and PNP officials to appear in the Congressional investigation on the warrantless arrest of the “Erap 5” supporters is not only an attack against the Senate but the Supreme Court as well.

The Supreme Court has unanimously declared EO 464 unconstitutional and principles of good faith and equity dictate that the said executive order be accorded no legal effect unless the Supreme Court reverses its decision upon motion for reconsideration of the government. PNP and AFP officers are therefore administratively and criminally liable for refusing to appear in the Senate investigation. The refusal of Pres. Arroyo to allow her subordinates to attend senate hearings shows bad faith, a strong evidence that she committed the impeachable offense of culpable violation of the Constitution in issuing and implementing EO 464. Not only did she impose a series of unconstitutional policies but continue to impose them despite being unanimously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Continuing Cover-up in the Political Killings

The refusal of Pres. Arroyo in accepting responsibility, at least in resolving the killing of militants, and shifting the blame to the rebels absent any evidence of the same show further disrespect to the intelligence of the Filipino people. CODAL condemns the murder of Noli Capulong, the brother of CODAL member Atty. Emil Capulong, as another proof of the executive’s intolerance of any form of dissent. The PNP and the AFP cannot claim CPP-purge as the culprit in the escalating violence on the following grounds:

There are evidence and witnesses that point to the government as the perpetrators of these crimes. Witnesses have for example directly identified AFP personnel such as Lt. Wilbert Basquinas and Gen. Jovito Palparan as responsible for the abduction of a Bayan Muna supporter in Samar. There are many more direct eyewitnesses in other cases now pending before the courts or the CHR. The government has not presented any witness to disprove these except to deny knowledge or responsibility.

The PNP or AFP has not presented any evidence or motive to prove their claims of a CPP purge. Innuendos and leap in conclusions based on the previously reported CPP killings way back in 1992 cannot be the basis of such conclusion in any court of law. On the other hand, the fact that ALL the victims and their relatives point to the government as culprits while not one of the victims point to the CPP as the culprits, is substantial proof of government culpability in any court.

Despite charges and cases filed against AFP personnel since 2001 regarding the political killings, they have not claimed CPP purge as their defense. They have only claimed it, as an afterthought, after the political killings were publicized recently. If the CPP was responsible for the killings since 2001, it is impossible for the government not to have found out or even claim such findings in their investigations.

The pattern and modus operandi of the killers point to the government as perpetrators. Firstly, the victims, including the party list groups, were publicly condemned by government as communists or ‘enemies of the state’. Secondly, the target is subjected to intense surveillance by persons identified by witnesses and victims themselves as military personnel. Thirdly, the killing is done with impunity, at times near military camps, with the perpetrators showing no fear of being arrested. Fourthly, the failure of government institutions to investigate and prosecute the killers despite demand for government action. In fact, Pres. Arroyo has failed to condemns the killings until now, despite being pressed by the victims to do so since 2001. It is impossible for the CPP to have so much power as to conduct these daring killings of more than 600 victims for five years all over the country with the police not having any leads or suspects, much less cases filed in court.

CODAL clarifies that circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict an accused if the same is corroborated by other circumstantial evidence. In the case of political killins, there are direct and circumstantial evidence pointing to government responsibility.
Disrespect of the judiciary and breakdown of law and order

CODAL finds the Executive Branch’s continuing disrespect of Congress and the Supreme Court alarming as it virtually destroys the checks-and-balance principle of the Constitution through the three co-equal branches of government.

The refusal of executive officials to attend the Senate investigation, despite the Supreme Court’s declaration that EO 464 is unconstitutional further highlights the danger of another constitutional crisis, this time between the Executive on one hand and both the Senate and the Supreme Court on the other.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, BIR Commissioner Jose Bunag and Trade Secretary Peter Favila, PNP and AFP officials who all disregarded Senate summons to attend a hearing, are liable under Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code which states that :

Art. 150—The penalty of arresto mayor…shall be imposed upon any person who, having been duly summoned by Congress, its special or standing committees, subcommittees or before any committee chairman or member authorized to summon witnesses, REFUSES, without legal excuse, (i) to obey such summons or being present before any such legislative or constitutional body..(iii) to answer any legal inquiry or to produce papers, documents or records in his possession.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who shall …induce disobedience to a summons…

Pres. Arroyo’s and her subordinates’ continuing refusal to follow the Supreme Court decision
makes them criminally liable under Article 231 and Article 241 of the Revised Penal Code, for openly disobeying the orders of the Constitution and the Supreme Court decisions in EO 464:

Art. 231. Open disobedience. - Any judicial or executive officer who shall openly refuse to execute the judgment, decision or order of any superior authority made within the scope of the jurisdiction of the latter and issued with all the legal formalities, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification in its maximum period and a fine not

Art. 241. Usurpation of judicial functions. - The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any officer of the executive branch of the Government who … shall obstruct the execution of any order or decision rendered by any judge within his jurisdiction

CODAL is concerned that the Executive continues to insist that the people follow the rule of law, while allowing its officials to violate the very rule of law they vow to impose on the people.

CODAL is alarmed at the Executive department’s arrogance, unaccountability and complete disregard of the orders of the Supreme Court and the Senate, all of which were legally and constitutionally issued. We ask the Supreme Court and the Senate to hold these officials in contempt subject to the filing of criminal and administrative cases against them, in order to recover that respect for the checks-and-balance principles under the Constitution and at the same time protect the people’s right to information and expression.

CODAL is inviting lawyers from all over the country to help out in its “Project Battle Impunity” which will list all possible cases against various government officials, particularly the AFP and PNP, and file the same in court. It asks lawyers to give pro-bono services in the prosecution of these officials criminally, civilly and administratively in various tribunals in the hope of battling the culture of impunity perpetrated by these unbridled political killings.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares--Spokesperson
Date : 30 May 2006

Friday, May 26, 2006

Solution to Escalating Human Rights Violation : Serious Government Prosecution of Perpetrators, Not arming victims

CODAL expresses alarm over the escalation of political assassinations, including the killing of members of the legal profession. CODAL recorded for this year a total of three lawyers killed and six cases of serious harassment and threats, including one serious physical attack against one of the impeachment lawyers this year. Four lawyers and three judges were killed in 2004 while seven lawyers and one judge were killed in 2005. CODAL also recorded 12 cases of non-fatal attacks including 2 cases of frustrated murders against lawyers in 2005. These attacks were the subject of a manifesto signed by hundreds of lawyers nationwide submitted by CODAL to Pres. Gloria Arroyo last year urging her to condemn the attacks and take immediate action. Until now, Pres. Arroyo has not addressed the issue of attacks against lawyers even if she promised then Chief Justice Hilario Davide of speedy action on the attacks against judges.

Many lawyers such as Atty. Romy Capulong and Atty. Ruel Pulido were also the subject of threats of criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice this year for merely advocating for their clients. Most of the victims were human rights lawyers who filed charges against members of the AFP and PNP for human rights violations. CODAL denounces the continued killing and harassment of members of the legal profession and the climate of impunity both of which constitutes a clear and present danger to the legal profession and the administration of justice.

Three Lawyer Casualties in 2006

Three lawyers have been brutally killed since January 2006. Atty. Carlo Magno Umingga, a member of the Pangasinan People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) was shot and killed on April 14 this year in an attack which also seriously injured his wife. Investigation disclosed that Atty. Umingga earned the ire of many policemen due to his work with the PLEB. CODAL was also informed of the brutal killing of Atty. Rogelio Montero in Bulacan also in April. Prosecutor Godofredo Pacenio, Jr. was shot dead on March 31, 2006 in Agusan Del Norte.

Role of Government under the United Nations

CODAL hopes that the inclusion of lawyers as human rights victims in the 2006 Amnesty International (AI) report will spur the speedy investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

The AI Report highlighted the case of Atty. Felidito Dacut, member of the Board of Directors of IBP Leyte and a Bayan Muna national council member who was shot dead by two unidentified men on a motorbike in Tacloban city, Leyte on March 14, 2005. CODAL notes that Atty. Dacut was regarded in his community as a consistent defender of the poor who had condemned the heightened militarization in Leyte and an active member of the IBP. His murder remains unsolved.

According to Paragraph 18 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eight United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1990) “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of the discharge of their functions.” The Philippine government is required to protect lawyers under Paragraph 16 of the above Principles which declares that “governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and consult with their clients freely; (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic and other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”

These continued attacks on lawyers and judges are key indicators of the abysmal human rights situation in our country and the inability of the government to protect its own citizens. By simply practicing their profession and handling human rights and labor cases, many “public interest” lawyers are being subjected to brazen attacks. These attacks have grave ramifications on the ability of citizens to have adequate access to legal services. CODAL emphasizes that the escalating attacks against lawyers are ultimately attacks on the legal profession as they impact on the independence and integrity of the practice of law.

CODAL is concerned about the government suggestion to media people, and presumably to militants and lawyers, to arm themselves in light of these attacks. The duty to protect the people and prosecute criminals is the task of government and privatizing security by shifting the responsibility to the targets will not solve the problem and the proliferation of guns nationwide may even exacerbate the situation.

With the AI 2006 report, CODAL reiterates its request for international lawyers groups to express concern over the impunity with which assassins kill militants, lawyers and journalists and the government’s inability or unwillingness to seriously investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.

Reference : Atty. Neri Colmenares, Spokesperson
Date : May 26, 2006

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

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

Sunday, May 07, 2006

THREATS TO ARREST BATASAN 5: The Executive's Continuing Disrespect forthe Judiciary

May 7 Statement

The recent rulings of the Supreme Court on EO 464, CPR andProclamation 1017 highlighted the "three tendencies" that definesPres. Gloria Arroyo's presidency:

Firstly, the fact that all three of her major policy actions weredeclared by the Supreme Court unconstitutional in whole or in part,showed that the Executive department has the tendency to violate theConstitution. The fact that the Supreme Court decisions in the CPRand EO 464 issues were unanimous with not one Associate Justicedissenting, showed that the Pres. Arroyo's actions were clearly andundoubtedly unconstitutional. The lopsided 11-3 decision onProclamation 1017 further affirmed that the presidential actionsshould have been perceived as unconstitutional by Pres. Arroyo and herlegal advisers long before they promulgated these policies.

Secondly, the decisions show the tendency of the Executive to usurplegislative power through executive orders while attacking thelegislative functions of Congress. The Calibrated PreemptiveResponse (CPR) policy was found unconstitutional because it seeks toamend a law by replacing "maximum tolerance" with the CPR. EO 464 wasfound unconstitutional for violating Congress' constitutional functionto conduct inquiry in aid of legislation. Proclamation 1017'sprovisions on take over of businesses without a law, the presidentialpower to issue laws in the guise of "decrees" and its definition ofterrorism as a crime even if Congress has yet to approve the bill wereall considered ultra vires, beyond the powers of the president, as itencroaches on the law making powers of Congress.

Thirdly, the decisions showed the tendency of the Executive to use public office to politically persecute dissenters and members of theopposition. The series of unconstitutional acts showed malice as itis incomprehensible that Pres. Arroyo with her coterie of legaladvisers could have made such blatantly substantial mistakes, not oncebut thrice. As aptly stated by the Court, the executive hascontinuously tested the limits of the Constitution by expanding herpowers and playing with fire—fire that may burn down the country inthe end if left unchecked. By willfully using government office andresources to prosecute her personal opponents, Pres. Arroyo hascommitted culpable violation of the Constitution, another impeachableoffense.

Attack against the Judiciary

There is now a new tendency exhibited by the executive through itsJustice Secretary and the Philippine National Police: disrespect forthe judiciary and adverse judicial decisions.

Rather than admitting defeat or mistakes in the preparation of theircases, the statements of executive officials like Sec. Raul Gonzalez,showed total disrespect for the judiciary. The Justice Secretary haslost all the major cases he has presided over including thoseinvolving the Batasan 5 and even the TRO against the peoplesinitiative in his native island of Panay. He, together with Gen.Vidal Querol, has consistently vowed to disobey the Supreme Courtruling on PP 1017 by maintaining that they will continue to prosecuteProf. Randy David and the Batasan 5.

DOJ and PNP personnel involved in any attempt to arrest members ofthe Batasan 5 despite the decisions of the Supreme Court and that ofthe Makati Regional Trial Court quashing the criminal complaints filedagainst them, are criminally liable under Article 231 and Article 241of the Revised Penal Code, for openly disobeying the orders of theConstitution and decisions of the judiciary:

Art. 231. Open disobedience. - Any judicial or executive officer who shall openly refuse to execute the judgment, decision or orderof any superior authority made within the scope of the jurisdictionof the latter and issued with all the legal formalities, shall sufferthe penalties of arresto mayor in its medium period to prisioncorreccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualificationin its maximum period and a fine not

Art. 241. Usurpation of judicial functions. - The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimumperiod shall be imposed upon any officer of the executive branch of the Government who … shall obstruct the execution of any order ordecision rendered by any judge within his jurisdiction The DOJ may use court processes such as motions for reconsiderationor appeal if they do not agree to a court decision, but may notblatantly disregard such decisions. It must be noted that convictionunder this provisions results in the disqualification from holdingelective or appointive public office.

Batasan Five Cannot be Arrested: There is no Case and No Warrant

The Art. III, Sec. 2 of the Constitution states that:

Sec. 2 The right of the people to be secure …against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for whatever purposeshall be inviolable, and no warrant of arrest shall issue except uponprobable cause to be determined by the judge…

Since the Constitution requires a warrant, any arrest of the Batasan5 will only come "upon the filing of an Information in a RegionalTrial Court" as provided under Rule 112 Section 6 of the RevisedRules on Criminal Procedure.

Since the Makati RTC has dismissed the amended complaint filed by theDepartment of Justice, no warrant of arrest shall issue and thereforethe threats of Sec. Gonzalez to arrest the Batasan 5 has no legal orfactual basis. If arrested, the government may again court reversalfrom the Supreme Court for another violation of the Constitution,thereby increasing the government's losing streak.

Sec. Gonzalez cannot arrest the Batasan Five without warrant since Rule 113 Section 5 on Warrantless Arrest of the Revised Rules onCriminal Procedure provides:

Sec. 5 Arrest without warrant: when lawful—A peace officer or aprivate person may, without warrant, arrest a person:

(a) when, in his presence, the person to be arrested is actuallycommitting or attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable causeto believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances thatthe person to be arrested has committed it; x x x

Sec. Gonzalez or any of the officers cannot claim to have personalknowledge or even a reasonable ground to believe that a crime has beencommitted and that any of the Batasan 5 have committed it.Definitely, no PNP or DOJ personnel can claim that the Batasan 5 havecommitted crimes in their presence.

Protective Custody Continues

Even if the Batasan 5 leaves the premises of the House ofRepresentatives, the protective custody continues and police attemptsto arrest them will not only make the PNP liable under currentcriminal laws but also for contempt of Congress. Resolution 1169expressly provides that the protective custody continues 'until awarrant of arrest' is issued. Statements by Speaker Jose de Venecia and the House leadership highlights the scope of the protection—until and unless a warrant is issued, the protective custody for the Batasan5 remains. PNP and DOJ personnel executing an unlawful warrantlessarrest will not only violate the Supreme Court decision onProclamation 1017 but will open them to criminal and administrativeliability.

Government repression against dissenters and its correspondingleniency to its allies charged with corruption or human rightsviolations show a pattern of political persecution which is notcongruent with Section 18 (1) Article III of the Constitution whichprovides that: " No person shall be detained solely by reason of hispolitical beliefs and aspirations". It is also violative ofanti-graft laws and the Revised Penal Code.

Political Persecution

Executive officials are criminally and administratively liable iftheir actions were intended for 'political persecution' of dissenters. Sec. 4 of RA 6713 requires that :Sec. 4 (A) Every public officials shall observe the followingstandards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution ofofficial duties: x x x

[ b ] Professionalism—Public officials shall perform and dischargetheir duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism,intelligence and skill. …they shall discourage wrong perceptions oftheir role as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.

[ c ] They must act with justness and sincerity and shall notdiscriminate against anyone… They shall at all times respect therights of others and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law…

[ d ] Political neutrality—Public officials shall provide services toeveryone without unfair discrimination and regardless of partyaffiliation or preferences.

[g ] Public officials shall commit themselves to the democratic wayof life and values, maintain principles of public accountability, andmanifest by deeds the supremacy of civilian authority over themilitary. They shall at all times uphold the Constitution and putloyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party.

The fact that Sec. Gonzalez admits that he did not order theinvestigation of Jocelyn Bolante because there is 'no pendingcomplaint against him before me " at the DOJ, while at the same timeinvestigating a student that heckled Pres. Arroyo in Cavite is proofof the political bias exhibited by the executive department,considering that there is actually no pending case against thatstudent. The executive's undue interest in investigating andarresting the Batasan 5, even prejudging their guilt before apreliminary investigation is completed, while showing a complete lackof interest in AFP Generals reportedly involved in election fraud isone more proof of such bias, a prohibited act under Philippine laws.


The Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional warrantless arrestconducted during Proclamation 1017. There is no judicial order orwarrant ordering the arrest and detention of the Batasan 5 and Rep.Crispin Beltran. In fact, information filed against them by the DOJhave been dismissed by both the Quezon City and now, the MakatiRegional Trial Courts.

The Constitution and the Rules of Court prohibit their arrest andcontinued detention. There is, therefore, no legal or factual basisfor their arrest or detention. The continued harassment of thepolitical opposition is an impeachable offense against Pres. Arroyo.Pres. Arroyo's subordinates are themselves criminally, civilly andadministratively liable under various Philippine laws.

Pres. Arroyo and her subordinates are liable, most especially, for agrave and serious offense against the Filipino people—betrayal ofpublic trust, for which they will ultimately be held accountable.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Spokesperson
Date : 7 May 2006