Thursday, June 22, 2017

BusinessWorld | CoA report shows 511% increase in inmates amid drug war




"x x x.

By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral, Reporter
CoA report shows 511% increase in inmates amid drug war
Posted on June 17, 2017

AMID the government’s drug war, the number of prisoners has swelled to 126,946 as of December 2016, according to a report by the Commission on Audit (CoA).

This is a 511% increase in congestion that way exceeds the said ideal cell capacity of 20,746.

According to the CoA’s annual report on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) released on June 15, the total number of inmates was up by 30,544 as of Dec. 31, 2016 from the year before.

The audit body added that the 511% hike in the congestion rate led to “unhealthy living conditions (among) the inmates” which “did not conform” with the BJMP Manual and the United Nations (UN) Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

“The jail populations for the year increased in various months (and this is) attributed to the increase in the number of drug-related cases in the country as well as the court’s slow or no action on the pending cases due to lack of judges, postponement of hearings and the slow disposition of criminal cases that carry the penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,” the CoA said in its audit.

As CoA’s top recommendation, government auditors called on BJMP to “implement immediately” the construction of more jail facilities and the search for possible “lot donations” from the local government units for additional jail sites.

The CoA added that BJMP’s implementation of the Recognizance Act and Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) -- which allows the reduction of time served by inmates -- must be intensified to decongest the country’s prisons.

The review also showed that jails in Region 3 -- where 12,490 inmates share space built for only 1,178 inmates for a congestion rate of 961% -- are in the worst condition.

On the other hand, jails in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where a total ideal capacity of 275 houses 278 inmates, recorded the lowest congestion rate at 1%.

“Other reason (sic) of increased (sic) of jail populations are the non-movement or non-release on bail of detainees due to poverty. Some cases were bailable but detainees who are below poverty line cannot afford to post bail so they were stocked in the jails,” state auditors also said.

“Moreover, lots where some jail buildings were constructed were of limited space, hence, construction or expansions horizontally of the said buildings may not be possible,” they added.

CoA also criticized three construction projects by BJMP which have remained uncompleted for more than 16 years now; three projects completed beyond the contract time; and nine ongoing projects that were not completed within the period set in the contract.

x x x."

The long fight to protect the Philippines' domestic workers

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Probation; multiple offenses in one decision.


PABLO C. FRANCISCO vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND THE HONORABLE MAXIMO C. CONTRERAS, G.R. No. 108747, April 6, 1995.

“X x x.

Second. At the outset, the penalties imposed by the MeTC were already probationable. Hence, there was no need to appeal if only to reduce the penalties to within the probationable period. Multiple prison terms imposed against an accused found guilty of several offenses in one decision are not, and should not be, added up. And, the sum of the multiple prison terms imposed against an applicant should not be determinative of his eligibility for, nay his disqualification from, probation. The multiple prison terms are distinct from each other, and if none of the terms exceeds the limit set out in the Probation Law,i.e., not more than six (6) years, then he is entitled to probation, unless he is otherwise specifically disqualified. The number of offenses is immaterial as long as all the penalties imposed, taken separately, are within the probationable period. For, Sec. 9, par. (a), P.D. 968, as amended, uses the word maximum not total when it says that "[t]he benefits of this Decree shall not be extended to those . . . . sentenced to serve a maximum term of imprisonment of more than six years." Evidently, the law does not intend to sum up the penalties imposed but to take each penalty separately and distinctly with the others. Consequently, even if petitioner was supposed to have served his prison term of one (1) year and one (1) day to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional sixteen (16) times as he was sentenced to serve the prison term for "each crime committed on each date of each case, as alleged in the information(s)," and in each of the four (4) informations, he was charged with.having defamed the four (4) private complainants on four (4) different, separate days, he was still·eligible for probation, as each prison term imposed on petitioner was probationable.

Fixing the cut-off point at a maximum term of six (6) years imprisonment for probation is based on the assumption that those sentenced to higher penalties pose too great a risk to society, not just because of their demonstrated capability for serious wrong doing but because of the gravity and serious consequences of the offense they might further commit. 14 The Probation Law, as amended, disqualifies only those who have been convicted of grave felonies as defined in Art. 9 in relation to Art. 25 of The Revised Penal Code, 15 and not necessarily those who have been convicted of multiple offenses in a single proceeding who are deemed to be less perverse. Hence, the basis of the disqualification is principally the gravity of the offense committed and the concomitant degree of penalty imposed. Those sentenced to a maximum term not exceeding six (6) years are not generally considered callous, hard core criminals, and thus may avail of probation.

X x x.

In fine, considering that the multiple prison terms should not be summed up but taken separately as the totality of all the penalties is not the test, petitioner should have immediately filed an application for probation as he was already qualified after being convicted by the MeTC, if indeed thereafter he felt humbled, was ready to unconditionally accept the verdict of the court and admit his liability. Consequently, in appealing the Decision of the MeTC to the RTC, petitioner lost his right to probation. For, plainly, the law considers appeal and probation mutually exclusive remedies. 17

X x x.”

Prescription of crimes; prescriptive period is interrupted by the institution of proceedings for preliminary investigation


LUIS PANAGUITON, JR. vs. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, RAMON C. TONGSON and RODRIGO G. CAWILI, G.R. No. 167571, November 25, 2008

“X x x.

Petitioner assails the DOJ's reliance on Zaldivia v. Reyes, GR 102342, July 3, 1992, a case involving the violation of a municipal ordinance, in declaring that the prescriptive period is tolled only upon filing of the information in court. According to petitioner, what is applicable in this case is Ingco v. Sandiganbayan, 338 Phil. 1061 (1997), wherein this Court ruled that the filing of the complaint with the fiscal's office for preliminary investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period. Petitioner also notes that the Ingco case similarly involved the violation of a special law, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, petitioner notes. He argues that sustaining the DOJ's and the Court of Appeals' pronouncements would result in grave injustice to him since the delays in the present case were clearly beyond his control.

There is no question that Act No. 3326, appropriately entitled An Act to Establish Prescription for Violations of Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin, is the law applicable to offenses under special laws which do not provide their own prescriptive periods. The pertinent provisions read:

Section 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the following rules: (a) x x x; (b) after four years for those punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less than two years; (c) x x x

Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and punishment.

The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.

We agree that Act. No. 3326 applies to offenses under B.P. Blg. 22. An offense under B.P. Blg. 22 merits the penalty of imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days but not more than one year or by a fine, hence, under Act No. 3326, a violation of B.P. Blg. 22 prescribes in four (4) years from the commission of the offense or, if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof. Nevertheless, we cannot uphold the position that only the filing of a case in court can toll the running of the prescriptive period.

It must be pointed out that when Act No. 3326 was passed on 4 December 1926, preliminary investigation of criminal offenses was conducted by justices of the peace, thus, the phraseology in the law, "institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and punishment," and the prevailing rule at the time was that once a complaint is filed with the justice of the peace for preliminary investigation, the prescription of the offense is halted.

The historical perspective on the application of Act No. 3326 is illuminating. Act No. 3226 was approved on 4 December 1926 at a time when the function of conducting the preliminary investigation of criminal offenses was vested in the justices of the peace. Thus, the prevailing rule at the time, as shown in the cases of U.S. v. Lazada and People v. Joson, is that the prescription of the offense is tolled once a complaint is filed with the justice of the peace for preliminary investigation inasmuch as the filing of the complaint signifies the institution of the criminal proceedings against the accused. These cases were followed by our declaration in People v. Parao and Parao that the first step taken in the investigation or examination of offenses partakes the nature of a judicial proceeding which suspends the prescription of the offense. Subsequently, in People v. Olarte, we held that the filing of the complaint in the Municipal Court, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should, and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed cannot try the case on the merits. In addition, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial step of the proceedings against the offender, and hence, the prescriptive period should be interrupted.

In Ingco v. Sandiganbayan, 338 Phil. 1061 (1997), and Sanrio Company Limited v. Lim, G.R. No. 168662, 19 February 2008, 546 SCRA 303, which involved violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019) and the Intellectual Property Code (R.A. No. 8293), which are both special laws, the Court ruled that the prescriptive period is interrupted by the institution of proceedings for preliminary investigation against the accused. In the more recent case of Securities and Exchange Commission v. Interport Resources Corporation, et al., Securities and Exchange Commission v. Interport Resources Corporation, et al., G.R. No. 135808, 6 October 2008, the Court ruled that the nature and purpose of the investigation conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on violations of the Revised Securities Act, another special law, is equivalent to the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ in criminal cases, and thus effectively interrupts the prescriptive period.

The following disquisition in the Interport Resources case is instructive, thus:

While it may be observed that the term "judicial proceedings" in Sec. 2 of Act No. 3326 appears before "investigation and punishment" in the old law, with the subsequent change in set-up whereby the investigation of the charge for purposes of prosecution has become the exclusive function of the executive branch, the term "proceedings" should now be understood either executive or judicial in character: executive when it involves the investigation phase and judicial when it refers to the trial and judgment stage. With this clarification, any kind of investigative proceeding instituted against the guilty person which may ultimately lead to his prosecution should be sufficient to toll prescription.

Indeed, to rule otherwise would deprive the injured party the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control. A clear example would be this case, wherein petitioner filed his complaint-affidavit on 24 August 1995, well within the four (4)-year prescriptive period. He likewise timely filed his appeals and his motions for reconsideration on the dismissal of the charges against Tongson. He went through the proper channels, within the prescribed periods. However, from the time petitioner filed his complaint-affidavit with the Office of the City Prosecutor (24 August 1995) up to the time the DOJ issued the assailed resolution, an aggregate period of nine (9) years had elapsed. Clearly, the delay was beyond petitioner's control. After all, he had already initiated the active prosecution of the case as early as 24 August 1995, only to suffer setbacks because of the DOJ's flip-flopping resolutions and its misapplication of Act No. 3326. Aggrieved parties, especially those who do not sleep on their rights and actively pursue their causes, should not be allowed to suffer unnecessarily further simply because of circumstances beyond their control, like the accused's delaying tactics or the delay and inefficiency of the investigating agencies.

We rule and so hold that the offense has not yet prescribed. Petitioner's filing of his complaint-affidavit before the Office of the City Prosecutor on 24 August 1995 signified the commencement of the proceedings for the prosecution of the accused and thus effectively interrupted the prescriptive period for the offenses they had been charged under B.P. Blg. 22. Moreover, since there is a definite finding of probable cause, with the debunking of the claim of prescription there is no longer any impediment to the filing of the information against petitioner.

X x x.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How to appeal criminal cases where death, life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua is imposed - G.R. No. 169245, c. 2008



"x x x.

Preliminary Matter: Rules on Appeal

An appeal is a proceeding undertaken to have a decision reconsidered by bringing it to a higher court authority.[15] It is not a right but a mere statutory privilege[16] to be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law.[17]

Recent developments in criminal law and jurisprudence have brought about changes in the rules on appeal, specifically in cases where the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment. To clarify the present rules, we shall discuss these developments.

Section 3 of Rule 122 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure states:

SEC. 3. How appeal taken.(a) The appeal to the Regional Trial Court, or to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party.

(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.

(c) The appeal to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, or where a lesser penalty is imposed but for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed, shall be by filing a notice of appeal in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.

(d) No notice of appeal is necessary in cases where the death penalty is imposed by the Regional Trial Court. The same shall be automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court as provided in section 10 of this Rule.

(e) Except as provided in the last paragraph of section 13, Rule 124, all other appeals to the Supreme Court shall be by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.

The provision provides that where the penalty imposed by the RTC is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, an appeal is made directly to this Court by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. On the other hand, a case where the penalty imposed is death will be automatically reviewed by the Court without a need for filing a notice of appeal.

However, Mateo[18] modified these rules by providing an intermediate review of the cases by the CA where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment, or death. Pursuant to Mateos ruling, the Court issued A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC 2004-10-12, amending the pertinent rules governing review of death penalty cases, thus:

Rule 122

Sec. 3. How appeal taken.(a) The appeal to the Regional Trial Court, or to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, shall be by notice of appeal filed with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party.

(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.

(c) The appeal in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or where a lesser penalty is imposed for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more, serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed, shall be by notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals in accordance with paragraph (a) of this Rule.

(d) No notice of appeal is necessary in cases where the Regional Trial Court imposed the death penalty. The Court of Appeals shall automatically review the judgment as provided in Section 10 of this Rule.

x x x x

Sec. 10. Transmission of records in case of death penalty.In all cases where the death penalty is imposed by the trial court, the records shall be forwarded to the Court of Appeals for automatic review and judgment within twenty days but not earlier than fifteen days from the promulgation of the judgment or notice of denial of a motion for new trial or reconsideration. The transcript shall also be forwarded within ten days after the filing thereof by the stenographic reporter.(Emphasis supplied.)

x x x x

Rule 124

Sec. 12. Power to receive evidence.The Court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and conduct new trials or further proceedings. Trials or hearings in the Court of Appeals must be continuous and must be completed within three months, unless extended by the Chief Justice. 12(a)

Sec. 13. Certification or appeal of case to the Supreme Court.(a) Whenever the Court of Appeals finds that the penalty of death should be imposed, the court shall render judgment but refrain from making an entry of judgment and forthwith certify the case and elevate its entire record to the Supreme Court for review.

(b) Where the judgment also imposes a lesser penalty for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more severe offense for which the penalty of death is imposed, and the accused appeals, the appeal shall be included in the case certified for review to, the Supreme Court.

(c) In cases where the Court of Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or a lesser penalty, it shall render and enter judgment imposing such penalty. The judgment may be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal filed with the Court of Appeals. (Emphasis supplied.)

Also affecting the rules on appeal is the enactment of Republic Act No. (RA) 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines, which took effect on June 29, 2006. Under Sec. 2 of RA 9346, the imposition of the death penalty is prohibited, and in lieu thereof, it imposes the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); or life imprisonment, when the law violated does not make use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the RPC. Consequently, in the provisions of the Rules of Court on appeals, death penalty cases are no longer operational.

x x x."

Appeal in criminal cases (death, life imprisonment, reclusion perpetua) - G.R. No. 173797, c. 2007




"x x x.

The confusion in the case at bar seems to stem from the effects of the Decision of this Court in People v. Mateo.[16] In Mateo, as quoted by plaintiff-appellee, it was stated that [w]hile the Fundamental Law requires a mandatory review by the Supreme Court of cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment, or death, nowhere, however, has it proscribed an intermediate review.[17] A closer study of Mateo, however, reveals that the inclusion in the foregoing statement of cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua and life imprisonment was only for the purpose of including these cases within the ambit of the intermediate review of the Court of Appeals: [this] Court now deems it wise and compelling to provide in these cases [cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or death] review by the Court of Appeals before the case is elevated to the Supreme Court.[18]

We had not intended to pronounce in Mateo that cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment are subject to the mandatory review of this Court. In Mateo, these cases were grouped together with death penalty cases because, prior to Mateo, it was this Court which had jurisdiction to directly review reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment and death penalty cases alike. The mode of review, however, was different. Reclusion perpetua and life imprisonment cases were brought before this Court via a notice of appeal, while death penalty cases were reviewed by this Court on automatic review. Thus, the erstwhile Rule 122, Sections 3 and 10, provided as follows:

SEC. 3. How appeal taken.

(a) The appeal to the Regional Trial Court, or to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party.

(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.

(c) The appeal to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, or where a lesser penalty is imposed but for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed, shall be by filing a notice of appeal in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.

(d) No notice of appeal is necessary in cases where the death penalty is imposed by the Regional Trial Court.The same shall be automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court as provided in section 10 of this Rule.

x x x x

SEC. 10. Transmission of records in case of death penalty. In all cases where the death penalty is imposed by the trial court, the records shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court for automatic review and judgment within five (5) days after the fifteenth (15) day following the promulgation of the judgment or notice of denial of a motion for new trial or reconsideration. The transcript shall also be forwarded within ten (10) days after the filing thereof by the stenographic reporter.

After the promulgation of Mateo on 7 June 2004, this Court promptly caused the amendment of the foregoing provisions, but retained the distinction of requiring a notice of appeal for reclusion perpetua and life imprisonment cases and automatically reviewing death penalty cases. Thus, Rule 122, Sections 3 and 10, as amended by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC (which took effect on 15 October 2004), now provides:

SEC. 3. How appeal taken.

(a) The appeal to the Regional Trial Court, or to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, shall be by notice of appeal filed with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party.

(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.

(c) The appeal in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, or where a lesser penalty is imposed but for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed, shall be by notice of appeal in accordance with paragraph (a) of this Rule.

(d) No notice of appeal is necessary in cases where the Regional Trial Court imposed the death penalty. The Court of Appeals automatically review the Judgment provided in section 10 of this Rule.

x x x x

SEC. 10. Transmission of records in case of death penalty. In all cases where the death penalty is imposed by the trial court, the records shall be forwarded to the Court of Appeals for automatic review and judgment within twenty days but not earlier than fifteen days from the promulgation of the judgment or notice of denial of a motion for new trial or reconsideration. The transcript shall also be forwarded within ten (10) days after the filing thereof by the stenographic reporter.

Neither does the Constitution require a mandatory review by this Court of cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The constitutional provision quoted in Mateo merely gives this Court jurisdiction over such cases:

Up until now, the Supreme Court has assumed the direct appellate review over all criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment (or lower but involving offenses committed on the same occasion or arising out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed). The practice finds justification in the 1987 Constitution

Article VIII, Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:

x x x x x x x x x

(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.[19]

For a clear understanding of this provision, the full text thereof provides:

Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

1. Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.

2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:

a. All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.

b. All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.

c. All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.

d. All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.

e. All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.

3. Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public interest may require. Such temporary assignment shall not exceed six months without the consent of the judge concerned.

4. Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

5. Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.

6. Appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law.

In this provision, only paragraphs (1) and (2) speak of jurisdiction over cases. However, this Constitutional provision does not enumerate cases involving mandatory review. Indeed, it would almost be silly to claim that this Court is mandatorily required to review all cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue. Instead, the significance of the enumeration of this Courts jurisdiction in paragraphs (1) and (2) is that while Section 2 of the same Article VIII of the Constitution gives to Congress the power to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts, it denies to Congress the power to deprive this Court of jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5.[20]

Since the case of accused-appellants is not subject to the mandatory review of this Court, the rule that neither the accused nor the courts can waive a mandatory review is not applicable. Consequently, accused-appellants separate motions to withdraw appeal may be validly granted.

The granting of a Motion to Withdraw Appeal, however, is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court.After a case has been submitted to the court for decision, the appellant cannot, at his election, withdraw the appeal.[21] In People v. Casido,[22] we denied the accused-appelants Urgent Motion to Withdraw Appeal therein:

It is then clear that the conditional pardons separately extended to the accused-appellants were issued during the pendency of their instant appeal.

In the resolution of 31 January 1995 in People vs. Hinlo, this Court categorically declared the practice of processing applications for pardon or parole despite pending appeals to be in clear violation of law.

Earlier, in our resolution of 21 March 1991 in People vs. Sepada, this Court signified in no uncertain terms the necessity of a final judgment before parole or pardon could be extended.

Having observed that the pronouncements in the aforementioned cases remained unheeded, either through deliberate disregard or erroneous applications of the obiter dictum in Monsanto vs. Factoran or the ruling in People vs. Crisola, this Court, in its resolution of 4 December 1995 in People vs. Salle, explicitly declared:

We now declare that the conviction by final judgment limitation under Section 19, Article VII of the present Constitution prohibits the grant of pardon, whether full or conditional, to an accused during the pendency of his appeal from his conviction by the trial court. Any application therefor, if one is made, should not be acted upon or the process toward its grant should not be begun unless the appeal is withdrawn. Accordingly, the agencies or instrumentalities of the Government concerned must require proof from the accused that he has not appealed from his conviction or that he has withdrawn his appeal. Such proof may be in the form of a certification issued by the trial court or the appellate court, as the case may be. The acceptance of the pardon shall not operate as an abandonment or waiver of the appeal, and the release of an accused by virtue of a pardon, commutation of sentence, or parole before the withdrawal of an appeal shall render those responsible therefor administratively liable. Accordingly, those in custody of the accused must not solely rely on the pardon as a basis for the release of the accused from confinement.

x x x x

This rule shall fully bind pardons extended after 31 January 1995 during the pendency of the grantees appeal. (Italics supplied)

It follows then that the conditional pardons granted in this case to accused-appellants William Casido and Franklin Alcorin are void for having been extended on 19 January 1996 during the pendency of their instant appeal.

In the case at bar, however, we see no reason to deny accused-appellants Motions to Withdraw Appeal. There is no showing that accused-appellants had already applied for parole at the time of the filing of their Motions to Withdraw Appeal. On the contrary, they stated in their motions that they merely intend to apply for the same.

x x x."

Republic Act No. 10913, Anti-Distracted Driving Act


See - Philippine Law Firm Legal Advice - Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices 


"x x x.

The June 2017 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (Revised IRR) for Republic Act No. 10913, also known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, is out, and will take effect fifteen (15) days from publication in either the Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation.

Here are what you should know about the Revised IRR, to drive the Philippine thoroughfares “Distraction-Free”.

x x x.

The Revised IRR added the following:

a. A motorist who is holding a mobile device, computer or gadget when the vehicle is running, or temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection, is presumed to be engaged in distracted driving.

b. The Revised IRR allows the presence of mobile devices (cellphones, GPS devices, dash cams) on the dashboard provided that the highest point of the device does not exceed four (4) inches, measured from the dashboard.

c. The Revised IRR clarifies that the prohibitions apply to a vehicle in motion and those temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection. A motorist may use a mobile devices provided the vehicle is a stalled vehicle, or one legally pulled over the side of the road.

d. The law also clarified that for violators of the law, driving a conveyance or machinery (such as a farm tractor) which does not require a driver’s license, the penalty would be impounding the conveyance or machinery in lieu of confiscation of the driver’s license.

If you are still distracted by the Revised IRR, here are the Seven (7) Commandments to distraction-free driving:

1) Do not text, play games, watch movies, or operate any mobile device while driving. If you need to call, use a hands-free device, or better yet, make the call later. An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of hassle that you might get into, when a traffic enforcer sees and accosts you, even if you are not violating the law.

2) When you are seen holding a mobile device or gadget while driving, but without using or operating the device, the traffic enforcers may legally presume that you are violating the law. It becomes your responsibility to prove that the device was not being used, in the manner defined in Sections 4(a and 4(b) of the Revised IRR.

3) Keep a ruler handy in your vehicle, as proof that the height of your mobile device, dash cam or GPS device affixed to your dash is four (4) inches or less, measured from the vehicle’s dashboard. Fear not, because rosaries, religious figurines, toys, trinkets and everything non-electronic that are on your dashboard are excluded from the coverage of the law.

4) If you are caught in heavy traffic and wish to fiddle with your phone while on the road, resist the urge and keep your hands where they are supposed to be – on the steering wheel. The traffic enforcers may not see you, but Big Brother looking at the traffic cams might.

5) If you wish to use your mobile device, be sure to pull-over on the side of the road, at a place where you can legally park. If your vehicle is blocking the road, or otherwise parked/stalled at a place where it is illegal to stop and temporarily park, you cannot use your mobile device. Of course, if you are really caught in a bind and your vehicle refuses to start, feel free to use your phone as this one exception to the application of the law.

6) You can legally operate your mobile devices while on the driver’s seat only during emergencies. Emergencies are defined as a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment. Even then, be sure that you are parked at a safe place when doing so. Remember, running late in a meeting is not an emergency.

7) Finally, if you intend to operate a tractor, farm implement, or other similar device, just be sure not to operate or hold your phone. Though you do not stand to lose your driver’s license if caught, you, however, stand to lose your ride.

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Questions on health of Duterte – and of Philippine democracy | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post




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QUESTIONS ON HEALTH OF DUTERTE – AND OF PHILIPPINE DEMOCRACY

President’s brief absence from public view reinforces fears over nationwide martial law

18 JUN 2017



As fierce fighting in Marawi City between government troops and Islamist militants enters its fourth week, President Rodrigo Duterte mysteriously dropped out of public view for a few days, adding fuel to the speculation long swirling in the Philippines about the possibility of nationwide martial law.

Duterte failed to show up to Monday’s Independence Day celebrations and the traditional vin d’honneur at the Malacañang Palace was abruptly cancelled. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said he was “not feeling well” but was “in excellent health”. On Wednesday, with the president still a no-show, Abella told reporters, “There is nothing to worry about in terms of sickness, major sickness.” Duterte just needed time “to rejuvenate” from a “brutal” 23 days of war.


Duterte finally resurfaced on Saturday after five days, and joked he had a “circumcision”.

He has in the past admitted to having Buerger’s disease, or narrowing of the arteries due to excessive drinking, a spine injury, acid reflux and daily migraine. So fears about the health of the 72-year-old president will not go away in a hurry, neither will concern about the health of the country’s democracy, which Duterte has long been suspected of subverting for an eventual autocratic takeover.

Damaged buildings in Marawi City, Mindanao, where more than 200 people have been killed in ongoing clashes between militants linked to Islamic State and the Philippine Army. Photo: EPA

The speed with which the Supreme Court is moving on the vice-presidential electoral protest of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr, for example, has alarmed many. Without naming Duterte, Vice-President Leni Robredo – whom Bongbong accuses of cheating in the election and who belongs to a rival party –­ ­sounded the alarm on Monday at the “Defend Democracy Summit”. She warned: “We are already seeing our institutions being eroded. They are already weakening. We must move swiftly...to ensure they are strong enough for our children and our children’s children.”

Robredo is the constitutional successor to Duterte but he has treated her like a political pariah. During his state visit to China last October, Duterte said Bongbong could be the next vice-president – if he wins the electoral lawsuit. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted Bongbong’s request to appoint a three-man body to accept evidence and testimonies from witnesses. No election dispute for the top two posts of the land has ever moved this fast.

To add fuel to the fire, Duterte said this month that he would happily hand over the presidency to Bongbong or his defeated running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano. Duterte is unable to do that under the 1987 constitution and plans to scrap the charter. A team appointed by him has been drafting a new one that would put in place a parliamentary-federal system, effectively abolishing Robredo’s post and likely removing all the present safeguards on the president’s martial law powers.

The present constitution limits such powers. The Supreme Court began a review last week into whether Duterte was justified in imposing martial law in all of Mindanao after Marawi City descended into chaos due to a failed operation by security forces to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Islamist militant group, Abu Sayyaf. Marawi is the second most populous Muslim city in the Philippines, yet it would be easy now to mistake Marawi for a town in war-torn Syria. Over 200 people have been killed in the clashes there so far.

Cynics suggest Duterte’s raising of the Islamic State (IS) bogeyman is merely a pretext for taking a tighter grip on power. Their fear is not that the country is about to be overrun by black-flag-waving IS militants, but that Duterte is taking the country back to the past – harking back to a style of rule last employed by former president Ferdinand Marcos, from whose playbook Duterte has increasingly appeared to be borrowing.


The president’s chief government lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, said as some magistrates expressed fears of human rights abuses: “[Duterte’s] order of martial law is markedly different from that issued by President Marcos.”

SHADES OF MARCOS

For those with long memories, a threat of nationwide martial law should not be surprising. In last year’s presidential campaign Duterte had said: “I have no interest in running for president...I will only agree if people allow me to declare martial law.” He also promised a revolutionary government because “I have to stop criminality, corruption, and I have to fix government.” Things would “be bloody” only for the criminals and corrupt, he had assured.

But to those with even longer memories, parallels between today’s situation and that of Marcos’ reign are likely to prove discomforting.

The southern island of Mindanao, home to about 21 million mainly Christian people, is the site of two long simmering conflicts featuring both Muslim rebels (thought to number about 13,000) and communist dissidents (thought to number several hundred) who have been locked in on-off fighting with state forces for decades. It was to stamp out both groups that Marcos first declared martial law in 1972.

In the following four years, the war with Muslim rebels resulted in an estimated 50,000 casualties. These came on top of the wider toll from Marcos’ dictatorship, estimated to have resulted in more than 3,200 people being murdered, over 35,000 tortured and more than 70,000 being illegally detained. The regime also left a colossal debt of US$26 billion (the Marcoses were accused of stashing away US$10 billion) while over half the citizenry slid into extreme poverty.

So perhaps it’s understandable that when Duterte warned, “those of you [who] have experienced martial law ... it will not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’ll be harsh”, it shocked the victims of Marcos’ 14-year dictatorship.

It did not help that Duterte also signalled his intent to resurrect one of the most notorious features of Marcos’ tyranny: the Arrest, Search and Seizure Orders (Assos). Duterte, a prosecutor under Marcos, insisted the post-Marcos 1986 constitution empowered him to issue Assos. “As to Assos, I don’t know if they are illegal or not, but it is the practice. Martial law includes arrest without warrant, search without warrant,” said Duterte, who described martial law under Marcos as “very good” and the late strongman as “the best” and “brightest” Philippine president ever.

THE MARCOS PLAYBOOK

In August 1971, a year before imposing military rule, Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus after the bombing of an opposition rally in Manila that killed nine people. His critics slammed the wholesale arrests he conducted as a trial run for martial law.

Last September, Duterte issued a “proclamation of a state of national emergency” following a bombing in his hometown of Davao City that killed 14. When the Marawi incident flared up eight months later, he imposed martial law in Mindanao and hinted at extending it nationwide “if I think that [IS] has already taken a foothold in Luzon and terrorism is not really far behind”.

That statement alarmed Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been holding off-and-on peace talks with Duterte. Sison, who was tortured by Marcos, voiced suspicions that martial law in Mindanao was “a trial balloon” for imposing it countrywide – though government peace negotiator Silvestre Bello chided Sison for what he called a “false reading”.

Marcos had secretly planned the final details of his authoritarian rule with 10 generals and two civilians, collectively known as the “Rolex 12” because of the Rolex watches he gave them. They formed a junta together, with Marcos as their leader. Duterte referred to this arrangement when he “joked” last month that he was close to completing “our junta”. He elaborated that, without launching a military coup, this junta could simply take over, cryptically adding, “Me, I’m tired.”

That was, presumably, a reference to the increasing speculation surrounding Duterte’s health – even before he went off the radar.

As part of what Duterte calls “our junta”, he has appointed three ex-military chiefs – Hermogenes Esperon as national security adviser, Roy Cimatu as acting environment secretary and Ricardo Visaya as national irrigation administrator. He has placed eight other retired officers in key posts: ex-army general Delfin Lorenzana as defence secretary; ex-marine colonel Nicanor Faeldon as customs commissioner; ex-general Danilo Lim as Metro Manila Development chair; ex-army major Jason Aquino as National Food Authority head; ex-general Reynaldo Berroya as Light Rail Transit chief; ex-general Rodolfo Garcia as Metro Rail Transit head; retired admiral Reuben Lista as Philippine National Oil Company president; and ex-general Cesar Yano as defence undersecretary.


Duterte plans to revive the Philippine Constabulary, a branch of the military with units notorious for torture. After Marcos’ fall from power, the constabulary was detached from the military, separated into the civilian Philippine National Police, and put under the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG). Duterte’s plan to appoint General Año, upon his retirement as military chief, as the DILG Secretary, effectively places the police under military discipline.

Meanwhile, the acting DILG Secretary is Catalino Cuy, a former constabulary officer who became Davao City police chief when Duterte was its mayor. In 2012, the Ombudsman docked Cuy a month’s pay for not preventing “death squads” – vigilante groups operating with the tacit approval of officials, but the Court of Appeals struck it down. The DILG has quietly launched the “Masa Masid” (Observe the Masses) programme to fight crime, corruption and drugs at the village level. Two village chiefs said the programme encouraged them to pass information to the police regarding the political leanings of residents, especially those critical of Duterte. This is reminiscent of Marcos’ vast, secret spy network under General Fabian Ver. Duterte is not the first post-Marcos president to militarise civilian positions. President Fidel Ramos, a former military chief and part of Marcos’ Rolex 12, also drew on his ex-colleagues in the military. However, Ramos never threatened to declare martial law – not even when 200 Islamist Abu Sayyaf members attacked the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay in 1995, burned down the town centre, killed 11 civilians and looted eight commercial banks of nearly a billion pesos. In contrast, Duterte has talked about martial law in 25 speeches and interviews, according to journalist Carolyn Arguillas.

CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITARIANISM

Meanwhile, under Duterte’s Secretary of the Cabinet, Leoncio Evasco Jr, a mass movement called Kilusang Pagbabago (Movement for Change) is under way. Its ostensible goal is to enable citizens to participate in governance. However, documents seen by This Week in Asia suggest it is a vehicle to push for a new constitution – the plan being to submit a draft constitution to Congress for approval and then to the public for ratification.

Such dabbling with the constitution also brings to mind the Marcos era. In 1972, after declaring martial law, Marcos arm-twisted delegates of a constitutional convention to insert provisions in the draft charter that gave him the power to make laws and arrest anyone indefinitely without charges, while sitting as president and prime minister. Armed sentries were placed at the doors of the convention hall during voting.


A sham ratification of the Marcos constitution followed, using “citizen assemblies” held across the country, and a cowed Supreme Court then ruled the constitution had been accepted by the people. To spearhead the reforms Marcos relied on the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (Movement for a New Society).

Marcos used his new-found powers to delay the opening of the national assembly for six years, during which period he made all the laws. Even after convening the Interim Batasang Pambansa, Marcos continued to exercise law-making powers.

Marcos had called his government a form of “constitutional authoritarianism”; Duterte’s presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has called for similar powers to be exercised by Duterte under what he calls a “constitutional dictatorship”. Two months ago, a rally by Duterte supporters attended by senior government officials urged Duterte to declare a revolutionary government and revert to the Marcos constitution.

Marcos began his constitutional authoritarianism in 1972 by shutting down Congress, newspapers and television stations, scrapping the presidential system, cowing the courts and arresting en masse political opposition leaders and journalists. All were accused of colluding with communist rebels.

But by then he had already prepared the ground by creating detention centres, according to a colonel who was ordered to build one such facility outside Manila. Could Duterte be doing the same? A source pointed out Duterte’s large drug rehabilitation facility built inside a military camp outside Manila could easily be converted to a detention centre. The facility, meant to house 10,000, only had 127 recovering addicts as of February.

The Duterte government appears to be casting a wider net to justify nationwide military rule. Duterte’s justice secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre, recently accused top opposition leaders of colluding with IS fighters in Marawi shortly before the flare-up. Aguirre’s “proof” was a photograph that turned out to have been snapped in 2015 on another island. On Tuesday, Duterte’s information and technology secretary Rodolfo Salalima said “certain individuals” would be arrested for “cybersedition” in relation to the Marawi incident.

CHANGING SOCIETY

Duterte has repeatedly assured the nation his motives are noble and that he doesn’t need the presidency “at this time of my life”. All he wants is to “change society”. In much the same way, Marcos used to assure the country that martial law was meant to “reform” and “build a new society”.

In 2015, when politicians were imploring Duterte to run for president, Duterte laid out in chilling details on national television the steps he would take. “I will give myself six months to one year to [carry out] the reforms I want. If the system becomes obstructionist and I become inutile, I will declare a revolutionary government.”

He said in such a scenario he would shut down Congress and the courts because “you have to close everything. It is anti-democratic, but how do you change society? Nothing seems to work in this country”. ■

Raissa Robles is the author of Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, a brief history of torture and atrocity under the New Society

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Friday, June 16, 2017

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno (ADMU, Economics '80) addresses the Class of 2017, Ateneo de Manila Loyola Schools,

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