Posted on November 28, 2011 10:50:26 PM
Corona Court damaged badly
To Take A Stand
Posted on November 28, 2011 10:50:26 PM
To Take A Stand
It is settled that as a matter of policy, in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a Judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous. He cannot be subjected to liability – civil, criminal or administrative – for any of his official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in good faith. Only judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith or deliberate intent to do an injustice will be administratively sanctioned. To hold otherwise would be to render judicial office untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. Furthermore, even in an administrative case, the Rules of Court require that if the respondent Judge should be disciplined for grave misconduct or any graver offense, the evidence against him should be competent and should be derived from direct knowledge. The judiciary to which the respondent belongs demands no less. Before any of its members could be faulted, competent evidence should be presented, especially since the charge is penal in character.
Indeed, while it is our duty to investigate and determine the truth behind every matter in complaints against Judges and other court personnel, it is also our duty to see to it that they are protected and exonerated from baseless administrative charges. The Court will not shirk from its responsibility of imposing discipline upon its magistrates, but neither will it hesitate to shield them from unfounded suits that only serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.
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In sum, petitioner’s first ground posits that there is a world of difference between his case and that of Jalosjos respecting the type of offense involved, the stage of filing of the motion, and other circumstances which demonstrate the inapplicability of Jalosjos.
A plain reading of. Jalosjos suggests otherwise, however.
The distinctions cited by petitioner were not elemental in the pronouncement in Jalosjos that election to Congress is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement as the functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift one from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement.
It cannot be gainsaid that a person charged with a crime is taken into custody for purposes of the administration of justice. No less than the Constitution provides:
All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required. (Underscoring supplied)
The Rules also state that no person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable byreclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal action.
That the cited provisions apply equally to rape and coup d’etat cases, both being punishable by reclusionperpetua, is beyond cavil. Within the class of offenses covered by the stated range of imposable penalties, there is clearly no distinction as to the political complexion of or moral turpitude involved in the crime charged.
In the present case, it is uncontroverted that petitioner’s application for bail and for release on recognizance was denied. The determination that the evidence of guilt is strong, whether ascertained in a hearing of an application for bail or imported from a trial court’s judgment of conviction, justifies the detention of an accused as a valid curtailment of his right to provisional liberty. This accentuates the proviso that the denial of the right to bail in such cases is “regardless of the stage of the criminal action.” Such justification for confinement with its underlying rationale of public self-defense applies equally to detention prisoners like petitioner or convicted prisoners-appellants like Jalosjos.
As the Court observed in Alejano v. Cabuay, it is impractical to draw a line between convicted prisoners and pre-trial detainees for the purpose of maintaining jail security; and while pre-trial detainees do not forfeit their constitutional rights upon confinement, the fact of their detention makes their rights more limited than those of the public.
The Court was more emphatic in People v. Hon. Maceda:
As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an offense is arrested, he is deemed placed under the custody of the law. He is placed in actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be bound to answer for the commission of the offense. He must be detained in jail during the pendency of the case against him, unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or on recognizance. Let it be stressed that all prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence can not practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and detention.(Underscoring supplied)
These inherent limitations, however, must be taken into account only to the extent that confinement restrains the power of locomotion or actual physical movement. It bears noting that in Jalosjos, which was decided en banc one month after Maceda, the Court recognized that the accused could somehow accomplish legislative results.
The trial court thus correctly concluded that the presumption of innocence does not carry with it the full enjoyment of civil and political rights.
Petitioner is similarly situated with Jalosjos with respect to the application of the presumption of innocence during the period material to the resolution of their respective motions. The Court in Jalosjos did not mention that the presumption of innocence no longer operates in favor of the accused pending the review on appeal of the judgment of conviction. The rule stands that until a promulgation of final conviction is made, the constitutional mandate of presumption of innocence prevails.
In addition to the inherent restraints, the Court notes that petitioner neither denied nor disputed his agreeing to a consensus with the prosecution that media access to him should cease after his proclamation by the Commission on Elections.
Petitioner goes on to allege that unlike Jalosjos who attempted to evade trial, he is not a flight risk since he voluntarily surrendered to the proper authorities and such can be proven by the numerous times he was allowed to travel outside his place of detention.
Subsequent events reveal the contrary, however. The assailed Orders augured well when on
Moreover, circumstances indicating probability of flight find relevance as a factor in ascertaining the reasonable amount of bail and in canceling a discretionary grant of bail. In cases involving non-bailable offenses, what is controlling is the determination of whether the evidence of guilt is strong. Once it is established that it is so, bail shall be denied as it is neither a matter of right nor of discretion.
Petitioner cannot find solace in Montano v. Ocampo to buttress his plea for leeway because unlike petitioner, the therein petitioner, then Senator Justiniano Montano, who was charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder, was able to rebut the strong evidence for the prosecution. Notatu dignum is this Court’s pronouncement therein that “if denial of bail is authorized in capital cases, it is only on the theory thatthe proof being strong, the defendant would flee, if he has the opportunity, rather than face the verdict of the jury.” At the time Montano was indicted, when only capital offenses were non-bailable where evidence of guilt is strong, the Court noted the obvious reason that “one who faces a probable death sentence has a particularly strong temptation to flee.” Petitioner’s petition for bail having earlier been denied, he cannot rely on Montano to reiterate his requests which are akin to bailing him out.
Second, petitioner posits that, contrary to the trial court’s findings, Esperon did not overrule Obeña’s recommendation to allow him to attend Senate sessions. Petitioner cites the Comment of Obeña that he interposed no objection to such request but recommended that he be transported by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms with adequate Senate security. And petitioner faults the trial court for deeming that Esperon, despite professing non-obstruction to the performance of petitioner’s duties, flatly rejected all his requests, when what Esperon only disallowed was the setting up of a political office inside a military installation owing to AFP’s apolitical nature.
The effective management of the detention facility has been recognized as a valid objective that may justify the imposition of conditions and restrictions of pre-trial detention. The officer with custodial responsibility over a detainee may undertake such reasonable measures as may be necessary to secure the safety and prevent the escape of the detainee. Nevertheless, while the comments of the detention officers provide guidance on security concerns, they are not binding on the trial court in the same manner that pleadings are not impositions upon a court.
Third, petitioner posits that his election provides the legal justification to allow him to serve his mandate, after the people, in their sovereign capacity, elected him as Senator. He argues that denying his Omnibus Motion is tantamount to removing him from office, depriving the people of proper representation, denying the people’s will, repudiating the people’s choice, and overruling the mandate of the people.
Petitioner’s contention hinges on the doctrine in administrative law that “a public official can not be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term, since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officer’s previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefor.”
The assertion is unavailing. The case against petitioner is not administrative in nature. And there is no “prior term” to speak of. In a plethora of cases, the Court categorically held that the doctrine of condonation does not apply to criminal cases. Election, or more precisely, re-election to office, does not obliterate a criminal charge. Petitioner’s electoral victory only signifies pertinently that when the voters elected him to the Senate, “they did so with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action [and] x x x with the knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results which he could accomplish within the confines of prison.”
In once more debunking the disenfranchisement argument, it is opportune to wipe out the lingering misimpression that the call of duty conferred by the voice of the people is louder than the litany of lawful restraints articulated in the Constitution and echoed by jurisprudence. The apparent discord may be harmonized by the overarching tenet that the mandate of the people yields to the Constitution which the people themselves ordained to govern all under the rule of law.
The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by the “mandate of the people” are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members
of the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical absence of one or a few of its members. x x x Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law. (Underscoring supplied)
Lastly, petitioner pleads for the same liberal treatment accorded certain detention prisoners who have also been charged with non-bailable offenses, like former President Joseph Estrada and former Governor Nur Misuari who were allowed to attend “social functions.” Finding no rhyme and reason in the denial of the more serious request to perform the duties of a Senator, petitioner harps on an alleged violation of the equal protection clause.
In arguing against maintaining double standards in the treatment of detention prisoners, petitioner expressly admits that he intentionally did not seek preferential treatment in the form of being placed under Senate custody or house arrest, yet he at the same time, gripes about the granting of house arrest to others.
Emergency or compelling temporary leaves from imprisonment are allowed to all prisoners, at the discretion of the authorities or upon court orders. That this discretion was gravely abused, petitioner failed to establish. In fact, the trial court previously allowed petitioner to register as a voter in December 2006, file his certificate of candidacy in February 2007, cast his vote on
Petitioner’s position fails. On the generality and permanence of his requests alone, petitioner’s case fails to compare with the species of allowable leaves. Jaloslos succinctly expounds:
x x x Allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for five (5) days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellant’s status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system.
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Sen. Franklin M. Drilon issued this statement on Monday, Nov. 28, as he reiterated his call for Corona to inhibit himself from cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He said Corona's "judicial record" is "untarnished by a negative vote against the ex-president," who is now under hospital arrest over election sabotage charges.
Drilon cited the following cases:
1) Corona concurred in the Dec. 7, 2010 SC ruling declaring as unconstitutional President Aquino's order creating the Truth Commission. The commission was tasked to, among others. investigate past abuses under the Arroyo administration.
2) Corona concurred in the Oct. 10 2010 SC decision stopping the Aquino administration from revoking the appointment of alleged midnight appointees made by former President Arroyo. Corona himself was branded as a "midnight appointee," since he was named Chief Justice by Mrs. Arroyo on May 17, 2010, after the presidential elections that Aquino won.
3) Corona concurred in the April 7 2010 SC ruling denying the petition of then Sen. Benigno Aquino III and upholding Republic Act 9716 creating the First and Second Districts of Camarines Sur, which eventually benefited an Arroyo son, now Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo.
4) Corona concurred in the SC decision reversing its previous decision ordering the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the trial of former Rep. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, whose son, Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, is a known ally of Arroyo.
5) Corona concurred in the Feb. 11, 2009 SC decision upholding the validity of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States and ordering the transfer of US serviceman and rape convict Daniel Smith to a Philippine detention facility.
6) Corona dissented in the SC October 14, 2008 SC decision declaring the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) entered into by then President Arroyo's peace negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as "contrary to law and the Constitution."
7) Corona concurred with the July 16, 2008 SC decision declaring that communications in the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement signed by then President Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on September 9, 2006 were covered by executive privilege and not subject to public disclosure.
8) Corona concurred with the March 25, 2009 SC decision stating that then Social Security System Chairman Romulo Neri was not liable for contempt for not appearing in the Senate hearings of the NBN-ZTE scandal because his testimony was covered by executive privilege.
9) Corona dissented in the February 15, 2008 SC decision declaring that the wiretapped conversation between then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Commission on then Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano was not prohibited from broadcast.
10) Corona dissented in the May 3, 2006 SC decision declaring then President Arroyo's Presidential Proclamation 1017, which placed the country under a state of national emergency in March 2006, as "partly constitutional, partly unconstitutional."
11) Corona dissented in the October 25, 2006 SC decision dismissing the petition of the pro-Arroyo Sigaw ng Bayan to allow a people's initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution due to their failure to comply with a constitutional requirement of conducting a people's initiative.
12) Corona concurred in the Aug. 15, 2006 SC decision declaring as valid then President Arroyo's gag order that prohibited executive and military officials from appearing before congressional investigations without the President's consent. The case was filed by then Marines Brig. General (now retired) Francisco Gudani.
13) Corona concurred in the April 20, 2006 SC decision upholding the controversial gag order known as Executive Order 464, which allowed Malacanang and other executive officials to invoke executive privilege in refusing to testify in congressional investigations.
14) Corona concurred with the April 19, 2006 SC cases declaring as valid then President Arroyo's Executive Order 420 establishing a national identification card policy.
15) Corona concurred in the December 13, 2005 SC decision declaring that then President Arroyo can make appointments "in an acting capacity" without seeking confirmation from the Commission on Appointments.
16) Corona concurred in the October 18, 2005 SC decision declaring as constitutional Republic Act 9337, also known as the VAT Reform Act.
17) Corona dissented in the March 2, 2004 SC ruling dismissing petitions to disqualify then presidential aspirant Fernando Poe Jr. on grounds that he was not a natural born citizen.
18) Corona concurred with the Feb. 3, 2004 SC decision declaring that President Arroyo did not exceed her powers in issuing Proclamation number 427, 435 and General Order No. 4 declaring a state of rebellion during the so-called Oakwood Mutiny.
19) Corona dissented in the January 13, 2004 SC decision voiding the contract entered into by the Commission on Elections with the Mega-Pacific firm for not undergoing the required public bidding.
"All his decisions are all for Gloria. His own record shows that he favors Arroyo. Even if Chief Justice Corona's votes in the 19 cases are based on merit, what is important here is how people perceive him," Drilon said in a statement.
He noted that Corona's voluntary inhibition would "go a long way in maintaining the credibility of the Supreme Court especially in cases involving Arroyo."
Presided over by Corona, the SC en banc today resumes oral arguments on the petitions of the Arroyo camp for the High Tribunal to nullify the justice department-Commission on Elections probe on alleged vote-rigging in the 2007 senatorial race. The panel's findings were made as basis for the filing of an electoral sabotage case against former President Arroyo and three others. - Move.PH
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