See - Injustice swells NPA ranks | Inquirer News
Ramon Tulfo says:
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Sunday, December 30, 2012
See - SC asked to nullify law on libel penalty
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MANILA, Philippines - Weeks before the scheduled oral arguments on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, lawyers and journalists asked the Supreme Court to also nullify the law criminalizing libel.
Lawyer Harry Roque and Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas filed an amended petition on December 27 asking the High Court to declare as unconstitutional Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code.
Article 355 of the penal code states that libel is punishable with 6 months to 4 years of imprisonment. The Cybercrime Act increases the penalty by one degree - those who committed libel using a "computer system" may be sentenced to 6 months and 12 years in jail.
Roque and Tordesillas filed the amended petition weeks before the SC is scheduled to entertain oral arguments on 15 petitions filed against Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime law set on January 15, 2013.
The 15 petitions said the law violates the right to freedom of expression, speech and privacy among others. The SC earlier issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from implementing the law on October 9.
The 120-day will be lifted in February 2013.
"We've had to clarify that pursuant to the View of the UN Human Rights Committee in Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines, libel under the Revised Penal Code is contrary to freedom of expression," Roque said.
"In its annual report this year on the Philippines, the UN Human Rights Committee also decried that instead of complying with this view and repeal Art 355 of the RPC, the Philippines even expanded the coverage of libel through the Cyberprevention Act. Hence, its important to have both libel under the RPC and under the new law be declared as illegal."
Roque filed the amended petition in behalf of Davao-based broadcaster Alexander Adonis, who was sent to jail for libel in 2007 following a case filed against him by then Davao 1st district Rep. Prospero Nograles.
The government in early December asked the high court, however, to uphold the constitutionality of the Cybecrime law.
The Office of the Solicitor General said the law is valid except for Sec.19 or the "takedown clause" which authorizes the Department of Justice to bar access to websites found to contain "harmful" content based on prima facie evidence.
It defended Sec. 4(c) 4 which penalizes online libel, saying online libel is not a new crime.
The OSG said it is punishable under the Revised Penal Code. Article 360 of the Revised Penal code states that "Any person who shall publish, exhibit, or cause the publication or exhibition of any defamation in writing or by similar means," can be sued for libel.
The government said "other means" include using the computer system. - Rappler.com
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Did justice sleep?
FROM THE HEART By Gina Lopez (The Philippine Star) |Updated October 14, 2012 - 12:00am
Paco Larrañaga (standing, right) behind bars, being interviewed by a news reporter, shortly after he was arrested for the kidnap, rape and murder of two sisters in the Philippines. Photo by Arni Aclao
A few months ago, my brother was talking excitedly about a film called Give Up Tomorrow which has won many awards overseas — 16 to be exact — and how it depicts the sad state of our Philippine justice system.
I finally saw the documentary last week. From beginning to end, I was in shock. How can this be happening? Sure, Paco Larrañaga — the subject of the film who was accused of rape and murder of two Cebu girls and sentenced to life in prison — has a swagger, a “bad boy image,” but one can’t convict based on that. How can a person commit a crime when there are 40 eyewitnesses that say he was in Quezon City when the crimes were happening in Cebu?
In the decision of the Regional Trial Court, the late Judge Martin Ocampo said it was physically possible for Paco to have taken a private plane to Cebu and then flown back in time to take his exams in Quezon City at 7:30 in the morning. Huh? If Paco was really bad, why couldn’t he just have raped someone in Manila? Or Quezon City? Why would he fly all the way to Cebu to rape someone, throw her in the ravine and then fly back to attend his exams? It just did not make sense. Another question that nagged at me after watching the movie is this: How can it be verified that Paco was in Cebu when there was no physical evidence that he hired a private plane? Where are the flight records, receipts, or pilot affidavits? In fact, Paco’s name was not in any of the manifests of any ships and commercial airplanes going to and from Cebu at that time.
I guess what really convinced me of his innocence was hearing the teacher of Paco Larrañaga talk. Chef Rowena Bautista had testified that she saw Paco at 6:30 p.m. coming down the stairs of their school in Quezon City. This is the exact time that Paco was allegedly in Cebu, according to the prosecution witness. I like to think I can tell if someone is lying or not. Well, more often than not, I can! And I could tell she was telling the truth. I also met Paco’s parents. They seemed such decent people. And Paco’s sister, Mimi — my goodness, she’s a sweetheart! So how can a family like this breed a cold-blooded killer that deserves a death penalty?
In the film there are statements from the United Nations, from Fair Trials International, Amnesty International, Reprieve, the European Union, and these are unbiased professionals with nothing to gain from defending Paco. They all say that the Supreme Court decision was flawed. However the investigation by legal experts from international groups was completely ignored.
What was also interesting to me is that after his two daughters went missing, Dionesio Chiong decided not to testify against his boss, who was under investigation for being a drug lord at that time. The other two who testified against this alleged drug lord were eventually found dead, executed in horrific circumstances. So one begins to wonder.
The film has people like one of the lead investigating officers, Pablo Labra, who can’t even “recall” the clues that led him to conclude that Paco was the culprit. He really seemed like a flake. Several times the judge was caught sleeping on the bench — while deciding on lives. Sleeping?
The Chiong family needed to vent their angst. That’s understandable. However, if one looks at the circumstances, it seems that they have chosen the wrong person. In contrast, Senator Serge Osmeña was in the auditorium when I watched the film. The mother of Paco is his first cousin. He purposely did not involve himself in the proceedings so that if Paco was found innocent, it would not be misconstrued that it was due to his interference.
Because there are so many issues, I became curious; so I asked for a copy of the Supreme Court decision. According to the Supreme Court decision there were over 20 prosecution witnesses that claimed they saw Paco in Cebu that day. I wonder how the Supreme Court came up with this statement when in the Regional Trial Court, aside from the state witness; there were only four who claimed to have seen Paco in Cebu. Then I found out that the filmmakers interviewed two of these prosecution witnesses, who admitted on film that their affidavits did not match their actual eyewitness accounts.
Mysteriously, the state witness, as well as the other prosecution witnesses, are now unavailable to be interviewed. Where did they go? The filmmakers tried their best to find them, even hiring private detectives. On the other hand, the classmates and friends who were with Paco in Quezon City are all here 15 years later, still eager to state the truth.
Another scene that horrified me in the documentary was of Paco recounting how he was not allowed to testify in his own trial. There are pictures of Paco raising his hand, calling out to the judge. In the court records, the judge himself clearly stipulates that Paco wanted to testify and yet Judge Ocampo did not allow it. Isn’t this the most fundamental of constitutional and human rights? The right to be heard in your own trial? Guess what? Despite this glaring violation, the Supreme Court denied Paco’s request for an oral argument at the Supreme Court and even elevated Paco’s life sentence to death by lethal injection!
The point about Paco Larrañaga is that if this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone else. And my goodness, Paco’s mother is an Osmeña and it still happened? What more if the person is poor and has no connections?
The only hope that remains for Paco is executive clemency. I do hope President Aquino and his legal experts will, in the interest of justice, see the film. There must be something to it, if all these impartial international experts, like the United Nations Human Rights Committee, state categorically that Paco’s human rights were violated, that an injustice was done, that the Supreme Court at that time erred in their decision.
Instead of sticking to a flawed decision, why not right it? Paco is now 34. He was 19 when this happened. He still has his whole life ahead of him. Every time injustice wins, the fiber of our society is weakened. And every time justice prevails and truth sees the light of day, we build a better future. Let justice be done.
You need to see the film. It makes for good educational material and fodder for discussion. I highly, highly recommend it. It’s in theaters now on an extended run until Oct. 16 in Greenbelt 3 and Oct. 23 in other theaters. You can go to www.giveuptomorrow.com for more info and find out how you can have private and school screenings. The filmmakers can also be contacted at www.facebook.com/giveuptomorrow,firstname.lastname@example.org or 0905-335-5177.
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I can be reached at email@example.com.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A judge’s failure to correctly interpret the law or to properly appreciate the evidence presented does not necessarily incur administrative liability
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We seize this occasion, therefore, to stress once again that disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions brought against any judge in relation to the performance of his official functions are neither complementary to nor suppletory of appropriate judicial remedies, nor a substitute for such remedies. Any party who may feel aggrieved should resort to these remedies, and exhaust them, instead of resorting to disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions. We explained why in In Re: Joaquin T. Borromeo:
Given the nature of the judicial function, the power vested by the Constitution in the Supreme Court and the lower courts established by law, the question submits to only one answer: the administrative or criminal remedies are neither alternative or cumulative to judicial review where such review is available, and must wait on the result thereof.
Simple reflection will make this proposition amply clear, and demonstrate that any contrary postulation can have only intolerable legal implications. Allowing a party who feels aggrieved by a judicial order or decision not yet final and executory to mount an administrative, civil or criminal prosecution for unjust judgment against the issuing judge would, at a minimum and as an indispensable first step, confer the prosecutor (Ombudsman) with an incongruous function pertaining, not to him, but to the courts: the determination of whether the questioned disposition is erroneous in its findings of fact or conclusions of law, or both. If he does proceed despite that impediment, whatever determination he makes could well set off a proliferation of administrative or criminal litigation, a possibility hereafter more fully explored.
Such actions are impermissible and cannot prosper. It is not, as already pointed out, within the power of public prosecutors, or the Ombudsman or his Deputies, directly or vicariously, to review judgments or final orders or resolutions of the Courts of the land. The power of review—by appeal or special civil action—is not only lodged exclusively in the Courts themselves but must be exercised in accordance with a well-defined and long established hierarchy, and long standing processes and procedures. No other review is allowed; otherwise litigation would be interminable, and vexatiously repetitive.
In this regard, we reiterate that a judge’s failure to correctly interpret the law or to properly appreciate the evidence presented does not necessarily incur administrative liability, for to hold him administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or decision he renders, assuming he has erred, will be nothing short of harassment and will make his position doubly unbearable. His judicial office will then be rendered untenable, because no one called upon to try the facts or to interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. Administrative sanction and criminal liability should be visited on him only when the error is so gross, deliberate and malicious, or is committed with evident bad faith, or only in clear cases of violations by him of the standards and norms of propriety and good behavior prescribed by law and the rules of procedure, or fixed and defined by pertinent jurisprudence.
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RE: VERIFIED COMPLAINT OF ENGR. OSCAR L. ONGJOCO, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD/CEO OF FH-GYMN MULTI-PURPOSE AND TRANSPORT SERVICE COOPERATIVE, AGAINST HON. JUAN Q. ENRIQUEZ, JR., HON. RAMON M. BATO, JR. AND HON. FLORITO S. MACALINO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICES, COURT OF APPEALS, A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-184-CA-J, January 31, 2012.
Noy classmate to be next presidential legal counsel? | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com
See - Noy classmate to be next presidential legal counsel? | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com
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Noy classmate to be next presidential legal counsel?
By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2012 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - A classmate of President Aquino from grade school to college at the Ateneo de Manila University may be the next chief presidential legal counsel, replacing Eduardo de Mesa who was transferred to a government-owned and controlled corporation.
Sources said Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, who took up economics – just like Aquino – as his pre-law course, is a shoo-in for the position.
De Mesa, who has been with the Aquino administration since the Chief Executive assumed office in June 2010, is a director of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Caguioa is a senior partner of the Caguioa and Gatmaytan law office. He passed the Bar in 1986 after finishing law at the Ateneo in 1985.
He joined SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan in 1986 and was a partner from 1994 to February 2007.
His father was the late Court of Appeals justice Eduardo Caguioa.
He also taught at the Ateneo and San Sebastian College.
Caguioa has been cited as a leading Philippine lawyer in the Dispute Resolution field by Chambers & Partners in its 2010 and 2011 Asia-Pacific publications.
He specializes in litigation and arbitration. He has devoted much of his career to civil and commercial litigation before courts and quasi-judicial bodies of all levels, and to arbitration before various arbitration bodies.
According to his law office’s website, Caguioa has also “actively practiced before the different levels of the prosecutorial system, and has acted as private prosecutor or defense counsel before the regular courts and the Sandiganbayan.”
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