Monday, September 26, 2016

Limitations to notarial practice of private lawyers - Manila Times

"x x x.

Not all persons are authorized to notarize documents. Under the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice (A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC), only persons who are granted a commission or an authority to perform notarial acts may notarize documents. The commission may only be issued by an Executive Judge to a person who possesses the following qualifications: (1) must be a citizen of the Philippines; (2) must be over twenty-one (21) years of age; (3) must be a resident in the Philippines for at least one (1) year and maintains a regular place of work or business in the city or province where the commission is to be issued; (4) must be a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing with clearances from the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and (5) must not have been convicted in the first instance of any crime involving moral turpitude (Section 1, Rule III, Ibid.).

Once it is issued, the notary public may perform notarial acts in any place within the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioning court for two (2) years commencing on the first day of January of the year in which the commissioning is made, unless earlier revoked or the notary public has resigned under these Rules and the Rules of Court (Section 11, Rule III, Ibid.).

Thus, even if a private lawyer is granted a notarial commission, but he exercises it outside of the jurisdiction of the commissioning court, he conclusively acts without authority. Accordingly, he may be disciplined or even penalized for the same. The Supreme Court, in many cases, has imposed the penalties of temporary or permanent bar from being commissioned as a notary public and/or suspension from the practice of law to erring lawyers.

The Supreme Court, through Justice Jose C. Mendoza, explained: “X x x notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routine act. It is invested with substantive public interest that only those who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. It must be emphasized that the act of notarization by a notary public converts a private document into a public document making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face, and for this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties x x x” (Re: Violations of Rules on Notarial Practice, A.M. No. 09-6-1-SC January 21, 2015).

Correspondingly, you may file a complaint against the private lawyer who notarized your mother’s document if you have a clear evidence that can establish the fact that he indeed notarized your mother’s document without the necessary commission or having done so outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the court that granted his commission.

x x x."

‘Rule of Law’ defined - Manuel Caballero, The Filipino Reporter, NJ, USA.

"x x x.

‘Rule of Law’ expounded

Atty. Manuel Laserna, Jr. (all lawyers this week...Secretary Yasay is also a lawyer), 3rd placer in the 1985 Bar examinations in the Philippines and former law professor, sent us his “thesis” on the much mentioned phrase “Rule of Law.”

We have been reading this phrase in relation to Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) in the native country.

I am using the essay in its entirety for information showing that EJKs happen in the Philippines contrary to the claim of some.

“Death under investigation” is a deceitful cover-up euphemism and play of words for “extrajudicial killing,” no matter how much the Philippine National Police and the Duterte Congress hide the truth.

“Vigilante killing” is pure and simple “extrajudicial killing” (murder qualified by treachery, premeditation, etc.).

“Killings during police operations” based on police clichés of “lumaban” and “agaw baril” (“bumunot eh”) is “extrajudicial killing” (murder or homicide, depending on the facts of the case).

Extrajudicial killing is the infliction of death on “suspects” by the State forces without judicial

* warrant of arrest,

* search warrant,

* trial,

* appeals, and

* conviction by final judgment.

It is not lawful to kill outright a “suspect” even if he has allegedly shown “some resistance.”

The PNP manuals command policemen to first “negotiate with” and “disable” the suspect.

This is the international law enforcement norm.

To kill is the last resort.

The first steps that should be taken by policemen are to “negotiate, disable, arrest, and prosecute” the accused in court.

Not to kill outright.

(The CHR [Commission on Human Rights] has been reminding the PNP about this basic rule for many years now.)

Policemen who wrongfully ignore in bad faith the foregoing rules of engagement are not entitled to the “rebuttable presumption of regularity in the performance of public duty” under the Rules of Evidence.

Only a “valid/complete self-defense” allows a policeman to kill suspects.

The Revised Penal Code defines its elements, the most important of which are

* the “unlawful aggression” of the suspect,

* the “lack of provocation” by the policemen,

* the “proportionality of the defensive response” applied by policemen, and

* the “necessity of the counter force or means” used by policemen.

Criminal informations/complaints for the felonies of murder or homicide, as the case may be, should be filed in court against policemen guilty of violating the foregoing legal principles.

That is the “rule of law.”

x x x."

See -

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Corpus delicti

"Corpus delicti is defined as the body, foundation or substance upon which a crime has been committed, e.g., the corpse of a murdered man. It refers to the fact that a crime has been actually committed." (People v. Quimzon, 471 Phil. 182, 192 [2004].)

Good faith is always presumed

"Well-settled is the rule that good faith is always presumed and the Chapter on Human Relations of the Civil Code directs every person, inter alia, to observe good faith which springs from the fountain of good conscience. Specifically, a public officer is presumed to have acted in good faith in the performance of his duties. Mistakes committed by a public officer are not actionable absent any clear showing that they were motivated by malice or gross negligence amounting to bad faith. ‘Bad faith’ does not simply connote bad moral judgment or negligence. There must be some dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of a sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will. It partakes of the nature of fraud. It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or some motive of self-interest or ill will for ulterior purposes." (Collantes v. Marcelo, 556 Phil. 794, 806 [2007].)

Search warrant - G.R. No. 199032 (2014)

RETIRED SP04 BIENVENIDO LAUD, Petitioner,  vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent, G.R. No. 199032, November 19, 2014

“x  x x.

The Issues Before the Court

The issues for the Court’s resolution are as follows: (a) whether the administrative penalties imposed on Judge Peralta invalidated Search Warrant No. 09-14407; (b) whether the Manila-RTC had jurisdiction to issue the said warrant despite non-compliance with the compelling reasons requirement under Section 2, Rule126 of the Rules of Court; (c) whether the requirements of probable cause and particular description were complied with and the one-specific-offense rule under Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court was violated; and (d) whether the applicant for the search warrant,i.e., the PNP, violated the rule against forum shopping.

X x x.

A. Effect of Judge Peralta’s Administrative Penalties.

Citing Section 5, Chapter III of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC which provides that "[t]he
imposition upon an Executive Judge or Vice-Executive Judge of an administrative penalty of at least a reprimand shall automatically operate to divest him of his position as such,"Laud claims that Judge Peralta had no authority to act as Vice-Executive Judge and accordingly issue Search Warrant No. 09-14407 in view of the Court’s Resolution in Dee C. Chuan & Sons, Inc. v. Judge Peralta34 wherein he was administratively penalized with fines of P15,000.00 and P5,000.00.35

While the Court does agree that the imposition of said administrative penalties did operate to divest Judge Peralta’s authority to act as ViceExecutive Judge, it must be qualified thatthe abstraction of such authority would not, by and of itself, result in the invalidity of Search Warrant No. 09-14407 considering that Judge Peralta may be considered to have made the issuance as a de facto officer whose acts would, nonetheless, remain valid.

Funa v. Agra36 defines who a de facto officer is and explains that his acts are just as valid for all purposes as those of a de jure officer, in so far as the public or third persons who are interested therein are concerned, viz.:

A de facto officer is one who derives his appointment from one having colorable
authority to appoint, if the office is an appointive office, and whose appointment is valid on its face. He may also be one who is in possession of an office, and is discharging [his] duties under color of authority, by which is meant authority derived from an appointment, however irregular or informal, so that the incumbent is not a mere volunteer. Consequently, the acts of the de factoofficer are just as valid for all purposes as those of a de jure officer, in so far as the public or third persons who are interested therein are concerned.37

The treatment of a de factoofficer’s acts is premised on the reality that third persons cannot always investigate the right of one assuming to hold an important office and, as such, have a right to assume that officials apparently qualified and in office are legally such.38 Public interest demands that acts of persons holding, under color of title, an office created by a valid statute be, likewise, deemed valid insofar as the public – as distinguished from the officer in question – is concerned.39 Indeed, it is far more cogently acknowledged that the de factodoctrine has been formulated, not for the protection of the de facto officer principally, but rather for the protection of the public and individuals who get involved in the official acts of persons discharging the duties of an office without being lawful officers.40

In order for the de facto doctrine to apply, all of the following elements must concur: (a) there must be a de jureoffice; (b) there must be color of right or general acquiescence by the public; and (c) there must be actual physical possession of the office in good faith.41

The existence of the foregoing elements is rather clear in this case. Undoubtedly, there is a de jureoffice of a 2nd Vice-Executive Judge. Judge Peralta also had a colorable right to the said office as he was duly appointed to such position and was only divested of the same by virtue of a supervening legal technicality – that is, the operation of Section 5, Chapter III of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC as above-explained; also, it may be said that there was general acquiescence by the public since the search warrant application was regularly endorsed to the sala of Judge Peralta by the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Manila-RTC under his apparent authority as 2nd Vice Executive Judge.42 Finally, Judge Peralta’s actual physical possession of the said office is presumed to bein good faith, as the contrary was not established.43 Accordingly, Judge Peralta can be considered to have acted as a de factoofficer when he issued Search Warrant No. 09-14407, hence, treated as valid as if it was issued by a de jureofficer suffering no administrative impediment.

B. Jurisdiction of the Manila-RTC to Issue Search Warrant No. 09- 14407; Exception to the Compelling Reasons Requirement Under Section 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court.

Section 12, Chapter V of A.M.No. 03-8-02-SC states the requirements for the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the RTCs of Manilaand Quezon City. These special criminal cases pertain to those "involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions, as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court." Search warrant
applications for such cases may befiled by "the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police(PNP) and the AntiCrime Task Force (ACTAF)," and "personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies." As in ordinary search warrant applications, they "shall particularly describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed in the Rules of Court." "The Executive Judges [of these RTCs] and,whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges" are authorized to act on such applications and "shall issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts."

The Court observes that all the above-stated requirements were complied with in
this case.

As the records would show, the search warrant application was filed before the Manila-RTC by the PNP and was endorsed by its head, PNP Chief Jesus Ame Versosa,44 particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized (as will be elaborated later on) in connection with the heinous crime of Murder.45 Finding probable cause therefor, Judge Peralta, in his capacity as 2nd Vice-Executive Judge, issued Search Warrant No. 09-14407 which, as the rules state, may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said RTC.

Notably, the fact that a search warrant application involves a "special criminal case" excludes it from the compelling reason requirement under Section 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court which provides:

SEC. 2. Court where application for search warrant shall be filed. — An application for search warrant shall be filed with the following:

a) Any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed.

b) For compelling reasons stated in the application, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime isknown, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced.

However, if the criminal action has already been filed, the application shall only be made in the court where the criminal action is pending. (Emphasis supplied)

As explicitly mentioned in Section 12, Chapter V of A.M. No. 03-8- 02-SC, the rule on search warrant applications before the Manila and Quezon City RTCs for the above-mentioned special criminal cases "shall be an exception to Section 2
of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court." Perceptibly, the fact that a search warrant is being applied for in connection with a special criminal case as above-classified already presumes the existence of a compelling reason; hence, any statement to this effect would be super fluous and therefore should be dispensed with. By all indications, Section 12, Chapter V of A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC allows the Manila and Quezon City RTCs to issue warrants to be servedin places outside their territorial jurisdiction for as long as the parameters under the said section have been complied with, as in this case. Thus, on these grounds, the Court finds nothing defective in the preliminary issuance of Search Warrant No. 09-14407. Perforce, the RTC-Manila should not have overturned it.

C. Compliance with the Constitutional Requirements for the Issuance of Search
Warrant No. 09-14407 and the One-SpecificOffense Rule Under Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court.

In order to protect the people’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution) provides that no search warrant shall issue except upon probable causeto be determined personally by the judgeafter examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to besearched and the persons or things to be seized.

Complementarily, Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court states that a search warrant shall not be issued except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense:

SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. - A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied)

In this case, the existence of probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 09-14407 is evident from the first-hand account of Avasola who, in his deposition, stated that he personally witnessed the commission of the aforestated crime and was, in fact, part of the group that buried the victims:
x x x.

X x x.

Verily, the facts and circumstancesestablished from the testimony of Avasola, who was personally examined by Judge Peralta, sufficiently show that more likely than not the crime of Murder of six (6) persons had been perpetrated and that the human remains in connection with the same are in the place sought to be searched.

In Santos v. Pryce Gases, Inc.,48 the Court explained the quantum of evidence necessary to establish probable cause for a search warrant, as follows:

Probable cause for a search warrant is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discrete and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. A finding of probable cause needs only torest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused. Probable cause demands more than bare suspicion; it requires less than evidence which would justify conviction. The existence depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination. However, the findings of the judge should not disregard the facts before him nor run counter to the clear dictates of reason.49

In light of the foregoing, the Court finds that the quantum of proof to establish the existence of probable cause had been met. That a "considerable length of time" attended the search warrant’s application from the crime’s commission does not, by and of itself, negate the veracity of the applicant’s claims or the testimony of the witness presented. As the CA correctly observed, the delay may be accounted for by a witness’s fear of reprisal and natural reluctance to get involved in a criminal case.50 Ultimately, in determining the existence of probable cause, the facts and circumstances must be personally examined by the judge in their totality, together with a judicious recognition of the variable complications and sensibilities attending a criminal case. To the Court’s mind, the supposed delay in the search warrant’s application does not dilute the probable cause finding made herein. In fine, the probable cause requirement has been sufficiently met.

The Court similarly concludes that there was compliance with the constitutional requirement that there be a particular description of "the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."

"[A] description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in the community. Any designation or description known to the locality that points out the place to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry leads the officers unerringly to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement."51

Search Warrant No. 09-14407 evidently complies with the foregoing standard since it particularly describes the place to be searched, namely, the three (3) caves located inside the Laud Compound in Purok 3, Barangay Maa, Davao City:

You are hereby commanded to makean immediate search at any time [of] the day of the premises above describe[d] particularly the three (3) caves (as sketched) inside the said Laud Compound, Purok 3, Brgy  Ma-a, Davao Cityand forthwith seize and take possession of the remains of six (6) victims who were killed and buried in the just said premises.

x x x x52 (Emphases supplied)

For further guidance in its enforcement, the search warrant even made explicit reference to the sketch53 contained in the application. These, in the Court’s view, are sufficient enough for the officers to, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place to be searched, which they in fact did.

The things to be seized were also particularly described, namely, the remains of six (6) victims who were killed and buried in the aforesaid premises. Laud’s posturing that human remains are not "personal property" and, hence, could not be the subject of a search warrant deserves scant consideration.

Section 3, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court states:

SEC. 3.Personal property to be seized. – A search warrant may be issued for the search and seizure of personal property:

(a) Subject of the offense;

(b) Stolen or embezzled and other proceeds, or fruits of the offense; or

(c) Used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense. (Emphases supplied)

"Personal property" in the foregoing context actually refers to the thing’s mobility, and not to its capacity to be owned or alienated by a particular person. Article 416 of the Civil Code,54 which Laud himself cites,55 states that in general, all things which can be transported from place to place are deemed to be personal property. Considering that human remains can generally be transported from place toplace, and considering further that they qualify under the phrase "subject of the offense" given that they prove the crime’s corpus delicti,56 it follows that they may be valid subjects of a search warrant under the above-cited criminal procedure provision. Neither does the Court agree with Laud’s contention that the term "human remains" is too all-embracing so as to subvert the particular description requirement. Asthe Court sees it, the description points to no other than the things that bear a direct r elation to the offense committed, i.e., of Murder. It is also perceived that the description is already specific as the circumstances would ordinarily allow given that the buried bodies would have naturally decomposed over time. These observations on the description’s sufficient particularity square with the Court’s pronouncement in Bache and Co., (Phil.), Inc. v. Judge Ruiz,57 wherein it was held:

A search warrant may be said to particularly describe the things to be seized when the description therein is as specific as the circumstances will ordinarily allow(People v. Rubio, 57 Phil. 384 [1932]); or when the description expresses a conclusion of fact — not of law — by which the warrant officer may be guided in making the search and seizure (idem., dissent of Abad Santos, J.); or when the things described are limited to those which bear direct relation to the offense for which the warrant is being issued(Sec. 2, Rule 126, Revised Rules of Court) x x x If the articles desired to be seized have any direct relation to an offense committed, the applicant must necessarily have some evidence, other than those articles, to prove the said offense; and the articles subject of search and seizure should come in handy merely to strengthen such evidence. (Emphases supplied)58

Consequently, the Court finds that the particular description requirement – both as to the place to be searched and the things to be seized – had been complied with.

Finally, the Court finds no violation of the one-specific-offense rule under Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court as above-cited which, to note, was intended to prevent the issuance of scattershot warrants, or those which are issued for more than one specific offense. The defective nature of scatter-shot warrants was discussed in the case of People v. CA59 as follows: There is no question that the search warrant did not relate to a specific offense, in violation of the doctrine announced in Stonehill v. Diokno and of Section 3 [now, Section 4] of Rule 126 providing as follows:

SEC. 3. Requisites for issuing search warrant.— A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized. Significantly, the petitioner has not denied this defect in the search warrant and has merely said that there was probable cause, omitting to continue that it was in connection withone specific offense. He could not, of course, for the warrant was a scatter-shot warrant that could refer, in Judge Dayrit’s
own words, "to robbery, theft, qualified theft or estafa." On this score alone, the search warrantwas totally null and void and was correctly declared to be so by the very judge who had issued it.60

In Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. CA,61 the Court, however, settled that a search warrant that covers several counts of a certain specific offense does not violate the one-specific-offense rule, viz.:

That there were several counts of the offenseof copyright infringement and the search warrant uncovered several contraband items in the form of pirated video tapes is not to be confused with the number of offenses charged. The search warrant herein issued does not violate the one-specific-offense rule. (Emphasis supplied)62

Hence, given that Search Warrant No. 09-14407 was issued only for one specific offense – that is, of Murder, albeit for six (6) counts – it cannot be said that Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court had been violated.

That being said, the Court now resolves the last issue on forum shopping.

D. Forum Shopping.

There is forum shopping when a litigant repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some other court to increase his chances of obtaining a favorable decision if not in one court, then in another.63

Forum shopping cannot be said to have been committed in this case considering the various points of divergence attending the search warrant application before the Manila-RTC and that before the Davao-RTC. For one, the witnesses presented in each application were different. Likewise, the application filed in Manila was in connection with Murder, while the one in Davao did not specify any crime. Finally, and more importantly, the places to be searched were different
– that inManila sought the search of the Laud Compound caves, while that in Davao was for a particular area in the Laud Gold Cup Firing Range. There being no identity of facts and circumstances between the two applications, the ruleagainst forum shopping was therefore not violated.

Thus, for all the above-discussed reasons, the Court affirms the CA Ruling which upheld the validity of Search Warrant No. 09-14407.

X x x.”

Martial Law under the 1987 Constitution.

The matter of martial law is covered by Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

At the outset, it must be stated that the President has taken an oath to faithfully and conscientiously fulfill his duties, “preserve and defend the Constitution, execute the laws, do justice to every man”, and consecrate himself to the service of the Nation. (Section 5 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution). 

Learning from the horror, terror and tyranny of martial law of The Dictator Marcos from 1972 to 1986, Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution now provides for broad and specific limitations to the power of the President to proclaim a state of lawlessness, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and to declare martial law. 

(1) The President, as the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines, whenever it becomes “necessary”, may “call out” such armed forces to prevent or suppress “lawless violence”, “invasion”, or “rebellion”. (“Call out” clause).

To do this, he proclaims a “state of lawlessness” on a “national” or “local” scale as may be warranted by the circumstances.

(2) Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that in case of “invasion or rebellion” and “when the public safety requires it”, the President may “suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus” or place ”the Philippines” or “any part” thereof under “martial law” for a period “not exceeding sixty (60) days”. 

(a) A writ of habeas corpus (literally to "produce the body") is a court order to a person (prison warden) or agency (institution) holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court issuing the order. (See Rule 102, Rules of Court).

(b) Martial Law is the exercise of government and control by military authorities over the civilian population of a designated territory. 

It is an extreme and rare measure used to control society during war or periods of civil unrest or chaos. 

The Commander-in-Chief becomes the head of the entire government, thus removing all powers from the previous Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government.

(c) Invasion is the act of forcefully entering the territory of another state as enemy armed forces with hostile intent. 

It is an act of incursion of by hostile armed forces to conquer and plunder another state.

(d) Rebellion is the act of violent, open, armed and organized resistance to an established or duly constituted government. (See Article 134, Rev. Penal Code).

(e) When an invasion or rebellion occurs, at the option of the President, he may decide in the meantime not to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law if he feels that public safety is not yet placed in immediate danger. 

Instead, he may merely order the armed forces to deal with the invasion or rebellion in the ordinary course of duty (“call out” clause, supra).

(f) If in the mind of the President the invasion or rebellion poses an immediate and serious peril to public safety, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law for a period not exceeding sixty (60) days.

(g) A mere state of lawlessness is not a constitutional ground to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or to declare martial law. 

(h) In such a case, the remedy of the President, as Commander-in-Chief is to invoke the “call out” clause, supra, that is, to mobilize the armed forces to restore peace and order.

(3) Further, Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that “within forty-eight (48) hours” from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President “shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress.” 

· Furthermore, it provides that Congress, “voting jointly”, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, “may revoke” such proclamation or suspension, which revocation “shall not be set aside by the President”. 

· Finally, it provides that upon the initiative or recommendation of the President, the Congress “may extend” such proclamation or suspension “for a period to be determined by the Congress”, if the “invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

(a) The President has the constitutional duty to report to Congress within 48 hours.

(b) Congress may revoke the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the declaration of martial law. 

(c) The President has no constitutional power to set aside or reverse such congressional revocation.

(d) Congress may extend the period of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the declaration of martial law for another fixed period “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.” 

(e) The Constitution does not allow an “indefinite extension.”

(f) Only Congress has the constitutional power to extend the period.

(g) The President has no constitutional power to extend the period.

(4) It must be noted that Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that the Supreme Court “may review”, in an “appropriate proceeding” filed by “any citizen”, the sufficiency of the “factual basis” of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon “within thirty days from its filing.”

(a) The “political question” doctrine cannot stop the Supreme Court from determining the “factual basis” (as against the “presidential wisdom”) for the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof. 

(b) Normally, if a petition is covered by the political question doctrine it is not deemed “justiciable” by the courts; hence, the courts are inappropriate forums to hear the case. It is inapplicable in this case.

(c) The appropriate proceeding referred to in Section 18 of Article VII is the “special action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with urgent prayer for temporary restraining order” under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. 

(d) It is usually filed with the Supreme Court because of the paramount and precedent-setting constitutional issues involved. 

(e) The petition may be filed with the Supreme Court by “any citizen.” 

(f) Locus standi (legal standing) is granted by the Constitution to “any citizen” to commence such a special civil action.

(g) The Supreme Court must resolve the petition within thirty (30) days from filing thereof.

(5) Most importantly, Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that a state of martial law 

· does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, 

· nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, 

· nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, 

· nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.

(a) The 1987 Constitution is not suspended, revoked or superseded by martial law.

(b) The President/Commander-in-Chief has no constitutional power to suspend the operation of the 1987 Constitution.

(c) The Judiciary and the Legislature are not supplanted, suspended or abolished by martial law.

(d) The President/Commander-in-Chief has no constitutional power to suspend or take over the operation of the Judiciary and the Legislature.

(e) Where the civil courts are able to function, the military courts and the military agencies are not granted jurisdiction over civilians.

(f) The Supreme Court determines that fact of inability of the courts to function in affected areas.

(g) The consent of the Supreme Court is needed to allow military courts or military agencies to exercise jurisdiction over civilians in such areas.

(h) The President/Commander-in-Chief has no constitutional power to vest the military courts and military agencies with jurisdiction over civilians.

(i) Martial law does not automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

(j) The President/Commander-in-Chief must issue a separation proclamation suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. 

(6) Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution further provides that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons “judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”

· It further provides that during the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person thus arrested or detained “shall be judicially charged within three days”, otherwise he shall be “released.”

(a) The scope of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is limited by the 1987 Constitution to “rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.” 

(b) The 1987 Constitution provides that suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons “judicially charged”. 

(c) During the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person arrested or detained must be judicially charged within “three days”. It not, he shall be automatically “released.”

(d) The President/Commander-in-Chief has no constitutional power to indefinitely detain a citizen. 

(e) The military must judicially charge the arrested citizen within three (3) days. If not, the military must immediately release him. 

(f) Otherwise, the responsible military officials shall be criminally liable for “arbitrary detention”, “delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities”, or “delaying release”, as the case may be, under Articles 124, 125, and 126 of the Rev. Penal Code.

Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr.
Laserna Cueva-Mercader Law Offices
Las Pinas City, Philippines

September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sample reply of homeowners association to police commander re implementation of Operation Tokhang in a subdivision

Draft reply to PCP No. __ commander

Homeowners Association Letterhead



Police Senior Inspector
PCP No. ___ Commander
__________ St.
Brgy. ______,  _______ City



In re: the abovementioned subject matter in respect of your letter, dated _________, a copy of which is attached as Annex “A” hereof, addressed to our homeowners association, may we respectfully state the following:

1. For the record, our homeowners association respectfully manifests that is supports the present peace and order/anti-drug campaign of the government which your office is now implementing.

2. In re: your request to implement “Operation Tokhang” inside our subdivision by conducting a police visitation in our subdivision, we respectfully request that you formally state in writing in a letter addressed to our board of directors the official

· terms,
· conditions, and 
· parameters thereof

to insure that the applicable human rights laws, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the PNP Manuals of Operations, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) board regulations, and the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution are properly complied with for the protection of the constitutional and human rights of our members, particularly the 

· right to privacy, 
· right to personal security and peace of mind,
· right against self-incrimination or to remain silent, 
· right against illegal search, seizure and arrest without judicial warrants, 
· right to counsel, 
· right to due process of law, 
· right to equal protection of the law, and 
· other constitutional rights enshrined in Art. III of the 1987 Constitution (Bill of Rights).

3. With due respect, our board of directors is not in a position to provide you with a “list” of alleged drug “suspects” (users or pushers), as you requested in your aforementioned letter, considering

· that such an act is not a part of our legal and corporate duties as a private homeowners association, 

· that our homeowners association is not a part of the law enforcement and intelligence structures of the government and has no intention to be a part of the local law enforcement or police intelligence structure of our city, 

· that the said act is an official duty that properly belongs to Barangay ________ and its security and intelligence personnel, pursuant to the 1991 Local Government Code,

· that it is not fair to our homeowners to implicate and accuse any one of them of any crime without giving them the opportunity to be heard, pursuant to their constitutional rights to due process of law, equal protection of the law, to be presumed innocent, and against self-incrimination,

· that for us to issue to you an official list of drug “suspects” in our subdivision, as you have requested, based on unverified and unconfirmed rumors, raw and invalidated intelligence reports and community gossips is unfair and unjust to the parties named, shamed and accused in such list and the said act may be interpreted as an abusive, libelous, slanderous, incriminatory, wrongful, and tortuous act on the part of our board of directors,

4. It is respectfully suggested that you or your duly authorized representative (with commissioned officer rank) first meet with our board of directors and the council of elders of our homeowners association at our clubhouse on such a date and at such a time that are mutually convenient to all of us, preferably in the evening considering that all of us are employees or businessmen. 

For this purpose, you may contact the undersigned lead officer of our homeowners association assigned to coordinate with you on this matter and to arrange the suggested meeting:

Home Tel. #
Mobile #

5. Rest assured of the full cooperation of our homeowners association, provided, the Constitutional and the applicable laws and rules are duly complied with to protect the constitutional and human rights of our members. 

Thank you.

Very truly yours,


Assisted By:

Pro Bono Counsel for __________ Homeowners Association, Inc.
Unit 15, Star Arcade, C. V. Starr Ave., Philamlife Village
Las Pinas City 1740
Tel/Fax Nos. 8725443 and 8742539


Pro Bono Legal Adviser,
_______________ Homeowners Association, Inc. 

Duterte’s Drug War: Debunking Presumption of Regularity | CMFR

"x x x.

The principle—presumption of regularity—assumes that a public officer is acting in accordance with his functions and within the limits of the law. In the eyes of the Duterte administration, the killings are well within the bounds of the police’s duty and of the law and that whoever accuses the authorities of violating their mandate must show that that is indeed the case. In reality, however, that assertion serves only to shut up critics or dismiss criticism.

What Is Regular?

But presumption of regularity, in fact, does not apply to police killings. Lawyer Joel Butuyan made this clear in a commentary published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (“No ‘presumption of regularity’ in police killings,” Inquirer, September 5, 2016). He outlines exactly what is regular during police operations.

The police, he said, have the power to arrest anyone only in two instances: (1) when serving a warrant of arrest issued by a court; and (2) when a crime is being committed by an individual in the presence of the police (warrantless arrest). These are clearly stated in Section 13 of the Revised PNP Manual on Operational Procedures published in December 2013, along with guidelines and procedures that police officers must follow when conducting an arrest.

While it is clear that apprehending suspects is part of the duties of the police, it is in the manner in which arrests are done and what comes afterward that causes problems.

Policemen do not automatically have the power to kill a suspect even if he resists. Instead, police should use reasonable force to subdue and take the suspects into custody. Rules 7.1 (Excessive Force Prohibited), 7.5 (Application of Necessary and Reasonable Force) and 13.1 (Arrest: General Guidelines) of the PNP manual stress this point. Only when there is “imminent danger” to human life can policemen use deadly force against a suspect. According to the PNP manual itself, the elements of imminent danger are the following:
Intent of the suspect to harm the policeman
The capability of the suspect to harm the policeman or other persons
Accessibility or the proximity of the suspect in harming the policeman and other persons

Imminent Danger

As Butuyan aptly pointed out, imminent danger to human life is the “justifying circumstance” for self-defense or defense of a stranger, which makes the killing lawful. In which case, the use of firearms in police operations to subdue suspects can be justified if the police are facing a real threat to their lives. (PNP Manual, Rule 8.1)

But it also noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that a justifying circumstance is not presumed in police killings. Therefore, policemen who kill a suspect have the burden of proving that the circumstances warranted the death.

As the current trend in the anti-illegal drug campaign shows, police authorities would usually justify the killing of a suspect by claiming that he resisted arrest.

Some cases show otherwise, such as the cases of Jaypee and Renato Bertes who were killed inside a police station in Pasay City on July 7, and the killing of pedicab driver Eric Sison on August 23. Investigation into and the autopsy of the Bertes case revealed that the father and son had already suffered injuries before their death, while a video of the police operation involving Sison suggests that the police unnecessarily used deadly force—Sison was already ready to surrender.

Disregard for Due Process

President Duterte’s promise of protection for police authorities performing their duties even to the extent of killing suspects is already alarming in itself as it promotes violence and, worse, encourages disregard for due process and human rights.

With the campaign far from over, the number of casualties is sure to continue to rise, given the questionable justification the police use for the killing of alleged drug pushers. One of the best ways, then, to help keep the public safe in these dangerous times is to arm citizens with crucial information. The media can do that by providing more insightful and understandable explainers of relevant laws and principles such as the Inquirer opinion piece.

News organizations, editors and gate-keepers should take note, radio talk show hosts included: Presumption of regularity as a legal principle does not apply as a matter of course to police killings. News stories reporting killings by police should provide this context.

As all these cases need to be investigated, the press need to follow up with inquiry into the findings.

x x x."

MEL STA.MARIA: Ominous stifling of dissent

"x x x.

The need to maintain the role of the Senate as a check on the executive is indispensable, no matter how “unpleasant” it may be for the President. We have seen this in previous Senate hearings: GMA on the NBN-ZTE deal, Aquino on the Mamasapano incident, and Estrada on the jueteng corruption case. And we also saw this with former Vice President Binay’s investigation. 

In all these senate inquiries, its members proceeded with the hearings, uninterrupted by any dramatic intra-senate committee shuffling ostensibly because of a member’s bias or “personal vendetta.” This is as it should be considering that any public discussion, borrowing from the words of Terminiello vs. Chicago (337 US 1), must be undertaken “against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” 

And now, we have the issue of nearly 3,000 mostly poor people dead on allegations or suspicions of drug-related crimes. There is no denying that the deaths sans due process resulting from “encounters,” either with the police for the cavalier reason of “nanlaban,” or death at the hands of vigilante groups, are legitimate public issues deserving of unfettered investigation and debate. Investigation of these killings has even become more compelling since there is also the question of whether these people were encouraged or inspired, intended or not, by equivocal words of government officials from the executive department.

Such is the imperative of a democracy and government accountability. The Constitution deliberately created three great branches of government (namely: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary) precisely to disperse governmental powers. The configuration is designed so that each branch can check any abuse committed, being committed or may potentially be committed by the other branches. Concentrating power or almost all the powers of government only in one branch (directly or vicariously) can lead to a monarchial kind of authority that is absolute and unconditional.

Presently, many members of the House of Representatives appear to be aligning with the Executive and from what we have seen so far from the ouster of Senator De Lima, at least 16 members of the Senate are apparently inclined to do likewise. And if the House and the Senate will act in unison based on mere alliances, personal beliefs and not on principle and commitment to constitutional imperatives, then we might see the specter of two branches (executive and legislative) combining to form a powerful association.

This is ominous. Eventually, Congress’ role as the fiscalizer of the executive department may virtually be non-existent. The check to balance the powers of government will be in danger of obliteration. Autocracy by conspiracy might just be lurking around the corner. 

Is it too much of a coincidence that certain high officials of the executive department are now entertaining “Constitutional dictatorship,” an oxymoron in itself?

Forty-four years ago today, Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law was issued by a dictator. Marcos abolished Congress and issued General Order No. 3 & 3-A, removing from the judiciary the power to decide on cases “involving the validity, legality or constitutionality of Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972, or of any decree, order or acts issued, promulgated or performed by me or by my duly designated representative pursuant thereto.” By these acts, Marcos eliminated the institutional checks against his exercise of power. We should never let this happen again.

We all stand to suffer if there is no genuine dissent; if there is no balance among the institutions in charge of checking each other’s powers. Quoting from political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu, “If in the interior of a state you do not hear the noise of any conflict, you can be sure that freedom is not there.”

To this, we should also most definitely say: Never Again.

x x x."

FULL TEXT: De Lima's privilege speech on her ouster

"x x x.

I choose to keep my soul.

Mr. President, it would take more than a Committee chairmanship, a House inquiry intended to pillory and crucify me, an Ethics Committee complaint based on hearsay, a baseless election protest, everyday tirades from the Secretary of Justice and the Solicitor General, and vicious personal attacks from the President, to take me down. I guess it would take two magazines of an Uzi machine pistol to take me down. As the saying goes, everything has been thrown at me except the kitchen sink. I am still waiting for the kitchen sink.

Mr. President, I did not expect you or the Senators to defend me from the vicious attacks of Malacanang as a person and as an incumbent Senator of the Republic. The least I expected of course is you allow me to defend myself, by myself, without any support whatsoever from the Senate. But for this body to strip me of my Committee in an unprecedented fashion at this point when we have categorical testimony establishing an uncanny similarity between the current phenomenon of the nationwide EJKs and the Davao City EJKs as perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad, was unimaginable. I now resolve to imagine more of what the President’s allies are capable of.

Sinabi naman po ng Pangulo, hindi siya titigil hangga’t ako ay kanyang madurog at mapadapa. With the House inquiry now ongoing, I already warned him, “Huwag na po ninyong ituloy Mahal na Pangulo, dahil mapapahiya lamang kayo”. DOJ Secretary Aguirre has also recently pronounced that he is ready to file the criminal complaints against me this week. But these are all based on false and fabricated evidence.

Sino naman po ang mga testigo nila? Mga preso sa Bilibid, mga convicted criminals, DOJ or NBI officials and others who have an axe to grind against me, or those who have skeletons in their closet and are now being pressured to do Malacanang’s bidding at the risk of being charged themselves.

Sa puntong ito, gusto kong iparating ang aking pagpapatawad sa lahat ng tumatayo at tatayong witness laban sa akin sa House hearing. Alam ko na kayo ay napilitan at napuwersa lamang para idawit ako sa kung anumang anomalya sa Bilibid, gamit ang panggigipit, blackmail, o marahil pati torture. Ang hindi ko mapapatawad ay ang mga nasa likod nitong pag-imbento ng ebidensiya laban sa akin. May araw din po kayo.

What is the situation now in the Bilibid? I have received reports of inmates and gang leaders being taken by the Special Action Force deployed at the Bilibid for overnight interrogation sessions, which can also be a euphemism for psychological torture, all in an effort to fabricate testimony that I received bribes from drug lords. The National Bilibid Prison under this Administration is now a tropical Gulag. Prisoners are being selected and isolated just to be intimidated into implicating me and to fit the President’s narrative that I am a drug lord coddler, aside from being the most evil woman in the planet.

Pero ano naman po talaga ang ginawa ko? Wala naman po talaga akong ginawa kung hindi gawin ang trabaho ko. Kahit ang Pangulo minsan na niyang sinambit na kahit siya ang nasa kalagayan ko, ganoon din ang gagawin niya, dahil ginagawa ko lang ang trabaho ko.

Mr. President, I am not the problem. I am not the one giving a bad image to this country before the international media, contrary to the accusation and belief of Senator Cayetano. The problem of this country and this Administration is the extra-judicial killing of more than 3,000 of our countrymen in the past three months, or more than a thousand per month.

Sinabayan pa ito ng bunganga ng Pangulo na walang patumangging magmura ng mga opisyales ng UN at ng mundo, katulad ng Santo Papa, ni Pangulong Obama at ni Sec. Gen. Ban Ki Moon, sa kabila ng pagnanais lang nila na kausapin siya sa kanilang mga agam-agam tungkol sa polisiyang giyera sa droga ng Pangulo. And may I add, the President has already proven that he is more than capable of single-handedly giving a bad image of this country to the whole world in the short span of three months in office. He does not need any help from anybody on that aspect, least of all from me.

Kaya huwag po ninyong baligtarin ang mundo, na ako ang nagbibigay ng masamang imahe sa Pilipinas dahil hindi ako ang nagmura kay Obama at Ban Ki Moon. Minsan ay tanggalin naman ninyo ang mga tapaloda ng kabayo sa inyong mga mata at medyo punahin naman ninyo kahit konti ang walang kontrol na bunganga ng inyong Pangulong pinagtatanggol.

Mr. President, ito pong mga patayan na ito ang nagbibigay ng masamang imahe sa Pilipinas ngayon. Ganoon na ba tayo kakitid mag-isip para maniwala na hindi papansinin ng mundo o ng international media ang nangyayari sa ating bansa kung wala ang isang Leila De Lima? Ang pagpatay ng mahigit 30 katao araw-araw ay pagpatay pa rin sa mata ng mundo, nandiyan man si Leila De Lima o wala. Sa tingin ba ni Senator Cayetano na sa kanyang tagumpay na matanggal sa akin ang Committee on Justice ay gaganda na antimano ang imahe ng Pilipinas sa mundo? Maari, hindi naman bawal na managinip si Senator Cayetano.

Hindi po ako ang pumapatay sa mga kababayan natin para maibalita sa international media. Hindi po ako ang nag-ra-riding-in-tandem at tumitira sa mga maralitang drug suspects. Hanggang ngayon po ay nandiyan pa rin ang mga salarin na umiikot sa kadiliman ng gabi para itumba ang mga pinagbibintangan na mga kriminal, totoo man silang kriminal o hindi. Maaring iilan sa kanila ay ang mga dating kasamahan ng ating witness na si Edgar Matobato sa Davao Death Squad. Gusto lang nating malaman kung may katotohanan sa haka-haka na ito, upang sila ay tuluyan ng madakip at mahinto na ang patayan.

There are criticisms from Senator Lacson and Senator Cayetano that I should have vetted the witness first before presenting him in the hearing.

Mr. President, the vetting process of witnesses on the DDS has started since 2009, when as CHR Chairperson I conducted the inquiry on the Davao Death Squad. At that time, we were able to interview and get statements from several DDS members who chose to talk but not to testify for fear of their lives. In fact, as early as 2009, Edgar Matobato has already been identified by one DDS witness as a companion of said witness in one of his DDS operations.

Nagtutugma po ang ilang mga kuwento sa kuwento ng ating witness na si Edgar Matobato. Katunayan, noong 2009, may mga pangalan nang mga opisyales ng Davao City Police ang lumabas na mga miyembro ng DDS sa heinous crime section ng DCPO, mga pangalan na binanggit na rin ni Matobato sa kanyang testimonya. Ang ilan po sa mga pangalan na ito ay ang mga sumusunod: SPO4 Arthur Lascanas, P/CInsp Jacy “Jay”

Francia, P/CInsp Fulgencio Pavo, P/CInsp Ronald Lao, SPO3 Jim Tan,

SPO4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura, SPO1 Reynante B. Medina, SPO1 Bienvenido Furog, SPO1 Vivencio “Jun” Jumawan, SPO2 Enrique “Jun” Delos Reyes Ayao, SPO3 Jun Laresma, SPO2 Rizalino “Bobong” G. Aquino, SPO3 Donito “Pogi” Ubales, SPO1 Jun Bisnar,

SPO1 Gaston Aquino, P/SSupt Isidero “Dick” Florivel/Florobel, P/SSupt. Rey Capote, P/SSupt Tony Rivera, P/SSupt Dionisio Abude, Bienvenido Laud, Alvin Laud, Roly Engalia, Arnold Ochavez.

Mr. President, those names compose the core group of the Davao Death Squad.

Malakas pong ebidensiya ang testimonya ni Edgar Matobato. Hindi ito katulad ng drug matrix na nilabas ng Pangulo na walang gustong umamin sa NBI, PNP, o PDEA kung kanino galing sa kanila ang impormasyon na laman nito. Kung ang pamantayan ng ebidensiya ni Senator Cayetano ay katulad ng drug matrix ng Pangulo na parang dinrawing ng isang dose anyos na bata, di hamak na lampas lampas naman ang testimonya ni Matobato sa pang-dose anyos na standard ng kanyang mahal na Pangulo. Kung minsan po talaga, ang pinakamahirap gisingin ay ang mga nagpapanggap na tulog.

Mr. President, may mga binanggit na pong mga opisyal ng kapulisan ang ating witness. Nasaan na po ang mga opisyal na ito ngayon? Masarap pa ba ang kanilang tulog sa kabila ng mga binitawang testimonya ni Edgar Matobato? Kung nakakatulog pa sila, marahil sila ay inosente. Pero papaano kung sila ay hindi inosente?

The implication is that we have a group of serial killers and mass murderers right within the ranks of the organization which is supposed to protect and serve the people. I might be jumping to conclusions, but what if it is true? Was the action of the Senate yesterday stripping me of my Committee going to help to uncover the truth, or was it part of the plan to hide the truth? I hope it is not the latter.

I still bear a great amount of respect for my colleagues. I believe that their action yesterday was borne out of an honest desire to diffuse the unnecessary political complexion of the investigation by choosing a more, shall we say, “neutral” and non-controversial Senator to lead the investigation.

At this point I would like to congratulate Senator Richard Gordon for having been vested with the vote of confidence of the Senate and for accepting the burden of investigating the current phenomenon of extra-judicial killings. I believe in his capability to carry out a serious probe into these incidents and get to the bottom of the killings. I watched his career as a Senator for several terms and I am convinced that he possesses the integrity and the courage not to be cowed by the Executive and act as a mere lackey of Malacanang.

I believe that he is also capable of exercising that impartiality that Senator Cayetano has repeatedly drilled into our heads I am not capable of. I believe that Senator Gordon bears more fortitude and strength than I did, to be able to call out and censure any colleague who transgresses the boundaries of unparliamentary speech when he accuses Liberal Party senators of conspiring to overthrow the President without presenting a single piece of evidence, while accusing me of having pre-judged the EJK investigation on the basis of an eyewitness account coming from a man who claims to have been an original member of the Davao Death Squad, until he was betrayed and framed up by his own comrades for a crime he did not commit.

I am fervently convinced that with his experience and no-nonsense personality, Senator Gordon will be more able to throw out any attempt to badger, harangue, abuse, or otherwise malign a witness by misleading and forcing him to admit that the reason he is testifying is because he was recruited by the Senators of the Liberal Party to trigger the ouster of the President and to put in Malacanang Vice President Leni Robredo whom the witness admitted he barely knows.

This is the kind of pretentious and hypocrite objectivity coming from Senator Cayetano that Senator Gordon will be facing. I wish you good luck, sir. I can tell you it was not a pleasant experience for me. Not at all. You can have the Justice Committee as well as the offensive and unparliamentary antics of Senator Cayetano. Package deal po yan. On the other hand, you will still have me as a member of the Justice Committee. I promise to behave and not give you a hard time. A Senator Cayetano is enough. I will not bother you with another obnoxious personality in your hearings in the Justice Committee.

May nakausap po akong taxi driver noong isang araw. Ang sabi niya ay parang magulo na naman sa bansa natin, katulad ng pagkagulo ng bansa sa ilalim ng ilang mga nakaraang administrasyon. Patayan dito, bombahan doon, mga bangkay na naglipana sa daan, mga barilan ng mga riding-in-tandem, mga abuso ng mga kapulisan sa mga pag-raid at pag-Tokhang sa mga urban poor areas, etcetera, etcetera.

Sa totoo lang po, wala akong nakausap na taxi driver. Ginaya ko lang po ang istilo ng pagkwento ni Senator Cayetano para patunayan niya na ang Pilipinas ay kasing-safe na ng bansang Singapore. Sa totoo lang po, medyo nabilaukan ako sa sinabi na iyon ni Senator Cayetano kahit nandoon na ako sa katahimikan ng aking opisina. Kasing-tahimik at kasing-ligtas na raw tayo katulad ng Singapore.

Hindi pa po ako nakapunta sa Singapore. Pero kung kasing-tahimik ng Singapore and Pilipinas, kailangan din bang may bumubulagta na mahigit 30 tao kada araw sa Singapore para sila ay maging ligtas? Kailangan din ba nilang mag-Tokhang para malipol ang mga mapanganib na mga pusher at addict at malinis ang mga komunidad ng masasamang elemento? Kailangan ba nilang padanakin ang dugo sa kanilang mga kalsada upang mapanatag ang mga tao na may ginagawa ang gobyerno para mapuksa ang kriminalidad? Kailangan din bang may mamatay na apat o limang-taong gulang na Singaporean sa kamay ng mga vigilante dahil ang lolo o tatay nila ay mga markadong pusher o adik?

O ibang pamamaraan ba ang ginawa ng Singapore para mapanalig ang tao sa respeto sa kaayusan at sa pag-hahari ng batas? Ang pamamaraan ng patayan para magkaroon ng katahimikan ay magdudulot lang ng katahimikan ng sementeryo. Papunta na po tayo doon, dahil unti-unti ng pinupuno ng Administrasyong ito ang ating mga sementeryo sa kanyang pagkibit-balikat kung hindi man tahasang pang-enganyo sa isang marahas na landas tungo sa pagpuksa ng literal sa mga kriminal.

The point is, Senator Cayetano wants to impress upon us the Singapore-like safety of our communities in the middle of all these killings with anecdotes. His proof that we are safe consists of anecdotal taxi driver stories. In the meantime, his President has just declared a State of National Emergency due to the existence of Lawless Violence. For the first time since the eve of the declaration of Martial Law 44 years ago to the day today, the country has not come close to such an admission by the State that it is incapable of enforcing order in society, that the President has to resort to his extraordinary commander-in-chief powers under the Constitution in order to maintain public safety, peace and order.

So are we in a State of Safety, as claimed by Senator Cayetano? Or are we in a State of Lawlessness, as declared by the President?

Safe lawlessness, or lawless safety? Ang tawag po doon sa salitang Inggles ay “oxymoron”, with emphasis on moron.

Senator Cayetano’s anecdotes will not pass any known academic standard to prove his proposed thesis that our countrymen feel safe. I for one do not feel safe, what with the President unleashing the might and power of the whole Executive Branch, the other half of Congress, and 1/24 of the Senate to go after me and destroy me, a single Senator from Bicol who wants nothing else in the world but to be and play with her dogs at home and to see that the killings stop and justice be done to those who already fell during the night.

The next time Senator Cayetano recites his now famous anecdotes about how safe we are, maybe he can include my own story. Definitely it is not a story of being safe. It is the story of being the first target of a new McCarthyism in our time, of being singled out by the powers-that-be for daring to think differently and to advocate passionately for what one believes in.

Matagal na po itong linya ng kanyang mga bayarang trolls sa social media. Kapag hindi ka Pro-Duterte, ikaw ay drug lord coddler, ikaw ay pusher, ikaw ay isang adik. Ito po ang bagong komunistang panakot sa ating panahon ngayon: Ang Adik. Kapag hindi ka sumamba kay Poong Duterte, ikaw ay adik, dahil adik lang ang hindi sumasamba kay Poong Duterte.

Bakit po tayo nahantong sa ganito? Na ang mga nagnanais ng maayos at naayon sa batas na laban sa kriminalidad ay mga nababansagan na mga adik, at nawawalan ng kalayaan na sumalungat sa pamamaraan ng tinatawag na pagbabago sa pamamagitan ng kaliwat kanang patayan? At ngayon na napapalapit tayo sa paghubad ng katotohanan na ang ganitong pangyayari ay naganap na sa Davao City, ay biglang idedeclare na vacant ang Komiteng dumidinig sa paksa ng patayan dahil lang sa sinabi ng pinakadakilang tagapagtanggol ng Pangulo sa Senado, at sinegunduhan ng isang Senador na galing sa mga mahihirap, mga mahihirap na ngayon ay walang tigil na Tinotokhang ng mga pulis.

On a personal note, I do not know where all of this will end for me, in the midst of the House inquiry, the Ethics Committee complaint, the election protest, the DOJ persecution, and the President’s attacks. Honestly, this is all the fault of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, when she appointed me as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, where I learned the value of human life and human dignity, regardless of one’s station in life. This is also the fault of President Benigno S. Aquino III, when he appointed me as Secretary of Justice, where I learned to fight the abuse of power, corruption, and have taken to heart the principle that peace is the work of justice.

Ang kapayapaan ay bunga ng hustisya. Walang kapayapaan kung walang hustisya.

Pasensiya na po ang ating mga kababayan kung natuto ako sa CHR at sa DOJ na pahalagaan ang buhay ng bawat tao, ang karapatan na magkaroon ng paglilitis bago patawan ng karampatang kaparusahan, at ang seguridad ng lahat na maging tahimik sa loob ng kanilang tahanan.

Gaano man kaliit ang dampa, ang bawat tahanan ay palasyo ng namamahay doon. Iyan ang itinuro sa atin sa batas. Kung gaano kabuo ang respeto ng mga pulis na nagTotokhang sa Forbes Park at sa Dasmarinas Village, ganoon din dapat ang respeto na pinapakita nila sa mga Tinotokhang nila sa mga maralitang nakatira sa mga tabing-ilog at estero. Mayaman man o mahirap, kapag Tinokhang mo, dapat ay pantay-pantay. Huwag yung mga berdugong pulis ang ipapadala sa mga dampa sa estero, at mga pulis na sumasali sa modelling contest ang ipapadala sa Forbes Park.

Sasabihin na naman ni Senator Cayetano na hindi naman mga nagmomodel na pulis ang pinapadala sa Forbes Park. Figure of Speech lamang po iyon, hindi dapat intindihin ng literal.

I became CHR Chair and DOJ Secretary not because I sought those positions to which I was appointed. One can say that these were all accidents of history. It is only this position that I hold now that I chose to work hard for to get by tirelessly campaigning and eventually being elected by more than 14 million Filipino voters.

Kaya mahalaga po sa akin ang posisyon na ito, dahil katulad ninyo mga kapwa ko senador, pinagsikapan at pinaghirapan ko itong ipagkatiwala sa akin ng mga botanteng Pilipino. Ginagampanan ko lamang ang aking tungkulin bilang isang kandidato na humarap sa mga tao ng may plataporma ng karapatang pantao at hustisya, dahil minarapat nila na iboto ako sa pag-asang ang programang iyon ang aking dadalhin dito sa Senado.

Ito po ang programang dala ko ngayon, mga mahal kong kababayan na bumoto sa akin. Ninais ninyo na ito ang programang dalhin ko. Kung sa pagnanais kong isulong ang programang ito ay tatanggalin ako sa pagka-pinuno ng Komite ng Hustisya at Karapatang Pantao, ay parang hinubad na rin nila sa akin ang mahalagang bahagi ng mandatong iyon.

Pero tatalima ako sa desisyon ng Senado. Hindi naman dito natatapos ang laban. Nag-iba lang ang anyo at posisyon ng mga magkakatunggali, pero malinaw pa rin ang adhikain at pananalig na sa bandang huli, ang hustisya at karapatan ng bawat mamamayan ang mananaig, hindi ang dikta ng kapangyarihan.

Sa Roma, noong unang panahon, pinagdiriwang ang mga heneral na matagumpay na sumakop ng mga ibang bayan sa pamamagitan ng isang parada, kung saan nakasakay ang Heneral sa isang karyote na hila ng apat na puting kabayo habang papasok sa siyudad ng Roma. Sa likod niya ay isang alipin, na may hawak na ginintuang koronang laurel sa itaas ng ulo ng Heneral. Sa kahabaan ng prusisyon, walang ibang ginawa ang alipin kung hindi bumulong sa tenga ng Heneral ng mga katagang “Respice post te!Hominem te memento!”

“Tumingin ka sa likod mo, at huwag kalimutan na ikaw ay isa lamang tao.”

Hindi Diyos, tao.

Tao ka lamang.

Mr. President, my fellow Senators, on the eve of the 44th Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law, we must remember that all power, no matter how seemingly absolute, is fleeting. What is permanent is truth and justice.

Ang lahat ng kapangyarihan, gaano man kalawak ang nasasakupan, ay naglalaho rin sa panahon. Ang tanging nagtatagal sa habang panahon ay katotohanan at katarungan.

Iyan po ang sumpa ng mga may hawak sa kapangyarihan, katulad natin. Maglalaho din yan sa daloy ng panahon. Pero ang katotohanan at katarungan ang mananatili. Katulad po ng sinapit ng Rehimeng Marcos noong 1986, ang lahat ng diktadura ay may hangganan din. Marahil hindi ngayon, pero ang panahon ng lahat ng may kapangyarihan ay may hangganan.

Marami po sa atin ang pamilyar sa kwento na ito ng Roma tungkol sa alipin na nasa likod ng matagumpay na Heneral na mananakop. Ang hindi pa alam ng marami, na ang kinakatakutan ng Heneral ay si FORTUNA, na kung tawagin ay ang berdugo ng lasing na tagumpay: THE BUTCHER OF GLORY.

Iubetque eosdem respicere similis medicina linguae, ut sit exorata a tergo Fortuna gloriae carnifex.

“Binabadya ng mga kataga ang matagumpay na Heneral: tumingin ka sa likod, upang mapaamo mo si Fortuna, ang berdugo ng lasing na tagumpay.”

Sa mga Heneral ng tagumpay at kapangyarihan sa ating panahon: si Fortuna ay inyong kapalaran, nagbabadya na ang lahat ng hawak ninyo ngayon ay maglalaho sa panahon. Mapaamo nyo man siya, siya at siya pa rin ang kikitil sa inyong pagkalasing sa panandaliang kapangyarihan at tagumpay.

Maraming salamat po. –

x x x."