Court of Appeals, pinawalang-bisa ang DOJ panel na nagrekomendang kasuhan ang mga Reyes

admin   •   November 28, 2012   •   4114

FILE PHOTO: Court of Appeals (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – Pinawalang-bisa ng Court of Appeals ang paglikha sa ikalawang prosecution panel ng Department of Justice na nagrekomendang kasuhan ng murder ang magkapatid na dating Palawan Governor Mario Joel Reyes at Coron Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes Junior kaugnay ng pagpaslang kay Doc Gerry Ortega.

Idineklara ng CA na null and void ang pagkakalikha sa ikalawang panel dahil sa umano’y depekto sa pagbuo nito na katumbas ng pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan ng DOJ.

Dahil dito, posibleng mapawalang-bisa rin ang kasong isinampa ng panel laban sa magkapatid na Reyes.

Hihilingin naman ng abogado ng magkapatid na Reyes na mapawalang-bisa ang warrant of arrest laban sa kanyang mga kliyente na kasalukuyang pinaghahanap pa rin ng mga otoridad.

Magugunitang dinismiss ng unang DOJ panel ang akusasyon laban sa magkapatid na Reyes dahil sa umano’y kakulangan ng ebidensiya.

Ngunit noong Setyembre 2011, isa pang panel ang binuo ng justice department matapos hilingin ng pamilya Ortega ang pag-review sa kaso base sa kanilang isusumiteng mga bagong ebidensiya.

Nitong nakaraang Marso ay inaprubahan ng ikalawang panel ang pagsasampa ng kasong murder laban sa magkapatid na Reyes na itinuturong mga utak sa pagpaslang kay Ortega.

Ayon kay Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, ipauubaya na lamang niya sa opisina ng Solicitor General ang pag-apela sa naging desisyon ng Court of Appeals.

Hindi naman makapagkomento sa ngayon ang pamilya Ortega dahil hindi pa nababasa ng kanilang mga abogado ang desisyon ng korte. (Bernard Dadis & Ruth Navales, UNTV News)

JBC extends application period for CA, CTA, Sandiganbayan vacancies

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council on Thursday announced it has extended the application period for several vacant positions in the Court of Appeals (CA), and other courts.

In an advisory, the JBC said it moved the deadline from August 25 to September 25 following requests for extension of the deadline of submission of documents owing to the difficulty in securing documents in view of the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite were placed under MECQ from August 4 to 18. It has now shifted to general community quarantine status.

The JBC said there are job openings in the CA, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) as well as in the Legal Education Board.

CA vacancies are for the positions left by Justices Rodil Zalameda, Edgardo Delos Santos, Mario Lopez, and Samuel Gaerlan who were appointed to the Supreme Court; Justices Luisa Padilla and Jane Aurora Lantion who compulsorily retired in January 2020.

The opening in Sandiganbayan is for the position left by the late Justice Reynaldo Cruz, while the CTA vacancies are for the positions formerly held by retired Justices Cielito Mindaro-Grulla and Esperanza Fabon-Victorino.

The JBC also said applications are also open for several positions in the Legal Education Board.

The council reminded applicants to access the online application scheduler in its website on or before August 25 to register and selected the date they will submit their documents.

Applicants must also submit the complete and accurate digitized versions of their documents through electronic mail on their selected date and time of appointment in the scheduler.

The submission of hard copies of documentary requirements, however, is suspended until further notice, the JBC said.

De Lima camp assessing effect of Jaybee Sebastian’s death on her drug cases

Robie de Guzman   •   July 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima said her lawyers are now assessing the effects of the death of high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian on the drug-related charges filed against her.

“My lawyers are still assessing the effect of Sebastian’s death on the cases against me, considering that he is or was the Duterte regime’s supposed ‘star’ witness,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame on Monday.

“However, all testimonies coming from the inmates and some other so-called witnesses are all fabrications anyway. One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications. Whether the fabricator is dead or alive does not change the fact that their stories are all lies, and that the cases against me are all fake,” she added.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said that Sebastian was among the nine high-profile inmates of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City who succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the confirmation following a meeting with Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag on Monday afternoon. 

Bantag earlier refused to reveal the name of inmates who died from COVID-19 citing Data Privacy Act.

Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into the deaths of the inmates after Bantag informed him of the protocol in the event of an inmate’s death from coronavirus disease which include the mandatory cremation of the cadaver within 12 hours to prevent the spread of the infection.

Sebastian was the key witness in the alleged Bilibid drug trade and drug trafficking cases against De Lima which are currently pending before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.

The senator, who is one of the Duterte administration’s vocal critics, has been detained since 2017.

“The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care. But this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious. Conversely, the regime’s witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail,” De Lima said.

“My point is, under normal conditions, these cases would have been dismissed a long time ago. But under conditions of a dictatorship where it is the dictator himself who has a very personal stake on the cases, and given the state of our justice system, I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify,” she added.

Meanwhile, De Lima raised alarm anew over the “dire conditions” existing in the country’s jails during the public health crisis, and even the pre-pandemic times.

“COVID-19 is not a joke, as the Duterte regime has treated it, especially in our prison system that hosts the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus,” she said.

“Regardless of who the dead are, whether free citizens or PDLs, they shall remain to be counted as the victims of the incompetence, indifference, and impunity of the Duterte Administration in dealing with the pandemic that has resulted in more suffering for our people, not to mention the devastation of the economy after months of lockdown but with absolutely nothing to show for it,” she added.

She then called on the Duterte administration to “step down, and hand over the reins of government” to Vice President Leni Robredo.

De Lima dismayed over court’s dismissal of motion to join Senate ‘hybrid’ sessions

Robie de Guzman   •   June 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed dismay over the decision of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 to junk her motion seeking to join the “hybrid” Senate sessions and hearing while in detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame for drug-related charges.

“In denying my motion, the trial court may have failed to see what the Supreme Court has doctrinally acknowledged in the cases of Jalosjos and Trillanes that it is possible for a person deprived of liberty (PDL) to still legally pursue a profession or legitimately perform the functions of a public office as long as he or she can do it within the confines of his or detention cell,” De Lima said in a statement.

“As the Senate rules now allow for teleconferencing as a mode of participating in sessions and hearings in crisis or emergency situations or pandemic, I can easily do it if I will be provided with a laptop and internet connection, without need for me to get out of the PNP Custodial Center,” she added.

It can be recalled that on May 4, the Senate amended its rules to allow both physical and online attendance to legislative proceedings in a bid to prevent the possible transmission of novel coronavirus disease among its members and employees.

However, De Lima was still not allowed to participate in “virtual” sessions as Senate leadership claimed that she is “not under the chamber’s jurisdiction.”

The opposition senator maintained that disallowing her from taking part in online sessions, hearings, and meetings of the Senate “prevents her from fully performing her mandate as a lawmaker.”

“With all due respect to the Honorable Court, allowing my online participation in the Senate sessions will not negate the fact that I am still in prison. What the court permission can do however is to pay full respect to the mandate that I received from the Filipino people as a sitting Senator,” De Lima said.

“Please note that there is no civil interdiction imposed on me by any court, thus, there should be no unreasonable restrictions on my rights and legitimate interests,” she added.

She also asserted that she is still in “full possession” of her civil and political rights as her cases as still at the trial stage and has not been convicted of any crime.

De Lima filed her omnibus motion on June 1.

But in a Joint Order dated June 17, Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205, presided by Judge Liezel Aquitan denied De Lima’s motion, concluding that “the presumption of innocence does not carry with it the full enjoyment of civil and political rights.”

The court also said that the amendment in the Senate rules states that hearings and sessions via teleconferencing in the upper chamber are only allowed when there is force majeure or an emergency which may prevent senators from physically attending.

“De Lima is prevented to attend the committee meeting or hearings due to her detention. Detention is not a force majeure,” the court order read.

The court said that allowing De Lima to attend the Senate sessions, hearings, and meetings via teleconferencing within her place of detention is “no different from allowing her to attend there physically.”

“Allowing her to do so today would be tantamount to allowing her to participate even after the state of public health emergency,” it added.

De Lima said she is planning to file a motion for reconsideration.

De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while she was Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

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