Friday, June 01, 2007

Supreme Court junks rebellion raps vs militant solons

Why the Supreme Court only reprimanded Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez for abuse of power? He should be punished for injustices committed against the progressive legislators. The Batasan 6 should file disbarment case against Raul Gonzalez and his partisan-prostituted public prosecutors. They must be expelled and have no business in the Department of Justice. Teach them a lesson!

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio even reprimanded Raul Gonzalez’ DOJ. He said, “We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends, or their purposes alien to, or subversive of the basic and fundamental objective of observing the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty.”

Beltran mullls filing raps vs Raul Gonzalez, others for his arrest

Detained Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran on Friday threatened to file charges against Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, government prosecutors and the policemen who arrested him last year on rebellion charges, Bandila reported.

Beltran’s statement came after the charges lodged against him and five other left-leaning lawmakers were thrown out by the Supreme Court Friday in what the opposition described as a defeat for President Arroyo’s administration.

"Maliwanag naman na I was unlawfully and illegally arrested at iyong aking detention ay arbitrary (It is clear I was unlawfully and illegally arrested and my detention was arbitrary)," Beltran said.

The lawmaker, who has been under hospital arrest at the Philippine Heart Center for more than a year now, said he is confident that he will now be freed despite a pending case before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Police authorities have filed a new case against Beltran for the crime of inciting to sedition after his arrest last year. He said that since the offense is bailable he is planning to post bail on Monday to pave the way for his freedom.

Beltran said the dismissal of the rebellion charges was good news. "I am hoping that with the dismissal of the rebellion charges, the attacks against the progressive lawmakers will also come to an end. I am looking forward to my release from detention."

"It is to be hoped that the SC decision will not meet any more opposition from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other forces who continue to discredit, criminalize and demonize us," the 74-year-old veteran labor leader added.

In a 23-page decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio, the SC’s Second Division granted the consolidated petitions on the writs of prohibition and certiorari to stop the prosecution of the six lawmakers for rebellion.

The high court ruled that state prosecutors did not have probable cause to file charges against Beltran and the group dubbed as the "Batasan 5," who were accused of plotting a coup against President Arroyo last year along with military rebels and opposition politicians.

Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Joel Virador, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano sought sanctuary at the House of Representatives and are effectively free while under the protective custody of the House.

The SC ordered the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 to dismiss the criminal cases of rebellion against the six lawmakers.

The court said prosecutors failed to follow procedures for filing charges against the six.

It said haste in filing the charges "not only trivialized the investigation but also lent credence to petitioners’ claim that the entire proceeding was a sham."

The court also cited "the obvious involvement of political considerations" in the case.

All six are members of leftist party-list groups that the military has accused of being fronts for communist insurgents.

The SC also ordered the Makati RTC to dismiss the rebellion charges against private citizens Vicente Ladlad, Nathanael Santiago, Randall Echanis and Rey Claro Casambre.

The SC set aside the rulings of the Makati RTC dated May 31, 2006 and Aug. 29, 2006, which sustained the finding of probable cause against Beltran and upheld the DOJ orders dated March 22, 2006 and April 4, 2006 denying the petition of the "Batasan Five" for the inhibition of the prosecution panel for lack of impartiality and independence.

The SC also ruled that the inquest proceedings against Beltran were void because of the failure of the inquest prosecutors to comply with the rules of preliminary investigation in cases involving lawful warrantless arrests as provided by the Rules of Court.

The SC also found that the joint affidavit of the arresting officers stated that Beltran was arrested for the crime of inciting to sedition and not rebellion: "The inquest prosecutor could have only conducted – as he did conduct – an inquest for inciting to sedition and no other."

The SC said none of Beltran’s arresting officers saw him commit in their presence the crime of rebellion, nor did the arresting officers have personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances sufficient to form probable cause to believe that Beltran had committed rebellion.

"What these arresting officers allege in their affidavit is that they saw and heard Beltran make (an) allegedly seditious speech on Feb. 24, 2006," the SC said.

It added that there was no probable cause to indict Beltran for rebellion, as none of the affidavits presented as evidence before the prosecution panel that conducted the inquest stated that Beltran committed specific acts of rebellion.

"The allegations in these affidavits are far from the proof needed to indict Beltran for taking part in an armed public uprising against the government," the SC said. "What these documents prove at best is that Beltran was in Bucal, Padre Garcia, Batangas on Feb. 20, 2006 and that, 14 years earlier, he was present during the 1992 CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) plenum. Beltran’s alleged presence during the 1992 plenum does not automatically make him a leader of a rebellion."

"None of the affidavits alleges that Beltran is promoting, maintaining or heading a rebellion," the SC said. "The information in fact merely charges Beltran for conspiring and confederating with others in forming a tactical alliance to commit rebellion. As worded, the information does not charge Beltran with rebellion but with conspiracy to commit rebellion, a bailable offense."

The SC also said the preliminary investigation conducted against the petitioners was tainted with irregularities and that the case prosecutors failed to comply with the rule that "the complaint be accompanied by affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses, subscribed and sworn before any prosecutor or government official authorized to administer oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, before a notary public," the SC said.

The SC also stressed "the obvious involvement of political considerations in the actuations of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and of the respondent prosecutors."

SC spokesman Midas Marquez said the SC decision is not an automatic order for Beltran’s release from detention. Marquez said the SC is ordering the Makati RTC to dismiss the rebellion case against Beltran: "The RTC, with the dismissal of the case, will then order his release from detention provided he is not being held for any other case."

Meanwhile, Gonzalez said he expected the SC decision on Beltran: "I expected that since the release on bail of Satur Ocampo. But I will disagree with the Supreme Court in saying that the DOJ neither has the capacity nor the authority to determine the existence of probable cause."

Gonzalez also said the SC statement that he let his office be used for political purposes is "an allegation based on surmises. Every prosecution will always be under the DOJ. Under the law, all investigations must be brought to the DOJ."

"It is a presumption that we are prostituting our office. All these issues must pass through the DOJ. All these cases must be filed with the Department of Justice. The Rules of Court are very clear," he added.

Meanwhile, Ocampo immediately pressed for Beltran’s release and hailed the SC for dismissing the rebellion case filed against him and his six co-accused: "We are vindicated. This is a triumph of truth and justice over the Arroyo government’s invented and unfair charge against duly-elected people’s representatives."

Ocampo said the SC decision affirmed their position that the charges filed against them "are all fabricated, based only on perjured testimonies, full of legal shortcuts and obviously politically-motivated."

"This is a slap on the faces of President Arroyo and her two repressive agencies – the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) led by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales – who have all conspired to demonize and persecute us because of our roles in the legal opposition and the mass movement," he said.

He added that Gonzalez "is just one of the players. Those who hatched this plot against us are in the Palace." With reports from The Philippine Star (Mike Frialde, Katherine Adraneda, Delon Porcalla) AFP

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