Nothing shocking over Reyes ruling
There was nothing shocking or “miraculous” about the dismissal of the murder case against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes for allegedly masterminding the killing of radio broadcaster Gerry Ortega in 2011.
The Court of Appeals justices (Normandie Pizarro, Danton Bueser and Victoria Paredes) who recently ordered the trial court to throw away the criminal charge against Reyes were only doing what the Supreme Court justices (Diosdado Peralta, Presbitero Velasco, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Mendoza, Arturo Brion, Jose Perez, Francis Jardeleza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Bernabe and Teresita de Castro) did to the plunder case against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2016 who was accused of having looted about P366 million of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.
What did both the above-named Court of Appeals and Supreme Court justices do? For the benefit of favored accused, they violated the most basic and elementary rules all lawyers in this country thought were sacred and necessary for the orderly administration of justice. In the case of Arroyo, they made a mockery of the rule that says: “The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the demurrer itself shall NOT be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment.” Lo and behold, they reviewed the Sandiganbayan’s order denying Arroyo’s demurrer and proceeded to acquit her for lack of evidence. It was a slap in the face of the Sandiganbayan justices who tried that case and found sufficient evidence against her.
In the case of ex-governor Reyes, the Court of Appeals justices jumped the gun on the trial court which was yet hearing the murder charge against him. They directed the lower court to lay off that case and set the accused free for utter lack of evidence! It was also a slap in the face of the Regional Trial Court judge who found probable cause to proceed to trial. The dissenting justices (Maria Filomena Singh and Marie Christine Jacob) said in effect that it was highly improper for the Court of Appeals to substitute its assessment of the evidence for that of the trial court at that stage of the proceedings. As lay people saw it, the display of overeagerness to acquit was quite blatant.
Under normal circumstances, there was no way any ordinary accused could have gotten off the hook that fast and so easily. Talks of “gapangan” in the courts of the land (not excepting the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court), rightly or wrongly, continue to run rife. Say, whatever happened to the Supreme Court’s investigation, started many years ago, about that “Madam Arlene” who was then rumored to be the biggest fixer of cases and peddler of decisions in all levels of the judiciary?
RAMON N. TORREFRANCA, firstname.lastname@example.org
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