‘Jose Velarde’ resurrects after 15 years?
The news item “‘Jose Velarde’ trial to proceed—SC” (News, 2/22/17) reminded us about the almost-forgotten plunder case against businessman Jaime Dichaves, alleged dummy of former president Joseph Estrada, who was reported to be the person behind that fictitious “Jose Velarde” bank account. Dichaves had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to have the Sandiganbayan’s finding of “probable cause” overturned. As a result, trial proceedings were suspended indefinitely.
On appeal to the Supreme Court was the purely legal question of whether or not it should interfere with the trial court’s finding of “probable cause,” i.e., the legal or factual basis to hold the accused for trial. In denying the petition, the high court simply ruled: “(O)nly the opinion and reasonable belief (on the part of the trial court) are sufficient at this stage. Thus, the petitioner’s other defense contesting the finding of probable cause that is highly factual in nature must be threshed out in a full-blown trial and not in a special civil action for certiorari. . .”
That was the nitty-gritty of the ruling that could have been adequately expressed in one or two paragraphs and promulgated in even less than a month’s time. The case should have been done with that fast; it was textbook remedial law. So, why the single-spaced 24 pages? Worse, why did it take 15 years for the ruling to come out? And the case is yet to see trial, judgment and then perhaps another appeal—all in all, to last another 15 to 20 years? Will the accused still be alive until then?
To be sure, that case must have been passed on from one handling justice in the Supreme Court to another over the years. But shouldn’t someone in that Court be held accountable, one way or another, for culpable violation of the Constitution, which requires matters before it to be resolved in two years?
And that Court keeps harping on the urgent need for speedy administration of justice, blah, blah, blah—spending millions of taxpayer money for seminars to instill discipline and sense of duty in lawyers and lower court judges alike? Look who’s talking? Of all the hubris and hypocrisies, the Filipino nation has to deal with this?
MARCELO “JR” GARCIS, [email protected]
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