Mendoza’s ‘power of persuasion’
Estelito Mendoza, former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla’s lawyer, was reported to have posited that “since his client was acquitted of criminal liability in the case, he could not be ordered to pay civil damages” (“Ombudsman insists: Bong liable to pay P125M in damages, 1/30/19).
Writing for the Supreme Court in Lumantas vs Calapiz (Jan. 15, 2014), Justice Lucas Bersamin (now chief justice) reaffirmed what has long been settled. There are two kinds of acquittal.
The first is one where the accused is found to have nothing to do with the act or omission complained of — which “closes the door to civil liability.”
The second is where the accused is acquitted due to lack of proof “beyond reasonable doubt,” which permits civil liability if proved by “preponderance of
Bong Revilla was set free on grounds of “reasonable doubt” (i.e., the Sandiganbayan was not sure if the unexplained mega-wealth found in his bank accounts amounting to hundreds of millions came from the loot involved in the plunder case).
Can his lawyer, whose “power of persuasion” is by now legendary, turn jurisprudence on its head again?
GEORGE DEL MAR, [email protected]
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