Prosecute the guilty, protect the innocent | Inquirer Opinion

Prosecute the guilty, protect the innocent

/ 04:10 AM June 15, 2022

This has reference to the letter, “Keeping fingers crossed on Atenean justices of the Supreme Court” (6/2/22) where Rey Escobar mentioned the late chief justice Renato Corona (convicted for corruption after an impeachment trial), retired justices Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe (betrayed the people’s trust by honoring a dictator with a ”hero’s burial”), all of whom graduated from the Ateneo Law School and were expected to have exemplary moral integrity and scruples.

Escobar forgot Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who also graduated from the same Jesuit-run Catholic school. Look what he has become: He has literally been serving only “at the pleasure of the president.”


A lesson taught in any law school resonates to this day: “This is as good a time as any to emphasize upon those in charge of the prosecution of criminal cases that the prosecutor’s finest hour is not when he wins a case with the conviction of the accused. His FINEST HOUR is still when, overcoming the advocate’s natural obsession for victory, he stands up before the Court and pleads not for the conviction of the accused but for his acquittal. For indeed, his NOBLE TASK IS TO PROSECUTE ONLY THE GUILTY AND TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT.” (People v. Madera, May 31, 1974)

Guevarra, as head honcho of all of the country’s prosecutors, has seemed more worried about “displeasing” the power that appointed him than living up to the ideals that all prosecutors should abide by as a legal and moral duty. The case of Sen. Leila de Lima makes for a classic point. Under the gun of the Department of Justice, convicts in its prison were forced to execute affidavits and fabricate evidence of her complicity in the drug trade. In open court, however, those “witnesses” got conscience-stricken and took back everything they had sworn to under duress or false promises.


With witnesses walking back on their sworn statements against De Lima, how much more “reasonable” should the doubt be? Guevarra, a Bar topnotcher, ought to know the law better than his boss who admitted he almost flunked in the Bar exam. That he has chosen to play deaf and dumb is most unfortunate. We cry for this country — and Ateneo!

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TAGS: Ateneo Law School, Letters to the Editor, Menardo Guevarra
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