Wheels of justice turn slowest in PH | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Wheels of justice turn slowest in PH

/ 09:39 PM January 05, 2012

Here is one example of the very slow wheels of justice in the Philippines, with the Supreme Court—specifically the chief justice and the court administrator—which supervises the lower courts, not exerting enough pressure on the courts to make justice move faster.

A triple homicide case against Licerio Antiporda III, now the mayor of Buguey, Cagayan, has been pending in the Court of Appeals for more than 10 years now. Antiporda has already been convicted by the Manila Regional Trial Court, but he appealed the case to the Court of Appeals (CA). And here is the strange part: 16 CA justices, (repeat, 16 justices) to whom the case was assigned, inhibited themselves one after another for various reasons.

And here is another mystery: Antiporda was granted bail although he had already been convicted. Jurisprudence bans the grant of bail to convicted defendants pending appeal, but this was not followed in the case of Antiporda. So Antiporda is now free as a bird and, according to relatives of his victims, has been terrorizing the witnesses against him to retract their testimonies. So the longer the case is delayed, the longer he stays out of prison. Not only that, he was able to have himself elected mayor of Buguey.

A brother of one of the victims has written to three chief justices—Hilario Davide, Reynato Puno and Renato Corona—asking them to speed up the resolution of the case but, apart from endorsing the letters to the CA, they did nothing. Justice delayed, justice denied does not mean anything to them.


Here is a backgrounder on the case:

Edwin Cusit, Johnny Malonzo and Ben Maggudayao were shot and killed by Antiporda III in front of a precinct in Barangay San Isidro, Buguey, Cagayan, during the elections of May 8, 1995, where his father, then Mayor Licerio Antiporda Jr., was running for reelection.

On May 4, 2001, after trial, Antiporda III was found guilty by Judge Teresa Soriano of the Manila RTC of triple homicide and one count of frustrated murder. Antiporda appealed to the CA.

On Jan. 23, 2002, the CA affirmed the lower court’s decision.


But here’s another strange part to the story: Five days after affirming Antiporda’s conviction, Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who penned the decision, recalled it, claiming that he was not the assigned ponente and that his job was only to complete the records and endorse the case for re-raffle.

Since then the case has been transferred from one justice to another—a total of 17 now—all of whom except the last one, inhibited themselves from the case. Doesn’t that make you wonder why they are doing this?


Alfredo Cusit Jr., brother of one of the victims, wrote to three chief justices, one after another, to speed up the case. The latest was to Chief Justice Corona. Corona merely endorsed Cusit’s letter to the CA.

“It has been 16 years since my brother and two others were murdered,” Cusit wrote to Corona. “It took the RTC judge six years to make a decision. For the last 10 years, the case has been moving around the salas of 17 justices of the Court of Appeals.”

The case is now with Justice Edwin Sorongon. Cusit appealed to Justice Sorongon to cancel the bail of Antiporda. Here is another strange part: Antiporda did not even formally file a petition for bail. He merely asked that the bond he posted during his trial be accepted as his appeal bond.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opposed the grant of bail since the offense (triple homicide) is not bailable. But this motion was rendered moot and academic when then CA Justice Reyes affirmed Antiporda’s conviction. Unfortunately, Reyes recalled his decision five days after he promulgated it. When the decision was recalled, the motions of the solicitor general and Cusit remained unresolved.

Cusit is now asking Justice Sorongon to resolve these motions.

It is not difficult to resolve it because there are already precedents. In the recent case of former Batangas Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of bail after his conviction for one homicide (Antiporda was convicted of three homicides).

“In our jurisdiction,” the Supreme Court ruled, “the trend towards a strict attitude in the allowance of bail pending appeal is anchored on the principle that judicial discretion—particularly with respect to bail—should be exercised not with laxity but with caution and only for strong reasons. In fact, it has even been pointed out that grave caution that must attend the exercise of judicial discretion in granting bail to convicted accused is best illustrated and exemplified in Administrative Circular 12-94 amending Rule 114, Section 5.”

In its decision denying bail to Leviste, the tribunal quoted this policy:

“The importance attached to conviction is due to the underlying principle that bail should be granted only where it is uncertain whether the accused is guilty or innocent, and therefore where that uncertainty is removed by conviction it would, generally speaking, be absurd to admit bail. After a person has been tried and convicted the presumption of innocence, which may be relied upon in prior applications, is rebutted, and the burden is upon the accused to show error in the conviction. From another point of view, it may be properly argued that the probability of ultimate punishment is so enhanced by the conviction that the accused is much more likely to attempt to escape if liberated on bail than before conviction.”

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KAPIHAN NOTES: The Kapihan sa Manila resumes this Monday at the Diamond Hotel. Guests are Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Rep. Miro Quimbo, and lawyer Harry Roque.

TAGS: crimes, featured columns, homicide, judiciary, justice, licerio antiporda III, opinion

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