Former CJ wrong on consent in Garcia case | Inquirer Opinion

Former CJ wrong on consent in Garcia case

/ 01:47 AM May 23, 2011

WITH ALL due respect, I am compelled to disagree with the May 15 column of former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, wherein he concluded:
“Since the consent of the offended party—the State whose name is the Republic of the Philippines—was not obtained, then the plea bargain agreement is void. Neither the OMB nor the SBN can give that consent for the Republic. Only the President (or his representative) can.”

The issue of the plea bargain of retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia before the Sandiganbayan is inherently a judicial matter. Under the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, the President cannot interfere during the trial of a criminal case. The State (People of the Philippines), or the Office of the President, is rightfully represented by public/special prosecutors during the trial stage, and by the Office of the Solicitor General when a case is appealed to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. In the Garcia case, the plea bargain agreement was jointly presented by the accused and the government prosecutors. Hence, the trial court had the right to rule on it. In City Fiscal of Tacloban v. Espina (166 SCRA 614), the Supreme Court ruled:

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“Under Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court all criminal actions commenced by complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal. (In the Sandiganbayan, the ombudsman or the special prosecutors.) The fiscal represents the People of the Philippines in the prosecution of offenses before the trial courts at the metropolitan trial courts, municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts and the regional trial courts. However, when such criminal actions are brought to the Court of Appeals or this Court, it is the Solicitor General who must represent the People of the Philippines not the fiscal.”

—BONIFACIO A. ALENTAJAN,
Alentajan Law Office,
[email protected]

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TAGS: Crime and Law and Justice, Graft & Corruption, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, Military, plea bargain
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