Another CA “decision for sale”?

THE Court of Appeals is known for its notoriety in coming up with the so-called “decisions for sale,” where millions of pesos reportedly change hands to obtain a favorable decision like the issuance of a temporary restraining order to individuals and firms.

But in the case of fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is facing double murder charges for the November 24, 2000 Dacer-Corbito case, it unilaterally dismissed the case and revoked the warrant of arrest of the solon.

My friends from the judiciary have expressed wonderment why some members of the CA would act and function like a trial court and not an appellate court in the case of Lacson.

One thing is clear. They said that the CA apparently overstepped its jurisdictional boundaries, having gone beyond the quashing of Lacson’s warrant and dismissing the double-murder charges pending before a Manila court.

It is not the job of the CA justices to determine inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses, especially if no witness has testified in that particular case before the lower court.

“The CA is not a trier of facts. Its function is to check on mistakes made by the Regional Trial Courts, which in the Lacson case is not applicable. Why? The trial of the case has not yet even started,” my friend says.

Primarily, he said, it would be up to the RTC judge to determine whether a witness’ testimony is credible even if it appeared inconsistent, as eyewitnesses do not always fully recall all the details of an incident easily.

No less than the Supreme Court, in their long line of decided cases, have expressed that inconsistencies even make witnesses more credible, particularly if they can explain their story fully well during the trial.

“These issues like inconsistencies are best ventilated in trial, where lawyers of both parties can cross-examine and refute, to the point of proving, a witness’ purported lies and bad faith,” my friend explained.

“In the Dacer-Corbito murder case, the trial has not even commenced. So, how can the CA rule on its merits? Considering that the Manila RTC judge handling the case has not yet evaluated the value of the testimony given by Senior Superintendent Cesar Mancao,” he added.

To a certain degree, my friend says the CA obviously pre-empted the RTC when it ruled on the case’s merits and revocation of the warrant of arrest, acting as if it were the trial court.

Yesterday, Lacson slammed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for insisting on the warrant of arrest even after the CA had ruled otherwise. De Lima insists that the CA ruling is not yet final and executory and thus the warrant against Lacson still exists.

We anticipate that with Lacson’s initial legal victory, he and his camp would soon launch a series of media demolition campaign against De Lima, digging dirt on her past and present activities. Lacson’s camp is very good and versatile in doing that kind of work.

I pity the family of Dacer and Corbito for their continued failure to get justice for their relatives who were snatched, killed and burned by agents of the Lacson-led Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force more than ten years ago.  But they should not lose hope. They should pursue the legal cases against their relatives’ killers.

Anyway, the principle of double jeopardy had not set in yet, in light of the absence of Sen. Lacson’s arraignment in the Lower Court.


For feedback and comments, please email me at Romie Evangelista

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