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Benjamin B. Pulta

High Court orders gag order on VP poll protest

Friday, 23 February 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo have been directed by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) against publicly discussing the election controversy between them while it remains unresolved.

The Supreme Court (SC) sitting as the PET issued a gag order on both camps, citing that the matter is now “sub judice.”
“Considering that the revision process is about to commence, the tribunal directs both protestant and protestee to observe the sub judice rule,” the two-page resolution dated February 13, 2018 and signed by Felipa Anama, clerk of the tribunal, said.
Marcos counsel Vic Rodirguez said that they already received the copy of the PET resolution and they will comply. “Yes we have received our copy of the PET resolution. Essentially it is just a reminder from the tribunal for the parties to observe the sub judice rule which restricts litigants and their lawyers to make comments and/or disclosures on a pending judicial proceedings so that the case be decided upon evidence presented before the court and the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice and sympathies. Fair and accurate reporting of what actually took place in open court are excluded from its coverage,” Rodriguez said in a text message sent to reporters.
The PET ordered Marcos to comment on the motion filed by Robredo to “withdraw any and all pending motions which may delay recount proceedings.”
“Based on the records of this case, the tribunal finds that here are no such pending motions from protestee. Accordingly, the tribunal resolves to note the motion and require the protestant to submit his comment thereon and inform the tribunal if he intends to file a similar motion as that filed by protestee within 10 days from notice hereof,” PET said. Both camps agreed to withdraw all the motions they had filed before PET to be able to proceed with the recount. The PET is set to begin the recount next month covering the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental which were chosen by Marcos as the best provinces where he could prove the irregularities he cited in his poll protest.
Robredo’s counsel, Romulo Macalintal, said the recount covering the three pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental would commence on March 19.
Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, contesting the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities. Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.
Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.
She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in the May 2016 polls with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.

DoJ urges court tag of Reds as terrorists

Thursday, 22 February 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

The government took a decisive step against the communist movement yesterday by petitioning the Manila regional trial court to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups under Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

The court naming the NPA as a terror group is necessary to apply anti-terror laws against the communist rebels instead of the current government treatment of the dissidents as fighters for the socialist ideology.
The proscription petition filed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, head of the panel tasked by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked the Manila court to grant the petition and that an order be issued declaring CPP and the NPA also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons.
Ong said thepetition has two grounds namely ‘that the organization, association or group of persons was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism and that even if the organization, association or group of persons was not organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism but it commits act of terrorism such as murder and arson and other activities for the purpose of sowing terror.” Ong said the CPP-NPA committed acts of terrorism such as murder, kidnapping, arson and other activities for purpose of sowing terror and public panic

“Thus, there is no other time to put an end their deception, to their protracted people’s war and to their evil plan of imposing a totalitarian regime, but through the filing of this petition and, consequently, by declaring respondents CPP-NPA as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations and or group of persons,” part of the petition stated.
Ong said in 2017 alone, there were 12 incidents, including ambushes conducted by the NPA targeting soldiers and policemen in various parts of the country.
“Included here is the ambush of four policemen and members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives in Bansalan, Davao del Sur last March 2017 and a team of Army personnel conducting humanitarian operations in Catubig, Northern Samar,’ Ong said.
The Bansalan ambush resulted to the killing of four policemen while another was injured. On the other hand, a soldier was killed and another wounded in the Catubig ambush while they were on their way to deliver relief supplies to residents affected by typhoon Urduja last December.
Terror acts of NPA
The petition also listed ‘terror activities” and “atrocities” conducted by the NPA in Negros Occidental and Oriental, Surigao, Misamis Oriental, Bukidon, Cagayan de Oro City and Davao.
Ong said that should the proscription petition be granted by the court, it will allow government agents to seek the permission of the Court of Appeals to engage in wiretapping activities , as well as apply for a freeze order on, and examination of, the bank accounts and assets of their financiers, leaders, and identified members.
Ong said the filing of petition after President Duterte’s decision to issue a proclamation naming the CPP as a terror group.Ong said the attacks occurred as President Rodrigo Duterte was “extending his hand” and “showing good faith” in the peace talks between the government and the rebels.
“The point is, the President was extending his hand, showing his good faith and sincerity for just and lasting peace,” Ong noted.
The senior prosecutor said their investigation showed how the CPP-NPA did not honor the good faith and sincerity extended by the Duterte administration and continued their offensives during the earlier peace talks.
“They committed terrorist acts that will justify in designating them as terrorist organization,” Ong explained.
Ong also cited numerous attacks made by CPP-NPA in various provinces all over the country as basis to legally declare it as a terrorist group.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier announced that the President had signed a proclamation formally designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The Palace spokesmann said the President signed the proclamation pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10168 or the Human Security Act.
Roque said under the law, affiliate revolutionary groups of the CPP-NPA would also be considered terrorist groups, and anyone proven to be financing them would be held liable.
Roque said a designated person is “any person or entity designated or identified as a terrorist, as one who finances terrorism or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction and pursuant to the proclamation which implements the Human Security Act.”
“Take note that the domestic statute and the UN Security Council prohibit the giving of funds to terrorist organizations. This will enable law enforcement agencies to run after individuals who will, in any way, provide financial support to the NPA now that it has been described as a terrorist organization,” Roque said.
In his proclamation, Duterte directed the Department of Foreign Affairs “to publish the foregoing designation of CPP-NPA and other designated persons, organizations, in accordance with Sections 3 and 15 of RA 10168 and its implementing rules and regulations.”
The proclamation was issued after the Philippine government terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA after a series of violent attacks which the President described as against the humanitarian law.

High Court junks ‘Maria Clara’ presumption in rape cases

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 00:00 Published in Metro

Maria Clara, that character from Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere which has long been the stereotypical shy Filipina maiden, is no more.

The Supreme Court (SC) made this ruling as it recently acquitted two men accused of raping a woman in Davao City nearly a decade ago.
“Today, we simply cannot be stuck to the Maria Clara stereotype of a demure and reserved Filipino woman. We should stay away from such mindset and accept the realities of a woman’s dynamic role in society today; she who has over the years transformed into a strong and confidently intelligent and beautiful person, willing to fight for her rights,” read the decision of the Third Division of the High Court.
“More often than not, where the alleged victim survives to tell her story of sexual depredation, rape cases are solely decided based on the credibility of the testimony of the private complainant,” read the 20-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires.
This latest ruling abandoned the so-called “women’s honor doctrine” which was established by the SC in the 1960 rape case of Herminigilda Domingo.
“We have hinged on the impression that no young Filipina of decent repute would publicly admit that she was sexually abused, unless that is the truth, for it is her natural instinct to protect her honor. However, this misconception, particularly in this day and age, not only puts the accused at an unfair disadvantage, but creates a travesty of justice,” the Court held.
The SC decision set aside the conviction of the two accused by the Davao City regional trial court in June 2012 in the separate rape cases which was upheld by the Court of Appeals in February 2016.
Juvy Amarela and Junard Racho were ordered immediately released from jail due to the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt and also due to doubts on the testimony of the complainant.
“The prosecution in this case miserably failed to present a clear story of what transpired...(Here) we cannot ascertain what happened based on the lone testimony of (victim). It should have been the prosecution’s duty to properly evaluate the evidence if it had enough to convict Amarela and Racho,” read the ruling.
The High Tribunal found inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony, particularly the gaps in her narration, differences between her affidavit-complaint and court testimony, a supposed inability for her to have identified one of her assailants because the crime scene was dark and she allegedly saw him for the first time, a lack of material details on some events in the alleged rape incident, and the medico-legal findings that raised questions on whether she had consented to sex after all.
“Her claim that she was forcibly brought under a makeshift stage, stripped naked and then raped seems unrealistic and beyond human experience,” the ruling said, adding the medical examination of the victim also failed to indicate any physical injuries consistent with being raped by the two accused,” it stressed.
The High Court clarified that medico legal findings were not controlling, it cited studies showing the “most common laceration sites” for rape victims.
“In the instant case, considering the locality of these lacerations, we cannot completely rule out the probability that the victim voluntarily had sex that night. The absence of bruises when she said she was punched reinforced the theory that the victim might have had consensual intercourse,” the SC added.
“Her claim that she was forcibly brought under a makeshift stage, stripped naked and then raped seems unrealistic and beyond human experience,” the ruling said, adding the medical examination of the victim also failed to indicate any physical injuries consistent with being raped by the two accused.
The victim was watching a beauty pageant in Calinan, Davao City. She claimed that when she went to the restroom, Amarela suddenly punched and pulled her under the stage where she was raped.
She said Amarela only stopped and fled the area after three men came, adding that the men then took her to a hut but she was able to escape and hid in a neighboring house and then to Racho’s house.
Racho’s mother, Neneng, then asked her son to take the victim to her aunt. But Racho took her to a nearby shanty where she was punched and raped again.


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