Pasay Prosecutor's Office:
Most 'ignorant of the law' Fiscal's Office?
By BERTENI "TOTO" CATALUÑA CAUSING
Author of the book entitled "Simplified Libel Law in the Philippines"
This is the reason that I am passionately crying to change our country's justice system to Jury System, one which is composed of the Trial Jury and the Grand Jury.
Ignorance of the law by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City happened not once--but at least twice!
With due respect to my fellow lawyers who are prosecutors working at the Office of the City Prosecutor's Office of Pasay City, this I conclude, based on comparisons of my experiences with many prosecutor’s offices in Metro Manila and a few provinces and on the evidence presented and discussed below.
My conclusion: THE OFFICE OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR OF PASAY CITY IS ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT FISCAL’S OFFICES IN THE COUNTRY.
All prosecutors must know that libel expires in ONE YEAR.
This is very clear under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, which says:
Art. 90. Prescription of crime. — Crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.
Crimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years.
Those punishable by a correctional penalty shall prescribe in ten years; with the exception of those punishable by arresto mayor, which shall prescribe in five years.
The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year.
The crime of oral defamation and slander by deed shall prescribe in six months.
Light offenses prescribe in two months.
When the penalty fixed by law is a compound one, the highest penalty shall be made the basis of the application of the rules contained in the first, second and third paragraphs of this article. (As amended by RA 4661, approved June 19, 1966).
I cite at least two cases of libel where the Office of the City Prosecutor committed gross ignorance of the law.
The first ignorance of the law occurred in the libel complaint filed against my partner Atty. Cirilo P. Sabarre Jr. and our clients Ramil Fuentes, Ronnie Frias, Tish Dacio and Querubin "Benjie" Hodreal.
The second ignorance of the law occurred in the libel complaint filed by a lawyer against my other client Cesar Lucero and his co-respondents who are not my clients.
In the first libel case, complainant Vivian Yu, the live-in partner of one Mildfred P. Castro, who, earlier, filed a case of perjury against Atty. Sabarre and company, Miss Yu filed her case on JULY 13, 2012.
But the subject matter of Miss Yu's complaint is the Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition that we filed on June 14, 2011. This means that if it were a libel, that was committed on this date.
More than a year already passed before Miss Yu filed the complaint for libel. But the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay entertained the complaint and resolved to indict Atty. Sabarre and company in court.
WITHOUT BEING INTELLIGENT IN MATH, ALMOST EVERY LAWYER CAN READILY KNOW THAT MORE THAN ONE YEAR HAD ALREADY PASSED WHEN THE COMPLAINT FOR LIBEL WAS FILED BY THE COMPLAINANT.
By being grossly ignorant in this simple math, it becomes now clear that Miss Yu IS VERY INFLUENTIAL TO THE OFFICE OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR OF PASAY CITY. This is in itself a big proof of our contention in the Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition that the Pasay prosecutor's office must inhibit because Miss Yu has been exerting her influence over its fiscals in order to favor her common-law husband Mildfred Castro.
This is also our biggest evidence that the ponente, the reviewing officer and the approving officer (I do not mention who they are to protect them from dishonor by reason of their ignorance and to give them a chance to reform themselves) are biased in rejecting our argument that the allegations in the Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition are covered by the ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE given by the Supreme Court for all pleadings submitted in courts and quasi-judicial bodies. This privilege is extended in almost all courts in the world to encourage the parties to tell the truth without fear of being charged with libel.
Miss Vivian Yu cannot deny the truth that she knew of the existence of the said Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition when it was filed on June 14, 2011. This is because the party adverse to Fuentes and company was Mr. Mildfred P. Castro, her live-in partner.
So that even assuming that my partner Atty. Sabarre and our clients committed the crime of libel on June 14, 2011 because of the allegations that she was peddling influence at the Pasay City Prosecutor's Office as the main contention why we sought the inhibition of the prosecutors of Pasay, Atty. Sabarre and company cannot be held liable for libel when the complainant filed her complaint only on July 13, 2012, simply because more than one year has passed.
This so simple as this. But the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay pretended not to know the law on prescription of libel.
Then in the libel case filed against Mr. Lucero, an investigator at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), it was not only the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City that appeared grossly ignorant of the law just to pursue their intention to charge Mr. Lucero.
The other person who was grossly ignorant of the law in the case of Lucero is a lawyer, Atty. Renato M. Cervantes, who was the one who filed that libel complaint.
Atty. Cervantes filed a libel complaint against Lucero because of the Position Paper submitted on October 16, 2009 to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) by Lucero and his fellow union officers at the CAAP.
Atty. Cervantes filed the libel complaint on January 5, 2012, almost three years had passed.
But the ignorance of the law (or the deliberateness in causing injury) on the part of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City again made it happen that it indicted Lucero for libel in court. Reading the criminal information for libel filed against Lucero, it showed there that the fiscals made it appear that the crime occurred only in less than a year before the filing of the complaint by faking the real date of occurrence of the alleged crime of libel.
These proofs of ignorance of the law or bias by the prosecutor's offices in the country are the reasons I am crying to all the Filipinos to change the system of justice.
We in Hukuman ng Mamamahayan Movement, Inc. (HMMI) and Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM), a partylist group, are proposing for the establishment of the People's Court that is similar to that in the United States of America.
The People's Court we are proposing shall be composed of the trial jury and the grand jury.
The trial jury is composed of 12 ordinary people raffled from the voters' list and screened further by means of interviews to know who are the most discerning in knowing the facts of the case and who are the most fair. It shall try all cases every day. Experience in the USA and in other countries show that on the average trials by jury are completed in a week or two.
The grand jury that we proposed shall replace the prosecutor's offices in the exercise of the power to say who should be indicted or charged in court.
The grand jury in each city or province shall be composed of 23 ordinary people chosen from the voters' list and screened further through interviews to determine who are the most capable to discern facts and who are the most fair.
The members of the grand jury are replaced every six months to maintain fairness, the no. 1 element in any justice system. Correctness in judgment is only no. 2 because perfection in judgment cannot be achieve.
One thing is common in all jury countries: THEY HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH REBELLION, a child of injustice.
If we do not move now, when shall we begin changing our justice system?