Barbarism at prosecutor’s
By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUNA CAUSING
President, Hukuman ng Mamamayan Movement (HMMI)
President, Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM)
Have our prosecutors become barbarians and mediocre persons?
As if all if not most prosecutor’s offices in the Philippines, from Apparri to Tawi-Tawi, appear to be peopled by mediocre people who happened to pass or top the Bar examinations by a stroke of luck.
Prosecutors are the first to blame why courts clog with cases. This is because more often they file useless criminal cases. Judges take half of the total blame: most of them do not know the real meaning of probable cause that the judicial officials approve right away the prosecutors’ filings.
Some of these prosecutors, as well as judges, choose to be lazy to think deep in deciding whether there is probable cause for every case they handle. They do not mind whether they will be shamed later when the cases they filed ended up with acquittal of the persons they charged.
Some are actually not capable of thinking deep enough. Some cannot even give a decent writing of resolutions in English yet having the gall to be power trippers.
The main job of the prosecutors is to decide whether to file in court and torture the accused by giving the latter extremely-stressing problems of languishing in jail up to termination of the cases that do not allow bail, or problems of looking for money to pay for bail for liberty during trial and pay for lawyers. So that if the cases filed do not have any chance of winning because of insufficient evidence, the torture that will be caused on the accused cannot be justified.
Unlucky are the people nowadays. Most of them charged before the Prosecutor’s Offices are usually bound to face warrants of arrest even if the evidence submitted against them are sickeningly insufficient.
Yes, it seems to be the standard now as experienced by this author as a private practicing lawyer. Fiscals or prosecutors today are usually cruel individuals: some are actually criminals themselves for committing bribery. Others are simply criminals for mediocrity.
To find one good, fair and reasonable prosecutors is like searching for a needle in a heap of sand.
These prosecutors abuse the term “probable cause.” They use various smokescreens to justify their conclusion that there is “probable cause” even when in truth there is none.
One smokescreen is what they call “the defenses put up by the respondents are matters of defense or evidentiary that can only be determined in a full-blown trial in court.”
Another smokescreen they usually use is: “the defenses of denials are deemed weak and cannot prevail over positive assertions of accusations.” Even if the assertions do not have documentary evidence to support the allegations, the prosecutors usually stick to this rule, unmindful of the extreme prejudice that may be caused on the accused.
In other cases, the smokescreen they use is their thick faces.
Even if there is utter lack of evidence to support the accusations, these kinds of prosecutors just declare there is probable cause to hail the accused in court.
Thus, there are many innocent individuals who have to suffer from prejudicial trial or have to languish in jail or in hiding just because the criminal cases approved by the prosecutors do not allow bail to afford a temporary liberty while fighting for innocence in trials. Former Senator Panfilo Lacson, now the chief of the Rehabilitation Program for Yolanda victims, once hid in 10,000 hours because the double murder case filed against him does not allow bail.
Most innocent who are victims of this “probable cause” are those against whom their accusers pay money to buy “probable cause.”
Other innocent men and women are simple victims arrested by policemen with planted evidence for money or malice but they were charged in court because they failed to produce the money being demanded by cops.
Conversely, there are also prosecutors who declare there is no probable cause even if the pieces of evidence submitted to support the accusations are more than sufficient.
In this situation, the only reason is money. The persons being accused give money to buy liberty.
In cases where there are two possible charges that can be filed, one case that allows bail and one that does not allow bail, prosecutors sell their “probable cause” findings.
An example is when a financially-capable person is caught for murder. When there are funds offered by the accused, the prosecutors will accept the money without qualms because his fellow prosecutors in one office will not stand in the way because of expected share in the bribe.
And with the money, the prosecutors will charge the accused only with homicide in order for the murderer to be allowed to post bail to get freedom.
If the money dangled is big, the prosecutors will even conspire with the accused to quickly have the accused arraigned or read with the charges. This is because once an accused is arraigned he can no longer be charged with the higher crime of murder that does not allow bail.
This bribery practice is also prevalent in drugs cases. Those caught selling illegal drugs should be charged with the non-bailable offense of illegal selling of prohibited drugs.
But with the money at hand usually in hundreds of thousands of pesos, the charge will be watered down to a mere “illegal possession of illegal drugs,” a case that is bailable to get liberty from jail.
And in many cases, policemen implant evidence that can be done so easily because it is cheap, usually for P100, to procure a sachet of shabu to be used to implant.
In this type, cops just pick up a person and then the accused will be shocked to see that the operatives or PDEA agents will now claim these sachets of shabu were seized from the accused. If the agents or cops are very good at preparing the documents, chances are that innocent victims get convicted because courts usually presume the works of operatives as true although the truth is that the drugs were planted.
The prosecutors are actually the first defense of innocent persons against unjust and undue charges. This is because their duty is not only to convict, but also to save the innocent from unjust and vexatious charges.
What then will happen if the defense breaks down? Barbarism.
The high incidence of selling “probable cause” is the reason that the prosecution offices have low reputation to the public at large.
After presenting the above, it is now argued that it is better to change the prosecutorial system: ESTABLISH GRAND JURIES THAT WILL DECIDE WHO SHOULD BE HAILED TO COURT AND WHO WILL BE SPARED.
Grand juries, like in the United States of America, are the ones voting by majority whether there is probable cause that the accused brought to them committed the crime being imputed by the police and the prosecutors.
In short, the grand juries are the ones approving or rejecting the proposal of the cops and fiscals to file in court of the criminal cases presented by these law enforcers to the jurors.
Those appointed to serve as grand jurors are chosen from members of the community in good standing. Lawyers are not allowed to sit in the juries because lawyers cannot escape from applying the rules of evidence, particularly the rules on what circumstances are presumed to be crimes. There is no place for presumptions among the juries. Jurors judge the testimonies of policemen on how they testify before the jurors. Jurors look at the police operatives’ testimonies equally with the testimonies of the accused. All of them are judged by the juries on their appearance in testifying, how they comport when answering queries, and how logical their testimonies are compared to the actual happening in life.
Those chosen to serve as jurors from a hundred persons summoned to be screened to serve as jurors shall sit in the Grand Juries usually for six (6) months. They will be replaced by the next batch of chosen jurors.
This cycle of change of set of jurors is designed to counter conspiracy and to keep the fairness and independence of the procedure of knowing who should be charged in court and who should be spared.
Politicians cannot penetrate, so that it is impossible to happen that politicians charged for crimes cannot complain they are just politically persecuted.
Let now the Filipinos erect the pedestal of Grand Juries in the country.