I haven't updated this blog much, but I'm reminded of FX and the entire case every time I hear about cops murdering citizens. Was it a "rubout" or a "shootout" -- the new words I learned from Nov 5, 2005. How truthful were the media reports? I always wonder now.
My most recent posts talked about Hansel Marantan, the cop who finalized FX's death. Marantan was able to keep his job and live the following years without disruption or consequence of what he did to my friend. He continued to commit more injustice, betraying the Filipino citizens, the police enforcement, and our country's justice system. Early last year, he did it again -- killing Vic Siman's group in Atimonan, the same way he killed FX in Ortigas.
This time around, Marantan hid behind his gunshot wounds to avoid jail and court time. C'mon, how long does it take to heal from a gunshot wound?! What a coward! Today, I learned he attempted to sue the families of FX and Anton (and their lawyer!) for stating that they were waiting for justice. How dare Marantan he?! How crazy was that?! It's a good thing our new Supreme Court will not stand for this non-sense and had dismissed Marantan's petition. There goes Marantan's delay tactics... down the drain. Way to go, Supreme Court! Thank you. Thank you for giving us hope.
How many families fight for justice in this country?! I commend the Manzanos and Cu-Unjengs for doing so. Many Filipinos have been brainwashed with fear to "let it go" because fighting for justice against the cops, the government, or a richer corrupt group can be a no-win-situation. It's time this mindset changes. Our truth and courage is our strength.
PS: Late this week, I also learned that Marantan was finally dismissed from the PNP. It's about time! No more badge. No more support system from our taxes. (Who is paying Marantan? Follow the money and I'm sure it will explain all the mess created to our citizens.)
SC junks Hansel Marantan bid to hold HR lawyer Diokno in contempt for citing earlier slays
MANILA, Philippines –The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by Chief Supt. Hansel Marantan, main accused in the 2013 Atimonan Massacre, to punish human-rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno and his client for appearing at a TV interview and dweeling on an earlier homicide case where he was also among the accused.
Drawing the line between freedom of speech on one hand and the subjudice rule and indirect contempt on the other, the high court’s Third Division voted 5-0 to dismiss Marantan’s petition arising from comments given by Diokno and his client, Monique Cu-unjieng La’o, whose son Anton was one of three young men gunned down in Pasig City in 2011 by a team led by Marantan.
For public comment to be considered contempt of court for violating the subjudice rule, it must “really appear” that such does impede, interfere with and embarrass the administration of justice, the high tribunal said. The specific rationale for the subjudice rule is that courts, in the decision of issues of fact and law, should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court’ and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies, it added.
A case for homicide filed Dec. 6, 2011 against Marantan, for the deaths of Anton Cu-Unjieng, Francis Xavier Manzano and Brian Anthony Dulay was earlier dismissed though not yet final. The criminal cases involve the killing of the three on November 7, 2005 in front of the AIC Gold Tower at Ortigas Center, an incident captured by a television crew. The families of the victims sought a reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s finding of homicide and wanted the charges upgraded to murder. In the meantime, Marantan was again implicated in another shooting incident on January 6, 2013 in Atimonan, Quezon Province, resulting in the death of 13 men, including a police colonel and a businessman described as a gambling financier.
Marantan and the PNP team he led—along with augmentation from the military—at first claimed the 13 men led by businessman Vic Siman had tried to evade a checkpoint they set up on a supposed tip that a robbery syndicate was in the area. The men on two vehicles supposedly shot at the lawmen, sparking an “encounter” which the National Bureau of Investigation—acting on an order from the President—later concluded was a sham. On the basis of evidence indicating Siman’s group was gunned down in cold blood in an apparent war over gambling turf, the DOJ filed murder charges against Marantan et.al.
In filing a complaint for subjudice, Marantan alleged that, riding on the unpopularity of the Atimonan incident, respondents Atty. Diokno (counsel of Cu-Unjieng La’O) and Ernesto Manzano (the brother of the late Francis Manzano, one of the three victims in the Ortigas incident) organized and conducted a televised/radio broadcasted press conference where they supposedly made intemperate and unreasonable comments on the merits of the criminal cases (on the Pasig shooting in 2011) pending before the RTC, branding Marantan and his co-accused guilty of murder in the Ortigas incident.
On January 29, 2013, an interview of Diokno, Manzano and Cu-Unjieng La’O was aired over TV Patrol. In that interview, Marantan cites statements made by Diokno and Cu-Unjieng La’O which he claims violated the sub judice rule, thus making them liable for indirect contempt under Rule 71, section 3(d).
The statements of Diokno, Manzano and Cu-Unjieng La’O pertained to the delay in the resolution of the case but, according to Marantan, also on the merits of the cases. The respondents argued that there was no violation of the sub judice rule as their statements were legitimate expressions of their desires, hopes and opinions which were taken out of context and did not impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice in a concrete way; that no criminal intent was shown as the utterances were not on their face actionable being a fair comment of a matter of public interest and concern; and that the petition of Marantan was intended to stifle legitimate speech.
Answering the key question of whether or not respondents violated the subjudice rule and are liable for contempt of court, the SC’s Third Division held the Marantan petition is without merit.
The SC Third Division held that the subjudice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to the judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. A violation of the rule may render one liable for indirect contempt of court under Rule 71, sec. 3(d). Indirect contempt proceedings are criminal in nature; indirect contempt is conduct that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court or a judge acting judicially. It is an act obstructing and impeding the administration of justice which tends to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect. Intent is a necessary element in criminal contempt, and no one can be punished for a criminal contempt unless the evidence makes it clear that he intended to commit it.
For public comment to be considered contempt of court for violating the subjudice rule, the SC said, it must “really appear” that such does impede, interfere with and embarrass the administration of justice. The specific rationale for the subjudice rule is that courts, in the decision of issues of fact and law, should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court’ and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies.
The contempt power is inherent in all courts in order to allow them to conduct their business unhampered by publications and comments which tend to impair the impartiality of their decisions or otherwise obstruct the administration of justice. As important as the maintenance of freedom of speech is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. The “clear and present danger” rule may serve as an aid in determining the proper constitutional boundary between these two rights.
The supposedly contemptuous statements attributed to respondents Diokno and Cu-Unjieng La’O are expressions of their opinion as to the state of events as perceived by them, specifically that Marantan and company should be charged with murder instead of homicide. The Courtsaid it detected no malice on the face of their statements and the mere restatement of arguments contained in their various submissions to the court cannot actually, or does not even tend to, influence the Court.
As far as respondents’ comments on the conduct of the Court [in the earlier 2011 case], a review of their comments reveals that they were simply stating that it had not yet resolved their petition. There was no complaint, express or implied, that an inordinate amount of time had passed since the petition was filed before the Court. There appears no attack or insult on the dignity of the Court either.
The Third Division framed its key argument thus: A public utterance or publication is not to be denied the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and press merely because it concerns a judicial proceeding still pending in the courts, upon the theory that in such a case, it must necessarily tend to obstruct the orderly and fair administration of justice. By no stretch of the imagination could the respondents’ comments pose a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice. No criminal intent to impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice can be inferred from the comments of the respondents.
Finally, the court said, freedom of public comment should, in borderline instances, weigh heavily against a possible tendency to influence pending cases. The power to punish for contempt, being drastic and extraordinary in its nature, should not be resorted to unless necessary in the interest of justice. In the present case, such necessity is wanting.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza. Besides the division chair Justice Presbiterio Velasco, other members who voted are Justices Diosdado Peralta, Roberto Abad and Mar-Vic Leonen.