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Aug 08

Clobberin’ time versus Cayetano

The public mood: Gov’t poor vs inflation, graft but good in foreign relations.

… lot of people talking at cross-purposes, about all sorts of things.

Take the Palace camp: Favila: There’s no contract with China yet but on the other hand, Mendoza: I have full authority on $329M broadband contract. What’s going on? Who knows? Not 1 but 5 contracts lost in China but apparently, that’s not an obstacle to anything. Incidentally, one of the related deals, the DepEd’s CyberEducation project, is explained by Willy Prilles (who finds it disturbing), and its pros and cons delved into in another entry in his blog, A Nagueno in the Blogosphere.

You would think that this is a situation screaming for an investigation by the Blue Ribbon committee. And it is, although Senator Allan Peter Cayetano seems unusually cautious this early on: Cayetano: No public trust in blue ribbon committee. He seems to be saying, this is an altogether different league. and it is.

Still, there’s still time for the usual cat-and-mouse: Iggy: Who’s afraid of Alan Peter at Blue Ribbon? and Iggy dares Peter: Make my day (Ignacito knows he can insist on interparliamentary courtesy, your honor!), while Cayetano has higher priorities now than Garci, Pidal probes.

Meanwhile, Senate minority bloc livid (and for effect, Gordon did a little grousing, too: Gordon: Villar takes cue from Arroyo, Estrada). No wonder 28 bills pushed by Palace at LEDAC meeting. The Inquirer editorial today takes a look at the goings-on in the Senate, and argues that the administration’s scored a major victory in terms of committee chairmanships. Along the way, it quotes a passage from Woodrow Wilson. I’ve long been a great believer in Wilson’s arguments and it bears further quotation here, since I strenuously oppose the argument that the chief function of Congress is to pass laws. As Wilson explained it,

An effective representative body, gifted with the power to rule, ought, it would seem not only to speak the will of the nation, which Congress does, but also to lead it to its conclusions, to utter the voice of its opinions, and to serve as its eyes in superintending all matters of government, – which Congress does not do. the discussions which take place in Congress are aimed at random. They now and again strike rather sharply the tender spots in this, that, or the other measure; but, as I have said, no two measures consciously join in purpose or agree in character, and so debate must wander as widely as the subjects of debate. Since there is little coherency about the legislation agreed upon, there can be little coherency about the debates. There is no one policy to be attacked or defended, but only a score or two of separate bills. To attend to such discussions is uninteresting; to be instructed by them is impossible. There is some scandal and discomfort, but infinite advantage, in having every affair of administration subjected to the test of constant examination on the part of the assembly which represents the nation. The chief use of such inquisition is, not the direction of those affairs in a way with which the country will be satisfied (though that itself is of course all-important), but the enlightenment of the people, which is always its sure consequence. Very few men are unequal to a danger which they see and understand; all men quail before a threatening which is dark and unintelligible, and suspect what is done behind the screen. If the people could have, through Congress, daily knowledge of all the more important transactions of the governmental offices, an insight into all that now so often shaken, would, I think, be very soon established. Because dishonesty can lurk under the privacies now vouchsafed our administrative agents, much that is upright and pure suffers unjust suspicion. Discoveries of guilt in a bureau cloud with doubts the trustworthiness of a department. As nothing is open enough for the quick and easy detection of peculation or fraud, so nothing is open enough for the due vindication and acknowledgment of honesty. The isolation and privacy which shield the one from discovery cheat the other of reward.

While the Palace defends P12-pay hike, its statement involves pretty much the rhetorical defense in response to the predictable condemnation of such moves by the usual suspects. The Business Mirror editorial, however, asks if this “annual exercise in class struggle” really does anyone any good:

One of the larger considerations here is the comparative wage rates in Asia. At the current wage levels, minimum pay in Metro Manila is close to $8 a day, against Thailand’s $6.35, Beijing’s $3.43, Indonesia’s $3.25 and Vietnam’s $1.27.

What these figures suggest is that an unwarranted increase in local wages would simply turn off investors some more. This consideration is important because, in reality, at the root of this incapacity of many firms to pay higher wages is the small size of the Philippine economy itself.

Despite the significant growth rates we have achieved in the last few years, the Philippine economy and its capacity to create jobs has been generally weak. More so because the new creators of jobs, specifically outsourcing, are in the services sector that needs highly skilled graduates who are normally paid rates higher than the minimum-wage rates.

It’s obvious that minimum-wage workers are probably concentrated in the industry sector, which, by some indications, are fast shedding jobs already – owing to a lot of factors, including poor infrastructure, a strong peso, strong competition from China and Vietnam, and rapid technological change.

To survive, many companies have relocated to China while others are restructuring their cost structures to stay afloat. You put a drastic wage increase in their equations and it’s likely that they are just going to fold up or simply adopt more labor-saving devices.

This is not to deny the need for decent wages in the Philippines. In fact, we need them here. But the reality is that the performance of companies and industry sectors are uneven.

Certainly, firms in electronics, mining, outsourcing, banking, and wholesale and retail are probably doing good. But other firms, especially small and medium enterprises in the manufacture and export of furniture and fixtures, as well as food, are probably ailing owing to the strong peso and other factors.

It means that while other firms could absorb the wage rates, others are not likely to do so, and go under. The ideal policy approach, therefore, is an arrangement that would consider these different business conditions.

William Pesek of Bloomberg reports on a meeting of Apec finance ministers:

Yet, if this year’s finance ministers’ meeting highlighted anything, it’s that as much as Asia-Pacific nations say they’re cooperating, they’re standing very much alone.

It illuminated how the US still blames Asia for saving too much and holding down currencies. Asians blame the US for saving too little and relying too much on Asia’s money. Japan criticizes China for an undervalued currency, while South Korea is stepping up criticism of Japan for the same reason. China is perturbed that it’s being criticized at all.

He then goes on to set the scene: finance ministers are nervous, and a Filipino official explains why:

Apec’s gathering unfolded amid increasing volatility in global markets. One heard more consternation over who’s to blame for imbalances than how to fix things. And Henry Paulson’s decision to blow off the event was a bigger problem than the US Treasury secretary may realize.

“A lot of this market volatility is about subprime-mortgage-market contagion from the US,” Diwa Guinigundo, deputy governor of the Philippine central bank, told me in Coolum.

Pesek thinks American officials are in a state of denial, and that problems in the US economy are in the process of spreading to Asia:

Australia is on the front lines of how problems in the US are spreading to Asia. On August 2, shares in Macquarie Bank Ltd. fell the most in five years after Australia’s largest securities firm said investors in some of its funds may lose as much as 25 percent of their money. Taiwan Life Insurance Co. stock had its worst week in over three years amid hedge-fund losses.

It’s one thing for Bear Stearns Co.’s hedge funds to get slammed by the subprime mess; it’s another for casualties to begin piling up a world away. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index plunged 3.9 percent in the five days ended July 27, the worst weekly drop since July 2006.

“The correction is coming about because of weakness in the US,” said Australian Treasurer Peter Costello. “It illustrates how interconnected the world is.”

It’s a breathtaking role reversal. Just as Asia downplayed the odds of its 1997 contagion oozing around the globe, the US claims its problems are containable. While that’s possible, the concerns of investors like Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., and Jim Rogers, chairman of Beeland Interests Inc., are worth noting.

My show last night focused on an article by Filomeno Sta. Ana III, which bears looking into in light of the above (see also my Arab News column for this week, Can the 1997 Crisis Happen Again?).

In Mindanao, Basilan contingent encounters fire fight. Of course, Philippine Commentary calls the ongoing offensive a sham. Also, the incredible Bedol gets an incredible slap on the wrist: Solons outraged over Bedol verdict: Say fraud is the issue not contempt.

PCIJ reports Spate of attacks alarms local Indian community. Nice backgrounder in their blog on the history if Indian immigration to the Philippines.

An interesting article, “Political Parties in the 2007 Elections”, by Joel Rocamora, is reproduced in Mga Diskurso ni Doy.

In kidglove’s life belt, the blogger takes a snapshot of a homeless man who uses a flag for a blanket; and then offers up a meditation on the meaning -and meaningless- of the law.

The entry of Quixotic Kibbitzer led me to consult Atty. Edwin Lacierda on the points he raised. This was his reply:

Sounds logical but it does not work that way. Sometimes during trial and even before final judgment, the constitutional presumption of innocence can be overturned such as unexplained flight. When an accused takes flight, the constitutional presumption to innocence is overturned by the presumption of guilt. As we say in procedural law, flight denotes a presumption of guilt. Thus, it is possible that the constitutional presumption of innocence can be lost subject to the existence of some circumstances.

But he is being ingenious, there is a great distinction between Jalosjos and Trillanes and it is the fact that Jalosjos’ presumption of innocence has been overturned by conviction even if it was still pending appeal. The fact that Jalosjos has been convicted with proof beyond reasonable doubt overturns the constitutional presumption of innocence. Evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt always overcomes the constitutional presumption of innocence.

The constitutional presumption of innocence really means that accusation is not synonymous with guilt. But if one is convicted, then it showed that the presumption has been overturned and it is now the turn of the accused to prove that the judgment of conviction is wrong. Moreover, to be very technical about it, an appeal is a statutory right, not a constitutional right.

If you read the Jalosjos decision, the background scenario is that he has already been convicted and is sitting in prison. The equal protection of the laws says that all persons similarly situated should be similarly treated. Jalosjos and Trillanes are not in the same situation. Trillanes has not been convicted so far. His detention is due to the fact that the crime he committed is non-bailable, not because he has been convicted. Thus, he continues to enjoy the presumption of innocence. That is the big difference. By all accounts, your analysis is clear and correct.

And if the guy wants to be consistent, then by all accounts, his presumption of innocence must allow Trillanes to sit as a senator and attend to the senate sessions.

Read the decision, what makes Jalosjos so different from Trillanes is that apart from the conviction, he ran away from his duties in Congress and hid from his fellow congressmen when a warrant of arrest was issued him. Afterwards, he invoked Congress when it was a convenient ploy to secure temporary liberty. That never happened with Sonny Trillanes.

There you go. Manuel Buencamino’s right on the button.

Finally, from Flip Brown Guy, those guards and their magic sticks.

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  1. baycas

    An alternative explanation is that it is precisely because of the presumption of innocence even after conviction by the trial court. But why deny the right to bail as a matter of right to a person convicted by the RTC? Because under a balance of interest test, the state has the right to protect itself, prevent the escape of the accused, and taking into consideration the nature of the crime, the detention of the accused is justified.
    – jaxius

    One rationale behind confinement, whether pending appeal or after final conviction, is public self-defense. Society must protect itself. It also serves as an example and warning to others.
    – G.R. No. 132875-76, February 3, 2000, PEOPLE vs. JALOSJOS

    (emphasis mine)

    “The state has a right to protect itself” from the convicted and yet he is presumed innocent pending his appeal??? The confinement “also serves as an example and warning to others” that the appellant even though he is convicted at the RTC level is still presumed innocent???

  2. baycas

    No, the above is not the reason why bail is denied…it is because:

    Bail, when discretionary. – Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. The application for bail may be filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not transmitted the original record to the appellate court. However, if the decision of the trial court conviction the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.
    – Sec. 5, Rule 114, The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure

    Bail is denied in offenses punishable by capital punishment. Why?

    In the En Banc Resolution of 15 October 1991 in People v. Ricardo Cortez,[8] the Court ruled that an accused, who is charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua, is no longer entitled to bail as a matter of right even if he appeals the case, to this Court since his conviction clearly imports that the evidence of his guilt is strong.

    The clear implication, therefore, is that if an accused who is charged with a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua is convicted and sentenced to suffer such penalty, bail is neither a matter of right on the part of the accused nor of discretion on the part of the court. The court would not have only determined that the evidence of guilt is strong, it would have likewise ruled that the accused’s guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, bail must not be granted during the pendency of the appeal from the judgment of conviction.
    – G.R. No. 157147, September 10, 2003, PEOPLE vs. CAWALING

    Therefore, the convicted-appellant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence because the evidence of his guilt is strong. This is also the reason why their length of confinement or imprisonment is deducted from the total sentence; in part, they are already serving their time pending the resolution of their appeal, in another, they are already presumed guilty…pending appeal, of course.

  3. baycas

    To those who have lighter sentences, their conviction STAYS unless and until the SC reverses the conviction. They are no longer presumed innocent while the execution of their sentence is just STAYED because they were granted bail.

  4. baycas

    i also should have pasted this:

    Sec. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. – No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the state of the criminal prosecution.

  5. salve

    shaman,

    great point. that’s also exactly what i’m trying to say. these are gut issues for the ordinary man. the government has to open its eyes to understand why its number-crunching doesn’t make a difference in what they perceive to be the successes and failures of the government. for any intervention from the government side to be successful, the policy has to attack the gut issues Mang Pandoy faces. economic regulators has to stop just churning the figures but start making changes that truly uplift lives.

    now here’s a question: can lack of knowledge also cloud perception?

  6. jaxius

    baycas,

    you have a bad habit in your legal research department. You zero in on a particular part of the decision, probably because of it fits your initial idea, and lose sight of the entire picture. Read and understand the decision in its entirety.

    read people vs cawaling again. YOu will find that it quotes People vs Obosa:

    “Likewise, if the prosecution had previously demonstrated that evidence of the accused’s guilt is strong, as it had done so in this case, such determination subsists even on appeal, despite conviction for a lesser offense, since such determination is for the purpose of resolving whether to grant or deny bail and does not have any bearing on whether petitioner will ultimately be acquitted or convicted of the charge.”

    That the evidence is strong is not equivalent to guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The former is only for bail purposes, the latter for conviction.

  7. Shaman of Malilipot

    salve,

    You’re right, the government should churn out those data that will help it craft policy to address the gut issues of the mang pandoys, instead of those that merely cosmetizes its performance.

    Since hunger is the number one daily problem of the poor, the government, for instance, may want to track the elementary aggregate price index for food (basic items such as rice, fish, meat, and vegetables) and formulate policies that will place these basic food necessities within the reach of the ordinary man. A consumer price index based on a basket that includes goods and services that the poor do not ordinarily consume is meaningless to them.

    Talking of perceptions, from the point of view of the ordinary man, his perception (and I suppose we are still talking here about government’s performance) is based on lived experience. I don’t think a hungry man has the time or the inclination for intellectual peroration about things that do not impinge on his day-to-day life. So, whether he has lack of knowledge about other things that may “cloud” his perception is of no moment. Whether or not he knows about the things the government has done to make the exporters richer is irrelevant. Government performance will always be gauged in terms of actual improvements in his life.

  8. Shaman of Malilipot

    baycas,

    So, it would seem therefore that by virtue of the trial court’s judgment of conviction, the accused person is, in truth and in fact, guilty of a crime. Nawala na yung presumption of innocence.

    So, it would seem therefore that, in the event the SC reverses the guilty verdict, an innocent man was guilty, in truth and in fact, of a crime at some point in his life.

    I don’t know how legal minds work, but for me parang meron conceptual absurdity. Para sa akin, mas madali ang buhay if the presumption of innocence holds until the verdict is affirmed by the SC and becomes final and executory.

  9. baycas

    Jaxius,

    That the evidence is strong is not equivalent to guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The former is only for bail purposes, the latter for conviction.

    Yes, they are not equivalent…but presumption of innocence is what I’m centering on. Certainly, if the evidence of guilt of the accused is strong (PLUS, having to be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the lower court) he is not presumed innocent anymore. Otherwise, if he is still presumed innocent then the evidence of guilt of the accused is weak and thereby he will be awarded bail.

    On the lesser punishment for lesser crimes, a convicted accused on appeal is also not presumed innocent anymore because the conviction HOLDS unless and until the appeal succeeds in wiping out the conviction. As to the sentence, the execution of it is only put on HOLD upon bail that is awarded.

    (honestly, nalilito na ako at nagiging makulit…*)

    —–

    Shaman,

    Yes, that’s how I understand it.

    Simply put, the trial court judge’s decision to convict is RIGHT unless proven otherwise by the appellate courts (and not the other way around wherein the judge ERRED unless proven otherwise). In the former, the convicted accused (even on appeal) will no longer be presumed innocent.

    —–

    *…btw, i’m only fond of googling…sometimes metacrawling and blog searching (my legal et al research departmentS)…i’m no lawyer but i just really wanted to comprehend the principle of presumption of innocence. my foregoing posts in this thread and the previous one explain my understanding of it. now, in legal parlance, i rest my case.

  10. lacierda

    Jaxius,

    You said: “As to the issue of Jalosjos not invoking his right to be presumed innocent, suffice it to say that such right has no bearing to the privilege he is asking and his battery of lawyers knew it.”

    Then, if the presumption has no bearing on his petition to work in Congress, then I rest my case. We should not be talking about presumption of innocence in the first place. The argument is turning on its head.

  11. Bencard

    baycas, really, you’re not a lawyer? you could’ve fooled me.
    btw, i agree with your legal research and reasoning not only because it support my views on the matter but that i think they are correct.

  12. jaxius

    baycas,

    you do realize that a determination whether the guilt is strong applies only to cases where capital punishment is the imposable penalty. And this determination is done prior to conviction because its purpose is whether to grant bail.

    Tell me if I am wrong, but are you asserting that once there is a finding that the guilt is strong, the accused is no longer presumed innocent?

    Don’t you realize that it goes against the very basic tenet that the presumption of innocence is overturned only by proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt?

    The denial of the right to bail to an accused being tried for a capital offense when there is a finding that guilt is strong finds its basis on the right of the state to protect society and to assure his attendance at the trial, taking into consideration the fact that the gravity of the imposable penalty makes it highly likely that he will escape.

    Do not equate the right to bail with the right to be presumed innocent.

  13. baycas

    SC rejects ‘presumption of innocence’ until final appeal

    This is a title of an article I read ever since I joined the fray on the so-called presumption of innocence. Unfortunately, it came from the Online edition of India’s National Newspaper, The Hindu. Nevertheless, with my perfunctory readings in the past days on the matter, I come to the notion that it is likewise applicable to our legal system.

    Please pardon me to mislead you, Bencard, but in reading all your pleadings (posts) here and the previous blogpost re: the presumption of innocence, I am glad that I finally agreed with you.

    It was nice to be a lawyer for a few days. Jaxius, I still think lawyers Dawin (Ed Lacierda) and Bencard are right…and you might want to google the title above. Thanks.

  14. Shaman of Malilipot

    Baycas, you’ve not answered jaxius’ question of whether a finding that the evidence of guilt is strong (before conviction) means the accused is no longer presumed innocent. If this were so, we would only need a summary judgment, not a trial.

    Sine Bencard agrees with baycas, perhaps he can help answer this.

  15. jaxius

    atty lacierda,

    there is a difference between enjoying the right to be presumed innocent and invoking it to convince the court to grant his request of temporary liberty.

    he still enjoyed the right to be presumed innocent during his appeal because the quantum of proof for the SC to affirm his conviction remains guilt beyond reasonable doubt and that the penalty is withheld until the judgment becomes final and executory.

    the lawyers of jalosjos knew that it would be pointless to invoke his right to be presumed innocent because it is no substantial distinction from others who were convicted of a capital offense who appealed their conviction.

    On the other hand, they believed that his election to Congress is the substantial distinction that would justify being granted the special privilege.

  16. jaxius

    baycas,

    You are correct, but you must transfer to India.

    In People vs Dramayo, discussing the nature and scope of the presumption of innocence, the SC wrote:

    “That is a right safeguarded both appellants. Accusation is not, according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt. It is incumbent on the prosecution to demonstrate that culpability lies. Appellant were not even called upon then to offer evidence on their behalf. Their freedom is forfeit only if the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction be in existence. Their guilt must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. To such a standard, this Court has always been committed. There is need, therefore, for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the state, both oral and documentary, independently of whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. The conscience must be satisfied that on the defendant could be laid the responsibility for the offense charged; that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime. What is required then is moral certainty.”

    If you are still unable to pick the appropriate phrases because it conflicts with your position, here it is:

    1. That is a right safeguarded both APPELLANTS.

    2. ONLY if the judge below and the APPELLATE TRIBUNAL could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction.

  17. watchful eye

    Questions to our lawyers.

    Is the Abu Sayyaf group entitled to presumption of innocence?

    Is parading of suspected criminals in Malacanang as much a violation of this right as a “terrorist” label?

  18. baycas

    you do realize that a determination whether the guilt is strong applies only to cases where capital punishment is the imposable penalty. And this determination is done PRIOR to conviction because its purpose is whether to grant bail.
    – jaxius

    Baycas, you’ve not answered jaxius’ question of whether a finding that the evidence of guilt is strong (BEFORE conviction) means the accused is no longer presumed innocent. If this were so, we would only need a summary judgment, not a trial.
    – Shaman

    Answer: My original assertion is that an accused NO longer enjoys presumption of innocence AFTER conviction by the lower court. So, all my preceding posts do not pertain to presumption of innocence PRIOR to or BEFORE conviction.

  19. baycas

    …The two accused, now appellants, Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin, in the company of the deceased Estelito Nogaliza, all of Barrio Magsaysay, of the Municipality of Sapao, Surigao del Norte, saw its chief of police…
    – People v. Dramayo, G.R. No. L-21325

    You see, the SC…hmmm U C, D SC…is referring to the trial of Dramayo et al and was dissecting it thoroughly to determine if the conviction is to be affirmed or reversed. The SC was kinda reminiscin’ what happened during the trial. Dramayo and Ecubin then were “the accused” but were later on named “appellants” at the SC level. They rightfully enjoyed the presumption of innocence while they were “the accused.”

    Even enjoying the presumption of innocence before the conviction, the SC mentioned that the accused then, NOW appellants weren’t actually saved by the same presumption before the conviction:

    The judgment of conviction should not have occasioned any surprise on the part of the two appellants, as from the evidence deserving of the fullest credence, their guilt had been more than amply demonstrated. The presumption of innocence could not come to their rescue as it was more than sufficiently overcome by the proof that was offered by the prosecution…

    As to this:

    Only if judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into count.

    Short of asking, was the presumption of innocence before the conviction given to the accused during the trial? (Btw, here was no mention of presumption of innocence after the conviction.)

    Fernando, in his last sentence, bolstered the contention that trial judges are bestowed with presumption of regularity (remember the-trial-judge-is-RIGHT-unless-proven-otherwise thing?):

    It suffices to reiterate the well-settled principle that this Court has invariably respected the findings of facts of a trial judge who was in a position to weigh and appraise the testimony before him except when, as was not shown in this case, circumstances weight or influence were ignored or disregarded by him.

  20. jaxius

    baycas,

    In People vs Macaraeg (G.R. No. L-32806 October 23, 1973), Justice Fernando who also penned the SC’s decision in People vs Dramayo, explained whether the presumption of regularity trumps the right of the accused to be presumed innocent. Quoting Justice Castro from the 1968 decision of People vs Alto:

    “As a salutary proposition, this Court usually desists from disturbing the conclusions of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses, in deference to the rule that the lower court, having seen and heard the witnesses and observed their demeanor and manner of testifying, is in a better position to appreciate the evidence. But this doctrine must bow to the superior and immutable rule that the guilt of the accused must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, because the law presumes that a defendant is innocent, and this presumption must prevail unless overturned by competent and credible proof.”

    To reiterate, he further quoted Justice Teehankee who penned People v. Pagkaliwagan:

    “And while the Court on appeal would normally not disturb the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses in view of the latter’s advantage of observing at first hand their demeanor in giving their testimony, the Court has consistently held that this rule of appreciation of evidence “must bow to the superior and immutable rule that the guilt of the accused must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, because the law presumes that a defendant is innocent and this presumption must prevail unless overturned by competent and credible proof.”

    To cite a much more recent case, the SC in People vs Lagmay (G.R. No. 125310 April 21, 1999) declared:

    “the presumption of innocence is not a mere procedural tool of the law. It is not overcome by the presumption of regularity; indeed, it can be rebutted only by proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

  21. Bencard

    shaman, i think baycas has sufficiently answered your question as to whether or not strong evidence of guilt rebuts the presumption of innocence. if i may add, in the face of strong evidence of guilt, the accused cannot just stand mute, rests solely on the presumption of innocence, and expects to be acquitted. he has to produce some evidence to ensure the continued existence of reasonable doubt as to his guilt.

    if the accused choose not to present evidence after the prosecution rests its case, that’s the end of the trial, and the court will render its judgment (not summary judgment).

  22. jaxius

    Bencard,

    I think you’ve been away too long from practice here in the Philippines to conclude that “strong evidence of guilt” rebuts the presumption of innocence.

    In People vs Cabral, the SC held:

    “By judicial discretion, the law mandates the determination of whether proof is evident or the presumption of guilt is strong. “Proof evident” or “Evident proof” in this connection has been held to mean clear, strong evidence which leads a well-guarded dispassionate judgment to the conclusion that the offense has been committed as charged, that accused is the guilty agent, and that he will probably be punished capitally if the law is administered. “Presumption great” exists when the circumstances testified to are such that the inference of guilt naturally to be drawn therefrom is strong, clear, and convincing to an unbiased judgment and excludes all reasonable probability of any other conclusion. Even though there is a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of accused, if on an examination of the entire record the presumption is great that accused is guilty of a capital offense, bail should be refused.

    In other words, the test is not whether the evidence establishes guilt beyond reasonable doubt but rather whether it shows evident guilt or a great presumption of guilt. As such, the court is ministerially bound to decide which circumstances and factors are present which would show evident guilt or presumption of guilt as defined above.”

    To convict an accused, the prosecution needs to prove more than just “evident proof” or “great presumption of guilt”. It needs to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt which means moral certainty that a crime has been committed and the accused is one who committed it.

    You and baycas, it just occured to me, are applying rules of common law in your arguments. Baycas cited a ruling in India where the a high court rejected an argument that claims presumption of innocence until final appeal. I remember you, on the other hand, claiming that an appeals court cannot conduct a trial and and if it finds an error in the appealed decision, it will remand the case back to the trial court for a new trial.

    In most common law jurisdictions, and correct if I am wrong, once an accused is convicted and sentenced at the level of a trial court, he is forthwith delivered to the corrections facility to serve his sentence (unless the judge deems him qualified for suspended sentence, probation or community service). An appeal does not automatically suspend the execution of sentence unless the appellate court orders it and grants the appellant the right to bail. Else he sits in jail while his case is being reviewed.

    On the other hand, while the Philippines has taken some of the principles of common law, we generally remain for the most part a civil law jurisdiction. If an accused is convicted and he appeals, it is not the court which orders the suspension of the sentence but the law. Section 78 of the Revised Penal Code says that service of sentence shall only be by virtue of a final judgment. An appeal, in this jurisdiction, prevents the judgment of the trial court from reaching finality. Even after conviction, unless he the offense charged is a capital offense, he retains the right bail which is a matter of right if convicted by the MTC and subject to the discretion of the court if convicted under RTC.

  23. Bencard

    hold your horses, jaxius. i did not say that strong evidence of guilt rebuts the presumption of innocence. if you re-check baycas’ answer your would realize that what she said, and to which i agreed, was that presumption of innocence is destroyed only AFTER conviction, not PRIOR. i still agree with her on that point. thanks for your citation, though. i, however, find the rest of your comment with respect to granting of bail before final judgment persuasive.

  24. baycas

    Jaxius,

    Oh, so you probably got me on the regularity issue. Thanks again.

    Now, reading back the comments in this blogpost I noticed that various rules are being propounded every now and then. I’ll reproduce the entire Rule 115 of the Rules of Court (copied from the SC site) here:

    RIGHTS OF ACCUSED

    SECTION 1. Rights of accused at the trial.—In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be entitled to the following rights:
    (a) To be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
    (b) To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
    (c) To be present and defend in person and by counsel at every stage of the proceedings, from arraignment to promulgation of the judgment. The accused may, however, waive his presence at the trial pursuant to the stipulations set forth in his tail, unless his presence is specifically ordered by the court for purposes of identification. The absence of the accused without justifiable cause at the trial of which he had notice shall be considered a waiver of his right to be present thereat. When an accused under custody escapes, he shall be deemed to have waived his right to be present on all subsequent trial dates until custody over him is regained. Upon motion, the accused may be allowed to defend himself in person when it sufficiently appears to the court that he can properly protect his rights without the assistance of counsel.
    (d) To testify as a witness in his own behalf but subject to cross-examination on matters covered by direct examination. His silence shall not in any manner prejudice him.
    (e) To be exempt from being compelled to be a witness against himself.
    (f) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. Either party may utilize as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who is deceased, out of or can not with due diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable, or otherwise unable to testify, given in another case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, the adverse party having the opportunity to cross-examine him.
    (g) To have compulsory process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses and production of other evidence in his behalf.
    (h) To have speedy, impartial and public trial.
    (i) To appeal in all cases allowed and in the manner prescribed by law.

    Please prove me if I’m wrong…notice that the title of the Rule is “Rights of the Accused” (N.B., NOT the “rights of the appellant”) and therein Section is entitled “Rights of the Accused at the trial” (N.B., NOT “during appeal” ). Presumption of innocence is rightfully enjoyed by the accused at the trial…not anymore on appeal stage.

    I then checked our constitution with regard to the presumption of innocence:

    ARTICLE III
    BILL OF RIGHTS
    Section 14.
    2. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.

    Again, I understood this presumption is also applicable only at the trial stage. So, if guilt beyond reasonable doubt has been proved at the trial stage then the presumption of innocence of the convicted-accused no longer holds water after the trial. Appellants only spell out the error/s imputed to the trial judge during appeal and they are not anymore on trial.

    Cursory reading on the cases you’ve cited likewise led me to believe that what was being done by the SC is scrutiny of the trial stage (when the accused was presumed to be innocent while being tried). No categorical statement of a carry-over of the presumption of innocence after a guilty verdict at the trial stage.

    I still maintain my assertion: The Presumption of Innocence no longer operates AFTER conviction by the lower court.

    I shall now rest…as a lawyer.

  25. jaxius

    baycas,

    just let me ask you, what are the concrete effects of such loss of presumption if an appeal is perfected?

    The loss of presumption definitely does not turn 180 degrees and be converted into a presumption of guilt. As the cases cited reveal, even on appeal the threshold remains guilt beyond reasonable doubt. As we kept repeating, the presumption of innocence is overcome only by proof beyond reasonable doubt. So, why do the appellate courts still use guilt beyond reasonable doubt as the measure whether to affirm or reverse the conviction if the presumption of innocence is already lost? If its already lost, then the presumption of regularity should apply. But does it?

    If the presumption of innocence is overcome, shouldn’t punishment immediately follow?

    If you reviewed all the posts, you would have had come past where I said the CA is empowered to conduct hearings and any/all acts to resolve factual issues, including the power to grant or conduct new trials. This is so because the CA is both a trier of facts and a trier of law.

    If trial is conducted by the CA, would the rights of the accused enshrined in the constitution denied the appellant because, as you say, it says rights of an accused and not of an appellant?

  26. jaxius

    Bencard,

    what you said was, “if i may add, in the face of strong evidence of guilt, the accused cannot just stand mute, rests solely on the presumption of innocence, and expects to be acquitted.he has to produce some evidence to ensure the continued existence of reasonable doubt as to his guilt.”

    so, if evidence of guilt is strong, it immutably follows he will be convicted, unless he presents evidence to ensure the existence of reasonable doubt?

    As my earlier post said, strong evidence of guilt is not the equivalent of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

    Are you placing the burden of proof on the accused?

    The only way we can reconcile your post with the laws and jurisprudence in Philippine jurisdiction is to take “strong evidence of guilt” in its general sense, not in the technical sense assigned to it.

  27. Bencard

    o.k., jaxius, let’s just say, as counsel representing an accused facing “strong evidence of guilt”, i’m not gonna take a chance. as a tactical matter, i would endeavor to produce evidence that, at least, would tend to lessen the impact of the prosecution’s evidence and thus preserve the presumption of innocence, i.e., prevent conviction. if there’s not an iota of such rebuttal evidence, then i guess my client would just have to live or die on the “presumption of innocence” and hope that the trial court would find the prosecution’s “strong evidence of guilt” not enough to negate reasonable doubt.

  28. baycas

    I did backtrack a bit in this blogpost but I just did a find-in-this-page search of the word “rule” (in relation to my last post saying, or so it seems, that I reread the comments word for word). Well, anyway, that’s beside the point…

    Back on track…my understanding of the principle of the presumption of innocence (referred to as The Presumption in succeeding texts) has been furthered by this very informative exercise I am engaged in.

    The Presumption, in my point of view is enjoyed by the accused in a trial as he is rewarded the benefit of the doubt of his guilt on the charges against him. If the prosecution was able to remove that benefit (by proving beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused) then the accused will be convicted and sentenced the appropriate punishment.

    At that point, my assertion is that The Presumption ends upon conviction and sentencing.

    If on appeal, a re-trial has been decided The Presumption is GIVEN BACK to the accused because he again will enjoy the benefit of the doubt during the re-trial (…but not, of course, on the appeal when The Presumption was already gone). Note that the operative word is “trial” which conforms to The Constitution and the Rules of Court as to the right to The Presumption enjoyed by the accused in all criminal prosecutions.

    If perhaps he will again be convicted then there goes again the benefit of the doubt that he momentarily enjoyed during the re-trial, the conviction will remain even on appeal, and the sentence may be executed at once (if appeal has not been perfected) or may be postponed until final judgment by the SC. [Note that The Presumption ceases to operate, the accused is convicted beyond reasonable doubt, and the sentence may or may not be put on hold…or, shall I say, the conviction beyond reasonable doubt extinguishes The Presumption, the conviction operates even during appeal, and the sentence may or may not be immediately served (depending on the situation).]

    In capital crimes, the accused will not be freed on bail during trial. More so when he is convicted beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution has proven that the evidence of guilt is strong. (Certainly, it’s not the strong evidence of guilt that expunges The Presumption but the conviction beyond reasonable doubt.) The confinement during the pendency of the convicted accused’s appeal is not a direct serving of the sentence because final judgment by the SC has to be handed down first. (Indirectly because the length of confinement is taken from the total sentence whenever final judgment has been given.) But the postponement of the execution of sentence does not wipe out the conviction. Two operable words “conviction” and “sentence” wherein the situation then is that the conviction STAYS while the sentence is STAYED.

    In lesser crimes, on the other hand, the conviction as it operates is less obvious because bail is granted by the court, before or after conviction. Here, the postponement of the sentence is the one clearly apparent because of the temporary liberty afforded the accused after the conviction. But this does not necessarily mean that The Presumption is still in effect because of provisional liberty. Rather, bail is just given as a matter of right or court discretion independent of the The Presumption because the latter already ended upon conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

    Again, to reiterate, the delay in the execution of the sentence on account of the ongoing appeal does not wipe out the conviction. While on appeal, the conviction HOLDS while the execution of the sentence is put ON HOLD unless and until the SC has looked back and has finished its scrutiny of the trial or re-trial (during which the accused enjoyed The Presumption as enshrined in The Constitution and made part of the Rules of Court till he was convicted or proven guilty of the offense beyond reasonable doubt…nowhere it was stated that the conviction has to be finally judged for The Presumption to end or that The Presumption will continue beyond the trial stage).

    In the final judgment, what the SC will only be doing is to either AFFIRM the conviction and the sentence ORDERED or REVERSE the conviction and the sentence SET ASIDE. Two operable words on each occasion for the words “conviction” and “sentence,” respectively, each has to be clearly stated and taken into consideration separately. It is because “conviction” operates all throughout the appeal stage when the benefit of the doubt of the appellant is lost until it is confirmed or erased while execution of the “sentence” is most often delayed–just waiting to be commanded or be forgotten.

    —–

    So, it would seem therefore that, in the event the SC reverses the guilty verdict, an innocent man was guilty, in truth and in fact, of a crime at some point in his life.
    – Shaman

    Yes, absurd as it is, but it is true. It is because that man was convicted beyond reasonable doubt at the end of the trial. He is no longer presumed innocent as a result and this will go on until his appeal succeeds. Then, conviction is wiped out as cleanly as if it had never existed and the sentence is set aside.

  29. jaxius

    baycas,

    i see that you still quote from that Indian High Court decision. India is a common law jurisdiction. Principles in common law are generally not followed here.

  30. Mike

    So many comments, but nothing about the broadband anomaly. I’d sure like to hear the lawyers’ (and pseudo-lawyers’? :D) take on that one.

  31. justice league

    Rules of Court

    RULE 120
    JUDGMENT
    Section 1. Judgment defined.
    The term judgment as used in this Rule means the adjudication by the court that the accused is guilty or is not guilty of the offense charged, and the imposition of the proper penalty and civil liability provided for by law on the accused.



    Sec. 7. Modification of judgment.
    A judgment of conviction may, upon a motion of the accused, be modified or set aside by the court rendering it before the judgment has become final or appeal has been perfected. A judgment in a criminal case becomes final after the lapse of the period for perfecting an appeal, or when the sentence has been partially or totally satisfied or served, or the accused has expressly waived in writing his right to appeal, or the accused has applied for probation.

    RULE 121
    NEW TRIAL OR RECONSIDERATION
    Section 1. New trial or reconsideration.
    At any time before a judgment of conviction becomes final, the court may on motion of the accused, or on its own instance with the consent of the accused, grant a new trial or reconsideration.


    Sec. 6. Effects of granting a new trial or reconsideration.
    The effects of granting a new trial or reconsideration are the following:
    (a) When a new trial is granted on the ground of errors of law or irregularities committed during the trial, all the proceedings and evidence not affected by the commission of such errors and irregularities shall stand, but those affected thereby shall be set aside and taken anew. The court may, in the interest of justice, allow the introduction of additional evidence.
    (b) When a new trial is granted on the ground of newly discovered evidence, the evidence already taken shall stand, and the newly discovered and such other evidence as the court may, in the interest of justice, allow to be introduced, shall be taken and considered together with the evidence already in the record.

    (c) In all cases, when the court grants new trial or reconsideration, the original judgment shall be set aside and a new judgment rendered accordingly.

    RULE 122
    APPEAL
    Section 1. Where to appeal.
    An appeal may be taken, as hereinafter prescribed, from all final judgments and orders:
    (a) In cases decided by the Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, or Metropolitan Trial Court, to the Regional Trial Court; and
    (b) In cases decided by the Regional Trial Court, to the Court of Appeals, or to the Supreme Court in the proper cases provided by law.

    RULE 124
    PROCEDURE IN THE COURT OF APPEALS


    Sec. 10. Judgment not to be reversed or modified except for substantial error.
    No judgment shall be reversed or modified unless the appellate court after an examination of all the appeal papers is of the opinion that error was committed which injuriously affected the substantial rights of the appellant.
    Sec. 11. Power of appellate court on appeal.
    Upon appeal from a judgment of the Regional Trial Court, the appellate court may reverse, affirm, or modify the judgment and increase or reduce the penalty imposed by the trial court, remand the case to the Regional Trial Court for new trial or retrial, or dismiss the case.
    Sec. 12. Power to receive evidence.
    The Court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases (a) falling within its original jurisdiction, (b) involving claims for damages arising from provisional remedies, or (c) wherein the court grants a new trial based only on the ground of newly discovered evidence.

    —————–
    Going back to People vs. Mejia

    The SC stated the following about the OSG’s response to the appellants brief:

    “In the Consolidated Appellee’s Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) urges us to affirm in toto the challenged decisions for failure of the appellants to show that the trial court committed error in finding the prosecution evidence clear, sufficient, and convincing to convict.”



    “We shall now take up the issue of the culpability of the appellants.

    The evidence adduced by the prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt the carnapping of Teofilo Landingin’s passenger jeepney, which is a motor vehicle under the definition in Section 2 of R.A. No. 6539.[52] The passenger jeepney was taken, with intent of gain, from Landingin by means of violence against him which caused his death and against a passenger, Virgilio Catugas, who suffered physical injuries.

    But, has the prosecution established with moral certainty the guilt of the appellants? The LARON and the CASTILLO courts held that it did.

    Enshrined in the Bill of Rights ….” (the rest of which I had posted above already but I’ll reiterate some sentences-JL)

    “Save in certain circumstances as where, for instance, the accused admits the commission of the acts alleged to constitute a crime but interposes justifying circumstances, the burden is NEVER shifted to the accused or diminished by the weakness of his defense. Indeed, unless the prosecution successfully discharges that burden, the accused need not even offer evidence in his behalf.”

    “Every circumstance favoring the accused’s innocence must be duly taken into account.”

    “On the whole then we entertain, unavoidably, serious doubt on the participation of the appellants in the commission of the crimes charged.

    WHEREFORE, the challenged decisions in Criminal Case No. 94-00617-D (for Murder) and Criminal Case No. 94-00619-D (for Frustrated Murder) of Branch 44 and in Criminal Case No. 94-00620-D (violation of Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972) of Branch 43 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City are REVERSED. Accused-appellants Gregorio Mejia, Edwin Benito, Pedro Paraan, and Joseph Fabito are ACQUITTED on the ground that their guilt therefor has “not been proved beyond reasonable doubt or with moral certainty”. Their immediate release from detention is hereby ordered, unless other lawful and valid grounds for their further detention exist.”

  32. Bencard

    justice league, conspicuously absent in your brief of the mejia decision is the rationale behind the sc’s holding that the trial court’s finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt was in error, i.e., that the prosecution did not successfully discharge that burden. i find it odd that the sc would just substitute its judgment for that of the trial court without some rebuttal of the prosecution’s evidence which the latter court had already found sufficient to convict.

    what were the circumstances “favoring the accused’s innocence” that were taken into account” by the sc and not by the lower court?

    i find it hard to believe that the sc would have the power to simply reverse the lower court’s finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt merely on the principle that the burden of proof “is never shifted to the accused or (sic) diminished by the weakness of his defense”.

  33. justice league

    Cropped of portion reads:

    The Section reads as follows:

    SEC. 27. Offer of compromise not admissible. — In civil cases, an offer of compromise is not an admission of any liability, and is not admissible in evidence against the offeror.

    In criminal cases, except those involving quasi-offenses (criminal negligence) or those allowed by law to be compromised, an offer of compromise by the accused may be received in evidence as an implied admission of guilt.

    A plea of guilty later withdrawn, or an unaccepted offer of a plea of guilty to a lesser offense, is not admissible in evidence against the accused who made the plea or offer.

    An offer to pay or the payment of medical, hospital or other expenses occasioned by an injury is not admissible in evidence as proof of civil or criminal liability for the injury.

  34. justice league

    Manolo,

    Oh Gosh.

    Please discard that humongous post under moderation.

    Bencard,

    Please just add the necessary “prefix” for w.supremecourt.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2003/sep2003/..%5C..%5C1997%5Cjul1997%5C118940_41.htm

  35. baycas2

    Jaxius wins…

    It was spelled out in Mangubat vs Sandiganbayan G.R. No. L-60613-20 August 29, 1986:

    …it cannot be said that said Court acted with grave abuse of discretion, correctible by certiorari, in ruling that despite her convictions, “Preagido has still in her favor the constitutional presumption of innocence … (and until) a promulgation of final conviction is made, this constitutional mandate prevails.”

    Please refer to philippinecommentary dot blogspot dot com slash 2009 slash 03 slash keeper dash from dash baycas dot html

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