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ROUGH CUTS| An idea worth exploring

It’s been several months now since the filing of a homicide case against a medical doctor working as a non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police in Camp Catitipan, Panacan, Davao City. Originally, the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed a murder case against the doctor after he was pinpointed as the one who shot dead a young student outside a local bar. It was, however, down-graded by the City Prosecutor’s Office to simple homicide based on the fiscal’s personal assessment of the evidence and testimonies of witnesses.

The down-graded resolution was later appealed by the victim’s family with the Department of Justice. Considering the respondent’s personality, the public eagerly awaits the case’s actual status, specifically on the appeal by the victim’s family.

On the other hand, another sensational case occurred shortly before the close of 2022 (right after Christmas). A young budding businesswoman was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen right in front of her residence in a subdivision in Mintal, Davao City. The police, and later the NBI, had a hard time identifying the suspected gunman and the motorbike driver since the two were wearing closed helmets when they committed the crime.

After a while, the law enforcement agencies doing the investigation of the so-called “crime of passion”, finally got hold of witnesses that led to the identification of the attackers which later on pinpointed to the alleged mastermind. And here started the sensational aspect of the crime because the suspected mastermind behind the killing was, at the time of his identification, was commanding officer of the 1001st Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) who, according to the investigators, was on a relationship with the victim.  

Apparently, the reported amorous relationship between the alleged mastermind Army general and the victim soured after the probers found nasty exchanges of messages on social media. Criminal cases were filed against the Army officer and eight others, mostly soldiers who were reportedly under the alleged mastermind’s command. Other than the criminal cases no less than Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner announced that the “mastermind” would be facing a court martial proceeding even as the Army chief reiterated the Armed Forces would not tolerate such criminal act, especially by a ranking officer.

However, the public has yet to hear about any progress in the two cases we mentioned earlier. But we are certain that the suspects of the two cases are now enjoying their freedom, seemingly mocking whatever remains of the country’s justice system. 

In the earlier case, we mentioned the doctor accused could possibly be basking on his temporary liberty after he was allowed to post bail by virtue of the down-grading of the crime from murder to homicide, a crime which is, under our law, bailable. 

In the latter case, the public, including the family of the woman victim, is assured by the Army commanding general that the full force of military justice will be applied to the army officer suspect. Thus, in all likelihood, the Court Martial proceedings will be more on the administrative aspect of the case. The criminal issue will definitely belong to the civil courts where the case could have been filed or is yet to be filed.

There were several sensational and controversial cases like the two we mentioned here in the distant and nearer past. Most of those cases were literally dumped down the drain of oblivion. The public is only made aware of the cases’ actual status when these are either dismissed, or the suspects are convicted after years of litigation. In fact, there were, and some still are, detained for several years more than the actual length of time of imprisonment as a sentence for their crimes committed.  Remember the case of murder filed against ex-police colonel Leonardo Felonia? The public forgot it until a decision acquitting the police officer was issued by the court after nine long years. All the while, Felonia was in jail for nine years of his life wasted.  

We are just wondering aloud whether soon one, two or three of our national legislators will ever explore filing a bill in Congress mandating the police, the prosecutors’ office and the courts to render an accounting regularly of the status of certain kinds of crimes brought to its fore for disposition, say every three months, just to apprise the public of what is being done by the above-mentioned agencies on the cases concerned. This will surely be one way of showing the government’s much-desired transparency to the wary public.

The office of the congressmen or senators has more than enough manpower to do some research to find out whether there is some kind of Constitutional bar on such a law should a bill to the effect pass the two Houses of Congress.

Yes, the employees of the Senate, specifically, will be more than willing to do such research. What is the P50 thousand inflation assistance given them by the Senate President if they will not do something more? For certain too, the Congressmen’s staffs are surely not far behind their Senate counterparts. Now is the time for them to work more productively for their employers – the Filipino people.


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