Press Release
June 21, 2017

Drilon: DOJ move to downgrade raps vs Espinosa killers can be brought to CA

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, a former justice secretary, said that a petition could be filed in the Court of Appeals (CA) to question the move of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to downgrade charges against policemen involved in the killing of the Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., raising a possibility of the Senate joining as a co-intervener.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Narciso v. Cruz (G.R. No. 134505), Drilon said that the private offended party - in this particular case, the family of Espinosa - could bring the issue to the CA.

"Considering the overwhelming evidence against the accused, the families of the offended parties can question before the Court of Appeals the decision of the DOJ and the Regional Trial Court to charge the accused with the lesser offense of homicide on the ground of grave abuse of discretion," Drilon said.

"The Senate has a stake in this case. The Senate unanimously took the position that Mayor Espinosa was murdered as he was killed with evident premeditation and abuse of authority," he said.

"What the DOJ did was really deplorable- when they acted contrary to evidence gathered, not only by its department, but also by the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation,," he stressed.

Drilon said that the move should be brought to the higher court "in order to correct this patent abuse of discretion committed by the DOJ and by the judge," as he questioned the "undue haste" exercised by the judge in acting on the DOJ's motion to downgrade.

He said that in ordinary circumstances the judge would allow the case to proceed and let it be questioned in the appellate courts.

Drilon further explained that a court acquires jurisdiction over the case once a complaint or information is filed with it and is not bound to recognize or adopt a subsequent resolution of the DOJ. In fact, reliance on the resolution of the Secretary of Justice, or worse in this case, by an Undersecretary of the DOJ would be an abdication of the trial court's duty and jurisdiction to determine a prima facie case.

The Supreme Court in the case of Leonardo Flores v. Raul Gonzalez and Eugene Lim (G.R. No. 188197, 3 August 2010), categorically stated that the trial court should make an assessment separate and independent from the evaluation of the prosecution or the Secretary of Justice, he noted.

Once the issue is brought to the Supreme Court and it has ruled that there is a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the judge, Drilon said that he will strongly advocate that an administrative proceeding be initiated against the judge, "because either he is incompetent or in collusion with government authorities."

The minority leader also asked the Philippine National Police to update the public on the status of the administrative case against Marcos and his cohorts.

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