Tuesday, June 14, 2005 

Opinion

                                     SpeakOut

   Improper conduct
                  by Valentino L. Legaspi 

      SOMEBODY should advise Francisco Paco Larraņaga's parents, friends and the television station that declaring his innocence while his case is pending before the Supreme Court constitutes contempt of court. 

      It is improper conduct tending directly to impede, obstruct, and degrade the administration of justice. 

      Larraņaga was defended by topflight lawyers who, after expressing their disgust of a ruling of the judge, withdrew their appearance.

      Call it part of the strategy of the defense, the lawyers were not substituted by new ones of Larraņaga's choice.

                                                 Lawyer
      It is not true, as the viewers
are made to believe, that Judge Martin Ocampo did not allow Larraņaga to engage a lawyer of his own choice.

      The trial judge, after observing the intent of the defense to delay, appointed a lawyer.

      The appointed lawyer may not conform to the defense's standards but this was Larraņaga's fault. It was within the judge's prerogative to appoint de oficio counsel if the accused is not represented by a lawyer.

      Friends of Larraņaga face television cameras promising to testify to prove his alibi. Where were they during the time the accused was supposed to present his witnesses?

                                    Review
      Ocampo convicted Larraņa
ga but imposed life imprisonment. Because of the penalty, the conviction was automatically elevated and reviewed by the Supreme Court.

      The risk of a review is there is no double jeopardy and the penalty, if it is a finding of guilt, can be modified to correspond with the imposable one.

      The error found by the Supreme Court was that the trial judge should have imposed the maximum penalty -- death.

                               Upgraded
      The d
efense has asked for a reconsideration, if not for a new trial,
after the Supreme Court en banc made an exhaustive and thorough review of Ocampo's finding of guilt.

      The conviction is blamed by supporters on the trial judge and not the Supreme Court that upgraded the penalty to death.

      The affirmation of the trial judge's finding of fact is a vindication for Ocampo.

      If the accused was given all the chance to defend himself, which he rejected, he cannot anymore complain in order to save his life.

                                Great leveler 
     
The Supreme Court is in a situation where, if it grants a reconsideration, its image would be tarnished as such act would make it appear that the decision it rendered was unstudied and done in haste.

      Courts may commit occasional errors but the existing procedure of dispensing justice is still the best. It is the great leveler - it is not influenced by wealth, prestige or alienage.  

      All hope is not lost for Larraņaga if the Supreme Court stands pat on its decision. The President can grant clemency by pardon or a commutation, the last being a reduction of the death penalty.

     
Thursday, June 16, 2005

Opinion
                                     TalkBack

   Paco Larraņaga Case
                                  by
Mike del Gallego 

(This is addressed to Valentino L. Legaspi, whose letter came out in the SpeakOut section of Sun.Star Cebu last June 14, 2005)

      IT appears that you are not fully aware of this case, as most people I have met. But I have always admired you since your assemblyman days, and that's the reason I am writing this.

      Maybe you can help us find justice, not only for the seven innocent convicted men but also for the Chiong sisters and the poor unidentified lady found in the ravine.

      As to the friends of Paco Larraņaga who wants to prove his alibi, they are always there, ready, eager and willing to tell the truth.

      Judge Martin Ocampo only allowed one daughter (out of three daughters that were with Larraņaga in Manila that fateful night) to testify.

                                       Weather
      The weathermen were not allowed to testify.

      Among the 20 or so prosecution witnesses, only Thelma Chiong and the Ayala security guard mentioned in their affidavits and testimonies the heavy rains that night and early morning of the alleged kidnapping.

      The rest, who were either casually walking or riding in motorcycles, never mentioned the rain at all.

      Not everyone is aware that Larraņaga was never allowed to testify in his own behalf, even if he wanted to.

      Not everyone knows that even before the first defense witness was called, the judge already wanted to render his decision.

      "You will only present alibi witnesses, anyway. And, you know that alibi is the weakest defense ... So, maybe that would be the best solution for all concerned for the court to consider these cases as now been submitted, for decision," he said in open court.

                                       Evidence
      Not everyone is aware that the judge, in his decision, accused the police of hiding evidences from the court, like the frontal pictures of the lady found in the ravine. He even doubted the testimony of the fingerprint expert for being biased for the police.

      It is for this reason that I am taking the pains of loading all the court transcripts, affidavits, decisions, motions, etc. in the website: www.framedinthephilippines.com for everyone to read and judge how this case was decided.

      I agree with you that it is hard for the Supreme Court to grant a motion for reconsideration since its "image would be tarnished as such act would make it appear that the decision it rendered was unstudied and done in haste."

      But on the other hand, the justices of the Supreme Court are learned and honest men and would not hesitate to change their minds if they were proven wrong.

      Besides how would they feel when the truth is finally out and ail seven accused have already been executed? 

                                        Truth
      As to our "improper conduct," I don't be
lieve the Supreme
Court will censure us since we are only trying to help them ferret out the truth

      Remember that none of us is paid for coming out with the truth. None of us is being offered positions in government. And none of us is a police asset.

      I hope we can meet one of these days.

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
                           DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                 

                   HOME     INDEX    NEXT ISSUE