A Regional Trial Court judge in Candon City, Ilocos Sur last week scolded the provincial prosecutor and ordered him to reinvestigate the rebellion charges filed against a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant for the peace process with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 23, July 13-19, 2008
CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur (347 kms north of Manila) – A Regional Trial Court judge here last week scolded the provincial prosecutor and ordered him to reinvestigate the rebellion charges filed against a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant for the peace process with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
RTC Branch 23 Judge Gavino Balbin, Jr. of this city ordered the prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if there is probable cause in including Elizabeth Principe in a rebellion case that falls under the jurisdiction of the said court.
The judge’s order stemmed from a motion for reinvestigation filed last June 4 by Atty. Reynaldo Cortes and lawyers of the Manila-based Public Interest Law Center (PILC), who serve as the legal counsels for Principe.
Cortes opined in open court that the reinvestigation should be granted as his client Principe had not been provided any notice of the hearings for preliminary investigation by the prosecutor.
He reiterated various decisions that provided for the right to preliminary investigation, saying: “To deny it (preliminary investigation) to petitioner would be deprivation of the full measure of (her) right to due process.”
Realizing the lapses, Prosecutor Redentor Cardenas did not oppose the motion instead he said that the accused “has that right anyway.”
As a result, Balbin granted the motion and also instructed Principe’s counsels to submit a counter-affidavit in 15 days. Based on this affidavit, the prosecutor will determine if there is probable cause for the rebellion charges against Principe.
The case originated from the information filed by Cardenas on April 10, 1991 charging Principe of rebellion allegedly committed in Ilocos.
Cortes said his client never received any notice of proceedings during the stage of the preliminary investigation and worse, was not given an opportunity to counter the allegation against her.
Principe was detained after being abducted by military elements on Nov. 29, 2007 in Quezon City. The military at that time claimed she was arrested due to her involvement in that day’s takeover of the Manila Peninsula Hotel led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim – an incident that she just learned about for the first time.
S/Sgt. Victoriano Jallorina charged Principe and other accused of the said rebellion case on Jan. 20, 1991, the June 4 motion stated.
Cortes explained that an investigation is a prerequisite to the filing of any complaint or information where the penalty is at least 4 years, 2 months and one day regardless of the amount in fines. As the imposable penalty for rebellion is reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of 20 years and one day to 40 years, preliminary investigation is mandated by law, he added.
He cited Supreme Court decisions that recognize the right of citizens to preliminary investigation.
Falsity of case?
The motion for reinvestigation pointed out that the “obvious falsity and inadequacy of the charges against her caused prejudice to her substantive and procedural rights guaranteed under the Constitution and applicable laws and rules.”
They stated in their motion that Principe’s alleged participation in the crime of rebellion is non-existent “considering they (her accusers) have never actually seen her even once and they have no real knowledge of what transpired other than what they heard through others.”
Now facing another rebellion case, this time in Isabela, Principe is now detained at the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Camp Crame. Northern Dispatch / Posted by(Bulatlat.com)