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Plunder cases must be tried jointly

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…`And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?’…” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in Luke 18:6-7, the Holy Bible). 

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PLUNDER CASES MUST BE TRIED JOINTLY: There are now compelling signs which indicate the necessity of consolidating all the plunder cases that have been filed with the Sandiganbayan, to be tried by only one of its divisions. The most urgent of these signs are the conflicting stands taken by the court’s different divisions as to the issuance of warrants of arrest against the accused.

The First and Fifth Divisions of the court already issued non-bailable warrants against Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, just days after receiving the records of the plunder cases against the two. In effect, what these divisions did was to simply rely on, and uphold, the proceedings taken by the Office of the Ombudsman, which is within their power to do anyway.

Yet, the court’s Third Division is taking some time to issue any arrest warrant against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. Two of the justices in this division—Samuel Martirez and Alex Quiroz—have been quoted in media as saying that they will need more time to rule on the issuance of any warrant of arrest, because the record of the case against Enrile, all of 9,000 pages, is so voluminous and had to be studied more carefully.

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SPECULATIONS ON PLUNDER RAPS MUST BE AVOIDED: The question that presents itself to the public over this matter is this: why was there a  difference in the issuance of warrants against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla? If not properly explained, this could give rise to unwarranted speculations that Enrile may have been favored as a result of President Aquino’s intervention, and that Estrada and Revilla may have been treated differently.

Clearly, this does not augur well for an orderly administration of justice, as it could even fan unnecessary doubts and suspicions over the ultimate outcome of the plunder charges, which may unfairly taint the reputation of those involved in the trial, which must be avoided at all cost.

The fact is that, even now, the three senators have been crying foul and are accusing the Aquino government of enforcing a double standard of justice against them, one against opponents, and another for the President’s allies. A joint or consolidated trial of all the present plunder cases by just one division of the Sandiganbayan will clear this, and is therefore in order.

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JUSTICE, AS THE BIBLE SEES IT:As the plunder cases are now to be tried, I reiterate some Biblical principles on justice. In Leviticus 19:15: “…`Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly’…” In Deuteronomy 16:18-20: “Do not pervert justice or show partiality… Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live...”

In Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do right; seek justice…” In Isaiah 56:1: “This is what the Lord says: `Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed’…” In Hosea 12:6: “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always…”

In Amos 5:15: “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts…”  In Zechariah 7:8-9: “And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: `This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another’…”

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REMINDERS:Please tune in: “Tambalang Batas at Somintac sa DZEC”, at 1062 kHz on the AM band, Mondays to Fridays, at 6 a.m., simulcast, real time, over www.eaglenews.ph;  “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas sa Radyo Trabungko FM”, at 103.7 mHz in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, Mondays to Fridays, at 7 a.m.; and “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas sa DYKA” at 801 kHz on the AM band (Panay Island), Mondays to Fridays, at 10 a.m. -30-

By Atty. Batas Mauricio




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